Saturday, 2 August 2014

WorldCon 87 - part 2

We're about halfway through the Convention now....

We began Saturday with an unmissable item - Hacking at the Enterprise, on how to write for Star Trek. The panelists were Barbara Hambly, who has an incredible giggle, Joe Haldeman, one of the first ST novel writers, John M Ford, Klingon expert, and Melissa Snodgrass, who wrote Tears for the Singers - and Diane Duane was in the audience. They had, unfortunately, a rather low opinion of the present editorial staff for Trek at Pocket Books. Apparently it's been deteriorating for some time and has now reached an all time low. Nor were they too hopeful about getting stories other than straight action-adventure published.

I spent the next four hours stewarding at the Bedford, watching The War Games, the last Pat Troughton Doctor Who adventure, in its entirety. I hadn't seen it before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The script was rather better than some more recent offerings.

There was something wrong with the video player, so that the picture tended to wander across the screen sideways, and nobody knew how to fix it, but we sat there and kept on watching anyway because these things weren't so easy to come by back then, and we might not have got another chance to see it! I was wearing my original Starfleet uniform that day, and I think I was in full Andorian makeup.

That evening was the Masquerade so, appropriately garbed, we headed for the Brighton Centre. Not wishing to shell out funds for the Masked Ball, we watched from the balcony - and pretty stunning some of it was, too. Ann Page was the MC for the evening. The greatly deserving winners were a group who did Elric of Melnibone. Incredibly rich fabrics in great quantity. Several costumes were made out of feathers, including a sweet griffin with flapping wings. There was a set piece of Masters of the Universe, which redeemed itself, after general groans from the audience, by a really good fight scene. One of my personal favourites was the High Deryni, but they were all worthy of praise. On the way home, in my orange ball gown, an extremely drunk young man insisted on 'protecting' us along the prom. We were concerned that he might pass out on us.

Sunday, and we met our friends at the Brighton Centre. We just let them loose on the dealers' room. Mary spent vast quantities of Terry's money and spent ages queuing for Robert Silverberg's autograph. The staff of Alternate Worlds were beginning to recognise us by now.

After lunch we went to the Ray Harryhousen talk. Doris Lessing was in the audience, and Terry had his picture taken in the hall with Caroline Munro. Ray Harryhousen's talk was in the form of an interview, and he came across as a very pleasant, interesting man.

Later, we - or at least, I - worried the natives by dining out at a local chippy (I was wearing my Andorian makeup with a purple sari and red boots).

In the evening I went to the filksinging concert, while everyone else went to the Hugos. At 10.00pm we all came outside to see the fireworks.


Half an hour of incredible pyrotechnics, explosions echoing off the buildings behind us, and visible (so it was said) up to twenty miles away in France. Probably audible, too. I met one of the chaps who set it up, sporting a sling and heavy bandages but quite cheerful about it.

The first talk on Monday was on special effects, moved from the previous day. Martin Bower started out with Space: 1999, and worked on Doctor Who, Alien, Blake's 7, and some drinks commercials, and was most entertaining.

We went round what we could of the Art Show, which was truly amazing, and took a quick look around the Games Suite. Then to Hall 4 and How to Make Sure we Reject Your First Story. We found that basically we're doing the right things, but the editors on the panel gave some horror stories of manuscripts arriving in crates, or hand-carved, silk-lined boxes, or with pictures of naked ladies pushed in between the pages. One chap even had a little old lady turning up on his doorstep asking, "Have you read my manuscript yet?" at regular, frequent intervals.

At the time my friend Pat Keen and I were writing a Star Trek novel together - which we did send off to Pocket Books. We got a standard rejection letter, but at least they had read it.

Then to some real science; John Gribbin and Fred Pohl talking about the Big Bang in fact and fiction. Most stimulating to the brain cells (and I never imagined that John Gribbin was so scruffy!)

And finally the Closing Ceremony, where the gavel was handed over to the Committee for next year's WorldCon in New Orleans, complete with jazz band!

It was certainly a unique experience!"

So that was what I wrote about the last WorldCon I attended, thinking that it was a once in a lifetime experience. And I didn't even mention the incident where Iain Banks (quite drunk at the time) thought it would be a good idea to get back to his hotel room by scaling the outside of the hotel, and got arrested.
And I remember standing on a balcony near a display for L. Ron Hubbard books and scientology, debating whether he was dead or not, and looking down to see Michael Moorcock signing autographs (he was very tall), and there was a display for a book called Kaeti and Company by Kieth Roberts with a life sized cardboard cutout of Kaeti (it was a series of short stories all 'starring' Kaeti, but as different characters - I finally got a copy some years later, and it was very cleverly done. But then, he's a very good writer).
And there was the Japanese lad who was obsessed with Gerry Anderson and tried to ask about ten long and complicated questions in not very good English at the special effects talk, who had to be asked to let someone else from the audience have a go.
And I came away with one of those sand pictures that you tilted and the sand moved around, which were very popular at the time, and a phaser that I was told I mustn't take out of the wrapping because of the very strict no weapons policy. There was a lady I vaguely knew from Star Trek Cons who dressed as both Alice in Wonderland and an assassin, who was bemoaning the fact that she was a totally weaponless assassin for the duration, though she still looked good in black.

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