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the sky above the airport was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2008-03-25 22:12
Subject: the sky above the airport was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:tiredtired
Music:foo fighters
Sorry, I always wanted to do that. I imagine there are roughly a thousand blog entries right now that say the same thing, but what the hell.
So, that's us back then. I see you haven't tidied up any while I've been away. What are all these bottles doing here...?

</div>

Anyway. Yes. EasterCon was a blast. In case any of you don't know, this year's British Science Fiction Convention was held at the Radisson Edwardian hotel, about two hundred yards north of the North Runway at Heathrow. Guests of honour were Charlie Stross, China Mieville, Neil Gaiman and Tanith Lee, and Fan Guest of Honour was the very mighty Rog Peyton. It ran from Friday last week to yesterday. Have I said it was a blast? Well, it was.
On Friday, we decided to take things easy, not rush, take our time getting ready and driving down to Heathrow. We missed the opening ceremony, but we always miss the opening ceremony. I don't think we've ever seen one.
Because I left it so late doing the bookings, the Radisson was full, so we were in the Renaissance, another hotel about three hundred yards up the A4 from the Radisson and roughly a hundred yards closer to the North Runway. We did not, to Bogna's disappointment, get a room that actually overlooked the runway. We had to make do with watching the planes taking off and landing while we were having breakfast (the dining room looked out to the runway) and standing like fools in the car park on the way back from the Radisson in the evening.
Actually, I was surprised how quiet it was there. I mean, I know the hotels down there are soundproofed to levels beyond human imagination and the planes weren't actually flying right over the rooftops at an altitude of about a thousand feet, the way they do when they come in over Cranford and Halton and Colnbrook, but even when we were standing shivering outside the Radisson having a ciggie the traffic on the A4 seemed louder. Odd. I still wouldn't like to live there, anyway. Although people do. The villages of Sipson and Harmondsworth are right there.
The presiding spirit of EasterCon this year was: cold. The weather outside was freezing; we had snow, we had rain, we had hail, we had high winds. Our room at the Renaissance was really cold and nothing we did changed that. We checked in and went across the road to the Radisson, where the dealers' room was so warm that I started to feel rather ill, so I went for a wander. When I came back it was time for the launch of Celebration and Myth-Understandings, two books edited by Ian Whates and much to be recommended. The launch went fine, and while we were milling about afterward something odd happened. A complete stranger came up to me, said in a broad New Zealand accent that he'd been looking for me, and would I mind signing a book for him. This doesn't happen to me very often (in fact the only time it's ever happened was at the last EasterCon we went to, in Glasgow, where someone came up after the disastrous `How To Get Published' panel and asked if I'd sign a copy of As The Crow Flies) so I sort of babbled that I'd be happy to, and he opened his bag and took out the copy of Year's Best Fantasy and Horror with `The Pavement Artist' in it and asked me to sign the contents page. Then he took out a notebook, flipped through it, and handed me a page torn from another book, which turned out to be the contents page of the original Strange Pleasures, the one I had a story in, and asked me to sign that too. I thought that was the strangest thing. He'd obviously memorised the names of all the people in those books and he was wandering round the con checking out badges until he found a name he recognised. He was a really nice bloke - later in the weekend we discussed how England are bitch-slapping New Zealand in the cricket at the moment - but that was a strange moment. (Even stranger was looking at the contents page for SP for the first time in mumble-mumble years and seeing who else was in it. Neal Asher was there. I can't wait to remind him.
So, after that we went to a panel - and you'll have to forgive me but I've forgotten what it was about (they all kind of blur into each other after a while) in the main hall, which was absolutely freezing - Bogna had to leave halfway through to warm up a bit. And that kind of set the tone for the weekend as far as we were concerned. It was really cold.
Of course, we didn't get to all the panels we wanted to. We never do. Some of them clash with each other. Some of them clash with incidentals like getting lunch. Some of them clash with conversations you don't want to leave. For me the high-spots were a panel on London in fantastic fiction, with Geoff Ryman, Neil Gaiman, Graham Sleight and someone else whose name escapes me because I'm really tired - that was an absolutely brilliant panel, best I've ever seen - and one on HP Lovecraft with Charlie, China, a Scandinavian writer whose name I missed because I got there late, and chaired by Roz Kaveney, which was excellent. The rest were uniformly good, but those stood out.
What else? We spent a lot of time on the BSFA/NewCon Books table, partly because I like being in the dealers' room selling stuff (and we managed to unload a couple more copies of SP2) and partly because it meant we could enjoy the company of The Two Ians, Whates and Watson, who we are most fond of. Chatting to Charlie about how in god's name he manages to write so much when there are only so many hours in a day and he seems to be permanently on the road. Listening to Bogna chatting to Geoff Ryman and Chris Priest at a Scandinavian party. Finally meeting Sarah Singleton, who Thog and I published in SP2. Standing under the Radisson's canopy having a smoke and watching soft hail sifting down out of the sky and bouncing off the parked cars while intercontinental jets took off on the other side of the road. Buying books (my second-favourite thing) in the dealers' room - I got hold of a copy of a marvellous new book of critical essays by Paul Kincaid; the book's called What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction and I've only dipped into it so far, but the piece on Keith Roberts' The Furies is worth the cover price alone and his essays on Priest are marvellous. I also finally managed to find a couple of early Dante Valentine novels by our very own lilithsaintcrow, one of which I'm currently enjoying immensely, as well as some Colin Kapp novels I'd never seen before. And some other books. Lots of other books. Not as many other books as I would have liked.
The food at the Radisson was terrific, and we wound up eating there every night apart from Monday, when we ate at the Renaissance, and the food was just as good there, although the coffee sucked.
We missed the opening ceremony, but we did make the closing ceremony, and it was very very good. One of the very best things about going to stuff like this is the enormous sense of community involved, and the closing ceremony was just that. It was warm, it was inclusive, and we all felt like part of a family.
All in all, I thought this year's EasterCon went really well, and the organising committee should be congratulated to the limits of endurance for their work. As should the staff at the Radisson, who were brilliant the whole weekend and seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. EasterCon returns to the Radisson in 2010 and we'll be there. I'll book earlier next time, so we don't have to walk back and forth between hotels. Although I'll miss watching the planes taking off and landing at breakfast.
But enough of this. All you want to see is the piccies, isn't it? Well, I warn you, they aren't very good.



