WorldCon 1995

I saw John Brunner in the SFWA suite the night before he died. He seemed about the same as I’ve seen him at previous conventions: a little reserved, but always ‑dapper-; it was a description that seemed to describe him. Then we heard the rumors the next day, culminating in the report of his death. Not just sad, but a great loss. Not many authors write even one classic story, but he wrote several: Stand on Zanzibar, Shockwave Rider, The Sheep Look Up, the complete Traveler in Black series. This has been a bad season for writers.

Best line: at the Techie’s Tall Tales, one of the panelists told about the waste management system at the British base in Antarctica, which was essentially a heated pipe, except they didn’t account for the extreme cold, so the output of the pipe would almost immediately freeze as soon as it cleared the outlet. It was the job of the newest resident to go out with a hammer and chisel every so often and clear it out. Jordan Kare piped up with the statement that Britain was in violation of the treaty about installing arms in Antarctica, as they were producing I.C.B.M.s. It was a five-star groaner of a pun.

Highest point: Monday evening, after missing the showings Friday night, I finally got to see three of the last (and lost until October) four Babylon 5 episodes that were shown in England. My only comment after seeing them all was “Oh, sh*t. Oh, Sh*t. OH SH*T.” The excrement really hits the air circulation system, folks. JMS is taking us for a really rough ride.

Oh, yes, they did show all four, but I had already seen #2, so I walked back to my hotel room (10 minutes) after the first episode, to watch a fortuitously scheduled program “The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna.” McKenna is a British TV stage hypnotist, very professional and very good, with (my guess) a team of comedy writers backing him up. McKenna was recommended highly to me, and he was worth it. Britain actually has a law prohibiting the public performance of hypnosis without a hard-to-get license, but he gets around it by putting it on TV. He has his people go through a series of comedic sketches, like having two women believe they are mother and daughter, and daughter brings home her boyfriend, whom only the audience recognizes as a popular TV actor; the two women are supposed to start increasingly disliking the actor until he stands to leave, where upon they have the urge to hug him. Another has them telling him (McKenna) lurid stories about what they were made to do under hypnosis, thinking he’s an editor for a tabloid newspaper.

Tuesday I packed up and caught the train to London.

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