WorldCon Dublin 2019

tl;dr – I attended WorldCon and voted in the Hugos; that is frikkin’ awesome!!! 🙂 I met people I haven’t seen in real-life in years, I met people I’ve only ever spoken to on-line, I met people I’ve never met before, and I met ‘famous’ people I’ve been fans of for years. Basically, I had a FABULOUS time!!! 😀

Now the longer version.

As I said up there, I actually managed to attend WorldCon, or more formally the World Science Fiction Convention, is a gathering of fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror, gaming, cosplay, etc who come together to celebrate that in all forms but especially in literature. They are MY people; my tribe.

I never thought that I would manage to get to a WorldCon, due to logistics of distance (as they are normally thousands of miles away) and health (as planning anything in advance around me not getting ill, or travelling and not getting exhausted, is onerous and normally doesn’t happen anyway) but when WorldCon was announced for Dublin I knew it was my chance …so I leapt at it; and promptly got ill a few days before the actual Con started but, throwing caution (and copious amounts of medication) to the wind, I travelled down to the Dublin Convention Centre …leaving my wife and kids mid-vacation up North… and entered a venue with thousands of other people who were like me; no, not falling apart and ill! Geeks. Nerds. Fans!

During the four days that I was there I managed to attend a play called ‘ConEIRE’ written by KATE LATIEY and performed by the Fox Spirit Skulk, which was enormously funny. Many panels on such diverse subjects as ‘Irelands Legends and Lore’; ‘Northern Irish SFF’; Fairies and Irish folklore in YA’; ‘Imagining Disabled Futures’ (about disability and accessibility in speculative fiction); ‘Irish Horror and the Supernatural’; ‘2000AD and the Supernatural’; and more that I am probably forgetting. I got to attend readings by ADRAIN TCHAIKOSVKY, PEADAR O’GUILIN, and the fabulous PETER BEAGLE who was very generous with his time, talking to me about his work, writing habits, and life in general. I bumped into, and briefly chatted, with both JOE HILL (I did ask him about an outstanding interview with his dad, Stephen King 😉 ), DIANE DUANE, and GEORGE RR MARTIN, he of the Games of Thrones. I spent a lot of time in the open area where the stalls, ‘shops’, and information desks were talking to publishers, book-sellers, jewellers, cosplayers, and the guys from the BIG BANG comic shop, as well as the ever lovely DECLAN SHALVEY (still Mackenzie’s favourite artist) and KEIRON GILLON. I bumped into GARETH POWELL, finally, after being ships in the night all convention. I got to watch a wonderful cosplay competition called The Masquerade, one evening, which REALLY highlighted just how talented these people are because most of the costumes/make-up on display wouldn’t have seemed out of place on stage or screen!

And then the Hugos. I voted on work that I thought was most worthy of winning a Hugo for the first time in my life and I felt the pressure of doing so; this wasn’t something that I took lightly. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t sit in the auditorium for the Hugos, even though I was intending to …I went and had dinner with friends instead, who realised that I was very tired and sitting alone for 3-4 hours wouldn’t have been the best thing; they were right.  We watched the ceremony, and results, via social media instead (as I would’ve done at home 🙂 ) and some of the people I wanted to win, did, and some didn’t; that’s the Hugos.  I’m still humbled to have been part of it. I want to take this moment to say 1/ how great it was to meet ALASDAIR STEWART, finally, in real life and 2/ that his work is amazing and he’s a winner in my eyes!

For me though the biggest and best thing about WorldCon was the people! Meeting people and catching up with them after years.  Meeting people in real life for the first time after years of only communicating via social media. Meeting people for the first time ever and connecting immediately. The people made WorldCon for me and, even a week later, I am missing their presence.