This is Ian McDonald, who had just won the Best Novel award for Brasyl. Behind him is Charlie Stross, and in the background are Ian Whates and China Mieville and Ian Watson in conversaton. The chap at the right is Andy Bigwood, who won Best Artist.



This is the BSFA/NewCon table in the dealers' room. From left to right we have Ian Whates, Neil Bond, Ian Watson, Donna Scott, and Bogna.



And a moment later everyone just lost interest in having their picture taken.

And that's about it for this evening. I'm aware I have email and other stuff to deal with, and I'll do that over the next couple of days. I'm going to the launch of Paul Kincaid's book tomorrow evening and I might be home late, and I'm out on Thursday night and will be home late, but I'll be in touch.
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RealThog: morgan brighteyes
User: realthog
Date: 2008-03-25 23:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:morgan brighteyes

"in the weekend we discussed how England are bitch-slapping New Zealand in the cricket at the moment"

Just watching via cricinfo.com the last of the third Test between the England and NZ men, but did your friend mention the drubbing the English women's team handed out to their NZ counterparts?

Pastorbear might be consulted at this point.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-25 23:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
He did not; he borrowed the sport section of The Times I was reading yesterday - despite my warnings that he might rather not know - and all we chatted about was the blokes. I hadn't realised the ladies had done so well. It's about time they were as well-reported as the men.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2008-03-26 00:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)


"It's about time they were as well-reported as the men."

Too damn' true:

Photobucket
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 00:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Now there's an image to send me to bed happy...
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Kat
User: artykat
Date: 2008-03-26 00:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
TMI. Definitely TMI.
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Kat: Shock
User: artykat
Date: 2008-03-26 00:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Shock
I was waiting for that picture to show up! You could do some reporting, couldn't you? though I'm afraid it might tend to focus on one player... well, better than none, I always say!
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Kat: Shock
User: artykat
Date: 2008-03-26 00:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Shock
LOL!
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hutch0: pygmy marmoset
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 00:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:pygmy marmoset
Someone needs to explain this to me; are you a cricketer, perchance? (comin' backatcha with the pygmy marmoset)
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Kat
User: artykat
Date: 2008-03-26 00:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You had me very confused when I saw your icon! (head swimming... the rest of my body is sitting at the computer. Quite a trick)

No, I'm not a cricketer, but Mr. T Hog has shared his love for, uhhh, women's cricket. Ahem.
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Kat
User: artykat
Date: 2008-03-26 00:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I wanted to say (before the flurry of comments began) that I'd have loved the hotel near the runway. Bear would have gone nuts over it. We used to live near a former Air Force Base (we actually lived in the housing development owned by the Air Force, formerly) and he would be drop-jawed over every single plane he saw. And there were many!

