Alt.Fiction is much smaller and more relaxed than Eastercon. It's held in an arts centre (in Leicester this year) and the selection of panels and workshops available cover various aspects of SF fandom and writing.
This was my 3rd Alt.Fiction, and the first time I've been for more than a single day. I go to Alt.Fiction by myself and always end up having some good chats with people. My first one was great as it was where I met my first con-going friends and therefore led to good things and great people.
This year I attended a steampunk/alternate history workshop run by Kim Lakin-Smith, which taught me that there are many more 'punks than I had realised. I also learned that sticking a giant squid into a writing exercise is a popular move.
There were various panels, that are sadly starting to blur together a bit (in fact the main way I'm able to definitely distinguish them from Eastercon ones is the size and decor of the rooms). The most interesting were the 'Not Another F*cking Elf' panel, which looked at Tolkienesque tropes and the use of elves in different forms. 'Extremely Dangerous Fairy Folk' saw a discussion about the forces that exist outside of our understanding and how they can be used, but must be respected. 'Diversity in Fantasy' was very interesting and provided much food for thought.
As with most cons it's the social time that really makes the weekend. I'm glad to say that I saw and spoke to many great people I know from the internet and other cons. I didn't socialise as much as I'd intended to, by the evening my cold was in full swing and I found that sitting in one place for long periods of time was the easiest option. Having said that, I did have some great and interesting conversations, so I don't have any regrets.
One moment of hilarity that sticks with me was seeing a member of the Unbound Video Editions team react with shock when a giant image of their face appeared on the big video screens in the bar.
I want to thank all those who provided great conversations and great programme items. With special thanks to those who were sympathetic and aided me during my sneezing and sniffling.