Those of you who follow this blog regularly (I’m sure there are a few of you…) will know that my ability to keep a consistant way of writing about events is somewhat sporadic. For my first Eastercon, I did a daily blog but wrote it after the event. For the more recent Eastercon, in London, I actually managed to write my blog every day while at the event (including photos taken that day) and include a bonus preCon day.
For the 2019 Worldcon in Dublin, I am writing my account about 10 days after I got home from the con and I have no idea how many posts I will make…
This was my first Worldcon, though I didn’t manage to get the coveted ‘First Worldcon ribbon’ as they had ran out of stock by the time I got there. I also didn’t really feel like it was ‘my first time’. Partly this was because I’m an old hand at other cons now, being a regular at Eastercon since 2016 and, if I am being honest, a lot of the people I was seeing in Dublin were also Eastercon regulars so I didn’t feel left out socially – there was usually at least one person I could say hi to and get a conversation with. It was also because I’d spent the last couple of years working behind the scenes on the con – starting out as a member of the Brainstorming group (whose job it was to suggest really crazy panel ideas that the organisers would inexplicably consider worth doing) and progressing to being a member of the Literature programme team (where our job was to take these crazy ideas, add some panelists and write a description of it). So, compared to some other first time Worldconners, who might have been walking in and feeling a little out of place, I was already in a quite privileged position.
I arrived for the event itself on Thursday morning. Early on Thursday morning. And I didn’t really have time to have a rest after my 5am wake up call and flight. I had to queue to register at the Con, head to my accomodation to drop my bags and then get back in time for lunch with the Milford/Northwrite possee (that turned into drinks with them as lunch options were limited in the convention centre…) before heading to the first panel I was moderating – Franchise Characters.
In this, I was joined by F.D Lee (fantasy and SF indie author). Scot Edelman (writer for Marvel comics), Keith Byrne (Artist and character designer with Tantalus) and Roz Kavenay (writer, critic and all round great person to talk to). We mostly discussed Marvel vs DC and the reasons why one was better than the other at maintaining a franchise. However, this also led into a discussion on Pennyworth (Roz’s current new obsession – one I totally intend to check out for the promise of fascist 60’s Britain) and a few other franchises – including trying to define what a franchise actually is. There seemed to be some agreement to my definition of it being a creation that appears in more than one format but the focus of the panel was more on how the use of ‘background characters’ can help to build the depth of the world. Here I think we were all in agreement… I was a little disappointed we never got to discuss Pratchett’s Discworld as a franchise as much as I would have liked as that is a perfect example of a franchise where main characters from one book become minor ones in others and I had a whole thing planned around Gaspode the Wonder dog… Also, the fact that Death appears in every single Discworld novel and how that is SIGNIFICANT.
After a break for food, I headed to another panel. This one was entitled “How close are we to Frankenstein’s Dream?” and I was with Dr. Helen Pennington (Plant scientist from DEFRA) and Heidi Lyshol (of the Norweigan Institute for Public Health). I was actually a little nervous about being on stage with some very eminent names in science with my mere MPhil and teaching background (I guess it could have been worse… someone of the academic oopmh of Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell could have been there, even though her area is more physics) but it worked out great and we had a wonderful discussion with lots of audience questions and the line “We could do that but it would be just slightly unethical” was uttered many times. We touched upon cloning, 3D printing of organs, head transplants, building a complete body out of 3D printed organs and several other bizarre applications of biology, medicine and engineering. I also got to talk about gerontology, which is my secondary area of expertise after immunology, and discuss things like the calorie restriction diets. In all a fun panel.
After this, I had planned to meet some people for a photowalk around Dublin. I was expecting no one to show up so was pleasantly surprised that we got two more photographers and a couple of Cosplayers (Chris Corbitt and Alicia Faires). So, we started the evening with some shots of the Cosplayers before the sunset then did a post sunset walk along the river.
After that, it was time to hit the bar and then to bed… but before I do, have a photo of the Liffey looking rather Cyberpunk…