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.
Sounds like (for the most part 😉 a good time was had by all, am very pleased to hear it. 😀 I’m especially glad to know there was such camaraderie between not only the invited guests but with the convention attendees as well – as a seasoned con goer I know this doesn’t happen very often. 😉
I hope I can actually make it next time, and won’t have to bail out at the last minute. 🙂
… I think I may have fulfilled my ‘smiley-face’ quota for the day in that post, ack. *grins sheepishly*
It was great meeting you! We’re both looking forward to next year (though we’re considering looking elsewhere for accommodation).
Buzz! XTC! Buzz! 1962! Buzz! Unit Four Plus Two! I’m sorry, weren’t you aware we’re still playing? Hee hee hee hee hee!
The folk were really pleased to meet you as well – hope you see you at the next one!
I enjoyed the authorly panels immensely. I was too shy to say anything at the tie in panel that you and Paul Cornell both sat on, but I still wasn’t entirely convinced. I think my issue is that in most cases if a story was told, and a universe presented, wasn’t that it? and anything else is just fans (of whatever writing calibre) trying to keep the dream alive? For example I know Matt Stover writes Star Wars books. Never read any, but I loved Heroes Die. So it isn’t the author’s ability so much as their ‘squatting’ in someone else’s universe that puts me off. Sorry, had to get that off my chest! Great discussions though, really enjoyed it..Not sure I’ll go again however due to the appallingness of Pontins..
Hey Mark , great to meet you.
I’d just like to say you were really interesting and had good stuff to say on every panel I saw you on, so good work as Properly Writery Person.
Neverwhere: to make up for the smileys you must post only snark for 24 hours.
Anne: very wise, I suspect…
Paul: I knew you had a head start – you’ve never stopped playing!
Jared: definitely. I’ll be elsewhere this year too – hopefully Eastercon next.
Leiali: thanks for the comments. It depends totally on the universe, I suspect. Some RPG worlds are developed further because because authors have a freedom to write a good SF story independent of that point. I don’t think that aversion to ‘squatting’ will ever go away, though. But each to their own. And yes, if you do go, I suggest a cottage…
Den – I’m glad it came across that way, least. And good to meet you too.
Ah, an independent cottage. Very clever. In retrospect, I’m not sure why we didn’t think of it as well. I don’t think any of us suspected just how atrocious Pontins would prove to be.
On the plus side, it means that anywhere else I stay in my life, regardless of its quality, will seem wonderful in comparison.
As always, these events are great for broadening your horizons and discovering new writers and adding their blogs to your bookmarks. As I have just done here!
Really enjoyed hearing your thoughts and sitting in on the discussions at SFX, so thanks. The authors made the event for me. And although I confess I was not familiar with your work before, I now have a copy of Nights Of Villjamur sitting on my desk and am very much looking forward to reading it.
Sorry I didn’t say hi in person or ask pithy questions, but I’m kind of shy.
Oh, and thanks for the link to my poorly-focused photos. Should have taken more, but I assumed everyone would be snapping and uploading. Maybe they are still recovering.
All I can say of the chalets is that priced as they were at ‘nothing’ they were too expensive.
Great to see you Mark.
Simon Jones: What a very positive outlook on Pontins. I hope others follow suit.
Talitha: I’m delighted you enjoyed my thoughts! But I wouldn’t worry about not asking question – I was kind of shy of answering them. I think yours is the only photo set I’ve seen so far.
Simon: Great talking to you, too. I hope the cockroaches didn’t get to the Gollancz authors…
We counted them all and we counted them all out. A couple of them looked a little chewed around the edges.
Simon: We counted them all and we counted them all out. A couple of them looked a little chewed around the edges.
The authors or the cockroaches? After the lack of decent food (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at another hot dog again) I wouldn’t be surprised if the cockroaches had started to look a little appetizing! 🙂
Seriously, was a great weekend though. Good to see everyone!
Mark, you need to move on from the Playstation defeat. Either that or demand a rematch!
The hotdogs . . . *shudder* Try as I might I never actually managed to buy one before the onions had run out. Sigh.
Damn, I live in the wrong country… Sounds like a really nice weekend ..I am jealous