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Dysprosium (Eastercon) schedule

On Wednesday I'm heading off on the long road trek to Heathrow (what, you think I'd fly into that sucking vortex of despair?) for Dysprosium, the 66th British eastercon.

As you might guess, I'm doing various things at the con. Here's my provisional program as it currently stands.

Friday 14:00-14:30 Porcupine Quill mini-program talk at the Porcupine Books stand in the dealer room, talking about the works of Bruce Sterling and Ken MacLeod in context.

Friday 18:45-20:00 The ultimate urban fantasy panel — Something nasty in your neighbourhood? Everybody wants to go to the big cities why not the supernatural? (Panel: Jim Butcher, Mike Carey, CE Murphy, and Charles Stross: moderator, Alice Lawson)

Saturday 15:00-16:15: Guest of Honour interview, in which Jim Butcher answers questions. (I'm the interviewer. If there's anything you particularly want me to ask him, post a comment below: I can't promise anything but if you suggest an interesting question I'll see what I can do.)

Saturday 16:15-17:00: Author signing slot.

Sunday 11:15-12:30 Truth, Justice and the Home Office — We've all seen how supernatural and paranormal threats are handled by the hero. But how do the police and other authorities deal with them? Normal interrogation is difficult with a Troll, and the CSI team isn't normally au fait with magical effects. There isn't always a convenient Wizard in the local phonebook. The authorities can't just ignore these things, but some modifications to their usual methods may be needed. (Panel: Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Charles Stross)

Sunday 16:15-17:30 V is for Vampire — The undead archetype keeps coming back, changing as times change. Writers who have used vampires discuss the different forms they can take, and why they remain powerful. (Panel: Jim Butcher, Sam Stone, Charles Stross, Freda Warrington.)

I'll also be doing a Kaffeeklatsch (but sign up early: space is limited) and a reading and a signing at some point: I'll try to update this when I've got a date and time.



AI vs. Vampire ...

Scenario: Vampire (and computer geek) has gained access to the local blood bank/hospital data to better plan and source his heme fix when an AI shows up, notices this activity and traces it back to the undead.

AIs never sleep, Vampires aren't limited by costly communications infrastructures/networks ... and each 'thinks' differently.

Who's likelier to be the 'good guy' and why?


Questions to ask Jim Butcher.

1) When writing the Codex Alera series, did you carry out any research into Pokémon - or were you already a Pokéfan? (Context: It is well referenced, that he was challenged to write a story using a "lame idea" but countered he could do it with two "lame ideas" he chose Lost Roman Legion & Pokémon.)

2) You put Harry Dresden through a hell of a lot of physical abuse, pain and suffering. You must be evil, what is your evil origin story?


That's not how convention panel discussions work.


While Peter Watts won't be attending, please discuss his Blindpraxia at the Vampire panel.


I haven't read "Echopraxia" yet (my reading is way behind the cutting edge). It's on my hit list, of course, but I'm not sure what to do with it other than use it to anchor one end of the hard-SF-biologica-explanation to pure-supernatural-explanation axis of the "vampires? plausible or not?" graph.


Will these panels be recorded and put up online for viewing?


Maybe. Are you volunteering to do the work?


The only Worldcon I ever attended included Q&A with similar questions from the floor to the panel... would like to know whether sparkly wins over omnipresent.


From todays BBC site ...

" In Roman times the sick, particularly epileptics, were encouraged to attend gladiatorial combats in the hope that they would be able to cure their illnesses by drinking the blood of a freshly killed gladiator "

And why not? Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Probably encouraged by the Vamps so as to disguise their own tastes. Indeed this may well be the real reason for the Roman enthusiasm for Blood Sports and Gladatorial combats. All you need to add is The Fearless Vampire Slayers to combat the Aristocratic Vamps and you have the underpinning of a series set in the Roman Empire.

Mind you it IS too obvious not to have been thought of already.


drinking the blood of a freshly killed gladiator

Not sure it did the gladiator much good.

