Ted and I got into Dublin fairly early Friday evening. Got to the hotel and Michael Carroll swept down on us and said, “So far it’s just us, the committee, and Mike Carey, the guest of honor! We win!” So we dropped our things off in the room and were subsequently introduced to Mike, who is, as advertised by Juliet McKenna, an absolutely lovely man. A few other people joined us, and after a bit we all went out to dinner at a kebab place across the street (which was really good!), where Mike got all caught up on the Saga Of Take A Chance, a tale which he hadn’t even known he was missing. :) Dinner accomplished, we retreated back to the hotel bar, where more and more people arrived throughout the evening, and where we sat around having a good long chat about (mostly) Marvel and the current X-storylines (Mike’s writing the X-Men), and my ambitions to someday write the X-Men. It was only sometime yesterday that it struck me that cheerily announcing these ambitions to the current writer, when all the comics experience I have under my belt is one five-issue independent miniseries, was perhaps on the bold side. He was, however, extremely encouraging toward the idea of me submitting a portfolio to Marvel, so that was heartening. :)
Mindful of being onstage all weekend, I retired early, and was awake bright and early, ready to go. The reg desk was up and running by the time we got there, with the slight oddity of everyone getting to add their own strings to their badges (though hole punches, embroidery thread and safety pins were all provided, so it was hardly a difficulty), and actually as far as I could see, registration went very smoothly all weekend. There was always somebody at the desk, they all seemed to know what they were doing and what was going on, and any time I dropped by with a question, somebody answered it satisfactorily (the only real thing I stopped to ask was if panel lists could be posted on the doors so people would know which panel was being held where as a back-up to their own schedules, and lo, on Sunday that pretty minor detail had been rectified).
The only real scheduling snafu was that Harry Harrison was unable to attend, which is hardly something anybody can be blamed for. Friday night the con-runners asked people to fill in for new panels replacing Harry’s, so it was all sorted out before the con even began, for which my hat is off to the committee: they handled it very well. As it happened, I ended up in both slots that would’ve been his, so apparently I was playing the part of Harry Harrison for the weekend. I’ve always thought the resemblance was uncanny… :)
Some of the panels could have used more clarification for what their topics were meant to be, but I only heard one described (by a panelist, no idea what the audience thought) as a train wreck, which I thought was pretty good; most cons have at least one train wreck of a panel. I thought the ones I was on largely went well, and our Bechdel Test panel on Sunday morning was a roaring success. We could’ve gone on for another hour, though really it was decided pretty early on that most films failed by dint of having only one female character at all, which made it hard to have two women discuss anything, much less something that wasn’t a man. However, Maura McHugh opened the panel with a film that succeeded–Pitch Black, which indeed has three good female characters, all of whom are a lot more concerned with whether they’re going to survive than
whether Vin Diesel is hot anything else. There was a high point mid-panel when Alien V Predator came up, and we wrapped up by remembering Farscape, which is possibly the most successful Bechdel-Test-passing television show, SF or otherwise, that we could collectively remember seeing.
Something went wrong with the A/V in one of the rooms, so Dave Lally’s media/GoH presentation didn’t start til late, which meant the Golden Blasters panel didn’t start til late. Instead of panicking and trying to shove things into narrowed time-slots, the 4pm panels were simply cancelled–although at least one of them apparently went on without all (any?) of the panelists attending. So that’s actually pretty great, I think. :)
And the Blasters were pretty cool. It was the first year of what’s going to become an annual short SF film festival event. This year John Vaughn brought seven short films from the past few years, and we spent about an hour watching and voting on those. Next year will be its first year as an international competition: anyone will be allowed to enter their short SF film, and twelve finalists will be selected and aired over two days at the convention, at the end of which the award-winning film(s) will be selected by audience and panel-judge decision. They’re also going to be running a short film screenplay competition, so I’ll probably be mentioning this all again in the future.
I must admit to having been quite dubious going into the Blasters, because I’m not much of a short film fan, but Ted and I really enjoyed ourselves, and were surprised at how much time and thought we ended up giving to which film we thought should be the winner (and we didn’t agree!). Nor do I know who actually *won*, because we had to leave before the closing ceremonies in order to catch our train. :) But I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the whole thing, and I’m genuinely looking forward to the Blasters becoming an aspect of Octocon.
The hotel was a terrific venue; the rooms were large enough, we were a few steps from the bar, so we were able to go in and out with great ease and yet keep all the convention-attendees in essentially one place, there were, it turned out, enough eatery places within a quick walk (the kebab place, an Indian restaurant we went to Saturday that was *lovely*, and a very very good French bakery for breakfast or lunch) to not feel like we were on wash-rinse-repeat with food (and the hotel’s bar lunch was fine too), and yet we were far enough away from the city centre that there was really nothing outside the convention itself to draw us away for more than the space of a meal. Really successful location, I think. And it appears they’re happy to have Octocon back next year, which is great.
So, yes, honestly, a good time seemed to be had by all. I have *no idea* how many people may end up interested in attending next year’s event, with GRRM as the GoH. I feel very strongly that the committee members should put some real advertising effort, both locally and internationally, into next year’s con. It seems possible there may be as many as several hundred potential attendees next year, in which case the con and the committee is going to really need to step up its game–but this year’s convention leaves me feeling as if they have the capability to do so. Ted and I will be back next year, and we’re really looking forward to it!(x-posted from the essential kit)