Monday 28 September 2015

BristolCon report

So BristolCon is over for another year and what a great Con it continues to be.

I completely failed to take any photographs this year!

The Friday before has now got a program - I did the "How to perform" workshop with Roz Clarke then kept time during the open mic and got to read my story - "It Falls" (available here) which seemed to go down well. I really enjoyed the clown story (didn't catch the name of the reader - I am awful with names - Update - this from Jo Lindsey Walton - "By the way, the v. fetching were-clown flash fic, from Friday's open mic, is by Mjke Wood, as-yet unpublished.") and the undoubted star of the show was Cheryl Morgan who was called back to finish her hilarious tale of fauns, princesses and knightly slashfic.

Only just recovered from a cold I sensibly left shortly after the open mic, as I knew I had to be on a panel first thing in the morning. Much as I'd have liked to stay and have a drink or two with some familiar friendly faces.

First thing I was on a panel moderated very ably by Stark Holborn with fellow panelists (GoH) Jaine Fenn, Anne Lyle and Huw Powell. As ever I feel that I make a better moderator than I do a panelist. I'm a pretty slow thinker and naturally laconic so not the best traits for a panelist. Hopefully I didn't do too awfully though. It was a subject that I do have a lot of interest in - lost and abandoned places, and Stark had some very interesting questions.

Because I was only on the one panel and it was the first one I did manage to explore the program more thoroughly this year than in previous ones. But as usual I completely missed all the interviews of guests of honour - not sure how year after year I manage to do that!

I caught the libraries panel, moderated by Sophie E Tallis then scurried over to program room one to hear Dave Hutchison's reading. Bizarrely, from an organisation point of view, he was then on a panel in program room two which I caught the start of - what makes a good dystopia. It was nice to see John Baverstock on a panel. Logistics dictated that we took a break at this point and had a very nice meal in the sun at Mud Dock, a five minute walk from the Con hotel.

Upon returning, and spending some time browsing the dealer's room a small knot of us - Huw Powell, Kevlin Henney, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Cav Scott discussed AI in front of the Oxfam stall - a conversation that maybe should have been in the bar, and one that made me sad to miss the More Human than Human panel.

Then it was time for the book launch and Jo Hall was given a rock star's entrance. It was lovely to see so many people queuing to get their copy of Spark and Carousel (review coming soon here). The mass signing happened shortly after and I got Jasper Fforde's scribble for a friend.

Back to the program I seemed to be drawn to program room two again, in fact apart from the panel I was on I didn't see any of the programming in room one! How Green is your future? could have been a really interesting panel, but poor moderation and a climate change denier slightly spoiled things for me. I was also having an allergic reaction to something at that point, so that may have made me more than a little grumpy.

We stayed for Kevlin's reading - always an entertaining reader.

Then it was Fantastic Felonies which was all about crime in SF&F - a great panel. It did make me wonder though, on the rise and rise of crime fiction, whether that is linked to the drop in crime stats - as crime rates fall is that driving more people to read about crime, or are crime stats falling because more people are reading about crime?

Paul Cornell read from his Tor Novella - the Witches of Lychford which immediately bumped that book up my TBR (I'm currently reading Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life - but as soon as I've finished that I'll be reading Paul's novella)

Then two hours passed in the bar... just in time to visit the Reboots panel, a great one to end on. Following that was a first glimpse of Jonathan L Howard's Carter & Lovecraft which certainly whetted the appetite for that book. It launches next month & seems like a must read to me.

It was definitely dinner time and we wandered from the hotel (crap veggie menu) to find victuals. By the time we'd eaten (and had wandered far from the hotel) we decided to head on home, as the Adrenalin of the con had worn off and I'd hit a wall. Shame, as in previous years the post-con random bar conversations had been a highlight. I blame the fact I have just recovered from a cold!

And that was it - great program, lots of friends caught up with, very nice post-con glow. Invigorated and inspired. Now onto the Bristol Festival of Literature!

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