Today was cool and overcast. I walked down the street to the same coffee shop as the other day for coffee, OJ, and scone, then headed further down to check out a notable used bookstore people at the con had been talking about, only to find it not yet open. I strolled further along the sidestreets, past various restaurants and clubs, the town library, the police station, a garden sculpture shop…
At noon I listened to a panel on the writer Robert Aickman, whose particular brand of ghost story is apparently quite distinctive and not to everyone’s taste. (I think I must have read an Aickman story or two long ago, but don’t remember them.) To Peter Straub and Lisa Tuttle, the lack of clear explanations in Aickman’s stories make them akin to dreams; in contrast, Kathryn Cramer offered theories more aligned with M.C. Escher’s paradoxical but carefully planned etchings, and the mathematics of someone named Lackoff (sp?). The panelists describes their favorite Aickman stories, and later cited other writers who exhibit some of his qualities: Kelly Link, W.G. Sebold, M. Rickert.
After that I joined Amelia Beamer and Gary Wolfe and Peter Straub and Rick Wilbur and three others whose names I didn’t catch (one of whom is a curator a nearby university special collections library), wandering the side streets for a place for lunch. We ended up at an Irish pub, Parting Glass, drinking Guiness and eating Veggie burgers and (mine) an O’Reilly sandwich.
Later I did some more shopping in the dealers room, then took a break in my room for an hour or two, reading the first 70 pages of Christopher Barzak’s novel.
At 4 p.m. was a “Year in Review” panel with Stephen Jones, Paula Guran, Ellen Datlow, Jonathan Strahan, and Charles N. Brown. They discussed trends, often from diametrically opposite perspectives; Jones detailed concerns about the shifting publisher scene, what with the firings at the SFBC and cancellation of imprints by the Perseus Group, while Charles Brown said none of that matters, it’s been like that for 50 years, and the good books still get published — more of them than any one has time to read. Then they named their own favorites of 2007 in various categories — novels, collections, etc. Frequently cited titles included Kay’s YSABEL, Hill’s HEART-SHAPED BOX, Chabon’s THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION, Lake’s MAINSPRING, Elliott’s THE PILO FAMILY CIRCUS, and Datlow’s anthology INFERNO; I didn’t try to write down the complete list…
After that was a launch party for the new US version of Orbit Books, held at a nearby restaurant called Tiznow, with the publishers and editors of Orbit US present along with several of the authors of the debut books. Like such parties at other cons, it was nominally an invite-only affair, but after a while no one was checking names at the door, and anyone who knew anyone else who knew about the party managed to drift in. There were munchies and an open bar.
After that was the classic con experience of trying to gather a group to go to dinner. I had been chatting with Rome Quezada and Trevor Stafford; the latter had plans with a larger group so we all joined them; some nine of us then walked a couple blocks to a likely restaurant only to find the wait 45 minutes. OK, try this other one on the next block. Well, then, how about that one on the side street. Still a wait. Well, we could split up. Several in the group gave up and decided to check out the con suite. Eventually there were only four of us left — me, Rome, Trevor, and Ron Drummond (of Incunabula Books) — at the Sushi Thai Garden Restaurant.
Later were parties, including a big one hosted by Tor Books in the con suite, with munchies and drinks (soda, wine, beer). It wasn’t as crowded as the party there the other night, but was quite warm inside, so eventually I went down to the bar and hung out there for a while, before coming back to my room….