4 October 2011

FantasyCon 2011

This was our first Fantasycon and second full convention. We went to all the days at Eastercon, but had to leave in the evenings to get the train home, meaning we missed out on some of the party atmosphere. This time we were staying in the con hotel, so had no excuse.

The weekend saw surprising and unseasonable heat. As a coastal town and famous tourist trap Brighton has a very definite season (I've been there off-season - at which point it's mostly just a town by the sea). Having a mini heatwave two weeks after the season ended clearly threw local businesses off. It also meant the the town was heaving with people over the weekend and most of the rooms at the hotel became uncomfortably warm.

We mostly went to panels and sat in the bar, or else wandered along the seafront and beach. We utterly failed to go to any readings, signings or launches. I think next time we go to a con we need to pay more attention to who is doing what and look into what books we might like to get.

  • Quiz - Our team ended up having the least points (despite receiving a comedy point for our ridiculous answers). It seemed that we mostly couldn't remember the answers until we heard them later, so we figured we'd be amusing instead. I mean Lanhkmar/Birmingham, Rand al'Thor/David - it's all basically the same, right? Best thing about the quiz, and it's real point, was that we met a couple of people who we ended up spending quite a bit of time with throughout the con. New, fun people to talk to are always good.
  • Trends in Fantasy Panel - This was a very interesting and largely amusing panel, and probably my favourite panel. The discussion mostly covered traditional/epic/secondary world fantasy with some mentions of paranormal, but little about urban fantasy. There was much discussion of how trends came about and whether they were a reaction against 80s tropes. The panel was moderated by Juliet E. McKenna, who is becoming a convention favourite of mine.
  • Rise of YA Panel - This discussion was interesting, especially considering my work with teenage readers. It was good to hear another library worker pipe up during the discussion. I agree with Stephen Deas's that the books have always existed, it's just the label and the market have been created by publishers/booksellers. I can kinda see why Sarah Pinborough thinks YA might be a barrier to kids reading adultbooks - personally I tend to refer to them as teenage books because that's what we call them at work. I think that's better as it means that as most kids want to read about characters older than themselves they'll probably move on to adult books of their own accord when they feel like they want to be treated as adults.
  • Comics Panel -Very interesting and I was glad that the issue of women in comics was brought up (and nicely explained) as it's a key topic just now. There was a woman in the audience who clearly loved superhero comics, but was nearing the edge of her tether in regards to how she was treated as a female superhero comic fan. My heart really went out to her, she clearly felt very strongly that her passion for something she loved was being sorely tested. I actually said something (which sounded far more eloquent in my head I'm sure) about superheroes being the main thing people think of when they think of comics, and also about the popularity webcomics. The answers were roughly what I expected, but it was nice to hear what professionals thought.
  • People - I met some great people. Several who I'd spoken to on Twitter before, some entirely new. It was just great to chat with people. I also found it incredibly interesting to hear authors/writers talk about their books and writing. I'm not used to talking about writing with people I don't know well.I'm usually pretty reserved about it, but clearly I'm missing a trick as it was great to just hear about it. Later, when I'd sobered up, it gave me plenty to think about.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Earring - My husband got me a great piece of jewellery that looks like a dragon twined round my ear, and it was the first time I'd worn it. I got plenty of compliments, comments and someone took a picture.If you can't wear an ear-wyrm (which is my name for it) to a fantasy convention where can you where one?

  • Heat - it was so, so hot. I do not do well when I'm too hot. I'm like a microprocessor, I need a certain temperature to operate at a full efficiency.
  • Check-in - we had to queue for an hour to check in, meaning that I didn't go to a reading I'd meant to go to. It got to the point where I was quite excited just to be able to see into the lobby.
  • The Hotel Room - our hotel room was air-conditioner adjacent. Meaning that even if we turned ours off (not that we could given the heat) the unit just outside the window would hum us gently to sleep anyway.

  • I remember dancing energetically to incredibly cheesy music, mostly from the 70s I think, at the con disco. All around writers and publishing people danced like mad things.
  • Me and a guy (didn't see his name badge) pointed Brian Aldiss towards the the reception & agreeing with him that the hotel was indeed built like a maze. The guy then said that the previous night he'd heard someone make a reference to God Complex, and that was how he could tell he was at an SF convention.


  1. And you've got a few new people reading your blog too!

  2. Our team may have trailed in points, but we lead the field in wit ;)

    Nice blog!