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It was bittersweet being at the LAST Fantastic Queensland AA ceremony. Before FQ took over, I never even attended an AA event. But they made such a classy event out of it that eventually I found I couldn’t NOT attend. I’m looking forward to hearing which brave souls take up the baton. (I was about to add something about continuing the legacy, but realised what an appalling mixed metaphor that would be.)

To no one’s surprise, Greg Egan took out Best Collection. But the real intrigue of the evening lay in discovering what would happen when he did. Egan has famously removed himself from award lists for long enough that I forget why he ever did it in the first place. And he’s so notoriously private that I’ve only ever met 2 people who claim to have met him. (This fact amused my non-fandom bf so much he later used it to claim that HE, in fact, was Greg Egan & he’d been looking for a way to break it to me for the past several years.)

But since neither of the 2 Egan-witnesses can actually describe him, I figure Egan a) carries one of those Men in Black memory zappers, or b) moves in complete darkness.

So: what would happen at the moment his name was called? Would he spring from the audience on legs like pistons (a la Burton’s apes from his awful re-imagined Planet of the Apes movie), screaming his disapproval at the audience, smashing the award on the back wall of the hall and disappearing wrathfully into the night? Would he instead descend demurely, accept his award & apologise for never calling or dropping by, while we all sat mutely thinking, “So THAT’S what he looks like?”

And, did he actually DO either or both of those things before donning dark glasses and holding up his MIB memory zapper?

Because what I *remember* happening is a petite female publishing rep descending to the microphone & accepting the award on behalf of the publishers (not, notably, on behalf of Greg) & commenting that Gollancz was pleased we liked Greg’s stories.

(Those of us with more acute hearing picked up the unuttered phrase that followed: that she was maybe a little sorry that Greg didn’t like that we liked his stories.)

There were some other marvellous moments in the evening: Haines getting TWO best horror awards & giving my favourite speech of the evening (my favourite speeches are almost always the shortest ones ;), the establishment of the Chris Hembry award for promising new writers; and the granting of the Peter McNamara award for service to the community to Justin Ackroyd. Much deserved & long overdue! Justin’s support of the community is outstanding. For me alone he’s encouraged my involvement in fandom, he’s babysat me at my first couple of WFCs, he’s added my name to his ‘best of 2009’ book list — AND he’s personally sold (& sold out) of A Book of Endings in Melbourne, where he’s been selling books for 33 years.

That, my friends, was a blast to witness!

Also there was drinking & carousing (even if those 2 words mean the same thing) & laughs & catching up with fabulous people & then collapsing for about 24 hours straight in our free upgrade of a hotel room. All of which was a delight & a wonderful start to the writing year. Happy Year of the Tiger, everyone!

Now, back to work.