So that was LX, the 60th British science fiction Eastercon. It took place over the Easter weekend in Bradford. I enjoyed it a great deal more than the previous year’s Eastercon.
I arrived in Bradford around three p.m., and checked into my hotel, the Hilton. The actual con hotel was the Cedar Court Hotel, but this had very few rooms, so most of us attending LX were scattered in other hotels about the city. This proved less than ideal. The Bradford Hilton is a nice hotel, although I spent the entire weekend having to call down to reception for someone to come and open my door since my keycard would never work. By the end of the con, housekeeping knew me quite well, and even the maintenance engineer was greeting me by name when we met in the corridor.
LX laid on a free coach to carry attendees between the hotels. It was supposed to run every thirty minutes, but failed to maintain the schedule. It also didn’t run during the afternoon. So most people ended up using taxis if they needed to return to the hotel in which they were staying. Since the last coach left at midnight, I usually caught it, rather than stay in the bar until the small hours and get a taxi back. I don’t think I missed much, since a lot of others did the same.
As usual I didn’t attend many programme items. I’d intended to, but could never quite work up the enthusiasm. One I did attend was “Classics That Aren’t” on the Friday night. I had to – I was moderating it. On the panel were Rog Peyton, Kev McVeigh and Chris Hill. It went better than I expected. The room was surprisingly full, and afterwards I was told it had been “entertaining”. Rog Peyton wanted to bin the entire oeuvre of Philip K Dick, Kev McVeigh picked Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, and Chris Hill went for ER Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros. Also mentioned were Isaac Asimov, alternate history, Robert Heinlein, Ayn Rand, Dune, and Tolkien.
I also went to the NewCon Press launch for Eric Brown’s Starship Fall, a sequel to his Starship Summer; The Beloved of My Beloved by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia; and The Gift of Joy, a collection by Ian Whates. I bought signed copies of each of the books.
The BSFA Awards Ceremony on the Saturday evening was entertainingly emceed by Paul J McAuley and Kim Newman. McAuley’s Arthur C Clarke impression probably has to be heard to be believed. Somewhat embarrassingly, Guest of Honour Tim Powers mispronounced Ken MacLeod’s name when announcing the winner of the best novel award.
For the record, the winners were:
- Best artwork: Andy Bigwood, for the cover of Subterfuge
- Best non-fiction: Rhetorics of Fantasy, Farah Mendlesohn
- Best short story: ‘Exhalation’, Ted Chiang (Eclipse 2)
- Best novel: The Night Sessions, Ken MacLeod
I’d sooner McAuley had won the short story award, but The Night Sessions was my first choice for best novel. Congrats all round.
After the awards ceremony, Eric Brown led a group of some fifteen of us to the Kashmir. He claimed this was the best curry house in Bradford. It was certainly the cheapest. Getting back to the Cedar Court Hotel, however, proved easier said than done, and we walked a fair distance before finding a taxi company. One of the perils of hosting cons in hotels outside city centres….
Sunday was a repeat of Saturday – bimbling about the dealers’ room, and sitting in the bar and chatting to friends. It was a quieter day as some had only attended the con on the Saturday. I sat through half of the programme item on Iron Sky, a Finnish film about Nazis on the Moon. But the room was very warm, and after twenty minutes of reading subtitles, I was nodding off. The film-makers are raising capital by selling “War Bonds” for €50, which includes a DVD containing two documentaries on the making of the film. It was these documentaries which were shown at LX.
That evening was the launch party for Ricardo Pinto’s The Third God, the long-awaited final book in the Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy. Ricardo had said beforehand he was nervous and didn’t know what to say – it was the first time he’d done this sort of thing. In the event, he gave a very honest and informative talk for thirty or so minutes on what writing the trilogy had meant to him. I bought a copy and got it signed. (Incidentally, why is The Third God not available from Amazon? Have Transworld pissed them off or something?)
The Cedar Court Hotel was a good venue, although one of the bars tended to clog up with people and make access to the dealers’ room difficult. And the dealers’ room itself wasn’t that large. But the beer was cheap, and the hotel laid on cheap food for much of the day. It’s the first con I can recall where finding something to eat – other than nasty bar sandwiches – was easy.
Cons, of course, are about the people. It was good to catch up with friends, and meet some online friends in the flesh for the first time. And meet new people too, of course. Several people I only saw in passing and never quite caught up with again. Sorry. There were many conversations – some serious, some not so serious. Highlights included Roy Gray and his “disco shower”, Tony Ballantyne and his “step numbers”, Eric Brown telling us about forgotten sf writer Herb Sage, discussing story ideas with Mike Cobley….
In the coach heading for the Cedar Court one morning, I overheard someone mention that they’d been attending Eastercons for twenty years. And it struck me that I wasn’t far off doing the same. My first con was Mexicon 3 in Nottingham in 1989, and my first Eastercon was the following year: Eastcon in Liverpool in 1990. Which is a bit scary. But I certainly plan to keep on going to them.