Science fiction and fantasy
News and eventsSymphony of War Declared
The second novel in the Kaddon Keys series is available in ebook.
Impressions from the World Fantasy Convention held in Brighton in 2013.
Threat Of Massive Closures To Lincolnshire Libraries
Lincolnshire County Council plan to shut down two thirds of Lincolnshire libraries, and to slash mobile library services. They must be stopped.
The BFS Award Nominations, And A Hiatus
This is possibly the best kind of jury duty there is.
The In-Between Musical
A new fantasy musical concept album launches, but will Laura Tisdall get to put it on the stage?
SFF Imprints Launching
Berkley UK will debut, and Elsewhen Press is to expand into print.
The 41st Novacon convention, held in Nottingham, featured John Meaney as Guest of Honour.
Lincoln Book Festival 2011
YA authors in costume, steamy paranormal romance, and eye-popping visual appeal from the 2011 Lincoln Book Festival.
Pictures from the 62nd Illustrious Eastercon at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham.
Genre for Japan
The science fiction, fantasy and horror community is rallying in support of the people of Japan hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami and its aftermath.
An Interview With John Beachem
John riffs on zombies, trilogies and his plans for The Lorradda Stone, and the Dumbledore and Gandalf deathmatch in this interview.
British Fantasy Awards 2010
Pictures and results from the award ceremony of the British Fantasy Society.
The Heady Heights of Book Reviewing
Take a peek into the Headline offices, where bloggers were let loose on defenceless authors for the Headline Meets Online do on the 24th March.
The keeping it real panel
The fairies panel
Joe R. Lansdale
Tim Lebbon and Joe Abercrombie
The culture shock panel
The YA panel
Mike Carey and Mary Danby
3rd October 2012FantasyCon, the annual convention of the BFS, took place in Brighton at the Royal Albion Hotel, over a weekend of mixed weather. It was busy, with a programme of masterclasses, readings, panels, films, book launches and other entertainments. I don't think there was an art show this year, but there was so much to do it was hard to fit everything in anyway.
ReadingsThe reading room at the Royal Albion was hidden by a twisty labyrinth of corridors, and it was stiflingly hot most of the time. That, and the comfy chairs and relaxed, intimate atmosphere seemed like the perfect recipe for sending people off to sleep. But there was no danger of that at any of the readings I went to. Guy Adams had me chuckling away with a story about mad Victorian scientists and killer zombifying plants. He said afterwards it was the silliest thing he'd ever written, but it was very entertaining.
Lou Morgan's reading was all about tearaways and addictive magic, in an urban setting. I like stories in which magic has a very high price like this, so it has much more of an edge of danger. Lou read that well, I thought.
But the most impressive reading I saw all weekend was Brent Weeks'. Not only did he start off with some interpretive dance, he had me on the edge of my seat with his description of a musketeer with only two or three chances to make the shot that will save his beloved and kill the man who's about to execute her. It was thrilling, and then Brent delivered a real body blow of a surprise ending. It was hilarious, and maybe he'll repeat the performance for another audience so that's all I'm going to say about the story.
I will say that some writers have a talent for live performance that make their readings a real pleasure, but it's not something everyone can do. You can tell Guy Adams has been an actor, for instance, in the way he brings his characters to life with accents, gestures and tone.
PanelsI arrived too late to attend the Friday panels, which included the inevitable feminism-themed one. It's become a staple topic, guaranteed to wind people up or bore them, depending on mood.
Saturday's first panel, entitled Fantasy Fiction: Keeping it Real?, was one of the highlights, a lively discussion about the effect magic has on a novel's realism. Juliet McKenna talked about having emotional validity, which is to say a story will be believable as long as we believe in the characters' emotions, no matter what crazy fantastical unicorns-surfing-on-rainbows stuff is going on meanwhile.
Brent Weeks pointed out "the more magic can do, the more blind spots you open up for yourself." To explain this he cited the eagles in The Lord of the Rings, and the way people have wondered why they didn't simply fly into Mordor and drop the one ring into Mount Doom themselves. Juliet McKenna also brought up "the points at which power is no damn use at all," when characters have all the magic but using it won't help the situation. It's interesting points like that that remind me it really is time I read some of Juliet's books.
The panel on ebooks morphed into a discussion of piracy and what can be done about it. Darren Nash of Golancz's plea for people to "just be honest" was somewhat optimistic. However I agree with Bella Pagan of Tor UK, who said our best hope lay in people's laziness, and that publishers should work on making it easier for people not to steal.
Perhaps the strangest panel I went to all weekend was the one entitled "The Dangerous Fairy Folk". I thought it would be something to do with the pros and cons of writing about fairies, but it was more concerned with folk beliefs about "the gentry", and people's enduring fear of them. I'm more used to thinking of fairies in a metaphorical sense, so I was surprised when four out of five of the panellists said they believed in them, sometimes as part of animistic beliefs. Tinkerbell can rest easy.
The hotelThe Royal Albion is reasonably priced and fairly standard, and they don't gouge you on food prices. It's the hotel M. C. Escher built, with all its winding corridors. They gave me a fairly grubby room in the basement, which is fine as long as you don't need daylight. Unfortunately I didn't have a clock in my room either, so it was a bit disconcerting the first time I woke up in the pitch black with no idea if it was still the middle of the night or much later.
AwardsThe BFS Award ceremony took place on Sunday, after the banquet. The winners:
Novel: The Ritual by Adam Nevill
Novella: Gorel and the Pot Bellied God by Lavie Tidhar
Short Fiction: The Coffin-Maker's Daughter by Angela Slatter
Anthology: The Weird edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer
Collection: Everyone's Just So So Special by Robert Shearman
Screenplay: Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen
Magazine/Periodical: Black Static edited by Andy Cox
Comic/Graphic Novel: Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
The PS Publishing Independent Press Award: Chomu Press, Quentin S. Crisp
Artist: Daniele Serra
Non-Fiction: Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero by Grant Morrison
PeopleFantasyCon is as much about the people you meet in the bar as it is the programme items, and at this one I couldn't go anywhere without spotting writers I've admired for years, and getting the chance to be a bit fangirly. I also met a lot of new faces, such as Richard Webb, Alastair Chadwin of Spring Heeled Jack, Peter Roberts, and Mark Turner. Janneke De Ronde, Babs Nienhuis and Marleen Welbergen from the Netherlands told me about some excellent pranks they'd played on each other. It was also nice to meet up with people I hadn't seen since the last FantasyCon or various other conventions, although there's a few too many to list here.
This was one of the best conventions I've attended because it mixes a friendly atmosphere with quite a busy and varied schedule. It could be a bit overwhelming at times when the sheer number of people made individual conversations difficult; I found that the Sunday, when a lot of people left to travel home, was one of the easiest times to have in-depth discussions.
There won't be a FantasyCon in 2013. Happily, this is because it's being replaced by the World Fantasy Con at the Brighton Metropole Hotel, from October 31st to November 3rd.