World Fantasy Con, Calgary – Day 1

Arrived Calgary today, after an uneventful three-hour flight from LA on Air Canada, catching a glimpse of the Rocky Mountains out the left side of the plane before descending to the prairie flatness of the destination city. Rather like Denver, that way. I was embarrassed to discover, during hotel check-in, that the lady I’d sat next to on the flight (and not recognized) was none other than Barbara Hambly… one of the convention’s guests of honor. My bad.

Weather is clear, the air a crisp 4 degrees (C), cooler than that by evening. The hotel is big and spacious and generic, with a nice health club on the 18th floor. Room keys are required in the elevators to access floors above the 3rd. Pre-registration check-in was a snap, and came with the usual bag o’ books.

The principal event of the day was an invitation-only party held by a Queensland [Australia] Writers Showcase — i.e. a government sponsored commission promoting Australian sf&f writers. The hosts were Kate Eltham, Director of Clarion South among other things, and Tina Radburn, a Queensland government official who has lived in LA for 12 years. They provided copies of a dozen or so books by Aussie writers — by Kylie Chan, Kim Wilkins, Marianne de Pierres, Grace Dugan, and others — and we chatted about how popular writers in the US, UK, and Australia are so divergent, with so little crossover between countries. (In an almost spooky, parallel-universe, fashion.) There was an open bar but the nibbles ran out quickly. I also chatted with Derryl Murphy, Leslie Howle, Justin Ackroyd, Deborah Biancotti, John Picacio and Shaun Tan, Jacob and Rina Weisman, Elspeth Kovar, and others.

Programming is minimal at World Fantasy Cons, with no more than two panel sessions at any one time (plus readings and interviews), but there are a number of interesting items scheduled in the coming three days. I’ll try to report on as many of them as I can get to.

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