Monday, June 8, 2009



I tried to get some updating done while I was at the Con in Adelaide, but I was thwarted by a lack of time, by occasional drunkenness, and most egregiously of all, a completely software fuckover as supplied by a mixture of linux, open-office and firefox on the eeepc. Which means: I wrote a lot of bloggy stuff in Open Office, tried to copy it into the blog using Firefox, and got repeated messages about how my shitty HTML simply would not be posted. Apparently there's no (easily discernible) way to copy text from Open Office on linux to Firefox on linux without taking all the invisible HTML commands along with the text.

Eventually, I gave up. I needed the sleep more.

It was an excellent con, once I got there. By which I mean that I got up at 0400 on Friday morning, in the cold and the fog and the darkness and the fog, and I drove through the fog and the darkness and the cold and the winding roads and the fog all the way to Launceston Airport for my 0630 flight... which promptly did not happen because of fog. And a lot more fucking fog.

By 1100, I was reduced to sending snarky text messages to friends "They can send two robots to Mars and run them successfully for over a year... but they can't land a fucking jetliner in the fog."

A little after eleven, a desperate pilot from Melbourne made one daredevil attempt to thwart the fog... and succeeded. But by then, my plans were already buttraped. I had, for example, NOT aimed to land in Adelaide at peak hour. In the middle of their first downpour for several weeks. Which made my taxi driver extremely nervous. And stalled the traffic the whole way from the airport to my Currie St hotel. Oh yes. (Note: the trip back actually cost me $12.00 less.)

But I did get in, finally, at last, and I wandered off to catch up with Folks. Because that's the bestest bit of the whole Con thing: those few, magic days of hanging out with people who like the same weird shit I do, write the same weird shit that I do, and understand my weird-shit sense of humour.

Seriously -- I can't say it loudly enough. Shooting the breeze with my colleagues in the SF game is like going home. It's like going back to the best days at University, skipping lectures to hang out in a dingy cafeteria making jokes and swapping stories and devising unlikely plans. Except, of course, that instead of a dingy cafeteria, we get to hang around the hotel bar and suck back booze.

First night was civilised. I met up with the Fisch, and Peterm of Unicorn Porn fame, exchanged greetings with the Scarlet Angel (that maskobalo gown totally rocked, Angela!) and another comrade-in-Canterbury, the delightfully ice-blonde L L Hannett. Peterm and I eventually trundled off to a Penang/Malay place for a bite of food, and then I went and put my head down. Tired as hell after an entire day of hanging around airports and airplanes. Much suckage there.

Day Two started with a panel. I had to talk Steampunk alongside Richard "Worldshaker" Harland, and the Ubiquitous Dave Cake. As usual, I had a lot of fun throwing cats at pigeons, provoking arguments, and offering utterly unsubstantiated opinions... I like to think the audience wasn't too bored for too long, anyhow. Some damn' fine costumes there: there are definitely some folk who are into Steampunk purely for the corsetry, it would appear.

I caught up with Ian N at his book launch -- picked up a nicely signed copy, appreciated his reading, sucked back a few glasses of bubbly and chatted to some random members of the fan community. Dashed out, picked up a bit of chocolate for Natalie, browsed for some presents for the kids: I found a comic store, and got a compendium of the first 24 issues of "The Avengers" for Eldest Son, who has a birthday coming soon. He'll be pleased, I expect, although doubtless he'll come along and want to discuss how terrible the storytelling is in those comics. Then I'll explain they were written in 1964, and I'll point out that 'irony' wasn't actually discovered until the late 80s...

Girlie Jones and the redoubtable Jonathan Strahan were kind enough to accompany me to dinner. I hadn't had the opportunity to chat with Mr Strahan before, and it was rewarding. I like the bugger: he's smart, opinionated, funny, appropriately rude, and as well as being a multi-awarded editor-type person, he's a fellow denizen of Planet Parenthood. Communications were easily established. In fact, he and GJ were even trusting enough to let me lure them into a Chinese Steamboat restaurant... which turned out to be a really great find.

I love Steamboats. For those who've never had one, a Steamboat is a flogging great pot of fragrant stock that sits in the middle of your table, gently boiling over a gas burner. You grab piles of exciting foody bits from the buffet, then you come back, cook them in the simmering stock, dip 'em in the range of interesting sauces provided, and gobble 'em down. When you've had all of that you can stand, you take the now-very-rich-and-tasty stock, add some noodles, and finish that too.

This place -- which is on Hindley St on the opposite side from the police station, about a block and a half from Rundle Mall -- was fabulous. The moment we stepped in, the steam from twenty or so boiling hotpots hit us like a sauna. The place smelled just incredible.

