I'm not sure where to start. And, so, I'll start with food, which is always a good place to start.
Chinatown ia $2 coin's throw from the convention center (Palais) in Montreal. Through a strange-but-not-that interesting series of steps, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman and I found ourselves in Little Sheep
What first hits you at Little Sheep is the smell. It's heady and spice- ily floral, with an undernote of raw meat. It's an odor that lingers. My pillow and bra smelled like Little Sheep all weekend. That's not a bad thing. Just unusual.
You are given a bowl of broth, which is full of garlic and spices. You walk past a series of cases that are full of mushrooms and fungi, leafy greens and fish balls, the exotic and the mundane. You come back and cook your choices in your broth, along with the thinly sliced lamb or beef the waiter brings.
Good only begins to describe it.
This is the only spice in my broth that I couldn't figure out. It's not nutmeg. It also appears to be hollow inside. When you take it out of the broth, it collapses in on itself, like a balloon that's losing air. It re-inflates when you put it back in the soup. Anyone?
When I first got to Montreal, I did what I usually do, which is walk out of the hotel and walk several blocks in the wrong direction. I asked a guy who was wearing a convention badge which way I needed to go. Three blocks that way, he said. It's the building that looks like a rainbow.
My hope was that it looked like a rainbow to everyone and not just to weary con-goers. It does.
I scored the last seat at his Kaffeeklatsch, where I felt very young and very female.
I never did figure out what the display of ties was for.
On Saturday night, I went to the Masquerade, which is where fans build their own costumes that celebrate the fantastic. While the quality varied (and I, admittedly, skipped out about halfway in because I was falling asleep (not the performers' fault)), there's something fulfilling about seeing people doing something that they are truly passionate about, even if you are not. I suspect that's also why I like curling.
Neil Gaiman during his reading. *squee!*
There was a lot of outside media around. Gaiman himself has CBS' Sunday Morning and a reporter from The New Yorker (really) in his entourage, which isn't overly surprising. But there were other TV crews and radio folk gathering info. I'm sure a few of those stories were of the "hey, look at the geeks!" sort. But that coverage seems to be less prevalent than it once was.
There were, of course, fans in costumes. Not as many as you'd see at ComicCon, mind. (And for a really amazing set of shots of SF/F fans, go here
. Kyle Cassidy's photos are gorgeous. In a perfect world, I know who I want to take my picture from now on.) (Oh, and Cassidy hits on a fundamental truth of fandom in his LJ
At one point I looked up and a smiling woman handed me her model release and said "Hi, I'm Connie Willis." There was a long pause and I said "Hi. I'm a bit speechless." and after Connie Willis a lot more of the rich and famous swam through with the streams of fandom and I realized that one thing about f&sf which doesn't seem to be true of many other genres is that the authors, the best ones, every one, not only started out as fans but they still are.)
One last food thought: Did I eat this little lemon cupcake from Cafe Momus in Old Montreal ? You betcha. And it was good.