Interaction

Wednesday

 Arrived in Glasgow just in time to enjoy rush hour on M8. Found hotel was lovely but gloomy refurbished Greek Orthodox Temple. Located Convention Centre in cluster of weird shiny 21st Century architecture looking much like a spaceport; perfect! Checked in. Discovered short pedestrian route back to hotel went through area of urban renewal projects. Not so good. Taxis extremely cheap, have resolved to use them ruthlessly.

Thursday

 Explored city centre in morning (ie, shopping) and picked up first issue of Serenity comic and a couple of samples of Runaways. Got back to Interaction sustained mainly on caffeine. Abandoned all intention of seeing official programme to go and lurk at entrance to Dealers Room and Art Show. Large, friendly crowd all with same idea. Tiny staff member guarding door turns into queue Nazi and demands order. Crowd humours her by withdrawing a couple of yards but resolutely refuses to form into a line. Proud of them. Eventually she gives up and huge hanger door rises. Nice to see that the ghost of the Brighton Hotelier lingers!

 Dealer room smaller than those of Brighton and Hague, perhaps the effect of the Internet. Some dazzling jewellers, an awesome coppersmith making book covers, junk sculpture which later starred in newspaper reports, filk CDs, toys, T-shirts, models and of course book stalls. Delayed browsing in order to appreciate Art Show, which was larger than expected. Big gap where Alan Lee (Guest of Honour) artwork was to hang but much else of excellent standard. Attention riveted by unpublished John Howe painting of St George and Dragon. Noted traditional opening to art bidding: gophers thumping re-booted PCs to try and get the database to work.

 Attended fringe talk on wearable art and discovered entire new sub-culture glittering like a treasure chest. Resolve to get along to Chaos Costuming at some point. Re-acquired spouse with amazing ease thanks to mobile network, located another friend but found the fourth was still experiencing the hospitality of National Rail. Physically bumped into yet another old friend, now with energetic partner and teen step-daughter, after at least a decade. Swept all present out to dinner at the Ubiquitous Chip, a classy but unpretentious restaurant in the University district. Spouse arrives before us, having apparently teleported. Much imbibing, reminiscing, joking and updating over a truly excellent meal. Returned late to the spaceport to discover fan programme still going, so caught a couple more discussions before retiring for the night.

Friday

 Started in on the book stalls and rapidly gained first armful of books to dump in the car. Went off to a selection of discussion groups from the 14 streams available, but discovered much introductory stuff and even more blathering off-topic. Retired to compare notes and reconsider strategy. Resolve to attend hard science talks (better prepared) and small panels of one to three experts (which seem to have less difficulty staying on track). Unable to put this theory to the test immediately as the afternoon is entirely taken up with the queue for Alan Lee.

 Queue immense but very friendly and chatty, and much improved by the presence of filkers as queue marshals. Met lovely Canadian lady with subversive material for her nephew, and wished I’d thought to bring camera. Mr Lee himself is an absolute gentleman, who appeared genuinely delighted to meet every single person on the three hour line, and is still surprised by his popularity. Still no presence in the art show. Has he forgotten or have we overwhelmed his available time? Glad we brought along the early Greek childrens books for him to sign, a follow-up to these is his next project.

 Still not hungry after last night so amble off to fan lounge to grab snacks and liquids while we wait for the big theatrical production of the evening; Lucas Back in Anger by the Reductio Ad Absurdum company. Should be very good. Absent friend turns up after worrying silence all day. Others wander in as the evening wears on and more alcoholic sustenance is obtained. The Real Ale bar re-opens nearby to vast interest. Much imbibing later we realise the big show is about to start so motion is proposed from the floor, and seconded from the depths of a comfy chair, that our inertia is maintained. Motion carried nem com. Assess pringle tops for frisbee viability. Pirate party materialises around us. By Midnight experiencing extreme time warp and am convinced that all present are still undergraduates. Unable to remember when finally poured into hotel bed, so will draw a veil over late night proceedings.

Saturday

 Am reminded why hangovers unpleasant even with youthful metabolism. Manage to return to spaceport for programme start, as three world-class scientists are collaborating on a fictional solar system design. Enter room and discover them embarking on a scheduling disaster with the awful inevitability of a train wreck. Room much, much too small for eager audience. No trace of requested projection equipment of any tech level, nor even flip charts. Air conditioning beginning to fail under strain. Gallant attempt to plough on finally doomed when Notorious Gob hijacks proceedings. Leave to put theory to test elsewhere.

 Rest of the day improves steadily, am unable to tell whether this is due to skilled organising or ebbing hangover. Highlights include Mars in 3D, and a keynote speaker on Titan exploration. Theory seems to hold. Spouse reports that Dr Who stream proving a real hit with American visitors who have not yet seen 9th incarnation on their TVs. Corridor suddenly lively with roller blade quidditch as youth stream breaks loose. Many adults deeply envious of active youth stream which appears to involve numerous explosions, liquid nitrogen, extreme engineering and priority access to famous authors. Fan lounge tame by comparison.

 Second visit to dealer room, this time emerging with samples of new and unknown authors. Pleased to see bookcrossing making an appearance around the food franchises. Grab nutritional intake and persuade spouse into the Armadillo for evening entertainment: The Masquarade. Costume displays almost overshadowed by Sue and Teddy comedy show at compere desk. Half time entertainment (Iron Man costume competition) just perfect. Garments stunning, and now regret not getting to chaos costuming. Out into lingering twilight for early return to hotel.

Sunday

 More science panels, and a brief sample of author discussion before rushing to art show to place bids. As on ebay, 90% of activity occurs in last 10 minutes. Due to unfortunate lack of clones I’m unable to get last bid on stunning Mason cartoon, but am delighted with the painting which I was ‘guarding’. Finally remember to dig out camera and take numerous photos of Tardis, Stargate, Yoda et al to inspire envy in offspring (ruthlessly abandoned with grandparents on a Devon beach). Pause for coffee and discover bookcrossing Heinlein title on table. Will dutifully read and leave in Greece later this month.

 Succumb to re-viewing of recent Dalek episode, and am impressed by audience enthusiasm. Later sessions on the far future cover city cultures and aspects of law. Recommended that I hunt out episodes of Century City, like Firefly a victim of mass market TV schedules. There appears not to be a single DVD for sale anywhere in the dealer room, so have begun a list to google after our return home. Am tempted to participate in the Zen Scavenger Hunt starting up in the hotel nearby, but instead dodge battleship McCaffrey and return to main entrance to join friends on a last excursion. This time we invaded Stravaigin 2, a chic burger bar, and ate them out of all choices other than beef. To anyone perusing the menu later that night: sorry.

 Back at the Armadillo, the 63rd Hugo Award ceremony is well underway and we sneak in to catch the latter part of the “Alternative History of the Hugos”. The numerous awards are sped along without any apparent technical hitch and the entire ceremony is over in a record-breaking 1 hour 30 minutes. The sheer efficiency of the stage team is apparently causing RSI in audience bloggers attempting to transcribe the entire event live. The “long big one” winner turned out to be Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, so my list continues to grow.

Monday

 A sobering morning clearing out of the hotel, not helped by fire alarm detonating shortly after waking up. Got to convention and was delayed much of the morning in attempts to negotiate the paper maze for artwork collection. Event made entirely delightful by the unexpected arrival of two of the artists I’d been most admiring, and now got to chat to. Snuck into one last unexpectedly amusing panel session on hazards in space, and yet more coffee. Finally dragged away from venue by spouse three hours behind schedule but very happy.