And Bogna is gorgeous!!
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 00:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To be honest with you, though I did my best to maintain a veneer of cool about it the whole weekend, I was pretty knocked out watching the planes too. It seemed bizarre to be sitting eating breakfast while these things were taking off or landing just across the road - particularly the really big intercontinental jets. I could, quite honestly, have watched them all day. And they seem to go so slowly when they're taking off.
And Bogna will be your friend forever. (She is a bit of a babe, isn't she?)
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Kat: porchswing
User: artykat
Date: 2008-03-26 00:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:porchswing
Be sure and tell her I think she is gorgeous. And I am not kissing up! LOL

I used to live 50 miles from Kansas City and even closer to the KCI (Kansas City International airport). My parents would make a day of driving there to watch people come and go, and the planes, too. They'd sit in the airport all day, enjoying it all. I could do that, too... especially at the International gate.

We also used to park in a small lot that was directly at the end of the runway and sit on our cars -- no actually, lying back on the cars, and watch the planes fly right over our heads. Talk about a rush! That was fun!
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 13:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There was a kind of big awning set up near the road a little way from our hotel, covering what looked like a set of bleachers, where (I presume) members of the public could - and did - stand and watch the planes.
I'll tell Bogna.
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Kat: blue hydrangea
User: artykat
Date: 2008-03-26 18:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:blue hydrangea
That would have been a fun place to watch the planes!!
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 22:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It looked like fun; I'm not sure if this was a permanent thing or just put up over the Easter weekend by the firm whose car-park it was standing in. I only noticed it on Monday.
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RealThog: Jim's bear pic
User: realthog
Date: 2008-03-26 00:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Jim's bear pic

"And Bogna is gorgeous!!"

If only she could learn to play cricket . . .

Myself, I played cricket well into my late thirties (quickish away-swing bowler, bad batsman, goodish fielder) before a transient ischaemic attack inhibited my ability to run.

Among the female cricketers I'm delighted to have played alongside is a mutual friend of hutch0's and mine, Liz Sourbutt, ex-Durham University Ladies Team.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 22:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm afraid Bogna hates cricket, so that'll have to remain a fantasy, I'm afraid.
I didn't know Liz was a cricketer too.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2008-03-26 22:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

"I didn't know Liz was a cricketer too."

A very keen one. She and I talked for a while of collaborating on a cricket-SF story, but we never actually did anything about it.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 22:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
A cricket-sf story. *boggles*
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2008-03-27 00:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Douglas Adams ventured into this exceptionally small the subgenre, as did someone like E.R. Eddison.

A few months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a good idea for a cricketing sf story in my mind. It still seemed good the next day, which was a surprise. But, of course, I didn't have the time to write it, and a week or two later I suddenly realized that I'd . . . oh, tarnation.

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pds_lit: Red Cat Quilt
User: pds_lit
Date: 2008-03-26 01:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Red Cat Quilt
Glad you are home and did not turn into a Hutchcicle! Actually, after reading about how cold it was- inside and out - I am glad that we gave it a miss. I would have doubtlessly have been complaining all weekend.

Bogna is letting her hair get long. Looks good.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 13:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I ought to point out that the cold in no way detracted from our enjoyment of the weekend. And indeed not all the rooms were cold; the dealers' room, after that first very warm afternoon, settled down to a nice comfortable temperature, and as I said the staff at both the hotels were terrific - very friendly and relaxed and chatty.
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jmward14
User: jmward14
Date: 2008-03-26 03:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Welcome back {{{{hutch0}}}}}}! And Bogna looks beautiful, as always. :D Sounds like a splendid time was had by all, in spite of the cold.
Hugs and smiles,
Jean Marie
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 13:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It was a truly splendid time; we've been lucky so far in that we've really enjoyed all the cons we've been to.
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grahamsleight
User: grahamsleight
Date: 2008-03-26 07:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks re Fantastic London: the fourth panelist was Louis Savy of the Sci-Fi London Film Festival.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-03-26 13:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Many thanks, Graham. I think I was introduced to Louis at a Clarke Awards do a couple of years ago, but to my shame I can never remember his name. I would have dug out the programme booklet and looked it up if it hadn't been buried at the bottom of my suitcase last night. And yeah, that was an outstanding panel.
Welcome to the villages, by the way. Good to see you.
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