Glasgow Snapshots

Further random memories from Interaction, the 2005 World SF Convention in Glasgow ...

• Asking Kim Stanley Robinson the obvious question. His climate-change novel Forty Signs Of Rain (with Washington DC rather than New Orleans flooded) is now followed by Fifty Degrees Below. Would the next one be Sixty something? "No," he said, "that would be too obvious. Maybe I'll jump to a hundred ..." Alas, One Hundred Years Of Solitude has already been done.

• Shell-shocked guest of honour Christopher Priest asked: "Did you hear about my John Brunner moment?" John Brunner had a stroke and died at the previous Glasgow Worldcon in 1995. Chris merely fell down an escalator and, despite hideous gashes and torn trousers, heroically gave a scheduled reading before summoning first aid. Meanwhile, his main Worldcon speech is on line:

• Fan guest of honour Greg Pickersgill accosted me as I struggled with a silly velvet bow tie for the Hugo ceremony. With characteristic earthy humour, he cried: "You're not going to wear that, you great f*cking pansy?!" This argument convinced me.

• Soundbite from a taxi driver: "I've just seen a Klingon in a kilt. You don't see that very often. Not even in Glasgow."

• Traditional angst at the autograph table as authors like Simon R. Green compared their modest queues with the long, long line that wound around the convention centre like the Midgard Serpent. This was, of course, Terry Pratchett's.

• Appalling scenes at an earnest panel on the future of SF fandom as we all grow older. The traditional question "Where will the new fans come from?" was asked – and immediately answered as a screaming horde of heavily armed youngsters burst in to take over. Aged fans feared it was the end of the world, or Lord Of The Flies come to life. The outrage had been cunningly prearranged by the Young Adult Fan Activities programme organisers, with all-plastic weaponry ...

• Those Hugo Awards already have countless categories (see SFX 136), but another is planned. The Worldcon business meeting voted to split Best Editor – traditionally won by magazine editors – into Hugos for editing short fiction (magazines, anthologies) and long fiction (novels). SFX remains out in the cold, since no-one has proposed a Best Glossy Nonfiction Editor category.

• Official signs in the convention centre warned that despite newspaper rumours, J.K. Rowling and Iain Banks weren't at Interaction. This was true of Rowling, who was recovering from a bout of Harry Potter Launch Fever but sent a nice message and (at last) admitted she was "thrilled to receive the Hugo in 2001." Iain was actually at the con, but semi-incognito since he wanted to have fun in the bar rather than be mobbed by Culture fans.

• Strangest line seen in a fanzine at Worldcon (Bento): "I went to a planet without bilateral symmetry, and all I got was this lousy F-shirt."

• Unexpected autograph moment at a drunken party where a nice lady asked me to sign her, ahem, cleavage. Little did I know that this would lead to the embarrassingly public presentation, during one closing ceremony, of an award for Best Signed Boobs.

• Small mystery solved. I'd wondered in public about the identity of "Jael", the Independent crossword setter who crammed a 2004 puzzle with SF authors' names. In Glasgow, author James Lovegrove shyly confessed that Jael, or JL, stood for ...

• Amazement that Interaction press coverage was mostly benign, despite a few tired old "Trekkies beam in" headlines. Later, though, things reverted to normal when the Sunday Times food critic Allan Brown whinged about horrid interlopers at the local Moroccan restaurant he was reviewing:

"... long, wispy hair, milk-bottle spectacles, breathable rainwear, mouthfuls of teeth. It could only be a delegation from the world science-fiction convention that was going on down the road. The unmarried of five continents had convened in the same spot at the same time. The upside of this (and it had to be looked for strenuously) was that at least they'd have something positive to tell the citizens of Klaarg-9 about Glasgow's restaurants, having beamed down into a cheerful, affordable neighbourhood eatery with native staff and an intriguing menu."

At the same time, no doubt, those gourmet fans were thinking: "That chap there looks like a patronising twerp who thinks entirely in newspaper clichés."

David Langford was overjoyed to discover that his work has been pirated in Czech fanzines. Fame at last!