Science fiction and fantasy
News and eventsSymphony of War Declared
The second novel in the Kaddon Keys series is available in ebook.
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 annual convention of the BFS at Brighton was the first convention to feature a dance-off between Joe Abercrombie and Tom Pollock. It may not be the last.
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 world building panel
Brian W. Aldiss
8th November 2013The 2013 World Fantasy Convention in Brighton was mad. I've been to a few British genre conventions, but never have I been in the room with so many authors whose stories I've admired, as at WFC. Imagine the fantasy shelf at your local bookstore or library came to life and started talking to you, it was like that.
PanelsI didn't go to many panels on the day I arrived. However, I heard some negative comments about the panel on blogging on the Friday afternoon.
However, I did attend panels on world building, YA books, the kind of things editors don't want to see, the financial side of short story writing, and awards judging. My experience of these panels was extremely positive. For the world building panel I have copious notes which I'll be returning to in the future. It was quite illuminating to hear Patrick Rothfuss describe himself as the new guy. This is a peculiar author thing, because you generally don't have electricians, teachers or postmen consider themselves not to be "real" members of their professions until they've got a string of awards and a film or TV contract.
PeopleThere were a number of parties sponsored by various publishers, and these were the place to be for good conversation. Also slurred and somewhat incoherent conversation, since by the third day of partying I had pretty much run out of words and original thoughts, and was reduced to pointing at books and looking enthusiastic. Conventions, particularly ones as large and intense as WFC, tend to take a mental toll, particularly if you're not used to talking to people all day long.
I met some fantastic people, and if I were to list them all I'd inevitably leave many more out. So be it. I got to chat with Tej Turner, Amanda Rutter, Adrian Faulkner, Andrew Reid, David Thomas Moore, Anne Lyle, Lou Morgan, Simon Bestwick, Suzanne McLeod, Marc Turner, and Charlie Stross. It was nice to catch up with people I'd met at previous conventions, and who I mainly know through Twitter in the time in between. I also got the chance to meet two of my fellow BFS judges, Esther Sherman and Neil Williamson, after spending most of the summer corresponding about books with them. I met Adam Dalton, Russell Farr, Alistair Rennie, Sammy Smith, Glen Mehn, Adrian Tchiakovsky, Emma Newman, Laura Lam, and Mihai Adascalitei for the first time. The experience of WFC is one of rubbing shoulders with hundreds of famous authors, many of whom have pride of place on my bookshelves, and of vigorously repressing my urge to squeal like an over-caffeinated teenage girl at a boyband concert.
There were at least as many people I spied out of the corner of my eye and wanted to speak to but didn't get a chance, as those I did. That's the way of conventions, but WFC was more like that than most.
I also appreciated the global nature of this convention. Where else would I get to learn about the Spanish genre scene, American politics, German freelancing, organising conventions in America, and what it's like to live and work in Africa?
Poker faceThe Sunday saw the awards banquet, and the results for the BFS and World Fantasy Awards. This was an excuse to get dressed up and sit in a hall so dark we could scarcely see the food, and definitely couldn't see each other. It was bizarre. I don't understand the thinking that a meal is more posh the less you can see of it.
Anyway, once the eating was done Neil Gaiman stepped in as the master of ceremonies. He made a very entertaining speech about the changes the publishing industry is going through, and he left us with this pearl of wisdom:
"My advice to any young artist coming into the field right now is do whatever the fuck you want to do."
The awards ceremony was a curious experience for me this year. Not only did I already know most of the results before they were announced, I'd had a hand in selecting them, as a member of the BFS main jury. So I spent some of the convention with a poker face, carefully not gushing about how much I loved certain books because I didn't want to give anything away.
The BFS Awards were mixed in with the announcements for the World Fantasy Awards, which have a very different judging process because the jury do more work at the nomination stage. I was fairly surprised by how different the World Fantasy and BFS verdicts were for books we had both looked at, either as nominations or at the pre-nomination stage, because there was inevitably some overlap. I think the differences reflect the impact personal taste has on these awards. Some books are more polarising than others, and with a jury decision there's always going to be an element of chance over whether the right book finds the right reader.
PlunderI didn't pick up that much loot at the convention, because everything I bought I'd have to carry back on the train with me. So I restricted myself to Kameron Hurley's God's War, a signed copy of Shadows Over Innsmouth anthology, a WFC commemorative mug, and the official convention souvenir book. There was a lot more that I wanted to pick up. But on my trip home I ended up running about a mile to catch a train, because one of my trains was cancelled and the connection meant I had to walk from Newark Castle to Newark Northgate, a route I'm not familiar with, with not much time to spare. I caught the train with seconds to spare, but I don't think I'd have managed it with all the books I really wanted to buy.
If you're reading this and wishing you'd gone, I can highly recommend this convention. It's back in the United States next year, in Washington DC, and in Saratoga Springs in 2015. I've no idea when it will return to this side of the Atlantic.