March 13th, 2007

International Kittens of Mystery

Dublin, Ancient Ones and Two Very New Ones

I had a great time in Dublin - my first SF convention, my first time in Ireland and only the second time I've been outside France in 12 years.

I'll give a fuller report later but here are a few highlights:

First, Dublin - a very busy, friendly, vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Walking down O'Connell Street I was amazed at how many different languages I could hear. And the nightlife went on until late. How late? Well, my hotel room was directly above a bar where a very loud cover band were belting out 'Show me the way to Amarillo' at one thirty in the morning. Luckily, five minutes later, someone did and I managed to get some sleep.

Late music aside, the hotel was good. As soon as I saw the review - 'Never under any circumstances stay in this hotel. The corridors are so narrow and twisty that if there was a fire no fat person would get out alive' - I knew this hotel was for me. I like old hotels with narrow twisty corridors. It was cheap, a one minute walk from the convention hotel and people with large appetites were cunningly slowed down during the rush for breakfast.

And what a breakfast. Full Irish breakfast of two sausages, two large rashers of bacon, fried egg, black pudding, baked beans and a 'spicy something with oats' that may have been hog's pudding but may also have been something a wise diner does not enquire too deeply into. Do I hear the word entrails?

As for the convention - there were about a hundred people there of whom, I'd say, about 98% knew at least a couple of other people. The majority knew dozens. As one of the few people who knew absolutely no one it was a bit daunting at first but everyone was very friendly - a real family atmosphere.

Pause for a bit of name-dropping. I went out for a meal with Kim Newman, Maura McHugh and Frank Darcy on the Saturday night. Had a long chat with Ken MacLeod (who actually asked me to sign a copy of Resonance), met Fluff Cthulhu and his prime minions Charlie Stross and Feorag, and next year's guest of honour Catie Murphy.

And I've been invited back next year as a guest. So I'll be returning to Dublin next April for P-Con 5.

Now, the Ancient One. A small child had been eating at a nearby table with his family when his eyes were drawn to Fluff Cthulhu. He thought it was a green frog but wasn't sure. His parents encouraged him to ask the nice lady. So he walked over and asked, 'is that a green frog?'

'No,' the nice lady replied. 'It's an all-powerful ancient one who exists outside of time.'

The child who, unless he too existed outside of time, looked about seven, froze. Except for his lower lip which began to tremble. This was not the kind of answer he'd been expecting. I foresee years of therapy in his future. And possible a career as a serial killer. 'The green frog made me do it.'

Here's a picture of the ancient one the next day flanked by the nice lady, Feorag, and her husband, 'the green frog made me write it' Charles Stross.

And finally, the New Ones - a boy and a girl - born on Sunday morning. Yes, lambing has begun and pictures will appear on Thursday.