Meanwhile story idea to file away: "Flavius Josephus - Vampire Venator: Lev.17:10-11"


AH, HA! GOT You!! Feel my Fangs closing about your Throat!

And what if the Vampires were Recruiting Bodyguards/Close Protection ex S.A.S type persons? And said Aristocratic - indeed SPARTAN - warrior caste was very OLD indeed and the survivors of many lethal encounters...

" The Spartiates (Greek: Σπαρτιάται, "Spartans") or Homoioi (Greek: Ὅμοιοι, "those who are alike"; sing. homoios) were the males of Sparta known to the Spartans as "peers" or "men of equal status". From a young age, male Spartiates were trained for battle and put through gruelling challenges intended to craft them into fearless warriors. In battle, they had the reputation of being the best soldiers in Greece, and the strength of Sparta's hoplite forces let the city become the dominant state in Greece throughout much of the Classical period. Other city-states were reluctant to attack Sparta even though it could muster a force of only about 8000 Spartiates during the zenith of its dominance, such was the reputation of its soldiers.[ .. "

Naturally - behind the scenes of the Ampetheatre of Blood - you need a caste of Renfeld ish recruiting sergeants...this adds depth to this New Series...back history of mortal recruiting sergent eqivilent?

And so it goes.

Once upon a time and long ago when I still went to cons I was peacefully drinking my pint whilst several of my friends were waiting to Go On Stage .. on one of those offt repeated People Lining Up Behind a table and talking to each other type things in which the audience and the Panel are lined up, each against the other, in a manner SO uncomfortable and inimical to normal conversation as to lead to the suspicion that the Con Com were deliberately TOURTUING them so as to DRAW from them their ... VITAL SPIRITUAL ESSENCES. Anyway they were due to do "Vampires"...Yet Again!!

As a humane contribution to their pre -planning I just happened to say ..." Why Don’t Vampires Wear Kevlar Body Armour? "

They took note, and indeed Notes on paper, but I haven’t the slightest notion of what happened to that panel because I was due for a refill...A Pint of WHAT??!!!

You may well ask.


Eastercon panel discussions are more typically "The panelists (look, I've been one of them; no way am I describing them as 'learned') discuss $topic, guided 'gently' by the moderator" than "panel discuss statements from the floor on $topic".

Having said which I suppose "SF Deathmatch" did take statements from the floor, in the form of suggestions for contestants, but the panel were very definitely in charge of "who wins".


Ok, I see several items that I'd like to attend already.


Greeks and Romans fed their armies a lot of garlic to supposedly strengthen their soldiers' stamina and resolve. Gladiators ate a lot of garlic for the same reason.

So you have blood sports on one hand and vampire repellent on the other...


Humm ..Non species specific Vampire Activity? Sips upon the Soul of the Artist ?..How many Artists had Feline Simbi- idiots?

As referenced in Twitter...

" And @antipope_cats is helping me not-work by patrolling my desk, nipping at my fingers whenever I try to type. Ouch! "

I'm Really looking forward to @antipope_cats next book " The Annihilation Score” (Laundry Files) written under the Pen/Paw name of “Charles Stross "


Only the Gladiators who were strongly resistant to Anti Vamp Technology could qualify for the Next Level of Vampiric Recrutment by the Refeld ish caste of Servitors.

These days the Recruitment Technology would be somewhere along the lines of a Reality TV show Titled .. " SO! You Think That You Are Tough Enough To BE a VAMPIRE! "


See you at Porcupine & thereafter, as time goes by .... ( I've known Brian & Caroline for a very long time ... )

Vampires What's the take on "Fevre Dream" ( One of the best vamp-novels ever, IMHO ) Is there a critical level at which vampire feeding makes the "victim" a n other vampire, rather than just one nip? One suspects that this is the case: discuss.

Can't remember if I saw it, or imagined it... "Sleep all day, party all night - it's fun being a vampire"


The modern popularity of the vampire story - is it all Joss Whedon's fault?

