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  • Writer's pictureNir Yaniv

The Glasgowits, Part III: Police Academy

Somewhere in the great, dark land between the frosty mountains and the eternal marshes, there lies a small unregarded stationery shop. There I found what will soon become a much sought-of relic, my Police-Style notebook, in which I wrote in shorthand most of what you, my loyal readers, shall read today – every adventure, misspoken word and incident, some of them at the very time they were happening, the rest even before that. Guy bought a notebook as well, but this one will not become a relic for the following reasons: one – it is quite boring, compared to my Police-Style notebook, and two – he writes nothing interesting in it, merely stories and such.

Something funny happened on the way to the convention. The cab driver, being a chatty lad, started a very interesting conversation with us, which quickly ran into the life and works of Philip K. Dick. His main literary complaint of Dick was that his books are too thin. I promised to take that into consideration.

Arriving, at last, and having gotten over the effects of the German Room Party yesterday, we decided to have an Israeli Room Party, which, since we have no room, will take place in the middle of the main convention hall, and will cost money to enter and to pass through. Main attraction would be free pretzles, lovely conversations with young promising Israeli SF writers, and listening to Lavie complaining.

We decided that it might be time to actually attend a panel or two, assuming that there might be someone else in this convention with something interesting to say besides myself. The first panel we attended was “Why Write for Children and Young Adults?”, with, among others, Jane Yolen and Sharyn November (who also moderated it). It was interesting to see a panel without any of the audience making loud remarks and correcting the participants. We should try that at home, sometime. I, in any case, was convinced that the big money is in Young Adults, and decided on the spot to write a three-volume horror fantasy series for them, in English. However, I immediately found out that Guy’s been doing the same for some time, temporal-plagiarist that he is. He sneaked into a group-picture of all the YA authors in the room. Scoundrel. After that we met the brave documentary film crew, which was busy actually filming around and interviewing everyone, with not even a single beer bottle in sight. They were so busy that we couldn’t really stay to talk, but since they were interviewing people in the Interzone stall, I grabbed the opportunity and fell upon co-editor Jetse de Vries, who had the misfortune of rejecting a story or two of mine. Having had that conversation, I now hope he shall not repeat that mistake. So far we were really strangers in paradise, but just when Jetse and I were about to finish our deal, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and found Didi Chanoch attached to it. As of this point, we couldn’t go two steps in any direction without meeting someone from Israel – Noa and Rani in particular, who explained to us that this must be a result of the fact that they looked for us all day yesterday in vain.

But they weren’t the only ones we met. Walking aimlessly in the main hall, we suddenly spotted Brian Aldiss, walking along Robert Silverberg. Brian and I, we go a long way back. Back in 1996, when the Israeli Society for SF&F was formed, he visited Israel and attended the ceremony. He also gave a lecture somewhere in Rehovot, which I attended (to this very day I’ve no idea who told me about it – I came alone and didn’t know anyone there, at the time). There I took the oppotunity to tell him that I read some of his books but didn’t like any of them, and then went on to ask for recommendation for any of his other books. He took my address, this gentleman, and sent me his newest book (“Common Clay”) by mail, with a nice note to the effect of “next time don’t tell an author that you don’t like his books, or he’ll refuse to send you his newest book by mail”. Well, seeing him in the corridor, I couldn’t help myself. I went over to him, introduced myself and reminded him of those past events. He recalled some of it, and laughed, and then said “well, I’m glad that now you’ve grown to like science fiction!” Time froze for a second. But only a second. “Oh, no, sir,” I said. “I always liked science fiction. It was you I had a problem with.” We parted as friends.

I think Didi, who was not present, will never forgive me for that.

Later we went to Call My Bluff Quiz, which is something which should be promptly imported to Israeli cons. It goes like this: there are two groups of three members each, one moderator (the immortal Gary K. Wolfe), and one counter of points. The moderator gives a certain word, taken from “SF theory” (though, as he said it, “they may not currently belong to SF theory, but by the end of this session they will!”), one team supplies three different explanations, and the other team must decide which of the three is true. It was great fun. The participants were mostly very well known people in the field – John Clute, David Hartwell, Esther Friesner, and also Roz Kaveney, of whom I’ve never heard before, and who was quite witty and entertaining.

In the evening there was a big party arranged by Gollancz Publishing, to which everyone got invitations but us. We therefore sneaked in, Guy pretending to be Didi and I pretending to be his loyal sidekick Petsy. Didi, who was already inside, was not too excited to hear of it, but took it like a man and didn’t make a fuss. I told him that next time he should get us invitations, and thus save himself the embarrasment. We met Lavie there too, of course, who was busy complaining that he got no prize in the raffle, despite him being who he is. Then I suddenly located Ian Watson, who visited Israel in 1999 or so. He remembered that visit all too well, and told us the horrible story of his visit to Jerusalem, along with Brian Stableford, after being invited for a friday dinner by a fan whos name I shall not mention. Watson, an extremely funny story teller, made a horrible face when he told us that fan’s name, and said that it’s the strongest memory he has of that visit. He was, however, quite friendly, especially after I explained to him what should and should not be done while visiting Israel. He may come back. I know I will. We also talked some more to Jetse, who by that time became really friendly and told us in detail many stories of his various acceptions and rejections by famous SF magazines, and also got hit upon by a girl taller than me – but not than himself. Side note: it is my opinions that editors should be made in smaller sizes than my own.

Later that evening we went looking for an Irish party to which we were invited, at the Hilton. Didi accompanied us, and we had a jolly good time, especially when we met G. R. R. Martin’s wife, and thus found out that Didi owns three different Song of Ice & Fire T-shirts, all signed. I think I shall have many laughs at that, in the future. They way I see it, books are not meant to be worn. At least not in public.

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