Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Odyssey 2010 report

So Odyssey 2010 is over and I, for one, had a fabulous time. It was a particularly large con, with over 1300 people in the final headcount, including a huge number of on-the-day signups (apparently something that’s not of much use to most cons, since they need to know numbers in advance in order to plan the size of the venues needed and aren’t interested in making a profit). Despite the whopping hotel bill, I’m quite glad I went down to London for it a day either side although, at a pinch, I’d be okay with going down on the Friday rather than the Thursday next time (and, yes, there will be a next time – the same group have had their bid for 2012 accepted and I’m more than tempted to go down – the only reason that I haven’t already signed up is the huge knocking that my wallet has already taken).

This time, I went in a much smaller group than I’ve attended cons with before, with just Stevie and Sacha joining me. I wasn’t sure how this would pan out, but in the end, it worked out pretty well. I’ve never been very good at talking to other people at random, and this helped a lot, since my friends were often at different panels or just crashing out for a bit. Examples of this included at the ceilidh, when they crashed after the first half, I hung around, danced the rest of the ceilidh and then started talking politics with a random chap while recovering; and the last night, when I found myself on my own again, and after chatting a while with one of the Glasgow fans I know from Io, got into a conversation about Fandom with one of the more established fans (who turned out to be Caroline Mullen, chair of the SF Foundation) who then introduced me to some other people who I happily spent the remainder of the evening chatting to.

Some of the highlights of the con for me included:

  • One benefit of coming down a day early was that I was able to meet up with some old school friends in London. I mightn’t have been impressed by their choice of bar (it screamed ‘yuppie’ so loud that it almost overwhelmed the vast crowd in it) but it was lovely to see them and catch up for the first time in many years. They also took me through the ‘gayest street in Soho’ to find a lovely little Italian restaurant where we had dinner.
  • I’m not there yet, but I’m starting to feel part of the con-going community. I’m starting to recognise (and be recognised by) others, especially in Glasgow fandom. I’ve already signed up for the next Glasgow con (Satellite 3 – come along, it’ll be fantastic!) and have taken out a pre-supporting membership for the WorldCon bid for London in 2014. Any UK WorldCon is not to be missed and although Glasgow was discussed and would have been fantastic, London hasn’t had a UK WorldCon since the 1960s and Glasgow has had two recently, it was probably the right decision
  • Most terrifying sentence of the con: I’m a furry! emerging from the mouth of Mad Elf’s little girl, while pretending to be a cat
  • Iain M. Banks was a fantastic guest of honour. The man is a born entertainer and has a huge charisma so is a joy to listen to, whether in a one-on-one GoH interview, on a panel about utopias in SF (particularly interesting to me since I’ve just done a short philosophy course on political and moral philosophy which spent a fair bit of time on the subject) or in a discussion with his old mate Ken MacLeod about the writing process
  • Watching the first episode of Doctor Who in a room with over a thousand other fans. I had been unsure about Matt Smith, but was I was completely won over, and from the noise in the hall and the conversations I overheard afterwards, so was everyone else
  • The terrifyingly full-of-cool-stuff dealers’ room. I eventually had to just stop going in, since every time I went, I came out with more stuff, whether it be a stack of old SF paperbacks two feet tall, con memberships or shiny new SF Masterworks – not to mention a promise from someone at the Gollancz stall to look into getting the complete version of of Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscovery of Man reprinted, after I got excited at and then disappointed by the new edition of the SF Masterworks one, which is an abridged version
  • The con hotel (the Radisson Edwardian) was pretty awesome, it’s a gloriously elegant hotel with rich furnishings and a wonderful atrium on the second floor which is beautifully light and airy during the day and has lots of hidden nooks and corners, not to mention a missing floor – there’s a reason it’s colloquially known as the Radisson Non-Euclidean! By the time I got around to booking, the hotel was full, so I had to stay down the road in a hotel that was posh but didn’t have the character or charm of the Radisson. That’s another reason to book early for 2012
  • So EasterCon is over and I don’t have any other cons planned until 2012, which seems an awfully long time away. On the other hand, my bank balance will be breathing a sigh of relief. Mind you, now that the Central Hotel is back in business, there’s already talk of a Glasgow EasterCon bid for a few years down the line :-). In the mean time, I have my fantastic memories and a huge stack of books to happily start wading through.

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