Morning coffee with the estimable John Clute, one of the Guests of Honour at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, held here in Toronto this year. John and I try to sit down together at least once a year. He’s a critic, an original thinker, an encyclopedist, probably won’t get ticked off if I call him an eminence gris of the genre he likes to call fantastika. He is also someone invariably, almost helplessly interesting – which doesn’t mean, for anyone who knows me at all, that we invariably (let alone helplessly) agree on everything. That’s what makes the coffees fun. I always walk away energized.
WFC is the one convention I do try to attend each year. I regret (for strategic reasons) to report that I enjoy it. It is a ‘capped’ convention, limited to about 900 or so attendees, and with a very high percentage of professionals: writers, editors, artists, critics, academics, agents. It means that once a year I dine or drink with a number of colleagues who have become friends by now.
One tradition is a small dinner organized by Locus magazine as something of a memorial to Charles N. Brown who founded the magazine and who died a few years ago. There is an expectation I will arrive with new jokes (because Charlie loved them). Liza Trombi, current editor, does the same. Peter Straub has been known to filibuster with impossibly protracted shaggy dog jokes. We toast Charles, who is very much missed.
There has also been a watch-the-world-series mini-tradition in the various hotel bars, which San Francisco has destroyed this year by winning too swiftly. I’ll be doing the first-ever public reading from River of Stars on the Saturday. WFC feels like the right venue, and I did this with Under Heaven three years ago when the convention was in San Jose. I have figured out my ‘reading passage’ and it was surprisingly easy.
Those involved in coordinating the convention are, of course, watching the chaos on the east coast and I’m sure they are hoping (for all larger reasons, too, obviously) that NY and the eastern seaboard are all right – and that people can get out from the airports. It was a bad, dangerous night last night.
Finally, yes, I am editing, ferociously I might add. Here’s a progress photo. It is a slight cheat, I know, the red pens are ironic. I’m working on-screen, but this is where I’m at as of this morning.