I've done a standup job of missing out on recent British Fantasy Society events since I left York a few years ago, what with always being stuck in places that are nowhere near anywhere else, so when one came up that I could just about possibly make I jumped at the chance. As it turned out, the complex reasons I had for being in the North had mostly evaporated by the time the date came round, but I figured, what the hell? Chances to catch up with old friends and ramble on about genre gubbins aren't exactly ten-a-penny these days.
I'm glad I did, because it was a fun night. I got to catch up with all the people I hoped to catch up with, notably the seemingly-everywhere-these-days Lee Harris, of Angry Robot and Hub magazine fame, and a number of folks I remember fondly from my old writing group. I also got to spend my saturday evening drinking beer in a hotel lounge again, producing the confused expectation in my somewhat frazzled brain that that's just what happens on a saturday. (It'll be interesting to see if the next one proves me right.)
Asides from that, there's not a great deal to report. Things were pretty chilled and informal, with the only organised occurrence a reading from a new non-profit anthology, Voices From the Past, that Lee - with his Hub editor hat on - has put together for Great Ormond Street hospital. Actually, non-profit is a bit of an undestatement, since neither Lee nor any of the writers involved are making one penny, ruble or dubloon off the one. Given the fact that it only costs 99 pennies (or £2.99 if you fancy donating a bit more) and that it's all going to a really good cause and that there's a tremendous line-up of writers involved - some of the more obviously famous include Bill Willingham, Mur Lafferty and Paul Cornell - it's kind of a no-brainer.
I got to hear three of the stories; it would have been four but for a combination of my having a pea-sized bladder and the fact that the woman manning the hotel bar also appeared to be running the coffee shop and, judging by the amount of time she was around for, possibly performing a one-woman Broadway adaptation of "Hello Dolly" and piloting a 747 as well. Anyway, the three I got to listen to were Alasdair Stuart's Another Kind of Lightning, Lee's own Twisted and Andrew Smith's The Lab Gang.
And what do you know, they were all really good. But I'll come out and say that my personal highlight was Al's tale of personal apocalypse and mad-as-mad science. I've missed getting regular doses of Al's ingeniously demented fiction since I left York and he reads wonderfully well, even when it comes to outlandish Eastern-European accents.
More details of the Voices From the Past antho can be found at the H & H website ... and cheers to Lee and company for an entirely pleasant and more or less civilised night.