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As some of you know, I was Director of Promotions for Loncon 3, the recently concluded World Science Fiction Convention. If I have the energy, I will write up longer thoughts about the entire event, but just here and now I want to record the three coolest things that happened to me - all on the same day, Sunday 17th.

The Third Coolest thing That Happened To Me On Sunday: As I emerged somewhat bleary-eyed from a panel in the morning, someone who I had never physically met before (and you know who you are) came up to me and said that they liked this blog. My dear Livejournal, I have been neglecting you of late; Worldcon and real life have both been deflecting me from writing here as much as I used to. It was reaching the stage where I seriously was wondering if I could come back and pay you a sensible amount of attention again. So this encouragement was timely, and also immensely cheering, because the person it came from was the person I had nominated and voted for for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Having my modest and frankly faltering efforts praised by someone who I think is at the top of their game meant a lot to me. (You know who you are, but I won't embarrass you by outing you!)

The Second Coolest thing That Happened To Me On Sunday: I met two Doctor Whos. Obviously, we all knew that one of the Hugo nominees was The Five(ish) Doctors Rebooted, written and directed by Peter Davison and produced by his daughter Georgia Moffett. I spotted Davison and his wife Eizabeth in the pre-Hugo reception, and was chatting to her when her phone rang - it was Georgia, who had been dropped at the wrong end of the building along with her husband. I heroically offered to meet them and make sure they came to the right place, and so it fell to me to escort David Tennant onto the premises. Both Doctors were very good-humoured about posing with members of the team - I was unfortunately too busy to get in on the act myself. I had more of a chance to talk to Davison, who confessed that the only drama he had previously written were a couple of skits to introduce himself to the Gallifrey conventions in California.

The Coolest thing That Happened To Me On Sunday:  Had you asked before Sunday morning, it would have been very difficult to imagine that anything cooler than meeting two Doctor Whos might happen that day. But Worldcon is a place where the unimaginable happens. In the morning, as I walked along the boulevard post-panel, I spotted an unassuming elderly man sitting on one of the uncomfortable benches by the side.

It was Brian Aldiss.

Brian Aldiss

I don't think that there is a living author whose work has meant so much to me for so long, since I discovered him in my teens, more than thirty years ago. (Ursula le Guin comes pretty close, I'll admit, but she wasn't there.) He was more than happy to discuss and explain the thinking behind many of his early and his more recent books - we talked about Greybeard, we talked about Non-Stop, we talked about Hothouse, we talked about Helliconia, we talked about The Finches of Mars, we talked about Cities and Stones. We talked about politics and we talked about families. The day before his 89th birthday, 49 years after he was Guest of honour at the last London Worldcon, he was still sharp as a knife. I didn't want to stretch his tolerance, so we spoke for only 20 minutes or so. But it was the high point of the convention - possibly of the year - for me personally.

A peculiar postscript happened at lunchtime today. As I wandered out of the office to buy my sandwich, I happened to encounter a Balkan friend - one of the best known journalists in his country, who has a personal history of exposing state atrocities and state-linked crimes, has been prosecuted for "spreading disinformation" and has had his house bombed by disgruntled underworld figures. He had spotted my post of the picture above on Facebook, and told me that his first professional job had been translating Helliconia into his native language, adding that he is "green with envy" that I met Brian Aldiss and he didn't. I recommended Cities and Stones (which he hadn't read) to him, very warmly. I must replace my own copy (given as a permanent loan to another Balkan journalist friend, many years ago). Edited to add, 24 April 2019: The journalist, of course, was the great Dejan Anastasijević.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
I saw Aldiss too on Sunday, walking out of the closing ceremony long after everybody was gone, when I and another volunteer were waiting to go and clean up. Didn't want to harass him but it was nice seeing him.

(As it was meeting you if only for a minute on Thursday!)
Aug. 22nd, 2014 08:47 pm (UTC)
I remember a very pleasant while talking to Brian Aldiss at Novacon40, not about his work but about the ability of book collections to require 10 percent of available shelf space than is available. I asked him about the possibility of expanding the available space either by extending or moving and he said his wife wouldn't let him.
Aug. 22nd, 2014 10:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, how *utterly* splendid on every single level. Oh, how wonderful! Yay! ♥!
Aug. 23rd, 2014 06:45 am (UTC)
I should say that dancing with you at the 80s disco was also pretty cool, and may indeed have been technically on Sunday (was certainly very late Saturday)!
Aug. 23rd, 2014 01:03 am (UTC)
I'm very glad these three cool things happened.
Aug. 23rd, 2014 07:47 am (UTC)
Brian Aldiss lives in Headington, Oxford, just round the corner from the White Hart pub which T used to run, so I have actually poured him a drink in the past. I never managed to get on with any of his books, though.
Aug. 23rd, 2014 08:15 am (UTC)
That really is an awesome trio..
Aug. 23rd, 2014 08:33 am (UTC)
I guess good things happen in threes as well!!
Aug. 23rd, 2014 11:41 am (UTC)
That is indeed very awesome!

Congratulations to you and all involved for all the hard work - couldn't make it myself, but a fair number of my LJ friends went and all had highly positive things to say about it!
Aug. 23rd, 2014 11:28 pm (UTC)
Weird. Looking him up, I find that I've only actually read one of his books, Frankenstein Unbound. He's one of those authors I've always known as one of the major writers, but I've somehow not read much by him for no apparent reason.

This, I think, has to be rectified. Helliconia and Cities and Stones appear to be good starting points from what you say here?

I wish could've made it down, but it wasn't to be, but from all the reports I've read it went rather well, so well done overall to everyone.
Aug. 24th, 2014 06:17 am (UTC)
Cities and Stones is non-fiction about travelling through Yugoslavia in the 1960s, so it's a minority taste.

Rather than jump straight ino Helliconia, I'd recommend starting with the earlier Non-Stop, Hothouse and Greybeard. They are not as long, and will give you a good flavour of his style. I like his short stories too.
Aug. 26th, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
I'd say that the three best things about just that one day top pretty much everything that's happened to me in a couple of years. THEY ARE TERRIBLY COOL! Especially getting to chat with Brian Aldiss. We should all be so coherent at his age. (Also, I've had a pretty boring couple of years.)
Aug. 26th, 2014 10:18 pm (UTC)
A cool thing that happened to a friend was going to your panel 'The Spies We (Still) Love' - you said you might put some things on your LJ about it, and he's looking forward to reading it if you get round to it.
Aug. 29th, 2014 12:08 am (UTC)
Oh excellent - I admit to some envy over meeting Brian, Hothouse was one of my fave book as as a teenager...
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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