Beam 07 : Worldcon Staff Weekend

J I M  T R A S H

jtrashIt was early, far too early to be cycling at top speed toward Waterbeach station. Of course there is no chance we’ll catch this train. We set off far too late.

We board the train and are whisked away to England’s capital city with speed, style and several tons of modern technology aiding our passage. Several trains later we are within a day’s march of the Excel centre Here all train activity ceases and rail replacement buses rule the land. Vast hordes of women dressed as schoolgirls and men with huge weapons crowd onto these buses making it unlikely we will ever experience the luxury of rail replacement travel. We hoof it over the bridge and are soon within sight of the beauty and elegance that is the Excel centre. London Comic Con is walking with us although they are stopping much more often to be photographed by themselves, their friends and anyone who has ever wielded a camera. They are absolutely loving it. Who would have thought that dressing up and having people point cameras at you could bring so much joy. We are not of the photo joyful and enter the Excel centre by a little regarded side entrance.

The signs proclaim that staffers should pop over here for a bit of a Worldcon thing. We pop away and soon find ourselves mingling with lots of people who look vaguely familiar. There’s that splendid Haddock chap who knows probably even more than Iain Banks knew about Iain Banks. Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer are looking earnest and focussed. James Bacon is a Bounder of Adventure and bounds over rounding up his programming peeps so they can form a little gang at the back of the room. I think we’re supposed to throw ink bombs at the swotty kids in the front row. We haven’t brought any ink bomb supplies. We are poorly prepared for rowdy behaviour. Matron Alice tells us many important things and sends us away to our rooms. The program group commandeer room 6 and repel all incomers and attempt to establish our technological mastery over the space. The space looks like winning until Deborah C steps in and produces a 20 foot extension cable from her special bag of stuff. We are victorious and the projector displays can begin. Joyous laughter rings throughout the land. There are desperately serious conversations about program databases and tags and Ian Stockdale shows us his inside database measurements. We whistle and gasp in amazement at the scope and breadth of his wildcard searches and we yell for more. He asks us not be greedy and we are sent away to feast upon coffee and sandwiches of indeterminate filling.

After many more hours of data wrangling we are released to make our way to sunny Stratford amidst thousands of unlikely costumed heroes. They are all busily posing. The drowning orphan and the small girl cornered by a gang of hell’s angels will need to wait until the photographers and their models are completely satiated.

We are fortunate in that the evening socialising stuff has been relocated to the hotel in which we are staying.  The hotel begs to differ about this word fortunate. Within only a half hour they are already telling us that food may not arrive within the decade. Moments later all the food on the menu has gone but pizzas are a possibility. Several people storm out of the building in disgust. We mourn their leaving by drinking more beer and eating pizza. There are excesses of drinking and carousing and last fans standing are Yvonne Rowse, Ian Sorensen, Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer. I’m sure that our conversations were probably eloquent and wonderful (ahem).

I awake feeling a little fragile. I’ve no idea why. Breakfast is available in abundance and I indulge mightily. Yet again we run the gauntlet of giant pokemon and sailor girls to reach the venue. Alice Lawson and Steve Cooper are pouring forth words of great wisdom and making pointed remarks about the programming team. I don’t know exactly know what has happened but it seems that James Bacon is to blame. We disperse once more to learn much about tags, seeding and other wondrous things They are a prelude to the programming survey that is yet to come. Once it arrives we will unleash the link to those folks who we’d like to be part of the programme and they can hack their way through large numbers of desperately impertinent questions to supply huge wodges of information. We will then wade into the midst of this data and with our new found skills as masters of the database will extract the urine info to create a Worldcon programme that will delight and enthrall.

We meet our co-conspirator in the fan programme, Emma England. She is from a different piece of fandom to us and speaks a completely different language. I learn alien words. FanWank is my favourite. It’s a word that refers to feuding, of which the vast majority seems to take place on Twitter.

Fun times and a fine weekend

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