It was fantastic. Because GJ is vegetarian while Jon (I have no idea how he feels about 'Jon', but I'm tired of typing already...) and I prefer to know something died for our dinner, they organised a two-sided Steamboat pot for us so we had both a vegetarian stock, and a spicy-hot chicken stock. And it really was spicy-hot, which was great. Normally I find that when I ask for "really hot", the restaurateurs don't take into account the fact that I learned to eat this stuff in Kuala Lumpur. These people took me at my word, and both Jon and I worked up a decent sweat. (Credit where it's due: Jon was completely unfazed by the chili content. Good man with a spoon... though he did cavil at The Giblet From Hell.)

Damned good steamboat. We had lamb, and beef, and chicken. We had tofu and bok choi and bamboo shoots. We had baby octopus and squid rings, dried mushrooms and chicken giblets... I wasn't watching everything GJ slipped into her vego soup, but when I sampled her side of the pot, it was very, very good indeed. Final verdict: anybody in Adelaide with $22 per person, the Asian Fondue Chinese Steamboat Restaurant is extremely forking good indeed.

'Course after something like that, the evening just had to go sideways. And it did, in the form of Russell. We were hanging out in the bar, alongside a bunch of other folks, and Russell got it into his head to get serious with the drinks. I was killing off brain cells with a mix of gin, tonic, blue curacao and lime juice -- which at least has vitamins and water for hydration! -- but Russell was on the downwards march with straight shots of Drambuie... which is nuthin' but 40-odd percent boozarama packed with sugar and exciting flavour. Hangover in a bottle, man.

The night kicked onward until 0300. Other casualties included Rob Hoge, felled by a Long Island Iced Tea purchased by the Fiendish Fisch. GJ held out bravely, but a string of well-aimed Cosmopolitans eventually put the zap on her too... I believe it is no coincidence that many of us surfaced quite late the next day.

And more folk to meet. I kept running into people I knew through the blogging thing. Tip o' the hat to the delightful Fred Mouse, dancin' fool that she is. Likewise to Su Lynn, and Nyssa, and Sari... so many people! Lucy Sussex; the perfectly marvellous Sean Williams (whose favourite painting depicts a baby Jesus with a radioactive helmet, poised for take-off on the lap of an equally behelmed Madonna who gazes down with an expression of deep alarm... slightly disappointing, since I'd have been willing to bet his favourite was actually the Dead Pig Painting)

David Kernot from ASIM; David Conyers from all over the place... Jason N and Mlle K... Kate from Briz... look, the thing about a Con is all the wonderful folk you already know, plus the new ones you get to add, and sadly, there's never enough time. Never could be. So you converse in passing, and grab people out of groups to trade hugs, and buy drinks for near-strangers, and eventually, you just can't remember any more. So if I haven't mentioned you here (Brendan!) put it down to excitement and alcohol and tiredness, not to ill-will or ignorance. (And you can say something rude to me about it at the next convention, and I'll buy you a drink... but only if you can actually convince me I forgot you!)

Much to my embarrassment, I managed to miss Richard's book launch. That annoyed the hell out of me, because I really wanted a copy of Worldshaker. Happily, I caught up to Richard later, and when I'd apologised in a sufficiently abject manner, he signed a copy for me. (Read it on the plane on the way home, Richard: cool! Get on with the sequels now, right? Don't make me hunt you down...)

And oh, hey, yeah: they had an awards night, and when the marvellous Margo Lanagan scored yet-another-Ditmar for her story The Goosle, turns out that by some stroke of fate the voting was tied in the short-story category. So the award was shared with some late-coming nobody going under the unlikely name of "Dirk Flinthart", for a piece called This Is Not My Story.

Yep. That's a first for me. Gotta say, sharing a bill with Margo made it extra special. And many thanks to the wonderful Tehani, who purchased and edited that particular story for ASIM... I phoned her as soon as the awards were done to say 'thanks', but the moment she answered, I got an earful of happy squealing. Seems somebody had been liveblogging, and Tehani probably knew about the award before I'd managed to filter it through my rather surprised brain cells... and thanks, by the way, to any and everybody else who liked the story. I'm rather tickled to be able to show my kids the trophy-thingee -- and the giant Haigh's Chocolate Murray Cod that went with it will help convince Natalie that there was a good reason for me to be away all weekend!

There was a lot more to the weekend, but if I keep blithering away like this, the movie I set up for my kids to watch (it's cold as hell and raining outside. Yay! Cold enough, I think, that there will be snow on the mountain tomorrow.) will finish and I won't have posted this epic yet. So... I'm just gonna stop.

I had a hell of a weekend. Thanks to everybody. I'm home now... and I can't wait to get back to the writing!