Wednesday, 26 October 2011

In Which I Go to Bristol

A long time ago, I signed up to attend BristolCon, having enjoyed it last year, and then I mostly forgot about it, and suddenly it was time to go.. The con was on Saturday, in (unsurprisingly) Bristol, which is of course practically on my doorstep.

The day didn't start well. I got distracted, so was still eating toast when the train I had originally thought of left. Then having, as I thought, left enough time to get to the station, I found that Every Single Traffic Light between my house and the station (5 sets) turned red as I approached it, and just for good measure there was the driver going Very Very Slowly and then randomly changing lanes in front of me without indicating. All of which, combined with the unheard-of event of the local train arriving (and leaving) on time, resulted in my missing the next train by a whisker. I saw it at the platform as I turned in to the station car-park, and it pulled out as I parked. So I ended up on the next train, arriving in Bristol shortly after 11. On the plus side, this meant I didn't have to queue to pick up my name badge, but it did mean I missed the Welcome, the first panel, Alex Keller's reading (which I'd wanted to catch) and the start of the second panel.

However, I was able to sneak into the 'Battle of the Books' panel, which featured Bob Neilson, Steve Westcott, Dolly Garland, John Meaney and Paul Cornell, arguing for their best books (and against those picked by the other panellists), and which was moderated with Extreme Prejudice by Cheryl Morgan armed with her zap-gun.  It was highly entertaining, despite some doubts as to the existence of one of the books, and made an excellent (if late) start to my day.
Alex Keller, Harriet Castor, Philip Reeve, MD Lachlan & Alastair Reynolds
I stayed on for the next panel, 'The Genesis Panel', which started out discussing how and why novels become epics, and which featured Alastair Reynolds, Philip Reeve, MD Lachlan, Harriet Castor and Alex Keller, and included commentary about books getting split in two by publishers, and the temptation to become epic-y. Interesting stuff.

It was followed by a short reading from Philip Reeve, which I enjoyed even though it was the second time I'd heard him read the same extract. (and I still want a Samovar Hat)

I then popped out of the Con to go down to Waterstones to meet Angie Sage, who was signing there - I enjoyed meeting her, but couldn't chat for long as she had too many others wanting to buy books and yet them, signed.

When I got back I was fortunate enough to bump into Philip Reeve and Thomas Martin (and others, whose names, I am ashamed to admit,  I did not note) over coffee, and chatted for a while.

Later, I went to the 'Life Cycle of the Author' (AKA 'George RR Martin is not your bitch') panel I enjoyed Wayne Simmons' moderating, which started by asking the audience what questions they would like to hear about, and which included comments about dealing with criticism and rejection,  writing avoidance techniques, and reader entitlement. (Also the revelation from Paul Cornell that he knows people who assume that comics come to a writer with all the pictures done, and the writer simply has to fill in the speech-bubbles... !)

I would have loved to go to Mike Shevdon's panel on Archery, but it clashed with Paul Cornell's Kaffeeklatsch, so I wasn't able to. |The kaffeeklatsch was small, and I think all the better for it, as were were able to have a casual chat, rather than  a mini panel. Much fun. this was followed by the "Dude, where's my jetpack?" panel, and what was and wasn't predicted, and what we all still want..

The final panel was another difficult choice as I would have liked to go to both of the streams! I actually picked the 'storytelling or literature' one, which was included topical conversation about the Booker prize, and when is genre not genre.

After which it was time to wind up the day and go home. It would have been fun to stay and chat in the bar, and try my luck in the quiz, but it was dark, and cold..

The day ended, as it had begun, with transport issues - half the roads in Trowbridge were closed, for the carnival, but very few of them had signs anywhere useful (such as at the start of the road) to tell you - I think we had to do 2 u-turns and 2 detours before finally making it home!

all together, though, a good day. Next year, BristolCon is on 20th October. Put it in your diary.

No comments: