Thanks to those who entered the contest – I haven’t forgotten you and I’ll post the lucky (?) winner in a future post.
Now for the fangirl rave (ahem) convention report.
I arrived in Madison, WI after an incident-free set of flights, and as soon as I’d gotten checked in and unpacked headed down to where the con was being set up, poked my head around the door and asked what I could do to help. That was the last I saw of the tattered shade that is my sanity. I untangled lanyards, stuffed goodie bags and stamped convention passports (don’t ask) until it was time for the Seamstress Guild’s preview party, where I hung out for an hour or so before stumbling off to bed…
Day 1 started with a bang. Or the Discworld equivalent thereof, with the opening ceremonial prayer to the Great God Om interrupted by a divine messenger (in the form of FedEx, the God of Messages) who informed Brother Vorbis that he was dull and the Gods had all decided to celebrate. Naturally, they arrived in a grand processional, although the Goddess of the Seamstresses was a little later – escorting the Creator, The Man Himself, Sir Terry Pratchett. The Goddess is rather a favorite of Sir Terry…
The rest of the convention is actually something of a blur. Imagine a family reunion… er, no. That’s not right. Imagine if you had a family where everyone actually liked and respected each other, and imagine that family having a reunion, and people meeting family members they’d never seen before but they were still friends because, well, they belonged. Somehow everyone became the good time that was had by all, and everyone you met was a good friend. Now imagine there’s about a thousand of you… I talked more during the convention than I’d normally talk in six months – which reminds me, Dave – you need to put a link here from your Flinders Freer blog. You have fans there who know nothing about the Mad Geniuses. I met one of them. But no hurry. It can wait until after the wedding. Hell, I met someone who lives all of about 15 miles away, but we had to both go to Madison to discover this.
There was Raven the costumer, who has the world’s most amazing selling technique. A person would peek in at the goodies, find themselves dragged into the middle of it and told “This would look wonderful on you, sweetie,” and not only did it indeed look wonderful, it usually fitted, and would immediately get paired with something else equally fantastic, and then something else, until the stunned customer’s hand migrated to their purse and extracted money. Even though Raven never once actually suggested that you buy anything. Just try it on and see how wonderful you look in it, and isn’t that a really neat costume? (Fair warning: the site is not a sales site. It just shows off their best stuff – you can’t buy any of it. But they do take phone and email orders). The dealers room had the Cunning Artificer, who’s got all the official PTerry merchandise rights – and does a bloody good job with them, too. I can’t wait for the quantum weather butterfly necklace to arrive. All the booksellers had to keep getting more merchandise in because they ran out so fast, as did the T-shirt vendor. Anything of Pratchett that didn’t get much of a US circulation vanished faster than you could say “Rincewind?”
Then there was the Good Omens panel… Where PTerry was joined by Neil Gaiman (a surprise guest), and the pair of them traded barbs and jokes and revealed that there will be a Good Omens film, those bloody lucky Brit fans will (again – they’re extras in all the other ones) get to be extras in it (Paid to be in a PTerry film. Is there anything closer to heaven?), and that PTerry appears to have named one of the camels in Pyramids for Neil. At least, I think that was why he kept calling Neil “You Bastard”. They also revealed that the Good Omens manuscript acquired intelligence from somewhere while they were writing it, because the file (traded on floppy discs sent through the post or via one of these new-fangled modem thingies, none of your fancy Internets in those days), despite having never been edited anywhere but PTerry’s computer or Neil’s computer mysteriously acquired good jokes that neither of them had written. Or so they say….
There was the reading from Snuff, the next book in the series, where the crowd wouldn’t let Rob, PTerry’s assistant, stop reading until he begged and pleaded most pitifully (okay, we weren’t THAT bad…) – do preorder and buy this book. It’s got Vimes in it. And Vetinari. And…
The question and answer session where Rob and PTerry revealed intimate personal details like the names of all their cats and the assorted indignities heaped upon them by the TSA (seriously, just about every reference to the TSA was prefaced with “and after we’d been stripped naked and beaten up – lovely people, really”) and the weird places that are home to PTerry’s biggest fan (who must be huge and poly-sexual, since he/she has been found in various US locations, remote parts of Australia, on planes, in New Zealand, and of course all over the UK).
The Seamstress Guild parties that started at 9pm and got… interesting. The Quirm-themed party featured “cow-tipping” in the form of highly alcoholic beverage in a shot glass positioned in the cow’s… ahem… nether parts. I’m told by those who participated in this unique regional activity that the art is in tipping the cow so that the beverage didn’t spill. For the queasy, yes, it was a plastic inflatable cow, not the real mooing article.
The closing ceremony started with a piece of authentic Ankh-Morpork culture (imagine a Foul Ole Ron rap, if you can. I saw it and I’m still not sure I can properly imagine this), followed by a mass reading of PTerry’s masterpiece, “Where’s My Cow?” The mass, fortunately, was only required to provide sound effects.
Finally, the traditional farewell of all Discworld conventions was delivered by the Cunning Artificer himself, when he told the entire gathered horde, “Piss off!” (yes, there’s a history to it. And no, pissing off didn’t actually happen. It was more of a slow trickle, with a lot of hugging and promises to meet next time.)
It was five days or so of the best time a Discworld fan could have. Now I have to sort out the goodies sitting on my desk, including (but not limited to) a plushie Librarian, a plushie Death of Rats, a LOLGreebo (he Rolls On The Floor Tearing Your Face Off), a collection of badges and business cards and things to look up and other things to reference and sort out and do, and one or two wee gifts for friends.
Alas, work awaits, so the sorting out will need to happen at the weekend. But the memories should keep me smiling for a long time.