Well, it’s done — the 2019 Dublin Worldcon has joined the choir invisible, it has ceased to be, etc. In a way, I am very, very glad — last I saw, there were more than 5,500 people in attendance and that is about 5,497 more than I am usually comfortable with.
However, in another, just as contradictorily real way, I am sad it’s over. It was only on the fourth day that I really hit my stride, culling every other panel I wanted to see (back-to-back attendance is nigh-on impossible even when the panels are in the same venue), getting over the shyness enough to greet people I “know” from Twitter in real life and remembering to eat enough, drink enough water and, when things get a bit much, just to get outside in the sporadic sunny spells that rolled over the CCD’s glass barrel.
I don’t share all the loves and fandoms of many of the groups of people there, nor they mine, there is something eminently comforting about being surrounded by people who love and create fantastikal books, TV shows, movies, games, songs, whatever.
As a ‘business of writing’ event, I don’t know if it was successful or not, as I have no frame of reference. But I did meet Neil Clarke, the editor of Clarkesworld, whose two acceptances paid most of my way to attending Dublin2019, who did reassuringly ask when he can expect to see my next story (I am a bit mortified that I forgot to thank him for publishing two of them already and failed to offer him a drink, but I guess that will get easier at future cons too).
I met Dr Jack Fennell, literally a gent and a scholar, and marvelled at the depth of academic knowledge on display at his kaffeklatsch. Buy his book, A Brilliant Void.
I encountered the first real-world fan of something I’ve written, whose glowing and enthusiastic welcome really picked me up after what had been a long and dispiriting day – thank you Zia.
I had a lovely chat with the brilliant writer Vina Jie-Min Prasad over tea in Bewleys, and was inspired by her knowledge of SF writing and its craft.
And I attended the first book launch on the other side of the writer’s table. The good news is I didn’t pass out with nerves, managed to sign my name reasonably intelligibly on some books, and the book sold out, so the publisher was happy, which I am told is important. You can still buy the book – The Best Of British Science Fiction 2018, edited by Donna Scott, from Newcon Press.
The panels I attended were all pretty good, but the highlights for me were Ian Watson at the alternative history panel; Alexandra Rowland on hopepunk (emphasis on the punk – that goes for you too, cyber-, steam-, diesel- and bio-); Kate Heartfield and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry on some guy called Shakespeare; Michi Trota and Julia Rios on America under Trump — JFC; Jo Walton everywhere I saw her, regardless of topic; and the Irish 2000AD panel — with David Ferguson, Maura McHugh, William Simpson and Michael Carroll — which was easily the funniest I saw at the con.
Worldcon was chaotic, tiring, and occasionally infuriating, but I left Dublin, which has changed so much since my college days, full of information and inspiration, having met and listened to some amazing people and with a resolve to take this auld writing lark a bit more seriously.
And that can’t be bad.