MARK ROBERTS: GOH AND BLOODY GREAT DESIGNER
Mark Roberts, my friend and conspirator on the fake disease guide, sent me this account of being guest of honor at a con that I thought might be of interest.
Mark has recently been working on the Tom Holt site and will soon be doing a very cool website for Shriek.
Had an interesting weekend – my first ever appearance as a Guest of Honour at a convention happened on Saturday! It was a one-day affair called Picocon, run by the Imperial College of London’s SF Association. Very student-orientated (as one would expect) and I felt a little aged at times, but I had a great time hanging out with the other two GoHs, especially Ian Watson, who I’ve known for ages. I always enjoy his company. I arrived a little late, and the talk by Natasha Mostert (the other GoH) had already begun. When it finished at noon, I happened to be standing outside the room it had been held in, and Ian came out looking slightly dazed. He saw me, his face broke into a broad grin, and he exclaimed: “Thank God! It‘s you!” and hugged me. Very sweet of him.
Later, I watched students dip dodgy SF toys into liquid nitrogen and then smash them with hammers. Big hammers. At 2:30pm I gave a presentation on the Disease Guide and read a few of the entries out (note to self: Diseasemaker’s Croup is challenging to read out loud, and may leave an audience wondering if you have gone barking mad. Second note to self: following that up with Ouroborean Lordosis will get an audience back on board pretty sharpish). We then had a very entertaining QandA session that I played for laughs. At 3:45pm (it was supposed to be 3:30, but Ian and I had demanded a tobacco and real ale break) the three GoHs were quizzed by the ever-hungry mass of wannabe writers about the state of genre publishing. At one point the three of us (without prior discussion, it should be noted [and with an evident display of humour]) conjoined on a gambit to discourage anyone else in the room from writing, as there is plenty of competition as it is.
The rest of the day passed with convivial discussion in the bar, then a baffling SF quiz (although, I must say, with a little pride, that Ian and I amazed and confounded our team-mates with our in-depth knowledge of such diverse topics as: what year WASN’T there a Picocon [that was Ian]; and what SF TV show featured soldiers haunting a train station [that was me]). Then the committee for the event took us GoHs out to dinner, and we had a fabulous time. It was lovely to catch up with Ian and to meet Natasha. A great day.
(Jeff: "Hey, Evil Monkey. How've you been?" Evil: "Down with the flu, man. It sucks." Jeff: "That's odd. I feel fine. Just raised my personal best on the incline leg press to 575 lbs." Evil: "Someone needs to beat you senseless with your own leg, Jeff.")