Worldcon, Fringe & more

It had been a busy summer. I’ve attended the European Conference on Behavioral Biology (there would be a report coming up in the bulletin of the Czech & Slovak Ethological Society – in Czech), Worldcon in London, Edinburgh Fringe and I taught at a space-themed children’s summer camp. I hope you’ll forgive me cramming it all into one blogpost; I’ve only just returned home and have work to get to and you can always skip the parts you’re not so interested in. But I must say that each of these events had been very interesting and full of inspiration. This summer had been busy – and also really, really good.


So. My first Worldcon. It was great to experience the convention, meet new people and see some I had known through the internet in person for the first time. We discussed publishing with Neil Clarke, who is as brilliant in person as on the net, I met some very interesting and sympathetic people, especially among authors, did two interview for XB-1 and a part of a third one (which was conducted primarily by Martin Šust). So you can look forward to them here as well – after they’re published in the magazine, which has to wait for when the stories for the interview to go with are published. Patience will be rewarded.

From the big events, the philharmonic concert was very good except for the ventilation running loud, which had prevented me from fully enjoying the music (it practically ruined one of the pieces and harmed the rest). The theatre performance of The Anubis Gates disappointed me a bit, likely in a large part because the hall was not suited for theatre very well. However, the Hugo ceremony was just great and I was very happy about the results.

I’ve written a longer report for XB-1, which can be seen here (in Czech). And my photos from London (mostly sightseeing but Worldcon as well) are available on Google+.

Oh, and shortly before Worldcon, a new flash SF story of mine, “Catching a Ride“, was published in Perihelion SF.

Edinburgh Fringe

Though we had originally planned to go to Edinburgh for Turing Fest, it wasn’t held this year. Luckily, there was Fringe festival at the time of our scheduled visit, so besides sightseeing, we visited a couple of shows. The best highlight by far was the first one we attended: Man of Steal. James Freedman revealed some tricks (not only) pickpockets use and he did so in a very sophisticated and also entertaining way. Full of surprises and educating as well; a brilliant show.

Piaf: Love Conquers All was a great one-woman play focused on the life of Edith Piaf. Not having known much about Piaf’s life before, the play introduced me to it, and Laurene Hope was amazing at acting as well as singing.

Hecat’s Poison was a one-woman show too: a rendering of Shakespeare’s Macbeth for just one actress. S. T. Sato proved herself a brilliant actress, able to shift from one character to another on a whim and with the viewers always knowing what’s going on, because she gave each character a distinct performance style (without overdoing it). But as she had noted in the programme, Shakespeare is best done in full company. While she was great, the play lost much of its appeal with just one character at the scene at one moment. We could focus on each individual closely, which was fine, but the whole layer of interaction between characters was inevitably lost.

I Need A Doctor: A Whosical was an easy, fun affair. At some points, the singing was too off even for my untrained ears but it was good fun. Potted Sherlock was also fun but too aimed at children’s entertainment. Apparently, I should have read more reviews up ahead. And we had seen some interesting street performances, especially magicians. Also, Experimental: The Show That Plays With Your Mind was a great show, which gave us a good laugh and some material to think of.

Overall, we had a good, inspirational time in Edinburgh.

…and the camp!

Could I have expected a children’s camp to be a highlight of the summer? It was brilliant. The kids were great: curious, thoughtful, nice, mostly working together well. And some of them just completely amazed me by the depth and range of their knowledge. Just wow. They’re on a good way to become truly great scientists one day. And maybe science fiction writers…? But most importantly, all of them are already great people.

We had good viewing conditions two nights and could spend the time observing the sky. I learned just how much a hopeless theorist I am – a bookworm who can find her way through science papers but virtually unable to successfully point a telescope at a chosen object of interest and follow it on the sky. Well, I’m determined to learn til the next time if I go the following year too! For now, I had taught the basics about our solar system, exoplanets, Kuiper & Oort and icy objects with possible subsurface oceans and I had also prepared some games like a simulated space mission or Mars exploration. It had been great fun and I hope the kids had even much more fun than us instructors. There had also been some unexpected funny moments like when my colleague found a bunch of costumes stuck among the art supplies the last full day of the camp, just before announcing the winning team and giving off prizes and diplomas. The kids fell silent for a second when we walked into the room, and then burst into laughter. So if you by any chance encounter a photo of me dressed up as a crocodile, standing next to a bee and a chicken, you’ll know where it’s from.

I will miss this summer.

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