Gosh, that was fun!
It’s tempting to leave it there and go catch up on my sleep before the day-job looms back into view, but that wouldn’t do justice to the weekend, so here goes.
It was a long and full weekend too – even though Bristolcon is a one-day event it’s far enough from Sheffield, and I’m aware enough of my own limitations, that it made sense to travel down on Friday and come back up on Sunday. The journey down involved a diversion through the Cotswolds to a market town That Time Forgot to pick up some books for fellow Grimmie Sophie E Tallis, and the scenery was stunning enough to make up for the final second-gear crawl along the M4 towards Bristol.
There’s an expanding Friday night programme at the con, and I wasn’t the only participant arriving early – my fellow panelists Rosie Oliver and Misa Buckley were on hand for introductions, and Paul Cornell dropped by the table for a chat about the Witches of Lychford and various matters Who-ish as well as a very animated discussion about fans, Q&A sessions, and the reactions of con guests with my old friend Tim (over for the evening from the other side of the Severn for a long-overdue catch-up).
I did the first public reading from Heir To The North at the Open Mic event, though that was probably quite rightly overshadowed by Jo Walton’s fevered economies-of-Pokemon monologue and Cheryl Morgan’s Camelot slash-fic satire (should that be Satyr?). The room really wasn’t as empty as it looks at this point – everybody was sitting at the back…
Grimbold Books had a table in the dealers’ room this year, and there were several of us Grimmies on hand to keep the table running through the day, though Steven Guscott took most of the shifts on himself. Seeing a poster for Heir To The North behind the table kinda brought home just how close this whole launch thing is getting! Team Grimbold were also launching Joanne Hall’s Spark and Carousel at Bristolcon, which was a show-stopping event in the 2pm slot. Lights, scenery, music, wine and cake – and a stunning book to boot. Little wonder (and deservedly so!) that Jo sold out of copies shortly after 3pm.
I took the opportunity to speak to Juliet E McKenna about the forthcoming reissues (through Wizard’s Tower Press) of her Aldabreshin Compass quartet. I say speaking, mostly I was fanboying in delight while she showed me the fresh layouts for all four covers – hellfire, they look bloody good. If you buy them, WTP might even be able to commission prints of them, which would be awesome, so consider yourselves under orders right now.
That would have been the highlight of the day for me if it wasn’t for the fact that this year’s Bristolcon saw me on a panel for the first time. Quite why I thought I was an expert on FTL travel is a mystery even Mycroft Holmes can’t answer, but given the other panelists included SF author Dean Saunders-Stowe, mathematician, engineer and author Rosie Oliver, Whovian Misa Buckley, and Gareth L Powell (something about a steampunk monkey Spitfire pilot, I dunno, it’ll never catch on…) maybe they needed a bit of balance from an Epic Fantasist. 😛
Somewhat to my surprise, it all went rather well, which is a good thing as I’m scheduled for two panels at Sledge-Lit in Derby this November. Full details on that to come!
Like Tigger on crack, eventually I ran out of bounce and missed the closing announcement that next year’s Guests of Honour would include Ken McLeod and Sarah Pinborough. I had already decided to make a return trip, as Bristolcon has proved its reputation as one of the most fun and friendliest conventions around. The organisers and their team of indefatigable Minions deserve an ovation for their efforts. If that doesn’t convince you to come to Bristolcon next year, perhaps the fact that the Lego-themed Brick-Out room will also be there, as well as, hopefully, Emma Newman presiding over more yarn-a-thons, will encourage you.
Now it’s time to shake some dust into the air for next month’s SFSF Social, which will be followed closely by Fantasycon in Nottingham. If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copies of Heir to the North, or you’re waiting for the paperback links to pop up, rest assured these things are happening and all is on schedule. The South has had a damned good weekend, but The North Will Rise Again.