(I suspect 'Probably yes', in that he got a couple of hundred episodes out of Buffy + Angel, which is an enormous shadow to cast over popular culture.)


The modern popularity of the vampire story - is it all Joss Whedon's fault?


Some wikifiddling reveals that the original movie "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" screened in 1992, but Whedon's TV show (closer to his original concept) first aired in 1997. Whereas "Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice was published in 1976 (her original short story dates to 1968), went bestseller immediately (the first sequel, in 1985, had an initial print run of 75,000 hardcovers -- be still, my beating heart!) and spawned movies throughout the 90s.

So I'd peg Anne Rice as the midwife of the modern vampire wave.

Next up we have Laurell K. Hamilton whose first novel, "Guilty Pleasures", debuted in 1993. While Anne Rice's vampire novels have sold over 8M copies, the Anita Blake books have sold around 6M, putting them respectably close -- they're an order of magnitude behind Terry Pratchett (85M books sold in 37 languages) but nearly an order of magnitude ahead of me. (Ahem.) LKH's big innovation was to take the sexual imagery in the vampire mythos into explicit BDSM, kick-starting the paranormal romance sub-genre within romance (which broke out from being a niche within romance to splatter all over the SF/F bookstore shelves).

I do not think it is any coincidence at all that the modern wave of vampire fiction really put the pedal to the metal during the latter half of the 1980s, coincident with the rise in public awareness of HIV/AIDS and the mainstreaming of home consumption of pornography on video cassette (which in turn prefigured the web today) -- prior to the 1980s, if you wanted porn you either had to buy books in brown paper bags or find a seedy/disreputable cinema.


Don't forget the release of Vampire: The Masquerade(tm) RPG in 1991.

The RPG had many literary and cultural influences but it spawned a legion of angsty, misunderstood vampires onto the SF/F bookshelves and TV screens.


"Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire."

80's classic "The Lost Boys" (use of "classic" very much subjective, probably not irony free).


"Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire."

To which those of us where 20something congoers back then replied "Lightweights!"


Other occupations for vampires--

Laundress for a community of women, most of whom are child-bearing age.

Midwife (in a team with a human, because babies show up any old time).

Theodoric of York, Medieval Dentist! (or assistant to same, who comes in at night to clean).


Did Chelsea Quinn Yarbro even put her vampires in the Colosseum? That might have been interesting.

As for new trends, all I can say is: Vampires and Climate Change. Sometimes it sucks to be immortal.


Actually, thinking it through (and I'm sure this has been done already in some form): vampires and reincarnating witches. The vampires are immortalish, but they've got to survive all those long centuries, constantly learning new customs, new languages, new social codes, and so forth so that they don't become so alien that they're found out.

On the other side, the witches who as mortals, have to die repeatedly. But then they reincarnate in a new life that is brought up in the new world, remembering only what is relevant of the past. They don't have to deal with generation gaps.

That could get interesting. They don't even have to be mortal enemies, because after so many centuries, what feud would hold. Vampires would have to become coolhunters simply as a survival tactic (imagine the suffering of the awkward vampire nerd), while the witches would be running around like Tibetan monks, finding their reincarnates and making sure they are brought up in the tradition. Their problem is remembering so they can become themselves again, while the vampires have to forget so they can blend in.

As I said, I'm sure someone's played with it. Ring any bells?


Why aren't you flying down, in the twentieth century (before the security kabuki) I remember Edinburgh to LHR as fairly painless and quick, unless of course you are stopping off to see friends and family Fantastic sounding con, I hope some of it gets posted online, some of the panels sound fantastic Have a great time


prior to the 1980s, if you wanted porn you either had to buy books in brown paper bags or find a seedy/disreputable cinema.

Not sure how big a market it was but Super 8 and 8mm film was a big seller. I suspect that was due to the popularity of consumer cameras in the US. Which required a projector. So there was a non trivial home viewing device available before the VCR. And you could buy it without obviously being labeled a porn viewer.

