RogerBW's Blog

Loncon 3 19 August 2014

Over the weekend I went to the Worldcon, at ExCel in Docklands. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

I've hated ExCel on previous visits, and I don't like it any better now. I've always felt that a convention works best when it's slightly too big for the venue: then it's an important part of the venue's business, and has a bit of clout. (The first Worldcon I went to was ConAdian in Winnipeg, in 1994; it was the biggest thing to hit Winnipeg all year, and everyone in the town loved us.) To ExCel, a ten-thousand-person event is something to squeeze into one end of the venue while a proper event is going on at the far end (which was cancelled, as it happened, which certainly helped). So obviously they don't really care very much about what the people at that specific event want: they just apply the "generic large event" template. Cheap food? Rooms of different sizes? Ahahaha, sir is of course joking.

The air conditioning was grossly inadequate to the task of dealing with convection, with some people feeling cold on the lowest level (for me it was just barely cool enough) and everyone roasting on the top level where the panels were. The majority of the panels were in 40-person rooms, with attendance limits strictly enforced; obviously it's impossible to work out in advance which panels will be popular, but the constant refrain through the weekend was from people who couldn't get into the things they'd wanted to see. Perhaps fewer panels in larger rooms would have worked better?

A mere fiver for a baked potato can only be passed off as "London prices" so many times before I start pointing out the real food you can get in London, some of it not even very far away.

The "fan village": convention desks, gaming, and other activities. The tents helped to break things up a bit and make the space feel less like the huge echoing cavern that it is.

The exhibit hall, visible at the back of the previous photos. This was a composite of the usual dealers' room and a general space for people to exhibit whatever they felt like; some were tables with people behind them, others were just static presentations. By my experience of Worldcon dealers' rooms it felt remarkably sparse, but it's been more than a decade since I went to one, and things change.

Huge games in the games tent: Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. (Firefly didn't need a huge variant.)

The Diana Wynne Jones memorial bench.

Old Hugos.

Skylon, still trying to drum up interest but with no actual news.

The British Interplanetary Society, sounding more and more like a bunch of old men wondering how it all went so wrong.

See, it really does travel in time! Apparently lots of people wanted to be photographed next to a Real TARDIS.

The one panel I got to, with MaryAnn Johanson, C. Robert Cargill, and others talking about the continung trend for remakes, sequels and reinventions. Cargill reckons that we're about to see a change in trend towards more "realistic" films much as happened in the late 1980s. We'll see; the studios are trying hard to set up a money treadmill with superhero and other franchises that are meant to last forever.

In spite of the cycling infrastructure, which is actually moderately good round Docklands (I used to cycle down to City Airport on a whim), not many people turned up by bike. Hey ho.

Along with what seemed like everyone else there, I now have a drone (smart move with the deep discount, guys). That will get its own post tomorrow.

And of course the Hugos were awarded.

Novel: hurrah. I know some people who preferred the Stross but I don't think anyone regarded the Leckie as an unworthy nominee. (Wheel of Time ahead of Correia? Wow. Really need to close that loophole.)

Novella: best of a mediocre-to-bad lot, I thought.

Novelette: eh, it didn't really do anything for me, but not terrible. Faintly surprised Ted Chiang didn't get it on momentum; he did get second place.

Short Story: if I'd been betting on a winner this is the one I would have bet on.

Graphic story: good.

Dramatic presentation, long form: also good. Yes, Gravity is science fiction: it depicts a man-rated American spacecraft.

Dramatic presentation, short form: eh, at least it wasn't Doctor Who. I know Game of Thrones has lots of currency among Americans in general, but I'm slightly surprised that the Hugo-voting subset of Americans didn't go for Doctor Who yet again.

Pro Artist: I'm unimpressed, but apparently twee gets the votes.

Fan Artist: hurrah, and if I'm reading the detailed results right a runaway winner.

Campbell: meh. I think Gladstone deserved it.

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 09:24pm on 19 August 2014

    Oh, it was at the Excel. I didn't know. What a dump. For a while I felt a bit foolish not going to a UK worldcon, but now I think I made the right decision entirely by accident.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 08:05am on 20 August 2014

    The experience was fun, in the sense that if you stick nearly ten thousand people many of whom are interesting in the same place good things will happen. But for me at least it was almost entirely casual conversations rather than panels or other big organised things.

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