Alex Holden (alex_holden) wrote,
Alex Holden

The Long-awaited Satellite 1 Con Report

Satellite 1 was a small one-day convention at the Campanile hotel in Glasgow, a stone's throw from the SECC, site of the 2005 Worldcon and the 2006 Eastercon. Its theme was the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1, the first man-made satellite. I vacillated for some time over whether to go or not - the distance (250 miles) made it impractical to travel there and back in one day. I eventually decided to drive up very early on the day of the con and stay one night, then drive back the next day after doing a bit of sightseeing.

The con was pretty good. The programme in particular was excellent - I've been to three-day cons where I went to fewer programme items, and there were several interesting-sounding panels that I missed due to clashes with other items, or the need to eat at least one meal that day. Great choice of guest of honour too. My one real criticism is that the con was too short for me. It takes a few hours at least to get into the right mindset to properly enjoy a con, plus I was tired from the early start and long drive, which meant that the con was nearly over by the time I was starting to relax and enjoy it properly.

Opening Ceremony - started a bit late but it was so short it didn't overrun into the next item.
Chaos Satellite Building - dalg had sourced a big pile of plastic food packaging, drinking straws, pipe cleaners, etc. and challenged us to build a model of a satellite in less than an hour.
It's Only the End of the World Again - a panel discussion about past "end of the world" scares that no longer seem as terrible as they did at the time. Is climate change any different?
Well... It's Certainly Not How We Imagined It (Or Is It)? A panel discussion about where SF authors of the past went wrong in their predictions of today.
Ken Macleod's Guest of Honour Talk - Ken talked about his childhood memories of the beginning of the space race. Some rather odd questions from the audience afterwards.
Confounding Tales Presents... What Is It Like To Be a Saladtite? - munchkinstein organised a silly game that involved using brown paper to dress derooftrouser as Bluebottle from The Goon Show.
"Finding Uranus" or "Pin the Satellite on the Planet." - Mad Elf's reprise of the game they first ran at Confounding Tales. This time instead of posters along one wall with pictures of planets on them, he'd made model planets and attached them to the ceiling with string and Blu-Tack. Also, the "comet" now moved around the room. I was on the winning team, largely due to luck and perhaps a small amount of accidental cheating in the final round...
Finding Uranus
The blindfolded lady in the red skirt was the "comet" destination.
The next 50 years in Space - A panel discussion about the future of space exploration. There was a lot of discussion about how soon we will have the technology to build the first space elevator and how much it would cost. Possibly a bit on the optimistic side.
Closing Ceremony - I was surprised to win a prize for the best Chaos Satellite, given my complete lack of artistic talent.
The Dead Laika Party - after the official programming was over I spent the evening with helenex, munchkinstein, derooftrouser, psychochicken, davidcook, rwrylsin, and other local Glasgow fen. Subjects discussed included the theme of the next con in the Convivial sequence (munchkinstein is still claiming the second world war uniforms were a joke), Glasgow cons in general, sport, and Canadian drinking laws. We completely missed the evening entertainment going on in the other room. Even so, it was shorter than most other dead dog parties I've been to because the hotel stopped serving drinks at 11PM. The locals went off in search of a pub and I staggered off to bed, having been up for about 19 hours due to the early start.

The day after the con I lay in till about 7:30 then went to breakfast. I was outnumbered by the staff about three to one. Usually it's a bit quiet the morning after a con but I was slightly surprised to not see anyone I knew at all. I suspect I might have been the only non-local member who stayed in the hotel. After breakfast I did a bit of work on Fenchurch (my Morris Minor) because she had started to run a bit rough and make funny noises on the way up. Adjusting the tappets didn't help much but it was worth a try. It later turned out (after I drove home without incident) to be a partial head gasket failure, as documented elsewhere in my journal.

I asked the guy behind the checkin desk when the museums opened on a Sunday, and he said "about nine." It was coming up to that time already so I checked out and set off to find the Kelvingrove art gallery and museum. The signs were a bit misleading and I found myself wandering around the Kelvingrove park instead, after putting enough money into the parking meter for the maximum 3-hour stay. I found the transport museum eventually, only to discover it doesn't open until 11:30 on Sundays, and the Kelvingrove doesn't open until 11:00. I didn't want to sit around for two hours so I set off for a drive up to Loch Lomond. I stopped at Balloch Castle, which was a little disappointing because it's a small 19th century reproduction and isn't open to the public, but the views from the public park in the grounds were quite nice. After wandering around for a while I headed back to Glasgow for a second attempt at the museums. This time they were open and I spent a pleasant three hours looking round them. Unfortunately I ran out of time on my parking ticket and was only able to spend a couple of minutes in the huge model-boat room in the transport museum (in hindsight I should have gone to the transport museum first).

I didn't know Glasgow had a Great Exhibition of its own in 1888 until I read about it in the Kelvingrove museum. It was housed in a vast temporary building in Kelvingrove Park. They had about six million visitors and it was so successful they built the museum with the proceeds.

At the transport museum I came across CR 123 - a locomotive I read about when I was researching the Race to the North for a short story about a time-travelling tourist. I'd assumed the engines involved would all have been scrapped long before I was born, so it was an odd sensation to suddenly be able to see and touch the real thing.
Tags: conreps, cons, morris minor, photos, satellite 1

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