Last year I went to BristolCon for the first time and I had the best weekend ever so I said I would definitely attend again the next year. Dare I say the 2017 convention was even more exciting and awesome than 2016? My goodness, I had an absolute blast. Thanks to the committee for putting on such a good show and to all the minions who helped them run it.
As last year, there was a variety of panels, readings by authors, workshops, an art gallery – where I met the lovely Sophie E. Tallis and saw her wonderful maps and drawings, a Brick-out room (for chilling, drinking copious amounts of coffee or tea, and chatting), and a trade room (stalls run by local small presses, jewellery, memorabilia, local bookshops). An excellent map of the convention layout was created for the event with areas renamed, such as The Painted Desert for the Art Room, The Vinyards of Bardrinkinhere… and we did…oh yes, we did.
At BristolCon Fringe Open Mic Night on Friday evening before the convention proper, I read from my book, The Cracked Amulet (still shook like a blasted leaf – will that ever end?). On the back of that reading, people bought my book and got me to sign it, which blew me away.
On Saturday, I sat in on ‘A Fistful of Genres’. A panel about how the Western genre influenced SFF. Peter Sutton ably moderated and he was joined by Jonathan L Howard, Stark Holborn, Ian Millsted and Terry Jackman. I found it very interesting as my writing has been influenced by the wild west stories I’ve read over the years.
Later, I attended ‘A Masters Degree in Exobiology’, a hilarious panel about the fantastical creatures created by writers of book and film. Moderated by David Gullen, the panellists were: Jen Williams, Steve McHugh, Graham Austin-King and Jessica Rydill. Sorry, Adrian Tchaikovsky, but it was decided that any creature remotely resembling an insect or an arachnid were to be annihilated. The session got very lively and sweary and cheered me up no end.
Next, I went to listen to the panel on ‘Mapping SF & F’. Moderated by Sophie E. Tallis, who ably wrangled Anna Stephens, Juliet E McKenna, Andy Bigwood and Joel Cornah. I love maps, drew the one in my own book, and was fascinated by the interaction required between author and map-maker, and by how the authors’ story-telling was often impacted by the maps drawn for their books.
After fitting in some food and catching up with friends in the bar. I attended ‘Aw Ma, Not Soylent Green For Tea Again!’ as a panellist. Moderated by Roz Clarke, the other panellists were Joanne Hall, Kevlin Henney and Peter Sutton. One of the more serious of the panels, as it should be, talking about how to feed future generations on an embattled planet. Joanne Hall was particularly passionate about the future of agriculture. Peter Sutton, telling us that insects were an under-appreciated source of protein, brought along some grubs and offered them to us for our delectation. I managed, along with Joanne, to eat a pinch or three of the thankfully dried and non-wriggling things. Surprisingly edible, but rather boring on the flavour front. The tub was passed around the audience, but few took up the challenge – wimps, the lot of ‘em.
After this was my reading session. This time I read from my short story – ‘A Battle for Elucame’ (a spin-off from my ‘Wefan Weaves’ trilogy based on a minor character) – which will be in the ‘Art of War Anthology’ to be published by Petros Triantafyllou early next year. Though the room wasn’t full it was less than half empty. Obviously, someone had put glue on the seats. People are so polite…when I had finished – there was applause.
Unfortunately, I missed out on a great many panels, art talks, readings, launches, and workshops in the snug. I need to clone myself, so I can do more than one thing at once, dammit.
Throughout the course of the weekend, I met up with many lovely people some of whom I’ve never met before, many of whom I’ve got to know well via social media, and others that I’ve met up with a time or two at other conventions over the last year since BristolCon 2016. Amongst others there were: Thomas James Clewes, Rita Sloane, Julia Kitvaria Serene, Andreas Olive, Marc Morris, Ed McDonald, Dominick Murray (thanks for the whiskey) Anna Stephens, Anna Smith Spark, Tej Turner, Steven Poore, Mark Lawrence, G R Matthews, Roz Clarke, J P Ashman, Graham Austin-King, T O Munro, Peter Sutton, Paul Cornell, Joanne Hall, Michael R. Miller, Kareem Mahfouz (thanks for the whiskey too), Luke Skull and the lovely Jolene, et cetera, et cetera. For those I’ve not named, my apologies – my brain only works up to a point (note the above thanks for whiskey, of which much was imbibed).
A more friendly, enthusiastic and generous bunch of people you couldn’t hope to meet, and blimey can they drink and party! I think I got about four hours sleep over the entire weekend. It’s all good. I’m going again next year – you have been warned.
All the best
R B Watkinson