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Lauren Beukes

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

WorldCon Part 3

Launches, parties, Hugos and the aftermath

In which much alcohol is consumed at the Intercontinental hotel, an angry robot nearly gets lucky, I total up my stash and Bill of Fables engineers meetings with Neil and Neal, but ultimately proves more entertaining company.

The Angry Robot launch party features a real angry robot. Who turns out to be less angry and more, erm,… flirty.

YouTube Preview Image

All the books ,which are supposedly display only, are handed out to “important people” or nicked by enthusiasts who don’t realise they’re not giveaways. Despite the free-for-all, Moxyland and Slights still sell out in the first three days at Chapters bookstore in the dealer’s room.

Tragedy strikes when hotel management tries to shut down the party by evicting us from our suite because we’re not on an official party floor. But tragedy turns out to be only a minor setback. We reconvene on the 5th floor in a spare room with rescued alcohol and with our guest list intact and bounce right back.

Lee Harris at Angry Robot Party (pic by Paul Cornell)
Lee Harris at Angry Robot Party (pic by Paul Cornell)

Lee Harris gets his revenge for me teasing him about talking about shoes and hats half the night (although I’ll be the first to admit that he has a great hat) when I slip out of the Angry Robot party and go downstairs to change out of my high heels.

Having negotiated the insane queue for the elevators (a Montreal radio station made the mistake of announcing on air that the Delta was hosting open parties with Science Fiction gods and free booze), I take one look at the pale freckled red-eyed zombie wench in the mirror and am convinced that sleep is a priority. I don’t return and am condemned to “lightweight” status for the duration of the Con.

Crash the launch party for Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl . Paolo is smart, cool and at the nucleus of a cloud of admirers.Publisher Jeremy Lassen in one of his zoot suits, standing at the glass balcony in the private suite looks down over the party like the godfather of speculative, plotting wicked things.

I neglect to buy the book, reasoning the hardcover will take up too much space / weight allowance in my bag. They sell out on the first day. I live with the regret.

windup-girl

Having drinks at the Intercontinental, late night venue of choice, John Picacio is on a mission to get me into the Hugos pre-party and convinces the unsuspecting Bill Willingham of Fables notoriety to take me along as his +1.

Fables Cover

Bill turns out to be a raconteur of note, outrageously charming and funny. We talk about comics and terrible misdeeds of misspent youths late into the night. I make the mistake of lamenting that I haven’t had the opportunity to meet Neil Gaiman. He takes note.

At the pre-Hugos party, my pick of best-dressed goes to Feòrag and Fluff (pic by John Picacio), in a Burtonesque ensemble she made herself, closely followed by Cory Doctorow in his wedding suit and Alice Taylor with her hair pinned up in whimsical cornetti twists. Charlie Jane Anders, Liz Gorinsky and Mary Robinette Kowal also deserve mention.

feorag-and-charlie-john-picacio

Cory Doctorow and Alice Taylor (pic by Picacio)
Cory Doctorow and Alice Taylor (pic by Picacio)

Half an hour in, Bill snatches me away from chatting to Aliette de Bodard and her fiancé and thrusts me into conversation with Neil Gaiman. I manage to say something vaguely coherent about the difficulties of researching African mythology for my new novel, Zoo City and ask him how did he do it on Anansi Boys . He mentions a couple of resources. And then adds sagely: “Make it up.”

Paul Cornell, Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes, John Picacio, Lou Anders (photo from Paul Cornell)

Paul Cornell, Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes, John Picacio, Lou Anders (photo from Paul Cornell)

The Hugo’s play out like the Oscars, complete with tuxes and gowns and very pretty shiny statues made of rock and rocket.

Paul Cornell (who claims we helped him write his prize-giving speech when really we mainly harassed him and made sarccy comments) winds up the crowd announcing the winner of the short form category. It’s a close race between two episodes of Doctor Who and Doctor Horrible’s Sing-along Blog . Paul opens the envelope. He pauses for effect. Then he says “And the winner is Dr…” and leaves the line dangling provocatively for a good thirty seconds to agonised groans from the audience. (It was the latter, obviously).

