How to Avoid Gillian Polack at the Dublin Worldcon

It’s time to walk with caution and care, so here is my special guide on how to avoid me at Worldcon.

Be reassured: it’s much easier to avoid me at a worldcon than in other places. Also, I won’t be obscuring the need for you to avoid me by carrying chocolate for everyone.

This year I have a lucky dip bag. The lucky dip contains all sorts of interesting things and some dire things and some funny things and some small gifts worth having. You will not know whether you have a galah’s feather or a piece of agate or even a child’s toy until you reach in and bring out… something. Anyone who says “Gillian, may I try the lucky dip?” (or words to that effect, in any language I know) can take away a present that might be astonishing or might be astonishingly daft. You don’t have to know me. Since no-one really wants unexpected gifts, it’s not hard to avoid me. (If I don’t know how to say “Gillian, may I try the lucky dip?” in your own language, I’m happy for you to teach me. I have to say, though, that it’s quite hard to avoid me while teaching me how to speak.)

I’ve given my own explanations of events, to remind you of why people tend to avoid me at conventions. Those events to avoid include:

Cooking the books: food in fantasy

15 Aug 2019, Thursday 15:00 – 15:50, Wicklow Room-1 (CCD)

Where  Nicole Kimberling, Rei Rosenquist, Fran Wilde (M), Giovanni De Feo and I talk about worldbuilding and worlds built and, just in case we need it, I have some rare and special herbs and spices that aren’t available in most of the world. Seriously, I do. I know how to cook them and to write them into fiction… the question is whether others do. I am especially cruel when people get Medieval food worryingly wrong because I am just a bit more Medieval even than usual right now. Bring earmuffs for when I talk, because the other panellists are really good, not as sarcastic as I am, and not at all worth missing.

People of the Book: Jewish fantasy and mythology

16 Aug 2019, Friday 12:00 – 12:50, Wicklow Hall 2A (Dances) (CCD)

Where Laura Anne Gilman (M), Benjamin Rosenbaum and I talk about all kinds of things including that Jewish Narnia article. Me, myself and I (to make a Narnia reference) have strong views on Jewish science fiction and fantasy from minority Jewish cultures. In other words, while I know about US and UK Jewish culture, it’s not where I come from. For those who need to know (for it came up in a bus on Friday) my native Jewish language is Australian English. My native Jewish foodways (this came up yesterday) include roast lamb dinner where one is obliged to make Tom Cruise jokes. To add injury to this insult… I’m doing research on cultural transmission and my research for this aspect is already done and I am full of profound understanding and really bad jokes. The other two panellists are amazing and I am descended from a Jewish convict. Bring your noise-cancelling headphones for my section and (since I understand it’s summer in Europe when the temperatures are negatives here) bring a fan to hide behind so you don’t have to look at my evil, evil grin (it’s a Medi-evil grin, to be honest, but still, it’s discomfiting, especially if the subject turns to cultural borrowing and the like.)

Comparable futurist movements

16 Aug 2019, Friday 17:00 – 17:50, Wicklow Room-2 (CCD)

Alec Nevala-Lee (M) Jeanine Tullos Hennig, Shweta Taneja are leading a really good panel where you’re stuck with me, muddying the waters. The difference between Black Panther and Cleverman in filmic terms and the difference between the work of Ambelin Kwaymullina and US writers constructing Afrofuturism was what began me looking at Afrofuturism and asking “How does this apply here?” Here being, of course, Australia. I don’t know a lot yet and besides, you’re avoiding me, but the other panellists are so worth hearing… noise-cancelling earphones and a fan to hide behind will block me out splendidly.

Autographs: Saturday at 12:00

17 Aug 2019, Saturday 12:00 – 12:50, Level 4 Foyer (CCD)

I will have a few books if you need them. I will have my lucky dip bag. And the signing area should be clearly labelled, so avoiding both those things and avoiding me will be easy.

Update: There are only a few books, and they’ll be in the Dealers’ room. It’s first come, first served, I’m afraid. I will have discount cards for my latest book and also a rather special freebie, to make up.

Fan funds auction

17 Aug 2019, Saturday 16:00 – 17:50, Wicklow Hall 2B (CCD)

I’m not one of the leaders and shakers here – avoid this at your peril. Best auction. Best auctioneers. Sit where someone other than me can deliver you your purchases.There will be Tim Tams for sale…

‘Australian Tellings of Irish Tales’

19 Aug 2019, Monday 11:30 – 12:20, Odeon 6 (Academic) (Point Square Dublin)

My paper. What can I say about it? It’s easy to avoid. It looks at diasporic culture from a slightly different perspective to the usual. I have a quiet voice and it would give you a very restful fifteen minutes. Please try not to snore.

In general

Volunteering: I’m in two different green rooms, and if you’re on a panel yourself or performing in the auditorium, you will want to remember this.  It’s perfectly possible to use either green room without speaking to me, so locate where I am and avoid me, or shut your eyes as you walk past.


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    • Sally Beasley on 28 July 2019 at 17:58
    • Reply

    I have some things to give you for the fan fund auction, but I shall not be at Worldcon on the Saturday. So I shall have to try (not) to avoid you earlier – the panels on Thursday and Friday sound excellent.

    1. You will have a trying time…

    • Lawson on 3 August 2019 at 10:08
    • Reply

    If only I were attending Worldcon so I could tell you in person what a beautiful book Langue[dot]doc is. Thank you for writing it!

    1. Thank you for reading it, and especially for letting me know. I don’t get a lot of feedback and it makes a very big difference to me.

  1. It’ll be easy to find a fan to hide behind in that place, but I do declare that I’m attracted by a galah feather. But if I pick the wrong thing, can I put it back in the bag???
    Um, galahs are widely and slanderously regarded as being daft birds, is that right? But they might be bright?

    1. They are very beautiful, but exceptionally stupid, I’m afraid. Most of the bag is random reaching in, but that might break the feathers, so they’re in a separate envelope. I can’t guarantee you a galah feather, but a feather of some type, for as long as the envelope has any, one is yours.

    • Alison Grills on 15 August 2019 at 09:23
    • Reply

    Don’t forget to take lots of photos of intriguing Irish doorways to inspire your writing group back home. Our substitute teacher seems a good bloke. We even had a word of the day. Would you have known what a penumbra was?

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