Yes, today was the day BristolCon – Bristol’s science fiction convention – was on at the Doubletree Hotel not very far from Bristol Temple Meads railway station… and what a super-duper con it was. My only regret was that I had to return home early to give some TLC to a sick pussy cat (but the really really really good news this week is that she’s not got cancer).
The organisers deserve a huge round of applause for their organisation – these events take a lot of planning and work to ensure everything runs smoothly.
It is primarily a convention for writers and artists to share their tips, pass on their wisdom, debate about the future holds for science fiction and fantasy, and above all giving everyone a chance to meet old friends and make new ones.
The day started out well, taking the train from Bristol Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads. I briefly chatted to someone catching the same train (but going to Plymouth), who mentioned that Bristolcon had been mentioned on Radio Bristol this very morning! Talk about coincidences. This con is really getting famous!
The programme of panels of serious discussions, with one or two more light-hearted subjects. Whilst they only have two programme streams, I could only attend a limited number.
First up was Creating a Culture – Building a Working Fantasy / SF Society, ably chaired by Dev Agarwal. The panelists generally agreed that world building was like an iceberg – you only see a small part of the world the author has built in a story – it’s the part that has a direct effect on the story. Other parts may have an indirect effect, but they are not relevant. Another interesting point was that once a world was built and published, publishers liked their authors to return to the popular works. Take the Culture novels by Iain M Banks as an instance – the only thing that hangs them together is the world they are built in.
Next panel was My World is Not Your Sandpit. It was a debate about fan fictioneers taking authors’ worlds or characters and writing about them. The general conclusion was they shouldn’t do it unless they had the authors permission. Why? Well authors have built their worlds and they are more than likely to want to write more about it. the trouble is that when they do, they could contradict some of the world building the author has in mind, thereby throwing the author completely off the story altogether. A case was cited where one author had built a popular world and was writing more about when a fan-fiction writer wrote someone that the author had a completely different take on. That author could not continue writing in that world. Very sad. So if you are writing fan fiction, get the author’s blessing to do so (unless, of course, you are doing it as an exercise in complete private to try to improve your own writing – and then it should remain completely private).
The pre-lunch panel was all about The Evolution of Genre. There was talk about Zombies becoming popular in depressions and vampires in boom times. YA SF was considered more progressive and experimental than adult SF. But what would become popular in the genre in the near future? Whilst people speculated, nobody really could say anything certain as it depended on what the readers would be interested in.
The fourth panel I attended was Routes to Publication – Small Press Publication. General consensus was that small press publishers are not in the business to get rich quick. Those small press publishers that are lucky enough to find popular author tend to find the big publishers will take that author onto their books. However, the small presses are likely to take more experimental novels that the big ones.
The final one I was a panellist – my first time ever as a panellist – on How Science Got its Groove Back. I hope I made the subject interesting for the people attending. Certainly the others on the panel did, and the chairman thought the discussion could have gone on for a lot longer.
And finally afterwards, C.A.T. got his except read out to I’m glad to say a fairly full room. C.A.T. feeling very contented…
So as you can see, it was a very interesting con panel-wise… and in-between I attended the book launch of Looking Landwards produced by Newcon Press. Looking forward to reading the stories.
Altogether a very interesting con and well worth attending….