Hugo Award 2009

Hugo Award 2009

The best acceptance speech comes from best fan writer, Cheryl Morgan, for her succinct “I can haz Hugo?”

Ann VanderMeer, still shell-shocked after Weird Tales won out over Locus for best SF magazine, lets me hold her Hugo while she texts loved ones. ( Weird Tales has mind-blowing covers art directed by Stephen H Segal, mind-blowing stories within, edited by Ann, and a brain-eating history that launched the short story careers of both HP Lovecraft and Tennesse Williams.)

To everyone’s surprise Bill Willingham does not win the Hugo for best graphic novel for Fables . But then, he has 12(!) Eisners already and clearing shelf-space to accommodate yet another hulking clunky award would have probably been a hassle.

He is bought many drinks at the Intercontinental bar in commiseration, but not before he forces me to talk to a reluctant, but gracious Neal Stephenson at the afterparty, who indulges questions about novels with soundtracks and collaborating with J Frederick George on Cobweb before making a getaway.

In the aftermath :
Breakfast with Marc Gascoigne in old Montreal talking Angry Robot’s intentions for world domination and the germs (as in seedlings, but also infection) of a third novel I’m cultivating.

the-living-dead

I depart with serious stash including The Living Dead, an anthology of zombie stories by everyone from George RR Martin to Clive Barker, Kelly Link and Joe Hill edited by John Joseph Adams, several issues of Weird Tales , Fast Forward 2 which contains stories way too smart to read on the plane, edited by Lou Anders, Nir Yaniv’s & Lavie Tidhar’s The Tel Aviv Dossiers about whirlwinds and redemption, Dan Well’s I Am Not A Serial Killer , Jenny Blackford’s The Priestess and the Slave , Halting State by Charlie Stross and true treasure, the ARC of Bill Willingham’s first Fables novel, Peter & Max, a dark frolic about the Pied Piper. (photo from Lou Anders)

Advanced Reading Copy of Peter & Max - a Fables novel

Advanced Reading Copy of Peter & Max - a Fables novel

Along the way, I manage to lose Sarah Lotz’s copy of Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War without getting it signed.

Departures

I enter the US officially at Montreal airport (really, passport control and everything and another retina scan) and fly to New York and then home.

My credit card is hiding in a dark corner at the back of my wallet, rocking and moaning.

It whimpers every time I reach into my bag.

It knows, you see.

It knows I’m already scheming a way to get to WorldCon 2010 in Melbourne.

 

Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    August 19th, 2009 @16:10 #
     
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    Lauren, please tell me that's a remote-controlled robot. I need this assurance more or less right away.

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  • <a href="http://sarahlotz.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Sarah Lotz</a>
    Sarah Lotz
    August 19th, 2009 @16:21 #
     
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    Yay for flirty robots and zombie anthologies (HAVE to read that, Lauren and also a curse on you for not getting a copy of the The Wind-up Girl), for Dr Horrible's magnificent win, and for collecting copies of wonderful treasures (small boo for not meeting my hero Haldeman, but I think a small zombie donation may make up for it). This is a fabulous write up of a fabulous (and much envy-making) world-con.

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    August 19th, 2009 @16:31 #
     
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    Wowwee, what a whirlwind. I'd say you were the glammest person in attendance. And you chatted to Trudi and Neil and Neal. Now THAT's cool.

    Re the flirty robot video: Can just hear the robot cursing that little girl. Damn that little girl, damn her.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    August 19th, 2009 @17:01 #
     
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    I can't say, Ben. I tried to get under his chassis, but you saw how that turned out.

    Yep, Sarah, the zombie anthology is for you to make up for losing The Forever War. If you can pry it from my undead hands...

