Monthly Archives: August 2009

Montreal and Worldcon

Ellen and I had been planning the trip to Worldcon in Montreal for two years, and I wasn’t going to let a little thing like a short bout of unemployment stop us. Fortunately, I got the offer for a job at Open Text the Thursday before we left for Montreal. Which was a huge relief, but led to some scrambling to deal with all that paperwork while I was trying to relax at a little bed and breakfast in the McGill ghetto. We managed to sort all that out fairly well, though. Thanks to Dawn and Dan and David who put up with my desperate requests to track down someone to witness contracts for me. Especially David, who was gracious enough to sign even though he’d just driven in from the Maritimes. I owe him lunch sometime.

Ellen went to Worldcon in Toronto in 2003 and loved every minute. She was really the driving force behind us going when it came to Montreal. A bunch of our friends initially made plans to go but ended up selling their tickets for one reason or another. I might have done the same, if it were just me. But I wanted to go to this thing with her, hang out, go to panels and readings and so forth and just share the experience.

Plus, I really needed a vacation. I hadn’t had an actual vacation since 2007, and I hadn’t taken two solid weeks off in… I can’t remember how long.

Two weeks in Montreal: time enough to settle in before the con and to give us time to recover afterwards. We stayed at Castel Durocher, a lovely little place Ellen had stayed at before, when she was in Montreal for an EWB conference. They were very accommodating and brought me croissants and chocolate.

Worldcon itself was an experience. Unfortunately, we ended up missing out on a lot, since the building it was in didn’t agree with Ellen’s allergies. But we did get a pretty good taste of Worldcon, I think. Ellen bought lots of books, I got to go to a couple parties and see the Hugo awards. We went to readings and panels and got to sit at a table and chat with Mike Resnick and Paul Cornell. I greatly enjoyed it, and would happily do it again, particularly with Ellen along. I don’t think we can make it to Australia next year, tho.

Upon reflection, Worldcon strikes me as being more or less like Ad Astra, except about ten times bigger and with more authors you’ve maybe heard of.

Anyway, the second week in Montreal was mostly spent looking for food, exploring the city and generally relaxing. I got to meet up with Dan, chat about what he’s been up to and check his place out. And then we had to go. I wish we had more time, and I’m now wondering why it took me so long to visit Montreal.

Ladies Who Lunch

At WorldCon 2009 in Montreal. Paul Krugman and Charlie Stross were debating technology and the future from a more economic perspective.

Here, I’m paraphrasing from memory. They were videotaping, but I’m not expecting the conversation to show up on YouTube anytime soon (although it should).

Krugman: Look at the kitchen. In thirty years, it’s not likely to change that much…

Stross: Ah, this is something I’ve been looking into lately. PeTA did a very stupid thing this year. I mean besides trying to get people to call fish “sea kittens.” They are offering $1 million to the first person who can produce vat-grown meat.

What they don’t seem to realize is how close we are to doing just that. There’s a considerable amount of investment and research going into producing a particular kind of meat: long pig. The biotech industry is working long and hard to produce human organs for transplantation.

I have a story idea I’m working on right now, that involves ladies who lunch… on each other. They’re using this technology to produce their own meat. And then there’s the very confused policeman who’s trying to decide what, if anything, he should charge them with.

So I think in thirty years it’s likely we might see some big changes in the kitchen.

Krugman: (after a long pause, looking slightly shell shocked) You’re saying we’ll all be Polynesian?

Stross: We’ll all be poly-something.