I don’t normally go for “end of year” posts, let alone “end of decade”, but thinking back over 2009 I have realized that it was fairly interesting in many ways and therefore probably deserves a retrospective.
The year began in a very worrying way with a real possibility that I might never be allowed back into the USA. Having been advised that I ought to get a visa, and having spent around $2000 on an immigration lawyer, I took myself off to the US embassy in London only to be laughed at and told that I had no chance. The only good thing about it was that my application was apparently so risible that they didn’t bother to turn it down (which would definitely have meant no further travel); they just said they’d forget they ever saw it. As it turns out, I didn’t actually need a visa at all. It is all very strange.
Had things gone according to plan, I might have been spending more time in New Zealand and Australia, but what originally appeared to be a very promising business opportunity turned to dust thanks to the credit crunch and I was left holding some rather expensive plane tickets. I went anyway, and enjoyed a couple of conventions (here and here).
Talking of which, if you are ever in need of a hard working guest for a convention, try Julie Czerneda. I had the pleasure of watching her at three different cons this year and I can’t remember seeing anyone, not even Neil, put more energy into being a guest.
On the subject of Mr. Gaiman, I went to see him do a reading in Dublin, and to see a gig by someone called Amanda Palmer whom Neil seemed to think was rather talented. They did seem very friendly at the time, but I had no idea quite how things would blossom over the coming year.
I started working with Clarkesworld from the first of January and had my first involvement in the February issue. I think we’ve published some interesting non-fiction through the year, but I have been very disappointed at the low level of submissions. I need to start nagging you folks.
Being nervous about my prospects for US travel, I made a point of going to more events in Europe. In particular I attended my first convention in France. Imaginales was a lot of fun and I intend to go back again next year. Finland was awesome as always. It was great to see Finncon have space to expand into.
Of course I’m still very much interested in Worldcon, which led me to write this. And as just talking doesn’t generally get you anywhere I produced ConReporter.com. As a piece of software it wasn’t really up to much. Had I had time, and more skill with PHP, I could have produced something much better. But it got a lot of interest, and a lot of help from famous people, as a result of which over the 5 days of Worldcon it was visited by 1,950 people from 59 different countries. I call that a win. That’s more than half the number of people who attended the convention. Next year hopefully we can do even better, and start to make Worldcon a truly international event.
At Worldcon I won a Hugo, which was very nice indeed. I also beat Dave Langford in a straight contest, which still hasn’t really sunk in. Thank you, again, everyone.
On a very much smaller scale I helped found BristolCon. Huge thanks are due to our GoHs, Al Reynolds and Charlie Butler, and to people like Paul Cornell and Juliet McKenna who came along to support us. We only got just over 50 people, but it was a solid start and we hope to do better in 2010. Congratulations are due to Jo Hall and her team for a job well done.
The last big event on my convention calendar was World Fantasy, in which I was closely involved as I’m a director of SFSFC, the fan group that staged the event. As far as I have heard from most of the attendees it was a huge success (and apologies once again for the art show, which we know was well below par). The World Fantasy Board appears to think the convention was a total disaster run by a bunch of greedy incompetents, but apparently they say that about almost every year. They were sufficiently rude that I, for one, won’t be attending World Fantasy again. And if you happen to be a member of a fan group that is thinking of bidding to stage the event I have one word for you: don’t.
It was at World Fantasy that I helped launch something that is going to be taking up most of my time during 2010. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards are long overdue and will hopefully help bring many talented writers to the attention of English language fandom. I’ll be writing a lot more about them in the New Year.
2009 has, of course, been the year of Twitter. I happen to find it enormously useful. I appreciate that’s not the case for everyone. If it is not for you, don’t use it. It is just a communication platform, after all.
And finally, a decade into the 21st Century, technology has started to come good. Obviously there is broadband internet, without which my life would be very different indeed. But 2009 also saw my discovery of the iPhone and Wii – two bits of technology that have rapidly become indispensable to me. Yes, of course life is possible without them, but in their different ways I find them both very valuable. Being someone who is well versed in the concept of superfluous technology, I find that rather remarkable.