Tag name:worldcon


25th August 2019

I recently attended the 77th Worldcon in Dublin. As I wanted to capture some notes on that, here they are!



Little did I realise quite how long the long way round actually was!

I decided to use the train and ferry to get to and from Dublin (the alternative would have been to fly from/to Southampton). I'm still (even after the event) not sure which was the better option! The easy part of the trip was getting to Newport to get the connecting train to Holyhead. There's a direct service which I regularly used to get to Bath and Bristol, so Newport is just a couple more stops and my train was actually ahead of schedule. The second leg is Newport to Holyhead which takes a long way round to Chester. I was concerned that my train was eating into the connection time with the ferry. Turns out I didn't need to worry - the ferry (the catamaran service) had been cancelled due to bad weather preventing its departure from Dublin. I thus had to wait for the next standard ferry crossing in a few hours time.

Once on the Irish side (and technically on Thursday as it was after midnight once cleared through Customs) it's time to decide to actually get to the Hotel. Given the score (or so) of people needing Taxis and my phone's mapping saying it's less than three miles to the Hotel, a quick yomp to the Hotel seemed plausible and was undertaken. Dublin Port at night, dodging the construction sites and then across River Liffey and the back streets of the redevelopment South of the River, I arrived safely at the Hotel.


Remembering the long queues for Registration at Loncon 3 (in 2014) and that none of the early Thursday sessions were I must go to it sessions, I opted instead to start with an initial exploration of Dublin with a side objective of getting a travelcard to cover the trains, trams and buses. That achieved I visited the EPIC, The Irish Emmigration Museum, which is a pretty good museum (though any musuem with clips of Dave Allen will rate pretty highly in my estimation!). I then joined a brief queue for registration and collected my badge.

I actually didn't any talks on the Thursday (though I did look round the dealer hall (without spotting anything that got past my How Much? filter, due in part to the weakness of the pound versus the euro)). I was feeling the effects of the late night arrival and headed back to the hotel.


Arnaldo Pomodoro 'Sfera con Sfera' bronze

What can I say? I'm a sucker for this kind of sculpture.

With the first talk I was interested in not until 11:30, the morning I used to walk over to Trinity College and visit the Book of Kells. Getting there early was a good idea (as with many popular museums) as there wasn't yet a queue to enter. A good exhibition explaining the context, its creation and similar volumes (including the Books of Armagh also held at Trinity College). You can't photograph the book itself (A restriction I absolutely agree with - there are enough people who can't figure out how to (or won't) disable flash photography that it would quickly destroy the pigments.

Facsmilie of the Book of Kells

Difficult to photograph (due to lighting) even the facsimile)

The Long Library

The Long Library at Trinity College

The Long Library is also on display and is quite impressive (although it does feel like the volumes here are mouldering gently away - though hopefully that's just a wrong impression. I'd be very happy to have a similar library myself! It took a while to work out how you would get access to the balcony shelves - there's actually a section of the shelving next to the (shaded) windows that's a connecting door with a staircase at either end of the library.

It was then over to the Worldcon for sessions on:

How we became LV426
Which was an interesting session on how the American Dust Bowl happened and how how it was recovered to some level of non-desert (even if there is no way back to its previous state)
Computering before computers
A nice review of mechanical and analogue computers (with a reference to human computers). Included some which I had/have and a few which I hadn't seen before
Guest Of Honour interview: Steve Jackson
The Steve Jackson of Gurps fame rather the fighting fantasy Steve Jackson (though it turns out that this Steve Jackson wrote three of the fighting fantasy books anyway). Nothing dramatically new from the interview but an interesting listen.
Girl Genius: a radio play
Annoying too popular a session so I didn't manage to get to this one - but I should have known that....


Dublin Dock Panorama

Looking north from the (redeveloped old docks)

After breakfast I took a walk along the south side of the River Liffey where the old docks used to be. This area has been redeveloped (much as with the London Docks) but there was an interesting exhibit showing the diving bell used in the original construction of the docks and its subsequent maintenance. Sadly I didn't capture any photo's and should have done.

More sessions at the Worldcon for the rest of the morning:

How astronomy might break physics
Which can be summarised as We've no idea what Dark Matter is, but a awful lot of options have been eliminated, and we definitely have no idea about Dark Energy and can't even agree on what to call it!
Patreon: the evolution of supporting the arts
Quite reasonably this was more of a self-help group of Here are our experiences so far rather than exploring the changes this kind of support is or might bring.
Just a minute
A take on the classic radio game show. Nicely done off the cuff swipes at the American, English and Irish views of each other!

Grand Canal

An overflowing lock on the Grand Canal. I think the designer expected there to be sufficient traffic along the canal to prevent the overflow - but a section of the canal is undergoing repairs so there was no canal traffic at all

I decided on more sight seeing for the afternoon with a trip out to Drimnagh Castle, identified by Zyg as c12 moated Castle, not sure if it open, I went to school there partially because Drimnagh is on the tram network so a good excuse for that and I could visit the heart of Dublin (Temple Bar and Ha'penny Bridge). Part of the route goes along side the Grand Canal and in fact the Drimnagh tram stop is next to the canal. It is not, however, anywhere near the castle, so some more exploration with the phone's map was required to locate both the castle and the school. The castle is open, but only Monday to Fridays and although I did wander up to the moat (which I can confirm is filled with water), the presence of the school and a confusing Dogs on lead, no trespassing sign meant I wasn't comfortable taking any pictures. This area looks like it is in the early stages of gentrification - at least the presence of a gated compound holding some blocks of recently built flats would suggest.

I then headed back to the City Centre to explore the Ha'penny bridge (busy), Temple Bar (very busy - as you would expect for early evening) and Dublin Castle (which isn't a crenellated castle of course).


Started with some more Worldcon sessions:

Writing Interactive fiction
A session more on the mechanics and tools for writing interactive fiction rather than the more creative aspects. Still it might encourage me to finish my webgames.....
The lack of technological progress in fantasy
Partially a lament and partially an acknowledgement that an awful lot of fantasy doesn't follow through with their worldbuilding. That said, it was also acknowledged that it can be hard for the characters and/or narrative to describe the changes in the history of the world without bringing the plot to a juddering halt with a load of unnecessary exposition.
What writers need to know: physics and space travel
Can be summarised as Space is big. Really Big...

Breaking news about Pteroasurs

When they said history they meant it!

The afternoon was more sightseeing - to the Museum of Decorative Arts and History and to the National Gallery. Mostly because I deliberately went looking for it there's a good couple of galleries on Ireland's second world war and more modern peacekeeping history (If you don't look for it you'll find plenty of references to 1916-22 but information about events outside of this period is much harder to find. The National Galley had a good selection of quite impressive renaissance pictures.


In order to get back home it was an early morning walk to get from the Hotel back to the Ferry port.

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