Alex Holden (alex_holden) wrote,
Alex Holden

Loncon 3 Con Report

A couple of weeks ago I attended this year's Worldcon, Loncon 3, at the Excel Centre in London. After a couple of false starts on this report I've ruthlessly cut it down to a list of things that I enjoyed at the convention, in roughly chronological order. Not everything went right and not all the items I went to interested me, but then what large event ever is perfect? On the whole there were far more positive things about Loncon 3 than negatives.

  • I helped to put up the art show lighting with an American electrician called Kurt, for whom 240V mains was a novelty.
  • The Tardis build went very well, and fellow woodworker (and first-time convention attendee) Robert Nieuwenhuijs was a fantastic person to work with.
  • The exhibits hall and art show were great. I particularly enjoyed the wide range of unusual exhibits on display including the DiscWorld model railway, the Lego Millennium Falcon, the Tiptree quilt and the representatives from various university science departments who were there to talk about their research.
  • Cosmic Trifle in concert - surprisingly, I think this was probably the first time I've heard my friend Chris perform guitar on stage.
  • The retro-Hugos - well presented, good band, and I enjoyed the side story about the Martian invasion.
  • Mastermind - a clever and well performed, thought-provoking play about an amnesiac who suspects he used to be a criminal mastermind who planted a hidden bomb in a city centre with a one-year timer that is about to go off unless he remembers how to deactivate it.
  • Death and the Single Person's Tax Allowance - fascinating discussion about the legal implications of 'spending a year dead for tax purposes' (a deliberate HHGTTG reference). How might you accomplish legal death and resurrection (e.g. cryogenic freezing), how would you ensure that you still owned your stuff afterwards (ideally without losing a large chunk of it to inheritance tax and/or complex court cases), are there any tax loopholes you could exploit by doing so, and what would the Inland Revenue do about it if there were (answer: rush an amendment through parliament to make them illegal). Interesting digressions into the tax status of emergent AIs and uploaded consciousnesses (who may be distributed across servers located in multiple financial jurisdictions), ghosts, zombies and other forms of undead persons, clones, and transporter-accident-duplicate-selves.
  • The Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra - Brilliant stuff, really amazing to hear a live 86 piece orchestra performing SF classics. My favourite bit was the Theremin on the Doctor Who theme.
  • Ceilidh - it was great to have a chance to dance to Liam Robinson's band again, even if the 11PM start and public transport woes meant I had to leave after only half an hour (sorry, sorry, I know I said I was going to stick to positive things! ;).
  • Airbrushing with Steve Crisp - a practical demonstration by a professional illustrator showing how book cover art used to be painted. Amazing how easy it looks in the hands of an expert!
  • Morris dancing in the fan hall. Nuff said.
  • Masquerade - some really impressive costumes, particularly the overall winners.
  • What Does Ireland Have to Offer - a panel of mostly Irish fans chatting about stuff in a very entertaining fashion, including how the traditional Irish myths are really really weird and full of very nasty characters you wouldn't want to annoy (especially the fairies).
  • Talis Kimberley in concert - I hadn't heard of her before the con, so I went along solely on the basis of the description in the programme book and was very pleasantly impressed when she started to play and sing beautifully (accompanied by a bassoon(!) and a fiddle). She has some really fun, clever songs in her repertoire.
  • Running Fortran on the Mainframe - fun reminiscences about past computing technology, some of which is still doing Very Important Stuff on decades-obsolete hardware in dusty forgotten server rooms despite everybody who knew anything about how it works having retired long ago. Amusing moment when somebody on the panel asked the audience, "who here has written software in assembly?" and >90% of us raised our hands.
  • Before the Dawn - the eagerly anticipated filk musical. I could see it was going to be too popular for the size of room it was in, so I arrived well before it started to be sure I got a good seat. A very impressive and entertaining performance by everybody involved.

To finish up, here's a photo of our completed Tardis (courtesy of Robert - I completely forgot to take any pictures after we'd finished it):
Tags: conreps, cons, loncon 3

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