I’m just back from a whistlestop tour of the West Coast of the US, one of the highlights of which was a long and fascinating weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego. In the way of these things it wasn’t an experience that’s really amenable to description, but I met a lot of great people, caught a couple of terrific panels (the conversation between Connie Willis and Neil Gaiman was a real highlight) and learned a lot.
As usual it was the conversations that mattered, not least the chance to catch up with old friends like Garth Nix, Sean Williams and (although we don’t go back as far) Jonathan Strahan and Liza Trombi (of Locus), but also the opportunity to meet new people such as Sean E. Williams (or Evil Sean as we came to know him) and Damien Walter.
But in an odd way the real highlight was meeting the Australian contingent, which included people like Alison Goodman, Alisa Krasnostein and Deborah Biancotti.
The Convention was also the occasion for the announcement of the 2011 World Fantasy Awards, which saw the prize for Best Novel go to Nnedi Okorafor for Who Fears Death, the prize for Best Short Story Collection go to Karen Joy Fowler’s fabulous What I Didn’t See and Other Stories (which is still easily one of the best things I’ve read this year), and the prize for Best Novella go to Elizabeth
Bear’s Hand’s strange, sad and entirely lovely The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon.
I’ve not read the Okorafor, but I’m interested to, not least because it edged out both Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City (a book I’ve raved about before) and Guy Gavriel Kay’s lapidary Under Heaven.
But in a way the award I was most pleased by was the Special Award Non-Professional, which went to Australia’s own Alisa Krasnostein for her work with Twelfth Planet Press. If you’d like to know more about Alisa and her work you might want to check out the profile that ran recently in Locus.
The Awards Banquet was also distinguished by a very, very funny speech by Toastmaster Connie Willis, the video of which is below. The quality’s not great, but the good stuff begins around 19:10 (or if you’d like to hear Neil Gaiman and Peter S. Beagle you can play it from the beginning).