Friday, 5 April 2013

Eastercon 2013

This year's Eastercon had a lot to live up to.

Last year's was possibly the best of the conventions I've been to, with a comfy, modern venue and something not far off the perfect balance between entertainment, edutainment and providing a suitable venue in which to drink too much with friends and complete strangers.  Not to mention George R R Martin chillin' in the bar, the Iron Throne sitting in the lobby and, oh yeah, the fact that I met my partner Jobeda there.
No idea who these two are.

Meanwhile, Eastercon 2013 (henceforward, EightSquared) was set for a major weekend anyway, what with it coinciding with the deadline for me handing in Prince Thief - and with two novels plus a chapbook behind me, it felt like it might just be my first 'Con as something other than a newbie author.

With all that baggage, it shouldn't be taken as too much of a criticism to say that EightSquared was good rather than great.  In fact, given that it was organized in half the time of last year's, it's actually a fairly large compliment.  The only things that really let it down were the venue, (nice enough, but sorely in need of a larger bar space and some food that hadn't been brought in from the local school canteen) and a lack in the sort of ambition that's needed to shake up the UK Con template and drag in bigger, wider crowds.

Which isn't to say there was no ambition on display; only that, where it was most noticeable, it seemed to have gone into getting the nuts and bolts stuff right.  The Eightsquared committee made no bones about their commitment to gender parity and from what I saw they pulled it off, thereby setting the example that everyone else will be expected to follow.  I was also pleased to see a serious attempt to cut down on the staggering paper wastage that tends to go on at these things, (and hey, I say this as someone whose book would have been a freebie if they hadn't wisely steered away from that whole big bag o' books thing.)

As far as content went, most of what I made it to ranged from solid to excellent, and the events that I was in on all seemed to be well received.  Of my two panels, the one of superhero movies got a bit bogged down in fandom nitpicking (as such subjects will) while the one on older female characters in Fantasy and why there are so few of them, which I'd worried might be under-attended due to an early slot on the day the clocks sprang forward, turned out to a real success; I felt that by the end we'd made some good, important points.  For sheer fun, though, my favourite commitment of the weekend was the Graphic Novels Selection I did on the Friday night with Stephen Aryan, C E Murphy and Alys Sterling, wherein we basically rattled on about some of our favourite comics to a small but obviously enthusiastic audience.  I was definitely heading towards sloshedness by that point, and there are few more enjoyable things that prattling on tipsily about things you love to a group of people who seem genuinely interested.

Who would be fool enough to give Ian Sales a raygun?
As usual, though, the choicest pleasures of the weekend were to be found in the bar.  It was great to catch up with some old friends, to get to know people I've only met in passing before, and to meet a whole load of people who will hopefully become friends down the line.  One thing that Eastercon gets right more than any other Con - and I have no clue how they do this, something in the water maybe? - is that everyone is amazingly friendly, cheerful and eager to get into an in-depth conversation at even the slightest opportunity.

Oh, and speaking of friends, let's close with a huge well done to Ian Sales, whose novella Adrift on the Sea of Rains - which I heaped praise upon a few weeks ago - picked up the BSFA award for Best Short Fiction.  The full results can be found here.


  1. Judging by the photo, I apparently fell asleep while you were talking on Older Women panel.

  2. I'll make it one of these days...


  3. Gutted I couldn't make it, David. Will catch you later in the year no doubt!

    1. Well, there's always sunny Glasgow next year...