Orbital: Day Four


  • It Was Ten Years Ago Today. My last panel of the convention, and one of five panels looking back at different eras of British fandom and sf to mark the 50th anniversary of the BSFA (the others being It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, etc). I didn’t make it to any of the others — though I wish I had, so reports would be welcomed — but I thought this went pretty well, managing to cover some of the big events of the 90s (i.e. Interthingy) as well as actually talking about the sf of the period a bit. The other panellists were James Bacon, Claire Brialey, Pat Rigby-McMurray, and Ian Sorensen.
  • You’re Reading It Wrong. The description for this said, “Do you need to know genre to read genre? Do you need to know an author’s previous work to critically assess their latest work? Is it even possible to “mis-read” a book? To whose opinion (authors, critics, fans) shoul we give the most weight?” All interesting questions, but I felt the panel talked around them rather than talked about them, more than I would have liked, anyway.
  • Darker Than Potter. Another YA panel, and aside from some of the panellists occasionally ignoring the moderator’s question and choosing to answer an entirely different question, I thought this went really well — lots of insight into how the YA market has changed over the last 15 or so years, particularly from Neil Gaiman.
  • Closing Ceremony. This was at times a bit shambolic (particularly when announcing some of the art and cyberdrome awards, to the point of being disrespectful to the winners), at times charming (particularly with regards to the big pink pig, and Judith Proctor’s evident glow at how the con has gone). So everything you expect from a closing ceremony, really. Eddie Cochrane picked up the Doc Weir award.
  • Decoding the SF of 1958. Another BSFA-related panel, in that the jumping off point was to discuss the shortlist for the BSFA’s special 1958 award. Although they never got into the specific works in as much detail as I would like (and although it was moved at the last minute from a room that admittedly may have been larger than required to one that was smaller than required) this was still a very interesting panel, with a good spread of opinions and lots of audience input. May also be transcribed for Vector; the panel was Graham Sleight, Claire Brialey, Tanith Lee and Peter Harrow.

Purchases. Oh dear.

Interzone: the first anthology, edited by John Clute, Colin Greenland and David Pringle
Interzone: the second anthology, edited by John Clute, David Pringle, and Simon Ounsley
Pasquale’s Angel by Paul J McAuley
Red Dust by Paul J McAuley
Synners by Pat Cadigan
The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod
The Stone Canal by Ken MacLeod
Let’s Put the Future Behind Us by Jack Womack
Babylon Babies by Maurice G Dantec
Was by Geoff Ryman
The Humanoids by Jack Williamson
The Deep by John Crowley
Roderick by John Sladek
The Shores of Light by Edmund Wilson
Classics and Commercials by Edmund Wilson

In my defence, (1) the last five came from Graham, with whom Nic and I stayed for the duration of the con, and who was having a book clear-out; (2) several of them are upgrades-to-hardback rather than additions to to-be-read; (3) I got six for £10; and (4) none of the others cost me more than £1.50. But still. I suppose this is what Mondays in the dealer’s room are for. (Oh, and I picked up several back-issues of Foundation as well.)


  • I saw badge number 1501 today, although I gather that due to a technical hitch they didn’t actually use every single number, and that the final warm body count was something like 1300. Which is still double last year.
  • I discovered today that I hadn’t really ventured into the labyrinthine corridors of the Radisson. I thought I had, but no. It is more confusing than I could possibly have imagined. There are occasional internal windows, and you think, “how on earth have I ended up looking out over that?”
  • Most incongruous recommendation of the weekend: Tanith Lee recommending Neal Asher “if you like 50s sf”. Well, yes, in some ways, I suppose
  • I really hate it when conventions end, particularly ones like this that felt so full and busy all weekend. Thanks (and congratulations) to all involved for a job very well done indeed.

And … collapse.

4 thoughts on “Orbital: Day Four

  1. It’s really irritating that I couldn’t attend any of Eastercon this year, particularly as I seem to have missed an awful lot of panels that I really would’ve been interested in.

    Oh well. Next year…

  2. Less technical hitches with numbers, more that the numbers include supporting members, apocryphal and beeblebears, and people who buy memberships and don’t turn up, so you never have as many warm bodies as the number you hit.

  3. There was a gap in the membership numbers of about 70-80, because we jumped from about 1320 to 1400 halfway though the con when the WiFi in the lobby became too unreliable for recording memberships on-line and switched to a local database.
    No-shows were lower than we expected, though we haven’t got an exact number yet.
    There were 20 or so apocryphals (toys) and only 6 Beeblebears, which I think reflects badly on the Beeblebear community.

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