Boy, was it quiet this time? Yes, it surely was. Compared with the 200 or so of three years ago, the 70-80 that were there rattled around. We thought it was light last year, when the organisation seemed to kick in only during the last few weeks, but at least they had over 100 that time. This time ... well, if I'm to be charitable, I'll propose the possibility that the committee had been so fixed on lining up stuff as far out as 2010 (!) that they forgot they actually had a convention to run this year.
There were good bits, don't get me wrong. I went to more items this Octocon than I think I ever have before. But there was no idea of who was going to be on the panels. When compared to Recombination in Cambridge a couple of months ago, when I was co-opted onto some panels at less than 48 hours notice, and they still let me know and got the programme printed with those details in, that was bad. Panellists like to know in advance: it gives them time to prepare, and means they haven't gone off to have lunch, use the pool, chat in the bar or whatever else when they're needed behind the table. Recombination might have done some things at the last moment, but those things were actually done.
I leave to others to describe the bigger shortcomings.
We met old friends, and made new ones. I knew of nwhyte, but had not socialised with him before. And irishkate, nice to meet you.
(General name-check time: having dinner with slovobooks and ephiriel, and jemck and natural20. sacristan dropping in briefly. splinister (whose book we bought at auction) and mizkit (whose book we bought normally). Con organisers xnamkrad (PCon) and captainlucy (Mecon), and miscellaneously bonsaii and lostcarpark.)
The auction went very well - full marks to all involved there. €2600 raised, if I heard right. That's a lot from such a small an audience.
Travelling home, we took the 18:00 ferry. This meant that we had plenty of time to get over to the late davidstewart's house in Finglas to meet slovobooks there. We've now picked up a few dozen hardbacks from David's collection, which will be on sale at Eastercon to raise money for the oesophageal cancer research fund. We then drove through the centre of Dublin to Dun Laoghaire (an insane idea, that route, but possibly less insane than the M50 alternative, which is pretty horrible right now). Parked up there, and the took the DART back in to Tara Street, and walked up to the Porterhouse for the usual meetup. Afterwards, we ambled back, dived into Forbidden Planet (vaguely hoping they'd have autopope's latest, but they were entirely sold out of any Stross), and got back down to the port just in time for the gates to open.
Arriving in Holyhead, my satnav initially refused to give me a route home - it was under the impression I was still in Ireland, and couldn't find the right road connection. But a quick reset, and we were under way, and shopping in Tesco some four hours later. The advantage of coming into Holyhead at almost 20:00 is that the roads are somewhat emptier, making the journey easier, though rain made it worse than it need be.