Okay, so this is only about a week late but I’ve been out of the office recovering from jet lag and car seat shopping for an 11 month-old (which takes about a week in itself…).
Terrible flight out compounded by inept check-in and security staff. I’ll cut them some slack in light of what had just happened at another UK airport but come on, tell me at check-in that I’m only allowed one piece of hand luggage, not when I get to the security scanners. Only slightly smoother at the other end as my new-fangled biometric passport hadn’t been activated and there’s an outstanding arrest warrant in California for somebody with a name similar to mine. I knew having an unusual middle name would be good for something at some point. We’re almost home free when at the very last moment a customs officer asks George to step to one side as he believes he may have food in his suitcase. Let me say that again. The unmissable George Mann was stopped at customs on suspicion of smuggling food into the USA.
Because the convention program didn’t begin properly until Friday morning, bodies were pretty thin on the ground Thursday evening. So engrossed were George and I in trying to spot SF authors amongst the civilian population that we completely failed to notice James Maxey sitting at the table right next to us. In our defence, James looks nothing like any photograph ever taken of him, including those that were shot over Readercon weekend. Spent a couple of hours shooting the breeze with James and Joy Marchand until being awake for 24 hours got the better of us and George and I retired to our rooms.
Friday was slow to start. Registration opened at 10AM but nothing on the program grabbed our interest until 4:30PM when Jeffrey Thomas was scheduled for his reading. Even the dealer room didn’t open until 3 in the afternoon so there was only one thing to do; head to the giant Barnes & Noble a few blocks down from the hotel for lunch in Starbuck’s and some hardcore book shopping.
The six book-limit I’d set myself for the trip had already been exceeded by the time I made it into the dealer room and it was only thanks to some quick rules ‘revisions’ (i.e. graphic novels and signed copies given to you personally by the author not counting towards the limit) that I was able to buy copies of Holly Philips’ In The Palace of Repose and Paul Park’s A Princess of Roumania, and keep a clear conscience. It was during my third or fourth sweep of the dealer room that I found Jeffrey Thomas – a man who looks exactly like his photographs incidentally – just in time to attend his reading. Jeffrey treated us to two chapters from Deadstock – I’d not read the Blue War manuscript by this point so if he had read from that then I would have had to edit him on the fly as he was reading ;->
James Maxey’s reading was about an hour later and he opened with an unpublished SF short that had me in stitches the entire time followed by Chapter One of Bitterwood. James had the foresight to record this and you can download an MP3 here. Thankfully, he edited out the idiot at the end who asked about the sequel to Bitterwood…
The hotel food wasn’t fantastic on the Thursday evening so James’ idea to head to a nearby pizza place was met with some enthusiasm by George, Jeffrey and myself. It didn’t take long before the comic book geekery that had so nearly surfaced in the bar the previous evening was on display and James and I were discussing the finer points of pamphlets versus trade paperbacks and why superheroes in red costumes are the best (okay, so that was just me). The obvious end to all this? Head over to the comic book store on the opposite side of the parking lot from the pizza parlour and bend the six book-limit rules some more.
The rest of the evening was spent mingling in the bar and at the ‘Meet the Pros’ event where George and I formed an English enclave with Chris Dolley while playing spot the author/agent. Of course, it all went horribly wrong a bit later when we were drinking Irish carbombs with Lucius Shepard, Jeffrey Ford and Elizabeth Hand.
Coming up in part two: David Louis Edelman’s man/machine love, beavers, and the only review of the Transformers movie that you need to read. And monkeys.