Phoenixcon and Lots of Other Stuff

I know, I know, I haven’t blogged since before I went to Dublin. I’m still knackered. I didn’t quite realise how much so until I got all teary on Friday when we saw the final episode of Patlabor. It’s not even particularly sad. And there’s a sequel show. Sitting on our shelf over there. How wussy is that?

It may be because I’ve been going hard at the novel all week, which makes me weirdly pretentiously writerlike at the best of the times. It’s really dredging up the dark stuff. I’m also in the midst of a couple of important and fun plotting things which I can’t talk about yet.

It doesn’t feel like too much work, it feels just right. But I guess it’s taking it out of me. I spent a couple of days inside in the last week without seeing anyone except Caroline. So it was nice to get out to local musician Neil Dwerryhouse’s birthday party last night. He was blindfolded, placed on a chair, and was approached by a full-size working Dalek in what looked at the time like the oddest possible strippergram. ‘Get your top off!’ I shouted at the Dalek. Neil was then told the Dalek was his now. And proceeded to trundle round the room in it frightening small children.

Caroline delivered her thesis on Saturday, on deadline day. She’s waiting for notes, and will have to defend it at a viva, but she’s relieved and happy, and will shortly be looking for gainful employment. (The Church of England likes you to have been out in the world for at least a couple of years before they take you on at vicar school.) It’s nice to hear her laughing at anime in her study now.

Phoenixcon in Dublin was gorgeous as always. It’s rather like a yearly party at which the same group of friends are a bit surprised that they have to do panels and things. I especially like all the games. I suppose it was rude of me to call ‘repetition’ on Juliet E. McKenna for mentioning Tintin during Just A Minute, but did she have to actually smack me round the head? That doesn’t happen to Clement Freud. I think I pushed her too far. We were on the plane over together, by sheer accident sat next to each other, which was fun. Me and Leah Moore, John Reppion (the authors of that wonderful comic Albion) and acclaimed fantasy author Catie Murphy (or C.E. Murphy as her novels have it) seemed to end up on a lot of the same panels together, and they’re all great fun. Catie just laughs all the time. Leah has this boggled sense of humour which appeals. It’s like she just woke up in this world and is still bemused by it. And John plays off that very nicely.

Leah Moore, last weekend.

(I took more photos, but, erm, my hands seem to have been shaking quite a lot that weekend.) I’ve now added Catie and Leah and John’s blogs to the list on the right. (The Moore/Reppion one has quite a few Phoenixcon photos.) Some of the more lovely panels included the blogging one (Ken MacLeod has this avuncular little smile that makes you feel you’ve done well to impress the great man of Hard Socialist SF), Padraig’s ‘Alan Moore Show and Tell’ (which turned into ‘my collection is bigger than yours’ with various audience members, and had Leah standing there, so much like an item that you felt Padraig had a big mylar bag waiting for her) and Kim Newman’s fascinating Guest of Honour interview.

Along with the fun, sheer erudition is one of the things which makes Phoenixcon tick, and this year we had along a group from the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies

Who are a free bimonthly online magazine devoted to exactly that, with a new issue out today. Their input livened up quite a few panels, and their journal has very high standards.

In the bars in the evening I broke Lent quite deliberately with lots of Guinness (I’m doing a simple forty days this year) and hung out with John the Comic Shop Owner and young Nick Roche, the Transformers comic artist, who sounds like he has a bright future ahead of him. And I tell you what: not one political row all weekend!

If there’s one thing that didn’t quite work for me, it was that I could have done with a bit more Kim Newman. We were given, for the first time I’ve ever seen at a con, a feedback form, and I should have mentioned that on there. But I’d also have said that, with increased attendance and actually breaking even this year, the new management (with the aid of the old) are playing a good game as it is.

Back home, I finally got hold of the first volume of Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s The Middleman, and am now in love with be-glassed heroine and temp receptionist Wendy Watson, who’s utterly real and boggled in the unreal world of the comic.

Wendy Watson, yesterday.

