Shamrokon, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the con

It’s taken a few days to calm down from the madness that stems from dashing back from London, spending a couple of days in a Fringey daze, then jetting to Dublin again like some kind of budget executive. Still, I wouldn’t have missed Shamrokon for the world.

For one thing, Dublin is just so beautiful. It has that quiet majesty of the Georgian sections of Edinburgh, and some of the languid carefree feel of somewhere more Continental. We only had one day to sightsee before the convention, but the weather gods were mercifully on our side.


Such Liffey. Much grandeur. Wow.

Shamrokon had several noticeable positives over WorldCon. For one thing, it was smaller and much easier to mingle with newcomers. It did help that I know the co-chair, to be fair, who seems to know everyone. The venue, the Hilton, was easy to navigate and had a nice if predictably overpriced bar.

But the panels…oh, the panels. There was a YA strand which I followed with interest, and the European mythology strand induced so much geeky joy. Especially the discussion of etymology of the Irish word for ‘horse’. And the discussion about how every fairytale is gruesome and ties into human sacrifices. I have so many notes to unpack for later witterings here. And at least one terrible horror film to watch thanks to the Vault of Horror.

The guests of honour were a delight. Seanan McGuire spoke about the Black Death, filking and why Coke goes really well with Ribena, while I could have listened to Jim Fitzpatrick enthusing about his art all day over a pint. And after his anecdote about Gary Moore weeing in a posh hotel lobby, I’ll never listen to Parisienne Walkways the same way again…

I genuinely can’t think of any major hiccups that happened. There was the odd bit of audio problems, but no dramas whatsoever. The volunteers get a hearty pat on the back from us!

The oddest but most pleasant part of Shamrokon for me was the Accidental Writers’ Table. We’d rocked up at the lovely CE Murphy‘s Let Them Eat Cake party (and ohh, that lady sure can bake a mean cupcake). We didn’t know anyone in the room, and what’s worse, things were getting noisy after the cake ran out in a record 15 minutes. So, in the time-honoured tradition of the kitchen party, we sidled over to some friendly-looking folk. It turns out we’d found Ruth Frances LongMikaela Lind and Laura Anne Gilman. You know that moment when you ask if someone has written a book and they tell you it was nominated for a Nebula?

Oh. Erm. I did a book too, and stuff. *tumbleweed*

But here’s the thing. The big secret, right, is that writers are also normal people. And normal people, it turns out, like hanging out at bars with new con friends and sometimes even talking about each other’s writing. So it was that every night after that, we’d be literally turned round mid-walk and herded towards beer by the esteemed Antiqueight. And we were joined at various points by CE Murphy, Ann and Jeff VanderMeerCheryl Morgan and freshly-Hugoed Charlie Stross. Once the starstruck feeling had gone we had a great chinwag. I don’t think I’ve ever had nights out that included such diverse merriment as:

  • A lively chat about the independence referendum, prompted by Charlie spotting a Yes badge on my bag
  • An explanation of the Louisiana Purchase stemming from a rant about why some folk should stop complaining about people writing non-white, well-researched characters
  • How you could use a Raspberry Pi to make a child-tracking device
  • Why children’s squeaky handpuppets are the best way to get a barman to flee. With demonstrations.

Oh, and it was most heartening when someone tells your Nebula-nominated chum that the last nice young woman she was sitting with at a convention is now published, then turns to you and says ‘I’ll be your good luck charm’. Well, gosh.

So it was that we returned to Edinburgh with a spring in our step, residual Guinness in our system and a signed copy of Ruth’s book. I could get used to this convention malarkey. It’s awfully good for the ego.


One thought on “Shamrokon, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the con

  1. Pingback: Edinburgh Literary Salon | Writings from Otherworld

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