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Back from Finncon, which was every bit as good as I'd hoped, and then some. The Finns are great hosts and really know how to organise - despite dealing with some 15,000 attendees (Finncon has, at least until now, been run jointly with Animecon) it all went smoothly - or at least appeared so to this participant. Helsinki is one of my favorite cities anywhere in the world and it was good to be back - good also to meet up with old friends like Toni Jerrman, Jukka Halme and Hannu Blomilla, among others. My fellow guests of honour George RR Martin and Adam Roberts were excellent company, as was Finncon regular Cheryl Morgan. I think we all had a superb time.
I'm not sure if the moment was captured for posterity, but on the saturday Toni Jerrman and I ceremonially destroyed the last english language copy of my story "Pandora's Box". I deleted my electronic copies before departure, and by the time of the con Toni had prepared a final print-out. He'd done the translation so there was no need for anyone else to be involved. We fed the story into a cross-cutting paper shredder, on stage, during my interview. Amusingly enough, several members of the audience were then seen grabbing wads of shredded paper. Good luck reassembling it! It's kind of weird to have written a story which is no longer accessible even to me, but I'm glad we did it.
It took most of a day to get back - by the time you've factored in a change of planes in Amsterdam, Helsinki is about as far from Cardiff as New York - but the journey was uneventful. I was saddened on my return to learn of the death of Charles N Brown, Editor-in-chief and publisher of Locus magazine. I only met Charles on a handful of occasions, but I listened carefully to what he had to say and admired both the length of time he'd spent in the field and the conviction he still brought to his opinions. Only the day before, I'd picked up a Heinlein novel at Finncon and looked forward both to reading it and talking about it with Charles. I took it as read that he'd be at Boskone in February, because I'd met him there once before.
I don't know if he ever became a fan, but I like to think I introduced Charles to Wallace and Gromit. It was Boskone, I think, and we were talking about China Mieville's new book at the time, Iron Council. We were discussing the image in the book of the steam train that puts down its own tracks and lifts them after it's passed through, and I mentioned the scene in The Wrong Trousers where Grommit has to lay down the model railway tracks at breakneck speed while sitting in a wagon. I think the scene in question is itself a fond nod to a Tom and Jerry episode. Remarkably, to me, Charles had no idea what I was talking about. Wallace and what? I made an inept attempt at describing Wallace and Gromit (it's a bit hard when you think about it) but urged Charles to check out some of the DVDs. I hope he did! Everyone needs some Wallace and Gromit now and then.
He was good to me in the pages of Locus - Revelation Space was reviewed there earlier than anywhere else, and I always enjoyed it when Charles would mention in his column that he'd read or had read one of my books. Generally he seemed to like them and I was delighted with that.
I didn't know him well enough to comment on his character. We had a few chats, and I liked him, and that was that. The last time, sadly enough, was a bit of a struggle: it was in a loud, hot room at the Glasgow WorldCon and I don't think either Charles or I could hear each other very well. I remember thinking that I'd much rather talk to him over a glass of wine in the Locus suite. He cared passionately about SF and took it seriously. I still regard Locus as essential reading and rip it open the moment it arrives - I had, in fact, just ripped open the latest issue when I logged on and learned of Charles' death. Fortunately, the magazine will continue.
Not much progress on the rocket this week due to Finncon, but I'll be back with another update in a day or two. The second stage is more or less done, meaning that I'll be tackling the Apollo spacecraft itself next.
Finally: apropos of nothing, last night's blinding revelation. The popular TV show featuring Hugh Laurie as a doctor in a big hospital is not called "House". It's called "House MD". (Look at the tiny writing on the box sets). But almost no one ever calls it that.
Posted by voxish
at 11:51 PM MEST
Updated: Thursday, 16 July 2009 12:19 AM MEST