Aussiecon, days 1-2

Well, it’s a Worldcon, which means it’s all a bit of a blur, but I’ll see what I can remember.

It’s a little small for the Worldcon, about 1400 people and many of those Australians, so it’s a little thin on people I know, but on the other hand this also means I get to spend more time than usual hanging out with people I don’t know all that well, like John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow.

The brand-new hotel and convention center are in a brand-new urban-renewal neighborhood, which means there’s not much right nearby. The nearest neighbors are a huge casino (which spouts flames every hour on the hour during winter evenings) and a factory outlet mall, each of which does have some food options. You can also walk across the river to the Central Business District — “the mainland” says Kate — for more restaurants. Still haven’t had a bad meal, though, although the frites at the Belgian place were not up to true Belgian standard.

So far I’ve had a kaffeeklatsch and a reading and moderated one panel. All were moderately well attended and went well. I sold two copies of Space Magic and one of Mars Diaries out of the three copies of each I brought with me. Also attended several program items, including guest of honor Shaun Tan giving a presentation on the making of the short film of his The Lost Thing, as well as a showing of the film itself, which was delightful and heartwarming. Interesting to see reflections of Australian suburban and city life (tight-packed low hip-roofed houses, trams) in the made-up world of the story.

Have not purchased anything in the dealers’ room or any souvenirs, but did buy a pair of gloves; it’s colder here than I’d packed for. One fellow in the dealers’ room has some merchandise with pictures of Ned Kelly. This is the kind of guy who in the USA would be waving Confederate flags at gun shows, an extreme Australian (and Irish) patriot. Now I understand a bit about the phenomenon of Ned Kelly as a folk hero.

Another bit of Australian culture I’ve come to understand a bit is the square-framed clothes drying rack which is a symbol and fixture of the Australian suburban back yard. When we arrived in town there was an art installation titled Hoist in Federation Square, which used one of these racks as a place to hang photographs and writings and included some projections, and since then it seems I keep running into them. Many (perhaps even most) Australians don’t own clothes dryers, prefering in this generally dry and windy climate to air-dry their clothes, and the apartment we were staying in before the convention included a single unit described as a combination washer-dryer but that was actually just a washer-spinner; we found that the load of wash we did right before shifting to the con hotel came out pretty darn damp. Lacking a hoist, or a yard to raise it in, we had to wait until we got to the convention hotel to hang the damp clothes from a line strung over the tub.

The convention has generally been running smoothly, though the program is in rather a state of flux. The biggest problem is that the party hotel (Crowne Plaza) decided at the last minute not to allow people to throw any actual, you know, parties. There are a few “meet and greet” events (not “parties”) in hotel public space but last night I found them pretty inhospitable and spent the evening in the Hilton hotel bar instead. Ditto this evening, until they drove us away with holy-crap-that’s-loud salsa music that started promptly at 10:00.

Going to bed now. Another exciting day of Aussiecon tomorrow.

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