Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Discworld Reminiscence

I love to think back to the North American Discworld Convention in 2011 as the short time I physically lived in Discworld. Terry Pratchett's books have transported me there many times, but to have a physical passport and walk among people who were living the same immersion experience I was, well, that was truly unique. As an added bonus a few of my other favorite authors were along for the journey. There was Esther Friesner, Patrick Rothfuss, Stephen Baxter, and the rumors of Neil Gaiman. Since day one of the con the rumors had been spreading that the reason the Good Omens panel had been moved from it's scheduled time on Saturday to Sunday was because Neil himself would be coming. To have Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett in the same room together would be ecstasy. This seemed like it was literally too good to be true yet the whispers continued. I started to get swept up in the anticipation of possibly FINALLY seeing Neil Gaiman. My mind was making pro/con lists and I kept hoping that the pro of Neil actually living in Wisconsin would tip the scales. I couldn't concentrate on making my Sock Mac Feegle, I couldn't keep my lunch down. I was like an overexcited small child who was destined for a tantrum and in need of a nap.

That afternoon the crush to get into the main hall was epic. I wasn't the only one who was willing to believe in rumors and hearsay. But as it happens, sometimes there are glittering moments in your life when everything aligns and rumors are true. The cheers, which must have been heard blocks away, started before I could even see them. People were soon on their feet as Neil and Terry came into view. Then just hearing Neil speak. That voice! It was just enough to hear his voice. The panel was oddly voyeuristic. I felt like I was sitting watching Neil and Terry just chatting in their living room. They recounted many stories about how Good Omens was written, many of the anecdotes I'd read about before, but it was different seeing them reminisce. They also upheld the belief that at one point the book started writing itself because there is one line they both love but they swear neither of them wrote. They also discussed taking the picture for the back cover of the book. Terry remembers thinking how cool the "black and white" look would be, only Neil laid claim to the black so he was nice and warm in this cemetery, in winter, in England. While Terry was wearing a pair of very lightweight cricket pants and all the cricket accoutrement, being the only white clothes they could find at that time of year. Therefore you have the cool laid back Gaiman who spent the day climbing on tombstones, and a cold Pratchett huddling in the meager warmth of the mausoleum.

At one point they sang a bit of a They Might be Giants song and at another point, while recounting meeting a crazy person who wanted to buy the rights to the book demonstrated their "escape plan." They where to employ the code word "Biggles." But this lady was so beyond Biggles levels they both started to pretend to fly, in a move the fictional pilot would heartily approve. When Neil, near the end of the wondrous hour, got up and stood at the podium near me, he realized just how big the room was. Literally everyone from the convention came... well, they kept telling us not to miss it? And have I said... rumors? Here was Neil going, "Wow, there's people over here." It was nice to finally see his face and not just his dulcet tones. The podium had a purpose, of which Terry was suspicious. Turns out Neil was there to present the 2010 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy to Terry for I Shall Wear Midnight, a serious contender for my favorite Terry Pratchett book ever. Terry was very humble with his short speech: "About Bloody Time." I don't know if any author event or panel could ever live up to this. Since then Terry is sadly gone and Neil doesn't do as many events. But at least I can say I was there. Also, it wasn't the only time I was destined to see Neil.


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