    And Louis, afraid not, there were far more glam people there. Here's Hugo-winning Best Fan Writer Cheryl Morgan's picks of best-dressed: http://www.cheryl-morgan.com/?p=5815

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    August 19th, 2009 @17:14 #
     
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    Lauren, I'll give Farah Mendlesohn to Cheryl - that's a lovely dress - but clearly her list is missing a little moxy. "Trilian Stars" - !? Eish. Reminds me of this blonde joke:

    A red head tells her blonde sister she slept with a Brazilian man. The blonde says: OMG! YOU SLUT! How many is a brazilian?

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  • <a href="http://fionasnyckers.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    Fiona
    August 19th, 2009 @17:24 #
     
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    Ben, I first heard that as a Dubya joke.

    Tony Blair calls up George Bush to tell him there's been another terrorist shooting on the Underground. "Two wounded and one Brazilian dead."

    "Oh my God, that's terrible," quoth Dubya. "How many are there in a Brazilian?"

    @ Lauren, what a fantastic rollercoaster of an experience!

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    August 19th, 2009 @18:50 #
     
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    Classic, Fiona!

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  • <a href="http://ingridandersen.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ingrid Andersen</a>
    Ingrid Andersen
    August 19th, 2009 @19:19 #
     
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    Bearing in mind it was WorldCon, my first thought when I read the name Trilian was that it was a nod to Tricia MacMillan/Trillian, a character in Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trillian_(character)

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    August 19th, 2009 @20:25 #
     
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    Trillian Stars is an awesome name. The only way I could get people to pronounce my name right (in anglicised version) was to say "rhymes with mucus". It was memorable at least.

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  • <a href="http://ingridandersen.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ingrid Andersen</a>
    Ingrid Andersen
    August 19th, 2009 @20:41 #
     
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    It is indeed - a cosmological name :-)

    You could have said your name "rhymes with Lucas, as in George Lucas". But not, as you said, as memorable.

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  • <a href="http://taniavanschalkwyk.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Tania</a>
    Tania
    August 20th, 2009 @08:41 #
     
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    That robot is seriously dodge! Thanks for a most entertaining report, Lauren. Makes me want to go out and buy more books... oh no! BTW, you looked fabulous, as per usual.

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  • <a href="http://fionasnyckers.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    Fiona
    August 20th, 2009 @08:59 #
     
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    Awww, the robot is cute. He looks like Wall-E. If Wall-E could leer.

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  • <a href="http://www.modjajibooks.co.za" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    Colleen
    August 20th, 2009 @11:35 #
     
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    Lauren, wonderful posts! I took 2 days to read them cos all the tags made my 5 year old Mac lie down and go to sleep. You do look fab, like a really famous glamourous person holding her own with a whole lot of other really famous, fabulous, glamourous people.

    Your credit card will have to butch up or ship out. How can you not go to Melbourne in 2010?

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    August 20th, 2009 @13:01 #
     
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    Thanks, Colleen. If it's any consolation, it took me 2 days to put it together. One to write it up, the other to look up and plug in all the damn links.

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    August 20th, 2009 @13:38 #
     
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    I hate to be the one to say what everyone else is thinking, but the lot has been cast. Scifi writers are generally geeky boys and girls who read too much and played too little and then grew up. Regardless of their suits, gowns and success, they are still geeks at heart and it's not a surprise that they were so delighted by Lauren's social adeptness and real-world gusto.

    This insight comes from a boy who neither read nor played too much, but stared out of the window an exceptional amount.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    August 20th, 2009 @15:06 #
     
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    Ah, but Louis, I'm a major geek myself. When I was 15, I didn't just play Dungeons and Dragons, I DMed. (actually it was more Warhammer RPG and systems we designed / modded ourselves, but hey).

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    August 20th, 2009 @15:14 #
     
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    I take it back then.

    I am a geek too, of course. My creds include being banned from the computer room in second year for using up the entire Wits History Department's computer budget playing TrekMOO.

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  • <a href="http://www.brainwavez.org/" rel="nofollow">Mandy J Watson</a>
    Mandy J Watson
    August 21st, 2009 @17:11 #
     
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    These posts have been wonderful - thank you.

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