Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shamrokon Report

After visiting the doctor, we rode the train to Holyhead (Wales), where we caught a ferry to Dublin (Ireland). We pulled into Dublin port around midnight on Thursday, and were lucky to catch a taxi going in our direction. The driver asked if we were in town for the convention, we specified which convention, and he knew exactly what hotel it was in. He almost delivered us to there, instead of the one we had requested, which was 3-4 blocks away. We checked in, and this was an actual hotel room, instead of a closet.
Shamrokon was the European science fiction convention. Although held in Dublin this year, it travels from city to city, like the World Con does. Since we were traveling to London for the World Con, and Dublin was just a wee bit away, we decided to check it out.
John thought the con started early on Friday, at 9 or 10, so we had breakfast and walked over, only to find signs that registration would open at noon. So we walked back and I made the mistake of laying down. When it came time to go, I could not get up, and my throat was sore. John went by himself and I slept. I did get up for supper, but I was probably asleep again before the sun went down. It was disappointing to miss the first day.
Saturday, we walked over and kind of went our separate ways, choosing different panels to attend. In looking over the list of panels, I got the impression that European conventions take their science fiction somewhat more seriously than Americans. But it’s possible I didn’t understand any inside jokes they may have.
They also had far more panels devoted to one guest than I’m used to seeing. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with that guest’s work, so I didn’t feel a need to attend those panels. Actually, I seldom attend panels that are based on one of the guests; it’s the subject matter of a panel that gets my attention.
One panel I attended on Saturday was about how their plan to have WorldCon in Dublin in 2019. I wouldn’t have a chance to site-see before we left, so the idea of coming back appealed for me. They were taking a bus load of people to the Convention Center on Sunday morning, but I had a panel to be on. Happily, John opted to join that bus load for the look-see.
Another panel I attended gave the answer to, “Why have a pen name?”, a question I’ve wrestled with for some time. Let’s say somebody reads books by Trudy Myers and they are fantasy and science fiction. Then they see a new title and grab it (I’m dreaming a little, but this is just an example). If it turns out to be a romance or a western, that reader will be disappointed and confused. But if I write fantasy and science fiction as Trudy Myers, romance as Linda Joy and westerns as Mel O Myers, and they know that, then they know what to expect based on the name I’m using. It’s all about branding. I don’t know if I ever heard anybody explain it so well before.
Saturday night, we got to see the new Doctor Who in his first episode on a big screen (Well, bigger than we have). What fun!
My panel was about mapping and world-building. The moderator spoke about star-maps, and I stated that I had not mentioned stars in my novel, but I did mention the planet’s 4 moons, which the natives call ‘Mother & daughters’. I design worlds by deciding where the plates are located and which direction they move, which gives me mountains, rift valleys and some volcano locations. Then I consider the prevailing winds, which would determine which areas get lots of rain, and which ones get very little. Later, I was surprised when all the questions that came my way were about the moons! Did I know their orbits? Did they have strange tides because there were 4 moons? I tried to give answers that would satisfy their curiosity.

Dublin’s Shamrokon was an interesting experiment for us to try. It was not nearly as big as a World Con, and hadn’t expected to be. It had 5 (maybe 6) panel rooms, ranging from large (seating 350) to medium. If I had to guess, I’d say it was about the size of a decent regional convention in the US. Maybe that’s why I could enjoy it; the size did not overwhelm me. Also, the trees in the yards, the houses and businesses along the route we walked to get there and back were... homey.

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