When first thing in the morning you see China Miéville cooking eggs for Peter Hamilton, you know it’s not going to be normal weekend. I realise that sentence implies something earthy happened the night before, and given China’s remarkable ability to deploy the opening riff of Let’s Get It On several times over the weekend, who could blame me for such an interpretation.
In addition to the above, myself, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Julie, Chloe and Amy from Pan Macmillan, were all sharing a bucolic, charming cottage, which was a (hefty) stone’s throw from the beach. There were wooden floorboards, comfy sofas, a huge kitchen, and everything had that retro-chic touch that makes homeware addicts froth.
I feel I should point out that the Gollancz authors were herded into chalets at Pontins (note the review titles “Hell on earth” and “never ever again”). Clearly, the gods did not favour them, and some would blame Simon Spanton for renting such dire accommodation. (If a Gollancz author is reading this, I’d email him with more ostentatious demands in future.)
It wouldn’t be an SF con without the stormtoopers, of course, and they were there on the doors of Pontins Camber Sands. (As an aside, I heard Darth Vader had an issue ordering Doritos from the bar – one of the many reasons I love these conventions.) There was a pungent, cavernous stage area rammed full of dealers and fans, and being Pontins, there was a grotty arcade in which to waste away and spare change.
Oh yeah, there were some panels and stuff (the reason we were there) and they were all good fun. Kudos to Dave Bradley in particular for seeing through the literary events. Mostly, these were held in the corner of a bar, which had its problems (couldn’t hear a lot of what was going on when full of people), but also its charms (a fun atmosphere, alcohol). This was one of the first few cons I’ve been going to as Proper Writerly Person, so I was impressed with how thoroughly all the writers mingled and, with all those egos contained in one room, it didn’t end in fisticuffs. And it was good to meet online folk in the flesh. It reassures me that when I type in this box, it’s not simply white noise being lost into the aether.
The only issue I had this weekend was with the Playstation music game, which sprightly agent Simon Kavanagh of the Mic Cheetham agency had brought in randomly for us to play. I’m hugely competitive at such things, and Paul Cornell stuffed me into second place, so he and I are done professionally.
And I really have to thank the ladies of Macmillan for really looking after their authors. I felt terribly guilty sipping wine whilst they frantically rushed around to make sure we were all fed and watered and generally happy. Which we were. (I know you might think I *have* to say that because they’ll be reading this blog, but it also happens to be true.)
I heard tell of an SFX Weekender 2, next year, so if you missed it there might be another chance.
UPDATE: If you did miss it, I found a photo set of the weekend on Flickr.