And I’m in ongoing negotiations with the panel organiser for Eastercon concerning what I’m going to be appearing on. I think I’m sending her mad with my pickiness. But she’s being vastly accommodating. Something lovely will result.

I’ve been asked to provide my first quote for the cover of a novel, so I’m reading that with some delight and trying to sum up how I feel in a couple of sentences. I won’t say what yet, let’s save that for when it’s out.

I’ve also been cheered by the success of the Ireland cricket team in the Cricket World Cup at the moment. Having tied (yes, tied!) with Zimbabwe, then beaten Pakistan, they’ve virtually qualified for the next round, and, in showing sustained quality, have done their march towards ICC full member status no harm at all. They’re also great fun to watch, with the best supporters.

We’re in the midst of an all-weekend Veronica Mars marathon that will hopefully banish The Melancholy of Paul. I’ll try and post again a couple of times midweek, on a short form basis. Until then, Cheerio.


ITEM! Wisdom issue four will be in your local comic shop (or possibly not if your local comic shop happens to be the Cardiff branch of Forbidden Planet, so I’m told… did the Welsh issue annoy them that much?) on Wednesday in the States, Thursday over here. This is the ‘all the different kinds of Jack the Ripper at once’ issue, which starts building the story for our finale.

ITEM! Meanwhile, a short interview with me, entirely about my Big Finish Doctor Who story Circular Time, forms part of the latest episode of the Podshock podcast, available at:

Or on iTunes. That should be joined by the Bullpen Bulletins podcast sometime this week.

11 Response to "Phoenixcon and Lots of Other Stuff"

  • Elizabeth McCarthy and Dara Downey Says:

    Well hello Paul! Elizabeth here from The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies. Many thanks for the mention. The convention was indeed fun and it was great to meet so many new people. The highlight for me was definitely the Heroes/Superheroes panel!

  • jackooo Says:

    This is another random and useless post from me, but I just wanted to say how much I'm looking forward to the novel, especially as tomorrow I've got to start re-reading Wuthering Heights for the 28th time for English AS Level :s And when I get the cash for birthday in a few weeks, Circular Time will be on my shopping list =)

    Take it easy man,


  • That Neil Guy Says:

    From a completely random stranger in the USA, I feel compelled to offer a laurel and hearty handshake to Caroline on handing in her thesis. Congratulations on a milestone!

  • Paul Cornell Says:

    Oh, hello you two! I loved your deconstructing of superheroics from a newcomer's point of view, all the way from the back of the room. Jack, I hope you enjoy Circular Time. I love the fact that Wuthering Heights is literally spinoff fiction set in the shared universe of a role playing game (though admittedly one played between the Bronte sisters, who must count as some of history's most talented Gamesmasters). And Caroline says thanks. And laughs kind of tired and emotionally.

  • Elizabeth McCarthy and Dara Downey Says:

    All the way from the back of the room was probably wise!

  • Anonymous Says:

    I hope you remembered to wind Nick up about the usual subjects.

    Well done to Caroline on finishing the dreaded Dissertation.

    Mark P

  • Elizabeth McCarthy and Dara Downey Says:

    I believe I suggested that being into Superheroes was akin to yearning for an interventionist God... not sure if that wound anyone up though (hope so... tee-hee)

  • Catie Says:

    Leah has this boggled sense of humour which appeals. It’s like she just woke up in this world and is still bemused by it.

    Yes! Yes, that's it exactly! It's quite wonderful. *beams*

    (Ken MacLeod has this avuncular little smile that makes you feel you’ve done well to impress the great man of Hard Socialist SF)

    Yes! That's also it exactly! *laugh*

    Hope to see you at another con soon!


  • Paul Cornell Says:

    He doesn't take a lot of winding up. He's full of caffeine all the time. She says ta. Not at all, Elizabeth and Dara, I think everyone was just impressed by your erudition. Sorry. And thank you for praise for my descriptive skills, Catie. Congratulations on being Guest of Honour next year.

  • Simon Says:

    In mentioning The Middleman it's a pity that you didn't say that the fantastic art is by Les McClaine…

  • Paul Cornell Says:

    I should have, and you've done it now.