Halloween in Calgary is an event people take seriously—although perhaps that’s not quite the right word. The streets outside the Hyatt Regency were filled with revelers in costume. At a lively spot called “Earl’s”, I encountered several quite manly fairies from the UK. Back at the hotel there was no small irony in the fact that, radically unlike Arisia, the convention organizers sternly discouraged costumes. Yes, I can understand that it takes away a bit from the dignity of the convention, which is supposed to be for the benefit of the writers and publishers of Fantasy (and to a lesser extent, Science Fiction and Horror), to have trolls and elvish princesses wandering through the suites. But on Halloween, really!
A few defiant souls showed up to the fourth floor parties in costume, including Robin Hood, complete with long bow and arrows (how did that get past security?) and an elegant drag queen. The SF Canada party had some fascinating conversations, but Redjack Books had the patio, and the weather was too fine (uncommonly warm for Calgary that time of year) not to take advantage of it.
Aside from Halloween, high points of the convention for me included discovering Daryl Gregory. He came highly recommended during a panel on Memorable Short Fiction, and the praise invoked by Lou Anders inspired me to seek him out. I find it difficult to find current fiction that I really like; I’m dismayed at many of the current trends and fashions. (Jetse de Vries complained that the major publishers just seem to be looking for Star Wars and Conan variants, to which I’d add Harry Potter.) Gregory sounded like something different, and I picked up a copy of his “Pandemonium.” I was not disappointed. Intelligent, quirky, and decidedly off-beat.
Another high point was the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading. I was one of thirteen (an auspicious sum) and was in good company! An absolutely stellar anthology of short pieces and excerpts, some funny, some glitteringly lovely, some with fangs and others with beets. I was plugging “Ferrit and Faux,” a mock-medieval spoof on the spec-mystery and spy trope (is there one?) that has just been released in the premier issue of the new cross-over e-zine Speculative Mystery Iconoclast. By wild coincidence, one of my fellow Broads at the RFR was Lindsey Duncan, whose story “Mirror, Mirror” is also in SpecMystIcon’s first release.
I loved Calgary, and spent a mild afternoon in between panels and readings strolling the streets. The city is so clean compared to most American cities (characteristic of Canadian cities in general) and the people were very friendly. It’s a beautiful place, the mountains looming in the distance. The presidential election in the US was imminent, and my husband had sworn he would move to Canada if McCain won. I would have lobbied heavily for Calgary.