Jun. 7th, 2012 07:37 pm
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All of which appear in this month's SF/SF, or Science Fiction/San Francisco, no 129 (suitably cropped).

I should have touched up that planet, the parallax has made it look quite lumpen.
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Aw, shucks, and more uncouth words. While I was negotiating with Mrs Wang in regards to taking Easter Saturday night off from distributing Chinese food to the masses, Eastercon has filled to capacity and they've stopped selling memberships, so... I'm not going to Eastercon. :(

It didn't look like I was going to get Saturday night anyway, so I would only have been able to attend Sunday and Monday, but still.

I was considering visiting the air museum half-an-hour away. It might be worth a visit anyway, but maybe I'll leave it for a different weekend, on consideration.


Mar. 14th, 2012 02:59 am
nelc: Bob Howard from the cover of The Fuller Momorandum (Fuller)
Time to start thinking about whether I can afford to go to Eastercon this year.


No, I can't, but shall I go anyway?
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A bit late; I didn't get home until 2 AM last night, and woke up some time after noon feeling completely shagged out.

Panels attended: Imperial Stormtroopers in Court, Nuke From Orbit — It's The Only Way To Be Sure, Pilot a Martian Rover, Space Opera as Backdrop, Dead Dog Party.

Summary: The Stormtroopers panel was about LucasFilm suing Andrew Ainsworth for selling genuine Stormtrooper helmets made from the original moulds. The case has not gone LucasFilm's way and is currently before the UK Supreme court on appeal. Simon Bradshaw has been blogging about it. This was complicated, but entertaining. Basically, the design of the Stormtrooper helmet (under English law, which is where LucasFilm chose to try the case) isn't an artistic expression, so its copyright is not protected under those laws. Commercially, the design isn't covered because LucasFilm never registered the design, and as a non-registered design, it was past the protected period when Ainsworth started selling his helmets. (Incidentally, the Stig is a registered 3D trademark of the BBC. "Some say he is protected by six different forms of copyright. All we know is, he's Registered Trade Mark no. 2526568.")

Charlie Stross' First Law of Planetary Invasion: Make sure you've got the right planet. (By which he meant: don't treat a homeworld like a colony planet or an outpost; not all planets are equal. Big, established inhabited worlds take a lot of resources to conquer.)

If you don't care about collateral damage, then invading the ecosystem may bring the best results. Possible pestilential candidates started with genetically engineered micro-organisms, super-canetoads (a la Dave Gerrold's Cthorr), but also bankers, consultants and LOLcats. Religious proselytizers also got a special mention.

The Great Galactic Ghoul disabled the toy Mars Rover we were going to play with, so we put on blindfolds instead and played Blind Mars-rover Seek. It was all a publicity drive for the Glasgow con Satellite 3 but fun, and there were mini-eggs prizes!

The Space Opera Panel started well and rapidly ascended, with John Meaney raising the bar to appropriately astronomical heights by bloviating about the arrow of time for several minutes. Charlie Stross admitted that the only way to keep space opera consistent with science was by removing the humans, which is what he did with Saturn's Children (and will be doing with the sequel Neptune's Brood, due out in 2013). David Weber tries to keep the Honorverse honest and consistent by restricting himself to only one or two 'black box' superscience gadgets, which are fully defined in their effects by his 125,000-word series bible.

Before the Dead Dog Party, went off into Brum with [personal profile] feorag, [personal profile] autopope, and another fan whose name has slipped my mind (sorry!). [profile] fluffcthulhu didn't come, brains not being part of the South American restaurant's cuisine.

The Dead Dog party was the usual orgy of drunken depravity, involving paper aeroplane fights and the destruction of a digibox that almost deprived the Dr Who fans of their fix. Had some good chats, including one with a civil service scientist who was once required to test the fuses of [redacted] by leaving them at the end of a long tunnel, at the other end of which was a nuclear 'device' (of the exploding variety).

Shoutouts:[personal profile] nojay, Jim Worrad, Martin Williams, David Weber.


David Weber's a good egg, btw: very gracious, and will talk the hind leg off any megafauna you care to name at the drop of a hat.

