Back from Octocon

riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from port of air to bend of bus, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Octocon and Environs.

I had never been to Ireland before and I hope to go back and visit and to make Octocon in 2018 a part of that visit. Octocon 2017 was well-run and enjoyable and it was nice to be at a more intimate convention (about 400) as well as to be at one where I had no promotional or Worldcon-related obligations.

I went to relax. This process was made easier by the fact that at Irish conventions, as at UK ones, one can bring drinks into the panel rooms. From the registration desk: "This is Ireland, dear. You can bring a pint into Mass with you."

The first night of the convention was relaxed as many attendees had not yet arrived. The opening ceremony was the shortest I've ever seen--five minutes or thereabouts, as the chair briefly introduced the Guests of Honour--and was followed by a cozy icebreaker for new attendees. I watched a panel on the experience of war which brought out some fascinating anecdotes about the reality of civil war as told by grandchildren of people who fought in the Irish war of independence & its related fighting, particularly from John Vaughan.

The Saturday of the convention was much busier and contained the bulk of the program items. I was a panelist, a late addition to "How Far We'll Go" which was a discussion about the practicalities of interstellar colonization--the token scientist, in a way, whose role was to keep the authors a bit grounded in reality just as a court jester must speak occasional truths to kings. I like to think I made an impact though beyond my academic background.

Saturday evening had a disco. I, personally, do not dance except in exceptional circumstances so I spent the evening chatting in the lobby with veteran con organizer David Lally. There are exciting developments afoot among Asian organized fandom that I hope to hear more about soon.

Sunday was a return to more relaxedness but less drinking as Anna and I had to leave for our flight before Octocon ended. I was luckily able to watch all the entries in the National Irish Science Fiction Festival ("The Golden Blasters") and while some of the films were a bit obvious--a ten-minute short SF film lends itself to Twilight Zone-style twists--but for me "Dead Air," about the last man on Earth broadcasting to nowhere amidst the zombie apocalypse, got my vote (it didn't win the audience award but the winning film, "Einstein Rosen," was deserving).

Alas as Octocon was on the same weekend as the Irish Discworld Convention in Cork there were many people who wanted to be in both places at once and couldn't. That said, at its current size Octocon felt intimate, at works snug. Adding another 200 members might push the event's limits.

If I can get or steal the time from work I plan to go back to Ireland for the 2019 Worldcon, and the Eurocon as well if I am very lucky.  If at all possible, Octocon 2018 is on my calendar too, next time with more chances to see Dublin. It was just the thing I needed.

Edmund Schluessel

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