Tansy’s Con Report 3: Night of the Squeaking OctopusesJune 12th, 2012 at 23:29
It was just rather lovely. I got to hang out a bunch with old friends I don’t see most of the year round, and chat to new people too. There were some happy reunions with friends I hadn’t met before in person, lots of trying to connect faces to Twitter handles, leisurely lunches and dinners in and around Lygon Street, brief chats in the overly intimate corridors, and when we were finally turfed out of the bar, long chats in those comfy chairs in the foyer. (check out Alisa’s happy post about the Twelfth Planet hour, with far more behind the scenes details than I was able to provide)
I kept finding myself remembering back to one of the other great Melbourne cons, Convergence ten years ago, at which we launched ASIM, and finally met people we had been talking to online for years such as Ben, Tehani and Terri, who are still very much in our lives today – that was the first time I really felt I was getting the hang of what a con was for, and had a posse to spend time with.
It all came to a head on the last night with the awards ceremony. I’d been looking forward to this one, mostly because of the promise of Mondy and Kirstyn hosting, and they did not disappoint. Kirstyn was garlanded in black feathers like Servalan in Blake’s 7, Mondy was in a suit looking all respectable, and they performed their usual casual but perfectly timed double act.
Though of course the timing went a bit haywire when they won both the Chronos and Ditmar for The Writer in the Critic, and ended up blinking in the headlights on occasion as they took that in, and still had to perform the hosting duties. Major kudos for that, Mondy and Kirstyn! We forgive you for not noticing that Galactic Suburbia gave you a standing ovation because you were too busy freaking out and not looking at the audience! Well deserved wins.
But then the whole awards ceremony, really, had that vibe to it. From Merv Binns and his emotional response to receiving the inaugural Infinity Award, and Anita Bell’s speech about her own disability as the inspiration for her Norma-winning series, and the many, many times we clapped for Paul Haines, there was a genuine feeling of community support and happiness.But mostly what will be remembered about that night was the plastic octopuses. After the first one had been presented (to Alex, accepting on behalf of herself and Tehani after winning the Atheling), it was explained that the real trophies had not arrived in the post on time and these were temporary placeholders.
But what awesome placeholders they were! Remembering my own time on a committee, I can only imagine how horrified and stressed they were when the trophies didn’t make it, and the discovery of these magnificent fluorescent creatures in the two dollar shop was a classy and memorable way to deal with what could have been a disaster.I don’t think I will ever forget the moment when Mondy was in the middle of his heartfelt Ditmar acceptance speech, and Kirstyn discovered that the octopus she was holding had a squeaker. Alex immediately dove for her own not-Ditmar, sending up the reply with a squeak of her own. Thus the secret society of 2012 Ditmar winning Octopus holders was born…whenever one is in trouble, the others must come to their aid!
I was delighted to win an octopus of my own (green, to match my dress and handbag! Though I am jealous of Robin Pen’s purple one, I wouldn’t let him swap) for Best Short Story for the Patrician, and to be able to thank both my honey (who hasn’t been to a convention without childminding duties in more than seven years) and Alisa, one of the hardest working people in the Australian spec fic scene.
Also, and I don’t want to pre-empt the next Galactic Suburbia and our probably exhaustive awards coverage, but you have to be able to guess how delighted I was about Kim Westwood winning Best Novel, right?After the awards there was the bar, thoroughly livened up by the presence of multicoloured octopuses, and the occasional squeak-and-response that continued through the evening. A common thread of conversation was the possible crafty use of the creatures – I’m thinking of putting mine on a handbag, Kathleen was a few stitches away from wearing hers as epaulettes (she has a pair of blue ones – I’m hoping she attaches them to shiny blue high heeled shoes), and Robin tried his out as a fascinator.
When Finchy and I returned home, finally, at lunchtime the next day, we introduced the girls to the octopus. So far neither of them have attempted to claim it as their own, though Raeli did subject the thing to an extensive photo session. Alex has since informed me that hers is called Octavia. Mine, therefore, must be Octavian, but if he is worthy of the name after many years of service, I might promote him to Augustus.
I’m happy to be home but a little sad it’s all over – the con is now nothing but a whirl of memory involving cake crumbs, champagne and many books. But thanks, Melbourne! This was a great one.
Full list of award winners from Continuum 8 can be found here.