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Issue Number : 31 - INTERACTION - Special Offer - Giants Series Reissues - Web Site Upgrading


INTERACTION - Special Offer - Giants Series Reissues - Web Site Upgrading

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Issue #31 - June 23, 2005
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INTERACTION - The 63rd World Science Fiction Convention

Glasgow, Scotland, UK, 4-8 August, 2005

I've not been a great WorldCon attendee over the years. They are large affairs spread out over a number of locations, which can make finding people something of a problem. I tend to prefer the medium-size convention, where your room, the bar, other hotel facilities, and the various convention function rooms are all under one roof, enabling the event to build up its own self-contained atmosphere of familiarity and hominess over the days. But I had heard good things about the last Scottish hosting of the World Convention, and with being based back in Europe again, I decided to make this one of the years I would attend. So I've ended up as a somewhat late-in-the-day addition to the programming.

There's a touch of irony in that involvement with a World Science Fiction Convention served as my latest reminder that the old ways are still sometimes faster. Last weekend, having got all the membership and programming chores out of the way, I finally got around to booking a hotel room. From the very helpful hotel guide issued by the con, the Holiday Inn looked conveniently located and not badly priced. Thinking that the simplest way of going about it would be to contact them directly, I call Eircom Information. The operator says I have to call the central reservation number, which she gives me. The woman I find myself talking to sounds American. Out of curiosity I ask her where she is speaking from.

"Utah."

"Huh? I'm trying to book a hotel room in Scotland."

"Sometimes the central reservation number overflows and we pick it up."

"Oh, okay." I explain I want to book a room in Glasgow for Interaction in August, which has a special convention rate. "

We can't take specially discounted bookings here. You have to call the hotel direct." Some central reservation facility, I think. She gives me the hotel number. I try to call it several times but can't get it to work. So I call the Eircom operator.

"What number did they give you?" she asks. I repeat it. There's some weird thing about UK numbers in that if you're calling from overseas you have to know to leave out a certain "0" in the string, which has to be there if you're calling from within the UK. (Why this can't be dealt with automatically has always been beyond me. I have lots of trouble making UK calls.) It turns that the number I was given omitted the wrong zero. The Eircom operator gets through to a machine that I can hear answering, "Thank you for calling Holiday Inn. . . . " Great. Do I want her to connect me? It would be cheaper to dial it myself. I'll dial it myself.

But again it won't work. I call another Eircom operator. We have a silly conversation about what I'm supposed to do, which ends with me saying, "Look, just spell out digit by digit what I'm supposed to dial." She does, and I write it down. When I try it, it works! We're getting closer.

I'm into the hotel voice mail system. One of the options is Reservations. I select it, and lo and behold I'm back to the central reservations number that I started out at. We go around the circle again--I need to call the hotel direct. I say I just did, and it put me through to them. I need to call again and talk to the Front Desk. I do so. It's now after 6:00 P.M (Sunday), and the person who does the reservations has gone home. Can I call back in the morning?

Next morning. Front-Desk reservations-making person. However, she can't make a reservation at the convention rate. The con has bought a block of rooms as some discounted price, and the booking has to go through the booking company that the con has appointed. She gives me the number. I call it and am through to a happy-sounding person who seems helpful. Getting closer still. I explain what I want. She seems puzzled, as if it's the first time she's heard of anything like this. Can I hold a moment? I hear her going into conference with various unknown personages. Then, "Sorry to keep you waiting. Can someone call you back?"

"No, I have to go out. I'll call again later." later.

Later. Voice mail, on hold endlessly, annoying music. . . . And again later. . . . And again later.

Finally I write what I want on a sheet of paper, seal it in an envelope, drive down to Dromahair Post Office, and mail it.

The next morning I get a phone call confirming that the reservation has been made, no problem.

Sometimes I think those people thousands of years ago who carved everything important in stone knew exactly what they were doing. Anyway, now that I apparently officially exist, I look forward to seeing many old friends there.

As I said at the beginning, WorldCons do tend to be kind of large and spread out. For those who will be there, and would like to say hello, here is the schedule I received today of what I'll be doing and when.

Friday 11:00am Panel: "Character vs. Science in Hard SF"
Greg Bear; Patrick J. Gyger; James P. Hogan; Justina Robson; Stanley Schmidt (Moderator)
It is sometimes said that in hard SF, the science is a character too. What does this mean, and can or should it be reconciled with a traditional understanding of character?

Friday 2:00pm Panel: "Not Letting Research Get in the Way of Your Imagination"
Tina Beychok; Brenda Cooper (Moderator); Gail Dana; Peter F. Hamilton; James P. Hogan; Ian R. Macleod
How to bluff your science in a convincing fashion.

Saturday 1:00pm Autographing

Sunday 4:00pm Reading

I can't say at this stage where these events will take place, but of course it will be given in the Program Book.

A quite civilized custom that distinguishes UK cons from more American cons than used to be the case, sad to say, is that they center around the bar as the hub of the social life. A good fallback location beacon if all else fails.

OTHER NEWS

SPECIAL OFFERS

With release of the fifth Giants novel, Mission to Minerva, we're making it easier for those who need to catch up by offering the UK hardback edition of Entoverse, the fourth novel in the "Giants" series at a special price from this site of $10.00, a 50% reduction from our normal list. Click here for the ordering page. As a reminder, the Baen Books hardback edition of Paths to Otherwhere is also still on offer at $10.00 too. So here's a chance to obtain both hardbacks for an outlay of $20.00 plus shipping. Not a bad deal at all.

GIANTS SERIES REISSUES

Baen Books will be reissuing the first four titles of the "Giants" series: Inherit the Stars, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, Giants' Star, and Entoverse. Good news for those who have had difficulty finding them in recent times. The planned format is to issue the four books as two double-title volumes. Titles to be announced.

More title information on the web site WHAT'S NEW page.

WEB SITE UPGRADING

The new site is done, but the database support from the server we've been using doesn't seem very solid. Hence, we are in the throes of changing to a different server before going live. Since I've been making predictions for about the last 100 years that turned out to be over-optimistic, that's all I'm going to say about it for now.

Thanks again to all for your ongoing interest.

James P. Hogan

 
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