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  • Writer's pictureNir Yaniv

The Glasgowits, Part V: The Night the Earth Stood Still

And there was evening, and there was morning, and the Lord saw that all was good, except maybe the weather, but, it being a Sunday, elected to do nothing about it. Left to its own means said weather failed to reach a coherent decision about its aims and goals in life. Lickily, almost nobody paid any attention to it, there being a Kaffee Klatsch – a meeting over coffee – with various SF editors, writers and artists at the time. We managed to get ourselves into one the Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s Magazine, and nudged her with seventy five different versions of the question “how will I make you accept my story?” – though some among us will deny this, claiming that their questions were much more philosophically deep. No one believes them, of course.

One Scotsman, in the convention’s WC, was having a jolly good time, singing what sounded to me like traditional Scottish folk songs, minus the bagpipe or the lute or whatever it is they use in these parts. Maybe we should import this to Israeli conventions as well. Especially the omission of the bagpipe, which is not as appreciated as it should be, outside of Scotland.

We spend most of the day in or around the dealer’s room, buying books, petting longingly other books, cursing book sellers and book prices and enjoying every minute of it. Come five-ish in the afternoon, we met with Didi, Noa and Rani, and we all went together to the Orbit Publishing party. Didi took a special care with his clothing, wearing a nice blazer, a red shirt which had to be settled down by Noa before embarking upon our journey, else it might have devoured its owner without us noticing, a pair of black pants which he later admitted, sadly but bravely, to be somewhat too small than his actual size or comfort (and immediately regretted said saying, as I was writing everything in my little police notebook), and a pair of really dignified old and battered sneakers.

The Orbit Publishing party was very good, especially the food. We had a chat with Robert Silverberg, though I quit on it at some point, when it became political. Guy and I continued our own networking, and Lavie continued his own complaining, and considering what happened later, I really forget what about. We went back to the convention site by another of those double-decker busses. I have most of the ride filmed in my camera, for some reason. We then attended the Hugo Awards ceremony, which took place in a 4000-seat auditorium and looked almost like ICon. Almost, I say, because it was hosted by Kim Newman (great chap, I chatted with him sometime this week, and will get a story of his for publication) and Paul McAuley, who were very funny and entertaining, but nothing like the high and professional standard we’re used to in Israeli conventions. That is – there were no wigs, props or songs about Death. The other, major difference was that not a single cellular phone ringed through the entire event. Not even one. An event an hour and a half long. An audience of thousands. Not one. Not a single electronic peep.

After the event (the names of winners can be found elsewhere) we had to go and rescue Lavie, who got lost in the convention site’s maze of contradictory corridors while looking for the WC. We then settled in the lobby of the MoatHouse hotel, chatting, exchanging Email addresses with newly acquired friends and editors, and genrally inhaling smoke and beer in equal measures, until it was decided to go to the Hilton parties, except for Guy, who went to have some rest.

I must note that the quality of the food available in those parties wasn’t as high as that of the nights before, but having said that, let us proceed to the main incident of the evening, one which might have already been reported by other spectators and innocent bystanders – those of whom who survived, that is. I mean none other than the NY vs China Mieville clash. Many of the readers of this journal know that I’ve had mixed feelings, to say the least, about China Mieville’s policy of not publishing in Israel. I thought, and I’m still thinking, that it’s bloody counter-productive. To say the least. People later referred to it as “a clash”, “a combat”, “I’ve never seen anything like it”, “a bloody mess, wounded editors everywhere” and “I was going along with my beer and suddenly there was a big crash and I remember nothing more, and who are you, anyway?” Lavie, poor soul that he is, was trying to drag me away from the combat zone, but could not. When I insist upon staying in a given place, nothing in Lavie’s size can do anything about it. Rani and Didi, who started the original conversation with China, and who actually introduced me to him, innocent beings that they are, did not get much of a chance at interrupting either. Even Assaf, who was by that time a bit jollier than local law might prefer, had no real effect. And this went on for slightly more than an hour.

In fact, the number of subjects about which China and I agree is quite frightening.

By the end of the conversation, I gladly received China’s Email, to Lavie’s great disappointment, since it mercilessly ruined his argument that I’ve embarrassed him badly.

I’m quite aware that there are going to be some other, contradictory accounts of this. However, mine is the most well-written, and so should be believed.

When everything got quiet again, and some more drinks were had, we went downstairs to the Hilton lobby, where we sat along with some friends – John Berlyne, critic, reviewer and a generally jolly good person; Mark Roberts, author, editor and Londoner, who proved to be a direct descendant of the famous Dread Pirate Roberts, and also very competent in the art of Chai-Tea, or vice versa, and who almost, but only almost, lost in an arm wrestling tournament against Orbit Publishing staff member Bella Pagan, a very entertaining and interesting conversationalist. I then did some arm wrestling against Mark, and lost only when John joined him, two against one. Well, if I haven’t won a Hugo, at least I won this. A man gotta have his sense of achievent one way or another.

At about three oclock, after several phone calls from Guy, who was doing his Polish Mother Act, I decided to walk back to my hotel. Since it turned out that Bella was staying in hotel about 200 meters away from mine, I volunteered to escort her. I estimated, by previous nights experience, that it’s about a ten minutes walk, and indeed it took us merely thirty minutes to arrive, having lost our way several times in the dark streets of Glasgow. Guy, who had his sleep previously, was wide awake and wanted to know all about my adventures. Couldn’t wait for this account, could he? I therefore went finally to sleep at about five, and am not really conscious now.

Excuse me, I’ve to go. I think I hear Lavie complaining in the distance. Or is it the wind?

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