Anyway lots of porn was available on film "back in the day".

But VCR's exploded the market.


I hate flying - because of all the fake "security" ... but even I know that LHR is an hell-hole - even if the Con hotel is right next door. Don't know if there are any Dunedin - London City flights .... As for Stansted or Gatwick - why bother?

Also, IIRC, Charlie has relatives in the Leeds area, so the journey can be split into two days & he can anjoy the scenery.

There's also a train from Edinburgh to London every hour, these days, though north of Berwick & through Moprpeth they are slow - the rest of the time, quite quick. Hint: London - Newcastle 268 miles - 2h 50 - 94.5 mph (including stops) Newcastle - Edinburgh another 125 miles - 1h 28 (ish) 85 mph Which doesn't sound a big difference, but you really notice the crawl through Morpeth or the twiddles up & down the Cokburnspath "bank" [ There is one ultra-quick train that does it in 4h total, but .... ]


even I know that LHR is an hell-hole - even if the Con hotel is right next door

What they really need to do is build another airport, a decent one, next door. Give it its own station, its own high airy terminal buildings, everything. Maybe share the same runways because those are going to be the hardest things to get planning rights for.

Oh, they already did?

I like T5. It's so much nicer than Heathrow next door, even if it pretends to be part of the same airport. It's nice than Stansted. It's certainly nicer than Gatwick. However you do need to fly BA/Iberia to use it.


However you do need to fly BA/Iberia to use it.

Apart from that, did you enjoy the play, Mrs Lincoln?

My worst Heathrow experiences all involve BA, to the extent that I will go far out of my way to fly with another carrier.



Yes, if that's the case, then no.

(My worst experiences have been US airlines. One such experience being rescued by the fact the onward BA flight waited for us. Yeah, our luggage didn't make the flight, but it was at our front door 8 o'clock sharp the following morning.)

I've not seen the new T2, so I can't comment on that.

Not sure how big a market it was but Super 8 and 8mm film was a big seller.

Yes, about 10 years ago I made a reasonable living converting s/8mm to DVD with a telecine. A surprising number of clients has some suprisingly hard material mixed in with their old "what I did on my holidays material".


Because (a) Air France (with whom I'm a frequent flyer) cancelled their EDI-LCY route (our usual rat-run for getting into London), (b) I refuse to use LHR or LGW -- they're festering shit-holes -- and (c) I'm schlepping three adults and a full-sized desktop computer and sundry other stuff by road: with two relief drivers it's the cheapest way to do it.

(BTW, with the security theatre and airport terminal transit time issues, EDI-LCY was about 3h30m-4h. Train is 4h15m, but costs significantly more and leaves you taking another 2h to get the tube out to the venue. Driving would be about 8h non-stop point to point -- although we'll be taking several breaks, including an overnight visit with relatives -- but can carry a lot more luggage and doesn't involve being groped by security goons.)


I saw What We Do in the Shadows last weekend. Vampire comedy, set in Wellington, NZ. After seeing the trailer, I was sure I would never see go to see the movie. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. It plays every vampire trope for maximum laughs, starting about fifteen seconds in.

What We Do in the Shadows

Looks quite cool. But Dance of the Vampires, aka Fearless vampire killers takes some topping!

I rather enjoyed that but not as much as the German "Wir sind die Nacht" (original title)

Which is in my nvho, brilliant.


The advantage of the slow part of the train trip from Edinburgh is that there is some reasonable scenery to look at :-) But, even if there weren't, I would take it. The major airports all make me feel (with reason) like a cow or sheep. And it's not much faster, anyway - from the south-east to the France/ Italy border for skiing is a foul 12 hour trip by aeroplane or a much more relaxing 13 hour one by train.


Travelling by train is great as long as you don't make the mistake of changing stations in London or Paris.

Sadly, there are a lot of places that are difficult to get to without doing one of those. Nord-Montparnasse via Metro line 4 with luggage is one of my visions of hell. Another is Paddington-Victoria.

