In fact, though Alex and I were nailgunned behind the FP trading table as usual, we did manage to prise our way free and explore the labyrinthine wonders of the antique Brighton hotel… certainly enough to know that World Horror Con was doing it old school.
Here, we found, the fans were serious – an older generation of dedicated horror collectors disdaining the common paperback in favour of first edition hardcovers, many of them calculating their luggage weight as they went along. World Horror Con was not a Con about costumes, it was gathering of experts – world-wide, word-wise and hard-core.
Though the Dealers’ Room was tucked out of the way of the main programe, props to Stephen Jones and the ever-eloquent James Bacon for bringing events in to us… peaking with the two-hour signing with the Master Himself, James Herbert – a man for whom Brian Lumley will stand and queue and Ingrid Pitt will publicly declaim her affection. I mean, horror-fan or no, who hasn’t read a James Herbert book?
The appearance of Neil Gaiman as secret special guest caused the inevitable flurry – perhaps the only point that paperbacks were suddenly in vogue. Had we known he was coming, of course…
Anyway, away from the (mostly) revered silence of the Dealers’ Rooms, the Con took ‘old school’ in a fantastically retro direction – out onto Brighton Pier with a free bar and an open Ghost Train ride, a winner of a combination.
And just to add to the nostalgia, the MonQee reappeared, gathering more fans and more signatures – he crashed over with me on the Saturday after the Stoker Awards.
Throw in a plethora of book-launch parties and you have a WorldCon worthy of its title. There may only have been 500 members, but I’ve never seen a community so focused upon the genre they love and have grown up with, upon the multiple anthologies they collaborate and write, and upon friendships that stretch back through years without number.
There have been many of our friends there too – but, at World Horror Con, we could watch a different age of fandom.