As previously trailed, I spent Saturday in London at academic conference on the work of China Miéville. It was held in Senate House at the University of London, which I found rather ironic. I’m actually very fond of Art Deco, but it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that there’s a story (probably an urban myth) that Hitler wanted to make the building his HQ when he had conquered London.
Anyway, I had a great day. The papers, as ever at such events, ran the gamut from “beginner” to “riveting”. I discovered that I need to read Bruno Schulz. I got a really good idea for a story from Andrew Butler (though knowing me I’ll never actually write it), and a really good idea for an essay (which I do plan to write). More to the point, I felt like I belonged, and was respected by my fellow attendees, which is something that doesn’t happen much at UK conventions.
Also I got to see Paul Cornell, talk about cricket, and deliver a baby present for Spud. Yes, it did have Moomin pictures on it. What were you expecting?
Today was the Sci-Fi day at the Trowbridge Arts Festival. I gather that Joe Abercrombie drew in the crowds at Waterstones, but I spent my time at Bridge House where Juliet McKenna gave a fine writing course and we had readings from Jonathan Howard, Moira Young and Guy Haley. Jonathan is one of those great people who manage to be really funny without stooping to making fun of people, a talent I wish more comedy writers had. Moira proved once again how a background on the stage can vastly improve the quality of your reading. And I continue to be impressed with how hard Guy works at the “professional writer” thing.
I have to say that, Joe aside, the attendance was not good. I know that my friends at Waterstones had learned a lot from their first year. I only hope that the Festival’s management has learned too. Andy Bigwood tells me that their committee had 80 members. Those of you who have run Worldcons, please stop shuddering.