Kvetch: At Autopope for getting the preview PDF for Black Bag Jobs while we were at dinner.
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Panels attended: Women in SF (v. Fantasy), Space Art v. SF Art, Prolegomena to a Steampunk Catullus, Through a Gunsight Darkly, Guns of the Future, The Admiralty Ball.

Summary: I came into the Women in SF panel late, and for the life of me I can't remember much of the panel, or interpret my notes. I must have been half-asleep still. I vaguely remember the consensus that writing about romance should not be regarded as the bad thing it is. And I think that... Ah, no, it escapes me. Damn.

The usual crew of David Hardy, Chris Moore, Jim Burns were on the art panel, as well as Bob Parkinson, Ed Buckley and Jackie Burns (related to Jim?). They polished off the title subject fairly quickly, then drifted off into talking about music: Jim Burns: "We all paint for pleasure; I wouldn't do anything else. Except be a rockstar, obviously." David Hardy agreed, "If I could be anything else, I'd be a rock guitarist."

Through a Gunsight Darkly suffered a bit of topic drift also, into the topic of the cost of war, psychologically, politically, and economically. David Weber opined that it's not the body bags that put Americans off a war, it's the length of time it takes to get anything done. They keep trying to get it done quickly, and it always works out badly.

Prolegomena etc, was a lecture delivered very swiftly about the relationship between the classics and SF and other modern media. One of the slides was a papyrus of Hercules stories with satirical little drawings commenting on the story; interpreting the meaning of the drawings had escaped the cloistered academicians who'd studied it, until Gideon Nisbet came along with his frank regard for modern media, including comicbooks.

Guns of the Future covered the usual: railguns, man-portable gatling guns, Metal Storm, etc. Talk of appropriate weapons for asymmetric warfare tending towards heavier rounds again (7.62mm, from 5.56mm). Demonstration of a neat folding Airsoft PDW, that sprang from something resembling a small briefcase ot tablet computer into a submachine gun. The weapons the panel would like to see more of in SF included: the orgasm gun, the EMP gun, a laser-railgun, "a weapon that has been thoroughly tested" and giant robots. Favourite fictional weapons included: the Pulse Rifle from Aliens, Star Trek's phaser, and Judge Dredd's Lawgiver.

I went for a walk to the NEC station before the ball, taking photos of the eerily empty plazas and corridors as I went. Really, the whole thing makes me think of some abandoned temple, designed for throngs of people for whatever social reason, now empty and quiet. Creepy.

The Admiralty Ball was this year's masquerade. Lots of Steampunkish, Georgian and more skiffy outfits on show, with a ceilidh band and period dancing. Jolly good show.

Misadventures in the Hotel Trade addendum: Turns out that con goers only get charged £3 for parking if they present their tickets to the front desk. Too late for Friday, but sorted for today and tomorrow. I take back everything I ever said about Hilton being chiseling bastards.
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Panels attended: Women Invisible, Interaction Between Cover Designer and Writer, SF Infrastructure and Engineering, Pub Quiz, SFF Catnip, Gaijin Fan in Japan.

In Brief: Women Invisible ran over its sixty minutes and threatened to breakdown into fratricidal (sororicidal?) conflict at one point. (Though many of the same faces were at today's Woman in SF vs Women in Fantasy, and there was no sign of such conflict.)

Generally, there's much less interaction with authors these days. More interaction with Marketing and Editorial, who regard the illustrator as a supplier of clipart supplied to order and re-arranged to the art directors' pleasure.

The panel felt that grand infrastructure projects are impossible without command economies. Though they mentioned Victorian infrastructure admiringly.

Our team, The Old Buggers, came last in the pub quiz with a tragic 55 & 1/2 out of 70. We stumbled over Eighties cartoons and Movie straplines.

Catnip mutated into Third rail topics at one point: the Singularity, King Arthur, airships, magic = gay. Connie Willis writing about England got a special mention.

A Gaijin in Japan covered familiar ground for me, I mainly went for the nostalgia but I learned some things that I had missed before. [personal profile] nojay was on the panel but unable to hook his laptop to the projector, but he showed the laptop pics to interested parties after the panel proper, until we got kicked out.

