Once upon a time there was a one-day genre convention at the Assembly Rooms in Derby. Then it moved across the square to the Quad, a cinema complex. Then it stretched to two days. Then it moved cities to Leicester.
And left behind in the Quad a little baby convention called Edge-Lit.
Edge-Lit is pretty much what alt.fiction was back when it was a one-day convention in the Quad. It followed a similar format: two programme streams, workshops and readings; and, of course, the venue was as before. I’m not an especially big fan of the Quad, although its city-centre location is certainly convenient. But the bar/café gets extremely noisy, and there’s two flights of stairs between the bar and the programme items. Still, it’s almost a local con for me – thirty minutes on the train – and it’s a good chance to catch up with people I don’t see very often.
The trip to Derby was uneventful. On arriving at the Quad, I’d forgotten the annoyingly stupid checking-in procedure – you have to get your ticket – bought online – from the ticket desk, and then go upstairs and register with the convention. You’d think they’d have the two together. The first friendly face I spotted was Roy Gray, master of the Interzone desk in the dealers’ room. So I dumped two-dozen copies of Adrift on the Sea of Rains on him to sell, also said hello to Terry Martin of Murky Depths, and then headed down to the bar. Where I ran into Rocket Science contributor Colum Paget and Steve Poore, a member of the writing group I used to belong to.
I spent the rest of the day in the bar, with occasional trips up to the dealers’ room. This is not unusual behaviour for me at a convention. I did make one programme item: “Have the Limits of SF become blurred?”, with Jaine Fenn, Justina Robson and John Jarrold. Though the talk was interesting I don’t recall it reaching a conclusion. I also attended the raffle. I’d bought some tickets, but Roy also gave me his. The last time he did that, I won several prizes – and, on that occasion, since he’d left I kept them for myself. This time I won nothing. Sarah Pinborough and Lee Harris emceed, and Sarah was on fine form, with her self-censor firmly in off-mode.
I bought a pair of books – Carmen Dog by Carol Emshwiller (The Women’s Press edition, of course), and Wolfsangel by MD Lachlan, which Mark then signed for me (I suspect Mark has the worst signature of any author I’ve met). I wanted to buy a copy of Principles Of Angels so Jaine could sign it, but there were none to be had in the dealers’ room.
I can’t remember every conversation I had, though I do recall that some of the topics were pretty weighty, particularly a discussion with Colum on, among other things, the rambutan as emblematic of exotification in The Windup Girl. I also ran into someone I’d corresponded with many many years ago – he used to edit a magazine called Sierra Heaven, which published a story by me; you can find it here. It’s always good to catch up with people.
I’d liked to have stayed for the quiz at 9 pm, but I had a train to catch. As it was, I didn’t get home until 10:30. I was quite looking forward to a kebab as I’d had nothing to eat but a plate of chips all day. But the kebab shop was shut. At 10:30 on a Saturday night. I’ve no idea how that place makes money – it’s usually empty and the portions are extremely generous. So I made myself egg and chips, watched a bit of Download 2012 on telly and thought myself fortunate I wasn’t there (and it’s not like I actually like most of the bands performing there anyway).
And that was Edge-Lit.