BristolCon is Bristol’s leading (and only) Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. On the 27th of September, I attended it after a year’s break. It’s my “regular” convention, and it has been growing from strength to strength since it first started in 2009. One of the unusual things about BristolCon is that it is an only a one-day event. If you are at all familiar with SFF conventions, you would know that most of them are weekend-long affairs. That means a lot of time and money. BristolCon offers the con experience without the hefty price tag. Even better, it offers the intimacy of a relatively small convention, which makes it perfect for newbies.
I’ve been to BristolCon as a newbie, I have been on panels, and these days I do some minion duties (helping out on the day as per instructions of the Head Minion), but mostly, I just go to BristolCon to mingle. It’s incredible how quickly people bond, and how this once-a-year event can form lasting friendships. There are people, who I now consider my friends, whom I used to see only once a year at BristolCon. Somehow, in that limited time and space, friendships grew. The same goes for networking with writers, and other people in the industry. These relationships are built, one smile and one handshake at a time. Some will last, others will not.
I was looking forward to going to BristolCon 2015 for several reasons. For one, it was after I missed a year and almost two years since I’d moved away from Bristol (where I lived for nearly 10 years). Another reason was my friend and organiser of BristolCon, Joanne Hall’s book launch. And lastly, I just wanted to be at BristolCon, and hang out with people I hadn’t seen for a while.
It did not disappoint.
Just out of the train station, I ran into G R Matthews, an author I’d met at last year’s Fantasy Faction’s Grim Gathering. We wandered down together to Double Tree Hotel, and from then on, it was meeting and greeting. Having had a glimpse of the number of emails, meetings, and planning it takes to organise conventions (and realising, I really don’t want to do it) I have a special regard for people who do the job. It’s mostly a thankless job, and you are really only noticed if you screw up. So well done to Joanne and the rest of the committee that I didn’t see anyone shouting loudly for organisers.
I attended only three panels this year and they were all good fun. The censorship panel was way more fun than I had expected. Ian Millstead moderated it well, and the panellists – Dev Agarwal (writer, and editor for BSFA’s Focus Magazine as well as Albeido One), Joanne, Juliet E. McKenna (a fantasy writer), and Tony Cooper (a fantasy writer) offered their opinions, well-researched insights, and entertainment.
I met new people but especially got to have a bit more of a chat with people I’d only briefly met before, or seen at previous cons (or kept in touch through Facebook). I hope that next time I see them, at least some of them will remember me.
Joanne’s new book, Spark and Carousel, launched officially at BristolCon today, with disco-lights and cake and wine!
It was a successful launch and included absolutely sweet speeches by Roz Clarke (editor) and Sammy H. K. Smith (publisher). It’s so nice to see all the love shared in the community. Because SFF is a community, and the regulars who attend BristolCon are a community of their own.
Both the Art Room and the Book Room were full of great wares. Artist, Jennie Gyllblad was resplendent in her costume!
Not really having paid much attention to book covers before (shame on me!) I was excited when Dev pointed out that the Guest of Honour, Chris Moore had designed several well-known covers, including that of The Stars My Destination.
It was fun to catch up with people and listen in on panels, but I also learned a lot. It does not matter at what stage you are in whatever you choose to do, there are opportunities to learn. This time, as I wasn’t on any panels, I paid more attention to people who were – who does what, and how. I saw how different moderators work, and what was more effective. It’s not an easy task keeping a room full of an audience engaged, and it’s a good skill to have.
All in all, despite earlier reluctance to travel to Bristol (it’s weird going back to the place the first time after you move away), I am glad I went. It was a very good day spent with very good, interesting people. So good in fact that I already booked my next year’s ticket – and I don’t even know the date!