Which leads us nicely on to yet another Evolution horror story, this time from Steven Cain

Alternate Hotels

One of the recurrent topics of conversation at Evolution, at the bar, in the Wrath of Ghu, and even mentioned after the event in Ansible, was the difficulty of finding one's way about the Radisson Edwardian. There were Escher jokes, and signs describing the maze of twisty passages exactly alike, non-Euclidean references, and the tale of Theseus and the Manageotaur to name but a few.

But these only described the phenomenon; they did not explain it.

Sadly absent and very much missed at Evolution was the late great Bob Shaw, author but above all fan, who would have instantly recognised the cause of our navigational distress. Bob was an expert on convention hotels, and in his Serious Scientific Talk at Seacon 84 he explained the delights of the cavernous Brighton Metropole (boo hiss!) and the Station Hotel in Glasgow (aka the Central) where his patented direction-finding technique relied on the constant position of a particular half-eaten pork pie. Most important however was his observation that inside every smart hotel, there is another rather shabbier hotel trying to get out. Behind the doors marked Staff Only is an alternate hotel composed of a dirty maze of concrete-clad corridors, at least as big as the main hotel.

On arriving there, Bob would have taken very little time to discern that the Radisson Edwardian is really an alternate hotel. It looks very posh to our coarse fannish senses, with its swish bars, and very fine health club and pool, but it is in fact the network of much less salubrious corridors and storage rooms that service an altogether more genteel and refined hotel. Well heeled elf-lords and Tylwyth Teg from Lyonesse and Hy-Brasil arriving at Heathrow are ushered into the Radisson Hyperboreal Ethereal; there they sip delicate tisanes and faery brew and dine on ambrosia before being whisked away in fey chariots on their flying tour (dragon-back of course) of Albion.

I know this for a fact because late one night I met one of the guests from the other hotel. She had blundered, bleary-eyed after too much dreamberry wine, into our hotel, and eyed it with considerable disdain. She fixed me with her eldritch gaze, and I realised that I was but an insect to be crushed underfoot, that I was mundane, that she was concerned entirely with matters on a higher plane.

Or was it only Abigail Frost?

-- Steven Cain

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