I was getting seriously down by mid-evening, but the pub quiz perked me up. Or it could have been dinner. Still had Mr Buzzsaw next door last night, who started up just as I was drifting off, so still short on sleep. I think I dropped off during today's SF Art vs Space Art, and I may even have shored, but I don't think anyone noticed.
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i'm feeling really rundown right now. Maybe it was the Fawlty Towers recreation this morning, or the broken sleep. Or maybe it was the guy who asked me what the joke was with my shirt. Because tee-shirts are only for jokes, apparently. Seeing as that's the only intelligible response I've had with this, I think I'll retire it tomorrow instead of washing it and leaving it up to dry tonight. well, it was only a plan B, improvised at the last minute nearly.

I hope Sethra's experience is better than this.

I think I might go and find a chair to have a nap in, now, while everyone else is watching Doctor Who.
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When I booked in yesterday, I paid the extra for breakfast, and said I'd be down around 8.30 to 9.00. I was a bit draggy this morning, but nonetheless I was in the dining room by a minute or so to nine, only to find it completely deserted and set up for lunch. When someone appeared after a minute or two of hovering, I was told that I should have been down before nine (it was now 9.01), and that I hadn't booked breakfast anyway.

When I'd been back to my room and had a cup of tea and an SSRI, then come down, I was asked for my key. I explained I'd need it later, as I'd be coming back late. I was told that checkout was by 10:00am. I explained that I'm booked in until Monday.

I might understand if it was busy, but if the cars in the car park are any indication, they only have me and two other guests. I think the manager has left his somewhat dimmer cousin in charge.

On the plus side, I got into the Hilton's breakfast bar without anybody stopping me and asking for my room number (I was hungry enough to pay, but there was no-one at the desk, honest). So I got my breakfast.
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£10 for eight hours!? Good gods! I wouldn't care except that seeing as the Metropole is next to the airport, there's no handy sidestreets nearby to leave the car for free. Walking almost seems worth it. I noticed another car park down the road charging £8 for an unspecified amount of time. I'll have to check that out tomorrow.

Con summary: Said hello to [personal profile] ffutures finally, after crossing his path and photographing the back of his head at several previous cons. Said hello to Kari Sperring, who I shared a bar table with at Novacon last year. Saw another fan from Novacon whose name I have forgotten again. Haven't seen [personal profile] feorag, [profile] fluffcthulhu, or [personal profile] autopope yet, although I did spy a cthulhuoid in a glittering headband being carried by a minion.

Panels seen: Great Women in SF, GoH panel, Why Does Software Fail? Space Over Time, Medical Horror Stories.
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Only a little late. Only forgot my reading glasses, but I should do okay with my magnifying glass. Turns out the walking route to the Metropole is about 6km, if you don't want to risk crossing the dual carriageway on foot. Which I don't. Driving is almost as far, since I'm on the wrong side of the aforementioned dual carriageway, but should only add a minute or two to the journey.
nelc: Bob Howard from the cover of The Fuller Momorandum (Bob)
Booked the hotel for the weekend just now. Nice little guest house right next to Birmingham Airport, and only two-and-a-half klicks from the con. I could walk it if there were a decent walking route. And my ankle wasn't wonky.
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Feeling a bit stunned, as I have talked myself into organising not one, but two, panels at Illustrious in Birmingham in two months time, on the subject of Sexual Harassment in SF Fandom. Never organised a panel at a con; not really a big con-goer, really; not terribly clued up on feminist theory; don't have an idea on who I should ask to be on either panel.

Only idea I've had so far is that one panel should be on fan experience of harassment, at all levels; and the other should be a discussion of what an ideal con sexual harassment policy should look like. This may change according to whatever.

Also, my internet is broken today (thank you, Virgin Media), so I'm using my limited Mi-Fi connection. Emails might have to wait until the internet isn't broken, and when I'm feeling a bit less stunned.

Oh, advice and suggestions will be gratefully received.

Going out to take some pictures now.
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So, I just booked at the Campanile for three nights. So it looks like I'm going, despite all the procrastinating.

Eastercon LX

I'll have to try to get to the National Media Museum at some point, I think Saturday or Sunday.
nelc: (Default)
So, I just booked at the Campanile for three nights. So it looks like I'm going, despite all the procrastinating.

Eastercon LX

I'll have to try to get to the National Media Museum at some point, I think Saturday or Sunday.


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