Just back from Eastercon held this year at Heathrow and featuring guests George R R Martin and Paul Cornell, amongst others. Lovely to see so many friends. Mentioning everyone by name would be next to impossible, but I flew down from Manchester with John and Sara Moran and arranged to meet up with charlieallery
(and despite the weirdgeography of the hotel actually managed to do that).mevennen
was there with the lovely T and their Witchcraft Shop stall in the dealers room and I ran into no end of writers I know from Milford, some of whom I haven't seen for a few years.
Panels were great, with many interesting ones on various aspects of books/writing/publishing. Special kudos to Joe Abercrombie who, despite his books being dark, gritty and full of entrails, proved to be a funny and charming panellist and not at all inclined to wield edged weapons. One of the best panels of the whole weekend was 'There's a hole in my plot' which, despite Joe Abercrombie bouncing laughs off the rest of the panellists for the whole fifty minutes, still managed to deliver some useful insights about plotting.
George R.R. Martin and Paul Cornell were both hugely entertaining and seemed like jolly nice chaps.
I volunteered for panels this year - first time ever - and was pleased to be invited to sit on a panel called 'How pseudo do you like your Medieval?' A nice little session (I thought) discussing the use of historical periods as a setting for your fantasy book. I didn't find out who the other panellists were until a bare couple of weeks beforehand: George R R Martin, Juliet McKenna, Anne Lyle and Anne C Perry (moderator). And instead of being in a little room it was on the main stage in the big Commonwealth auditorium with cameras and a video screen (and also streamed live over the net) and a full audience of several hundred. I have to say that Anne C Perry did an amazing job of moderating it. Everyone got a fair turn and the questions kept us all right on track. I managed to get a couple of laughs and a ripple of applause which was very gratifying. I must have said something pertinent, though for the life of me I can't remember what. I don't think it was recorded, but if anyone finds it on youtube, please let me know.
The Easterecon committee did a fabulous job or orgaising and delivered four days of excellent programming. The only thing that let the con down was the hotel, or aspects of it. The rooms were fine and the beds comfortable, so I could forgive almost everything else, however there wasn't enough social space (apparently one of their bars was out of action) and the available spaces (the Bijou Bar or the Atrium) were extremely noisy. The Bijou Bar having thump-thump music which increased in volume as the night progressed and the Atrium being a huge open space with acoustics like a swimming pool and very little seating. The con food - which was very reasonably priced at a tenner for two courses - offered no choice of menu, do if you didn't happen to like beef stroganoff served with minted potatoes, you were left with the restaurant at between £13 and £22 for a main course or Bijou Bar prices at £11.50 for a burger. One thing which did rankle in the Bijou Bar was £7.50 plus a service charge for one cappucino and one half-full cups of coffee which took fifteen minutes to make. I do appreciate that there are a limited number of hotels big enough to take a convention of 1400 people, so I have no problems with the committee's choice of venue.
What I have decided is that after a somewhat shaky and bemused start at the rescue con at Chester a few years ago, where I felt totally out of my depth, I like Eastercon and will be signing up annually. Birmingham last year was hugely enjoyable and Heathrow this year has clnched it. la_marquise_de_
is one of the organising committee who recently got the go-ahead for Eastercon 2013 in Bradford, so I've paid up for that. I'm told that the hotel is lovely and very welcoming to Eastercon, and it has the advantage of being close to home. Already looking forward to it.