So, let’s talk about those people:

First the people that I knew in real life but hadn’t seen in ages.  That was PAT MAHER and ALLEN STROUD, who I used to run around in muddy fields with and hit people with latex …that isn’t as rude as it sounds, but maybe, for some, it is weird, because I am talking about live-roleplaying.; I did say I wore my geek/nerd  credentials proudly, didn’t I? Seeing both of these guys was really nice because, obviously, nostalgia, but both are just genuinely lovely people too; through ALLEN I also got to meet KAREN, and we spent a lot of time discussing things very relevant to my life and my children which I am extremely grateful for …plus, thanks to Karen, somehow, I now find myself a member of The British Science Fiction Association 😀

Secondly, the Otherworld NI crew. This is a grouping of lovely local people involved and invested in the SFF community and scene. JO ZEBEDEE is at the forefront of this and while we see each other occasionally this time we got to spend some quality time together, as well as sit in on her panels, which was great. SAM POOTS is a dynamo who was always everywhere but, thankfully, we got to sit and chat too.  PATRICK was running an awesome D&D game, which seemed to be running non-stop, and the feedback I heard about it was phenomenal (I’ve even told him he needs to run it again for us local folks 😉 ). Then there was the ever-awesome KERRY BUCHANAN who it doesn’t matter how many times I see her she’ll always bring a smile to my face (and a hug, of course); her panel on disability in the future was outstanding!

Next – and apologies if I miss anyone (please remind me if you see this and I’ve been a ditz!) – ALL the people I finally met who I only usually spoke to online: PAUL M. FEENEY is someone that I’ve been speaking to for years now, and I’m so glad that we finally got to meet and hang out; he is an awesome writer, and awesome guy, and I hope he realises how great he is! TRACEY FAHEY is part of the Fox Spirit Skulk, a great writer, an immense intelligence and fountain of knowledge, and just such great company and fun to hang out with; even though we’d never met before this weekend it was honestly like hanging out with an old friend. Speaking of the Fox Spirit Skulk I have to say that I finally got to pledge allegiance to the benevolent dictator herself, ADELE WEARING owner/publisher of one of the best presses around, after many years of only social media communication and signing contracts for her …everyone in the Skulk, MR. FOX 😉 (TOM), MARGERT, KATE LAITY, GUSTAV, and CHLOE AND PAUL YATES were just warm, welcoming, and so much fun! PENNY AND SIMON JONES were people I hadn’t spoken to much in the past (or at all 🙂 ) but meeting them was like talking to old-friends, and the hours spent in their company was fabulous. I also finally got to meet LYNDA RUCKER in real life; she’s so cool and as much a hugger as me! 😊

…and then there was DION. I’ve been speaking to Dion, online, on and off for more than a few years but wasn’t prepared for the force of nature that I met; I think that I probably spent more time in his company than anyone else’s during the four days, and it was worth it.  He is a very funny guy, but also extremely warm and caring at the same time, and it was like spending time with the best friend that you only see every year or so, not someone you’ve just met.

Through the ever-awesome MICHAEL CARROLL (read 2000AD and Judge Dredd folks!) I met MICHAEL SCOTT and COURTNEY DILLON and, as you do at a convention about sci-fi and books, we talked about Buffs (bandana type scarfs), tattoos, and martial arts; I think that I found my other tribe there 😉

I only got to see her a handful of times (her panels were amazing; Irish horror and supernatural was extremely informative , and the 2000AD panel, with Michael and WILL SIMPSON was the BEST panel I attended 🙂 ) but MAURA MCHUGH was as lovely as ever and has to be commended for the work she did in putting this WorldCon together; thanks Maura, personally at least, as I had a blast!!!

Ultimately it was a great experience – though one which physically wrecked me! 🙂 – and took me a few days to come down for the ‘bubble’ I’d been in and recover from the ‘blues’ of not being there afterwards.  Everyone involved in putting it together should take a bow because I’m sure it was like a swan for you guys – a great experience for us and madness underneath keeping it running.  Thank you for doing it!

Coming out of it I’ve been asked to write for an anthology, been told to write/pitch a novella for a shared world thing and am pitching an anthology I’ll edit to a publisher which hopefully will happen. Also, more locally, I’m hoping to write stuff for a couple of magazines too (I’ve been asked so would be rude not to).

To sum up: thoroughly enjoyed myself, a little broken by it, people made this event what it was, and WorldCon – you rocked! 🙂