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a moment of burnt hat

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post post Eastercon post

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Yeah, I know this is really late.  Like I said, things went a bit pear-shaped last week…then I had to plunge back into a big pile of work…and also, I think, I may have turned a bit introverted after all the glamour and social performance over Easter weekend. I’m not feeling terribly articulate, but I will try to make this post because it’s silly late.

First of all, huge thanks to the con committee for inviting me.  I had the best time imaginable.  I didn’t see nearly enough of the many people I wanted to see and it all felt very rushed at times, and I didn’t sleep much because I was so over-stimulated.  I think my dark circles were halfway down my face by the end.

I loved it.

At the closing ceremonies I mentioned Philippa Watts, who was a brilliant guest liaison, and Zoe Sulma—without whom I’d have been lost and confused much of the time.  The Green Room folk were also lovely, and the guys from Ops were brilliant, doing some last-minute printouts for me—and huge thanks to Alex McClintock for getting my flash drive back to me when I left it in the con’s computer! Whew.

I’d never done a con before in the full-on sense.  I went to Worldcon in Winnipeg in 1994, where I knew no one but still managed to get in the same room as Anne McCaffrey and also harass poor David Brin into giving me a blurb for my first novel.  I went to Glasgow Worldcon in 1995 when LETHE came out, but I still didn’t really know anyone.  I can’t remember much about it and I don’t think I was on the program.  Last year I popped into Eastercon but couldn’t get on the programme despite having a novel on the BSFA shortlist.  In the bar I seem to recall shedding tears upon both Darren Nash and Anne Clarke over the wretched state of my ‘career’ (sorry about that, guys).

This is why Olympus 2012 was a whole new world for me, and after spending so many years surrounded by nappies and uncooperative novels, the star treatment that I got was unbelievable.  I don’t think I could possibly articulate how uplifting it was to sit in a kaffeeklastch for the first time (not only was it FULL, but  Justina Robson and Freda Warrington showed up!) and speak with readers about my work.  Massive ego boost!

I should mention that of my ten published books, nine are out of print (and yes, I know I need to do something about the e-books).  Because of this I was very surprised to find that Forbidden Planet had copies of DOUBLE VISION and someone in the Dealer’s Room had hardcovers of LETHE (with that unfortunate cover).  I went into author signings fully expecting to sign nothing while George got mobbed, but readers  brought me things to sign.  And Zoe talked to me.  It was lovely.

I was busy, but in a good way. I didn't get to attend many panels that I wanted to because I was on lots myself.  It sounds like I missed some great stuff, but I enjoyed every single panel I was on, even the scary ‘Occupy the Metaverse’ with Farah and Adam being all erudite as they are--and speaking of Farah, she really seems to have got the best out of me in her interview.  I only wish there had been space for it on the con’s ustream site. 

The one panel I was worried about (Heroism) seems to have been survived by me—it certainly wasn’t as bad as I feared; I was sweating bullets beforehand.  I’d like to thank the friends who talked to me about it beforehand (you all know who you are) and injected me with the necessary chutzpah.  I muffed some figures about warfare because I wasn’t expecting the discussion to go in that direction and was talking off the top of my head.  When I talked about battlefield studies, I managed to conflate a figure roughly estimated at 10-15% of soldiers firing with intent to kill with the quite different statistic estimating 2% of the population that are ‘natural born killers’. They are two different numbers, and the 10-15% is only a guesstimate; but the point is that armies have to train their soldiers to kill.  It doesn’t come naturally for most. 

On natural born killers https://notes.utk.edu/bio/greenberg.nsf/a80806fbebea8dd285257015006e1943/09613ff986b2a86885257599001505c1?OpenDocument

And an interesting video as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9Ozno7HMGE

So, lots to think about when we use the word ‘warrior’ especially the bit about a lot of the kills occurring when the enemy was running away. 

I talked about the peak shift effect.  Here’s a little bit more about that.  http://clicks.robertgenn.com/peak-shift.php

I don’t know how well my Bionicles illustrated it at long distance, but I think it’s interesting that our tendency to exaggerate obvious features in artistic representations can be pinned down with a bit of science. 

The other thing that I mentioned but didn’t get to concerns the function of the reticular activating system in how we see what we want to see.  Here’s a little bit about that. http://www.sourcetext.com/sourcebook/essays/scotoma.html

And on the line between fantasy and reality, have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-G1ApUEXcbo&sns=fb

But enough about that.  My reading is here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/21718512.  I read the beginning of the untitled SF novel and also the beginning of YA novel Shadowboxer, which I’m still working on.  People asked me afterward when these books were coming out.  Neither of them is under contract and at the moment I don’t have an agent, either, so! I just don’t know! What will happen! I do know that the encouragement I received at Eastercon will go a long way toward fuelling me on with my work.

To everyone I met over the weekend, to everyone who attended panels or readings with me: THANK YOU.

I am happy.

(Never fear. I’m sure normal whining will resume here before long.)

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