Breakfast & Checkout

The morning of this fourth and final day of Eastercon began slowly for me. Leaving the hotel and returning the previous night had knocked me for six and had somehow broken the “can just keep going” spell… and my body was now declining to cooperate. However, I needed my breakfast and had to be checked out of the hotel by 11am, so I forced myself through a quick shower and on down to the dining room.

I didn’t manage to consume as much breakfast this time – after three days of gluttonous consumption of fried breakfasts, I think my guts had decided enough was enough, and made me stop at just a small plate of fry-up and a bowl of fruit.

Checking out was also uneventful, but did include the slight juggling act of going and cramming my stuff into my car, and also meeting up with ChrisT (who was staying in a different hotel) so he could cram his stuff into my car as well as I was giving him a lift home.

Turning Manga & Anime Into Live Action – Does It Work?

Panel: Dan, James Swallow, Kat Takenaka, Gaspode (Moderator)

This was another of those rambling “we’re deliberately not sticking entirely to the topic” panels – largely as the topic as written was really quite narrow. Instead they went on to any kind of adaptation or conversion of anime and manga – including dubbing and subtitles. I think this gambit worked, as it meant the panel stayed interesting throughout, where otherwise it might have flagged somewhat.

Humour in SF and Fantasy

Panel: Raven Dane, Esther Friesner, John Coxon (moderator), Donna Scott, Jonny Nexus

I’ve met Jonny Nexus a couple of times through some local gaming cons a long time ago… one of which I accidentally ended up co-running (really was an accident – I volunteered to help on the desk and ended up co-running it). He gave that particular con the friendliest and most well deserved bad review I’ve ever encountered. I also keep seeing John Coxon’s name and face at all kinds of things that I turn up to… although I have no real idea why. Maybe we’re inadvertently stalking each other or something. It’s the peril of gamers and SF fans who are also in some way computer / gadget geeks. I’ve also got a nagging “have I met you before?” feeling about Donna Scott – but again – no idea why. Esther Freisner, I remember reading one of her books a long time ago (“Here Be Demons”, I think)… Raven Dane was the only person who was undoubtedly new to me.

The discussion covered topics such as the difference between fiction with humour in and comic fiction. In one case you inject humour into a story and that humour is secondary to the story, in the other case you take the humour and make the story secondary, fitting it around a series of gags or sketches. Examples of the latter were early Pratchett and the Hitchhiker’s books. Examples of the former were the later Pratchett books.

There was also a discussion about how it’s hard to break into comic SF and Fantasy as the market is seen as being “full”, with about 90% taken up with Pratchett and the other established authors scrabbling for the remaining 10%. The point was raised about Pterry’s writing slowing, and the possibility of a gap opening, but that was countered by the fact that Douglas Adams has sold more since he died than he ever did whilst he was alive. It was also suggested that the market being “full” is probably also nonsense anyway – it’s just trhat publishers and marketers aren’t prepared to put money behind growing the market… which I think is probably closer to the truth.


Old Time Radio Club: Operation Tomorrow

I’ve always been a fan of live performance audio drama, and the idea of retro-style SF presented in this manner was greatly appealing. So I went along to this, which was a fantastic performance of a time-travel story where a scientist is sent into the future to bring back news about any catastrophes that should be avoided. It reminded me very much of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone, and was highly entertaining to watch. It’s amazing how many small and subtle sound effects are added in from the foley table that if you just wouldn’t notice if you weren’t paying attention… but would notice the absence of it they weren’t there!

If you get the chance to see these guys at any point, take it. They’re awesome. Their shows were sorely underattended at this Eastercon, which I think was a crying shame as I suspect a great many more folks would have appreciated them.

Old Time Radio Club: They Walk Amongst Us Here

I enjoyed the first of these so much that I stuck around for the second… which followed the crew of a spaceship landing on a planet to survey it for life, and finding that things turned sour soon after landing. Again, highly entertaining, and whilst it had some humour in it, it was played straight. Hats off to the cast for maintaining straight faces – it can’t have been easy.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for The Old Time Radio Club in future, and if I get the chance to see them again, I’ll be taking it!

Clanger Symposium: Study of a Knitted Alien Race

This was a highlight of the con for me. I went along entirely on a whim, and was so thoroughly glad I did. From 1969 to 1972, Professor Postgate recorded a series of studies of this alien race. These are the only existing records of these creatures and the events that transpired over the course of those studies.

This programme item was a series of scientific presentations in which extrapolations are drawn from the evidence in those recordings to expand scientific understanding of these beings. Initially, we had an overview of the physics and geology of the clanger homeworld, suggesting that the planet itself has a 10mm neutronium core, and a radius of around 12 metres. This produces a surface gravity of around 0.2g and a gravity of 1.6g at the bottom of the habitable range under the surface – roughly 8m down. It was explained in a later presentation that the effects of tidal forces are not visible upon the clangers themselves as they are “squishy”.

Further presentations covered the topics of ferro-poultry engineering and clanger reproduction. In the latter it was revealed that the clanger equivalant of DNA is known as KNT and contains segments which are referred to as doubledrop and purl, with end segments referred to as caston and castoff.

Overall, this was an enlightening and engaging programme item, and one that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in the works of professor Postgate.

Closing Ceremony & Departure

There’s not much that I can really say about a closing ceremony… it was the official close of the con, although programme items continued after it and well into monday night. The closing ceremony involved thanking everyone and presenting various prizes and awards… and killing all the gophers in their red shirts, of course. A fine tradition.

I stuck around for one more panel after this – “Researching Fantasy – How do you research the imaginary”, but I didn’t get any photos or notes, and I wasn’t really alive enough to remember it. There were programme items that I still wanted to get to after this – particularly a film at 8pm that I wanted to see what it might have been. Which film it was hadn’t been announced, but it was from a list that contained several interesting options, one of which I’d already seen. But that wasn’t until 8pm and I wasn’t going to be fit to drive home much longer… so I decided to draw a line under it and flee to non-hotel food and my bed.

Thus ended Odyssey 2010 for me.