Feb 14, 2011

“It creates a rationale for the extremist reality we create.” Peter F. Hamilton, during the Science in Science Fiction panel.

Er.... really? Are you sure? I don’t actually remember saying that. I’m not complaining, you understand. After all, it sounds quite smart and coherent. Then again I was on the panel with Kevin Anderson, China Mieville, Gary Gibson, and Steve Baxter; all of whom are very smart, articulate people. You have to up your game in their presence or you’re going to come out of it looking like the sad dummy in the corner. On the other hand... the spotlights shining on the stage were migraine-inducingly bright and nothing could be seen in their glare, the sound was bad so I couldn’t really hear everything the others were saying, and there were nightmare shadows in my peripheral vision, large strange shapes that moved down the side of where I knew the audience should be. Distracting or what? Then the auditorium lights came on for the Q&A section, and everyone up on stage was instantly intimidated by the amazing number of people revealed to be sitting listening to us; and those odd shapes were the notorious Stilt Girls. Ah yes, that’s where we are: welcome once again to the SFX Weekender at Camber Sands. This is fast turning into my favourite con. And that’s no small achievement given that I’m guest of honour at this year’s Eastercon.

As with last year there were many tales of community bonding and endurance in the face of terrifying adversity, otherwise known as the Pontins’ chalets. I admit I speak of such things from a distance. Thankfully, once more my magnificent publisher rented a cottage outside the barbed wire face surrounding the camp for the Tor authors to luxuriate in comfort while trying not to gloat over our chalet-bound rivals in team Gollancz. We were also promised that as last year publicists would be on hand to cater for our every need and whim at all hours of the day and night. A quick glance at the after-the-Tor-party photo on Mark Charon Newton’s blog will reveal who actually did all the cleaning up at two in the morning. But the astonishing youthful optimism award of the weekend goes to Chloe and Amy, who when the booze was running out walked the streets of Camber Sands looking for an open off licence to reup writers in danger of their glasses running dry. Yes, you read that correctly: one o clock in the morning, in Camber Sands, in February. They seemed so surprised when they came back empty handed. Bless.

And as for life outside Camber Sands? Great North Road is going well. So well that I took a weekend off in January for research. Or to be precise a trip to Iceland to drive a friend’s super-jeep across difficult frozen terrain. The best way to describe my time there is as the world’s cheapest ever episode of Top Gear. Yes I do actually need to know what that’s like to do this for the expedition featured in the book. In fact it was so useful I’m changing certain aspects of the story environment, for example snow under six inches of water is actually worse to drive on than just snow –who’d have guessed? So huge thanks to the support team, because where we went was fairly remote and you just don’t go there by yourself. Take a bow Joe and Agust, who gave up their weekend to tow me out of snowdrifts. This photo should give you an idea of how I suffer for my art. (I’m in the vehicle at the back)

I’d like to include a photo of me with the Stilt Girls at this point. I did pose with them during the Weekender, but the author (who shall remain nameless) who took said photo with my iphone was trembling so much in their presence it came out too blurred.

I’ve finished the DVD of Fringe season two –please let season three be equally good. Do not ever watch Animals United. Seriously, not ever. It’s that bad. Megamind and Tangled however are definitely worth the extra pound at the cinema to view them in 3D. I have to say I haven’t made my mind up about modern 3D, but it does seem particularly suited to animation.

I’ve read The Silent Land by Graham Joyce. Superb, and thoroughly recommended. And I was sent the early proof of Kings Of Eternity by Eric Brown. Equally awesome.

Hopefully I’ll see you all at Eastercon.

Peter F. Hamilton
February 2011

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