Wednesday, 10 September 2014

FantasyCon 2014

I had some significant doubts about going to this year's FantasyCon.  After all, my reaction to FantasyCon 2012 and to last year's World Fantasy were a long ways from positive.  I went this year because it couldn't have been a whole lot closer without being in my back garden and because I knew that Lee Harris, my Angry Robot editor, had taken over organizing duties.  Taking those things together, I figured I'd give it one more go for old times' sake and then, if it did turn out to be another horrible shambles, feel good about the fact that I'd never have to go again.

One small gripe: this cost £8.25.  £8.25!
Given what a fantastic three days I had, it feels a little odd to be saying all this.  It's perhaps too much to claim that FantasyCon 2014 wiped out the memory of all the lousy FantasyCon's I've been to, but what I can't forget I can at least now forgive.  And I say this as someone who's just read through his posts about those last two and confirmed that practically every single complaint I had was addressed to a greater or lesser degree.  A nice venue?  Check.  Panel equity and an harassment policy in place?  Check.  More choice of things to do?  Some actual discussion of Fantasy, instead of the overriding emphasis on Horror that's dogged previous years?  The British Fantasy Awards not being a gigantic train-wreck?  Check, check, check.  It was my favourite Con of the year thus far.  I am already looking forward to the next one.  Check checkity check.

So at this point I should probably talk about what I actually did, right?  That's what people do in these posts.  Only I've been finding it awfully hard to piece together.  And not because of the drinking, either (although, yes, there was a modicum of that.)  No, this time around it's because I just talked to so many damn people that I've literally spend the last couple of days trying to piece it all together and still completely failed.  I have never talked to so many people in the space of three days in my life, or for that matter made as many new friends.  And, thinking about it, that right there is a good summing up of why I had such an awesome weekend.  It's also the reason that I think I'm going to avoid a blow-by-blow account; it wouldn't be terribly interesting for anyone but me and I'd hope that everyone I met had a fair idea of how much I enjoyed talking to them.  But here are a few highlights:

Being introduced to real ales by Ian Sales on the Friday night, and then on the Saturday, having dinner in a rather good Turkish restaurant with Ian and Kev McVeigh, discussing Werner Herzog movies and swapping recipes.  Geeking out with Pat Kelleher about World War One history.  Hanging out with Andy Knighton and Charlotte Bond, who I met on the Friday night and then seemed to end up spending about half the weekend with - and rightly so!  Catching up, for not as long as I'd have liked, with Stephen Theaker.  (Stephen, I hope you change your mind about coming next year!)  Signing a whole ton of copies of Crown Thief, most of them on the freebie table but a couple because people actually tracked me down.  My panel, of course, which seemed to go very well indeed - thanks to fellow panelists Joanne Harris, Kim Lakin-Smith, Frances Hardinge and Libby McGugan, and particularly to panel moderator James Barclay, who did a sterling job.  (Also Joanne Harris is completely awesome at drawing pirates, who knew?)  Chilling in the bar on Sunday before the BFS awards with Mhairi Simpson and Sammy Smith and friends.  Getting a lift back with the wonderful Justina Robson and getting to chat about writing stuff instead of stressing over catching a replacement bus.

But writing it all up like that, I'm pretty sure that's only a fraction of the good stuff, and certainly only a portion of the brilliant people I got talking to.  Now if FantasyCon 2015 can only replicate all that with a hotel bar where I can get a drink without mortgaging my house then I'm a convert for life...


  1. Tea & Jeopardy too! My first Fantasycon, and it was definitely a good one.

  2. And who was it who said, Pat, you know about WW I, perhaps you ought to speak to David? Eh?

    And did we really talk about Herzog? I'd forgotten.

  3. Steven, I missed Tea & Jeopardy, and after all the good things I've heard am sorely regretting it. Ian, yes, bonus points for that. And we were totally talking about Herzog.

  4. Replies
    1. Ah yes, we were blanking on the title to Wages of Fear.

  5. Oooh, you met Frances Hardinge. (Pardon me for a happy flashback to Fly by Night.)

    So glad you had lots of fun! That's the hardest thing about talking about cons after; so many conversations, which you can't really describe. Not like "Oh yeah, there was someone in a kickass Predator costume!" which translates easily.

    May you have another wonderful FantasyCon next time too.

    =waves to you happily=


  6. Anne, there was a shocking lack of ANYONE in a Predator costume. Next year I'm going in a Predator costume.