The problem with Heathrow is that from Edinburgh (or, indeed from Leeds), you get to King's Cross, which is 56 minutes on the Piccadilly line from Heathrow.

Now, if they build HS2 all the way, and you can get to Old Oak Common in 2½ hours - and then on to Heathrow on Crossrail in another 20 minutes - then that's a different story. In 2026. Or later


Heathrow is less bad than it used to be, and Dysprosium is just outside the fence. You could almost walk it. If I was starting from Scotland, I might be tempted, but I'm not, so its train to Hayes and Harlington then bus for me.


... and from Glasgow you get to Euston, which isn't even on the Picadilly.


NO They need to CLOSE Heathrow & turn the land over to industrial & housing, especially with the good transport links. And build a new airport - either well to the East of London, or on the site that was proposed back in the 1940's "Blackbushe" - half-way between the Ex-Paddington & ex-Waterloo railway lines.


Me too .... But I will probably go home, as I'm commuting each day, by "tube" via the Pick-a-Dildo line { Oh did I say, I've just installed "Dirty Reader"? )


Strategic air class warfare...

Executive jets fly there already. You'd think that rich and famous novelists might take advantage.


Strategic is right. Blackbushe is where a B-52 did a low pass in 2004 after getting only slightly (five or six miles) lost on its way to the Farnborough Air Show direct from the USA...


" Executive jets fly there already. You'd think that rich and famous novelists might take advantage."

You would wouldn't you?

A little while ago I was visited by an old friend who emigrated to New Zealand Long Ago. Just how old a friend you might be able to gauge when I say that we first met as infants in the 1950s. Anyway Chris and his family decamped to the far away and long ago and I never seriously expected to see him again in person but time and Air Travel Tech moves on and he has been back to the UK a time or three but this time his wife is a bit arthritic and given my own arthritic spine I wondered how he and she had been able to manage the flight. It turned out that they had sold his business and the buyer had bribed him to terminate the ‘advice to the buyer ' bit of the contract a bit early and they had flown Business Class!

I looked up this Business Class Thing after my friends had gone home to The Land of...

As a sample of what I found...

" As a Business Premier passenger, you will enjoy:

Revolutionary lie-flat beds, A comfortable 22-inch-wide leather armchair that converts into a 6-foot, 7.5-inch bed Inflight menus, complimentary food and award winning wines An ottoman footrest that doubles as a visitor's seating Direct aisle access for all passengers In-seat power A high resolution 12.1-inch screen to view the on-demand entertainment system Premium Check In Checked in Baggage allowance of 3 pieces per person at 23kg weight per piece "

Why would anyone of taste and discrimination fly any other way? Unless ones vastly plutocratic publisher provides...


Your problem is the adjectives "rich and famous" in the phrase terminating in "novelists". Applying either of them to me would be a gross exaggeration.

Having said that, I won't fly to a destination more than ten hours in the airline seat away unless I can go business class (and it's getting to the point where I won't fly more than six hours unless it's in Premium Economy, with more leg room and a bit more bum width). I've been to Australia and Japan a couple of times each, and went business class each time. You can find seat sales that cut the price to only about 2-3 times the economy fare, and from my perspective I'm not paying for luxury: I'm paying to avoid the best part of a day in severe discomfort rising to the level of pain, followed by a couple of days of severe achiness afterwards.

(Oh, and I won't go to those places unless I can contrive to make it at least partially a business trip -- offsetting some of the air fare against my taxable earnings -- and ideally someone else is paying.)

Having said that, business class in long haul aviation is a cut above what passes for "first class" on US domestic carriers (that's equivalent to long haul "premium economy" only with slightly better food). Five stars, would fly again -- as long as someone else is paying!


Your problem is the adjectives "rich and famous" in the phrase terminating in "novelists".

Okay, fair enough. But earlier today I ran across an article on Great Science Fiction Stories That Can Help You Make Sense Of Economics; the first names cited are Terry Pratchett, Charles Stross, and Cory Doctorow. grin



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