Last week I traveled to London to experience the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, also known as WORLDCON or LONCON3 (it being the third WORLDCON held in London.) It was my second WORLDCON and third convention overall (I attended Life, the Universe and Everything back in the beginning of 2012) but I hadn’t been to one in over two years thanks to moving around the country and simply not having the time or funds to do so.
The conference was held at the illustrious ExCel (I’m not really sure what’s up with the random capital letters) in the equally illustrious London Docklands (read: a place that used to be suitable only for salty sailors). So, I have to say the location wasn’t nearly as good as the previous WORLDCON I’d been to in Chicago, which was much closer to the city center and surrounded by businesses, restaurants, and bars. ExCel was…not.
But there was the programming, right? Well, LonCon3 was happy to have panels called “What is Azad” (I still don’t know) and “Saturday Morning Cartoons,” but the programming staff wasn’t interested in having a military in fiction panel run by 3 very prestigious authors (and some idiot named Joe Zieja). So I didn’t have any programming to attend either. I attempted to go to panels three times, but the otherwise mammoth ExCel center kept turning me away from panel rooms that were too full (I know, I guess I could have waited in line, but still.)
So, alright. Strange location in London. Told to shove off when I proposed a panel. Unable to get into any panels that seemed interesting. Chased by mad giraffes after I stole their spots. What does one do?
Well…I kinda blew it off.
I mean, I was in London for Christ’s sake, completely by myself, so what was I supposed to do? I spent most of every day in the middle of London, seeing some sights, relaxing, and EATING MY WAY THROUGH EVERYTHING. People complain about British food being bland, but there are definitely some things they get right. And I also found my happy place.
I happened upon this tea house while I was coming back from parkour at Vauxhall (I’ll get there in a second) and it was so amazing I actually ended up going there three times over the next four days. It’s been there since 1862 or some crazy year like that, and practically everything they have – the cakes, the scones, the jam – is made from scratch on site. Their food, which I didn’t get to experience because I WAS TOO BUSY EATING CAKE, was also locally grown/sourced and, from what I saw on other people’s plates, looked amazing. So I would come here, relax, have a pot of tea, and either think about life or work on my latest novel. Whatever craziness happened during the day (one of my days included a 3-hour stuck-in-pubic-transportation mess while I tried to get to the Churchill War Rooms) I found a little bit of peace here in the tea house, with the large fields of grassy parks next to it.
So. Food. Tea. Cask ales. Meat pies. And there was also parkour.
I’m not really sure I’ve written about parkour on here yet, which is strange, but for those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s basically being a crazy spaz in urban jungles and jumping off/on/through/around/over objects, swinging from scaffolding, and altogether convincing everyone around you that you have lost your goddamn mind. Just look it up on YouTube and you’ll have plenty of stuff to look at.
I do parkour (that makes me a traceur – keep up with the French, now) and it just so happens that London is home to some of the most iconic parkour spots in the world, like Vauxhall here, where I met a couple of random French traceurs that were really nice.
And, it just so happened that this very same weekend was a massive parkour gathering put on by Parkour Generations, one of the best parkour schools in London, called the 2014 Rendezvous (French, remember?). I got to hang out with some really amazing traceurs who, in the short time I was able to be with them, welcomed me into their fold and helped me refine my technique. I only wish I could have spent more time with them during the two-day event, but I actually DID have some LonCon stuff that I needed to do. So after I got done OH SHIT A BRIDGE HOLD UP A SEC
Right, so after I got done running away from the London police (I did not actually run away from the police), there were actually some con things I had in the evenings that were pretty cool. The daytime was for London, the nighttime was for AUTHOR-ATING. I had the chance to hang out at the SFWA reception and meet some folks that I had missed at the last Worldcon, and was eventually whisked away by someone from JABberwocky Literary Agency to go hang out at one of the (few) local bars, where I met some great folks from Gollancz, Tachyon, Harper/Voyager, etc. As I’m relatively new to the industry, and relatively segregated thanks to moving around a lot, it was a little bit of a whirlwind getting to meet everyone. It’s a little embarrassing when someone tells you that they work for one of the top publishing houses in the UK, and you ask “who is that?” But Joshua (from JABberwocky) took care of me, so I managed not to put my foot all the way in my mouth.
Relaxing in the evenings with other authors was fantastic as well, some of whom are quickly becoming some of my favorite people. And my wonderful friend Amy Sundberg managed to land me a ticket to World Fantasy Convention in DC this November, which I had stupidly not registered for before it filled up.
So, while I can’t say I really went to the con very much, I had a great time in London, met some absolutely wonderful people, ate a lot of scones, jumped over some shit, sprained my left ankle, bruised my right heel, and altogether had oodles of fun. For right now, I’m happy to be home and not having to pack/unpack my voiceover studio again, and very glad that the next convention (World Fantasy) is very close to home.
Here’s one last picture of me having a fistfight with gravity, because I know my mom reads this blog and these photos make her nervous.
Love you, mom.