Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Fantasycon - Convention Report

Over the weekend I went to Fantasycon, a convention held each year for writers, editors, publishers and fans of fantasy (mainly books and short stories, but also some comics and films). This year it was held in Brighton at the Royal Albion Hotel, beginning on Thursday with a meet and greet for early arrivals, and ending on Sunday with the British Fantasy Society Awards and the Dead Dog Party.

This was my first Fantasycon and I was a little nervous. I knew a few people from Edge Lit, but this was a much bigger event and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I didn’t need to worry – everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and I soon started meeting tons of new people as well as catching up with others. I can certainly see how Fantasycon has earned its reputation as the friendliest con!

The Disco

There were a good range of panels and readings scheduled, as well as book launches, signings, entertainment and other events. There really was something for everyone. The Gollancz Disco, in particular, was so much fun, and I was really impressed with some people’s moves (in particular Tom Pollock and Joe Abercrombie, whose dance off – and subsequent mocktroversy part 1 and part 2 – was a highlight of the night). The quiz and the raffle were great fun too, though it was a shame that they overlapped slightly in the scheduling. Just a Minute, with quizmaster Gillian Redfearn and contestants James Barclay, Muriel Gray, Lou Morgan and Robert Shearman, was very funny and another highlight.

Just a Minute

At Edge Lit I went to more readings than panels, so I wanted to try more of the panels this time. Some were good, some not so good. Next time I think I will do a more balanced panel/reading schedule, as there were some readings that I regretted missing. I also missed some of the book launches and there were a few anthologies that I wanted to pick up but somehow managed to miss – Magic and Ghost Stories by Women to name two. I also wished that I had known I could attend the awards even if I didn’t pay to go to the banquet. It seems that everyone else is allowed to slip in once the meal has finished, but being unaware of this, I booked an earlier train. Nevermind; I’ll remember that for next time!

Panels I Attended:

How Important are Blogs? – This was a good panel, with some interesting points and some great recommendations of blogs to follow. It was generally agreed that blogs are good for readers, authors and publishers, and can be a very useful way for connecting with readers as well as getting a sense of how a book is being received.

Does Gender Matter in Fiction (Is Political Correctness Killing the Genre)? – Silly Panel Title of the Con #1. This was a bit of a frustrating panel. It was quite a big subject for one panel, and nothing new was really discussed. It felt like it went around in circles a bit. Joseph D’Lacey began steering it in a more thoughtful direction by trying to flip the panel question to ask how genre could address gender issues, but unfortunately the conversation did not go down that line for very long. From speaking to others I understand that this panel topic is a sort of obligatory token panel at every con and has become predictable and boring. This being my first Fantasycon, I didn’t realise that, and I’m not sure if I’ll go to many future panels on the topic!

Your First Convention – The panellists were all very warm and funny, and gave useful general advice for getting along at Fantasycon. They probably didn’t say anything that most people in the room didn’t already know (but they did wrap it all up in humour), but it was still a nice way to make new people feel welcome and safe.

What Makes a Good Short Story?
– I didn’t find this panel particularly useful. I didn’t think the question was really addressed, with the panellists instead talking about their experiences of reading short stories and who influenced their own short fiction. I also thought it was a little too horror focussed.

The End is Nigh: Is There Anything More to Say in Apocalyptic Fiction? – This was a really fun panel with lots of interesting discussion of apocalypses of all kinds (catpocalypse is officially my new favourite idea). The panellists did a great job of picking apart the genre, and addressing which bits have been overdone (zombies!) as well as what it might be nice to see more of (rebuilding the society after the disaster, rather than simple survival).

What Happens When the YA Bubble Bursts? – Silly Panel Title of the Con #2. The moderator wisely touched on the question, answered it (the panellists were generally in agreement that no, the bubble will not burst), and then moved on to more interesting topics about YA. A good panel that covered a lot and had some really interesting people on it.

Is Steampunk Here to Stay? – Silly Panel Title of the Con #3. Again, the moderator wisely touched on plenty of other topics associated with steampunk once the initial question had been covered. Some thoughtful points and observations, and didn’t shy away from the more problematic elements of steampunk either. I wasn’t sure if anything really new was said, but it was interesting, and I now really want Steampunk Sonic to be a thing. Make it happen Jonathon Green!

My favourite part of the event was definitely meeting new people, catching up, talking in the bar/lounge, and going out for food with various people. And the disco – seriously, if you are thinking of attending a future Fantasycon, don’t miss the disco!

I want to thank everyone who was so lovely and made the con really fantastic for me. See you all at Eastercon!

My Book Loot


  1. Fab round-up. Sounds like you had a brilliant time. (Also - I really enjoyed Incarceron!).
    Vick x

  2. Yes it was a huge amount of fun! Ooh good, nice to hear you liked Incarceron - it looks really intriguing, looking forward to reading it. :)