Wednesday, August 21, 2019

What I Did on My Summer Vacation – WorldCon 77 in Dublin, Ireland

Celebrity spotting: At the annual world science fiction convention held August 15-19, 2019, we spied some favorite authors wandering about looking for the right room, including Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton, Ada Palmer, Robert Silverberg (twice!), Charles Stross, James Patrick Kelly, GoH Diane Duane (got her autograph!), Laurence Raphael Brothers (a Third Flatiron author!), Premee Mohamed (another Third Flatiron author!), John Scalzi, gamer idol Steve Jackson, and this year's Hugo novel winner, Mary Robinette Kowal. 

Third Flatiron crew Juli Rew, Russ Rew, Keely Rew, Andrew Cairns
A major event is the Hugo Awards, honoring the books the fans have adored over the past year. And of course there is a big party for the Hugo Losers. There was a bit of a kerfuffle over the fact that several of the winners waltzed into the party, while ticketholders (aka losers) waited in long lines. We love you guys anyway. Sort of…

Books books books: I brought copies of Third Flatiron's anthologies to distribute during the Con. There's one little problem with this. A visit to the Dealer's Room or a panel, and we all come away with a whole new stack of books to read or lug back home. Recently I've been dipping into older, influential works, so I was interested to learn of the folklore horror ghost stories of M. R. James, the Appalachian tales of Manley Wade Wellman's Silver John, Welsh author Arthur Machen's short story, "The White People," and Graham Joyce's novel, Limits of Enchantment.

Third Flatiron artist Keely Rew and podcast producer/author Andrew Cairns also introduced their jointly authored comic, "The Lens #1 (incorporating Libra).

Movies and plays and music, Oh my: We were treated to a WorldCon Orchestra concert featuring theme music from Star Wars, Star Trek, World of Warcraft, Game of Thrones, as well as Irish music such as the lilting "Danny Boy," and a preview from Gary Lloyd's new opera about James Joyce's daughter's tragic life, "Dotter Of Her Father's Eyes."

Other treats were the short indie movies, where we saw Snowgum Films's new "Troll Bridge" adaptation of the Terry Pratchett tale, as well as "Goldilocked" (watch out—bears will be bears). There was also the prize-winning "Time Traveller," directed and produced by Steve Kenny and Collie McCarthy, in which an Irish Traveller boy builds his own DeLorean to try to fix his family's past.  

What, you haven't seen it yet? Neither have I: My movie shortlist now includes: Scottish director Peter Strickland's "In Fabric" and Isao Takahata's Studio Ghibli movie, "Pom Poco."

Seeing the sights: It's always a treat to visit Glasgow (where we made a pilgrimage to Alastair Gray's mural in the Hillhead Subway station before setting off for WorldCon) and Dublin. 

A Dunsany original draft, with art by Sidney Sime, "The Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller and the Doom That Befel Him
A highlight was a visit to Dunsany (pronounced Dun-SAY-nee) Castle in County Meath (site of the wedding scene in "Braveheart"), hosted by the current Lady Dunsany and scholar-in-residence Martin Andersson. We learned that Dunsany, a veteran of the Boer War and WWI, was shot in the face during the 1916 Easter Rising (he lived, luckily for us all). 

When visiting the booming crane-bedecked city of Dublin, beware of rain-slicked manhole covers and snarling traffic on your way to some excellent restaurants. Yes, there's a lot of standing in lines at WorldCon, so this is just a taste of what little of the huge program we experienced. But it's worth it, even if United Airlines loses your suitcase full of books on the way home.

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