BLOG FantasyCon 2009 report
Were you there in Nottingham? Blogger Alasdair Stuart reports back from FantasyCon 2009:
Secret Histories, Celtic Heroes and Being Human
I spent the weekend in Nottingham, at FantasyCon 2009. FantasyCon is the cherry on the cake of the year, a yearly convention held by the British Fantasy Society where writers, artists, publishers and fans come together to celebrate the noblest art of all: making stuff up.
It’s also a perfect chance to get the jump on some interesting new releases, and this year was no exception with plenty of opportunities to hear authors read from their latest books. There were launches from PS Publishing, Imanion Press, Robinson, Abbadon and many more but one of the stand-outs for me this year was Sixty One Nails by Mike Shevdon, coming out through Angry Robot.
The novel follows Niall, a single father who suffers a heart attack on the way to work one morning. Niall dies but finds himself brought back by a mysterious old lady who insists on calling him Rabbit and tells him that something else is waiting to take control not only of him, but his daughter…
Mike read the first chapter at the Convention and the novel’s combination of pace, invention and that unique, quintessentially English quality that takes in everything from the Green Man to the bizarre, and true, history of London looks set to make it a hit.
Speaking of The Green Man, he, vampires, the end of the world and the perils of writing weekends and writing for, and putting together, themed anthologies were just some of the panels on offer over the weekend. Each panel saw five authors discuss a subject close to their hearts and work and each panel in turn offered a wide variety of opinions and approaches. It was through one of these panels that I found my other stand out book of the convention – Shadowmagic by John Lenahan.
John isn’t a stranger to genre fiction, having provided the voice of TalkieToaster for Red Dwarf but he’s also a phenomenal stage magician and comedian, whose TV show, Stuff The White Rabbit, featured some of the best stage magic I’ve ever seen. Shadowmagic follows Connor, a normal teenager who has a normal life. Apart from the fact his dad has one hand and speaks to him in ancient languages, his aunt tried to kill him the first time they met and Celtic horseman seem to want to finish the job… It’s a gleefully fast paced novel, hurling itself out into the world with a deadpan sense of humour and a deep love for Celtic myth and fans of modern fantasy will find a lot to enjoy, in both Shadowmagic and Sixty One Nails.
I also finally got an introduction to the work of Jasper Fforde from no less an authority than the man himself. One of the convention’s Guests of Honour, Fforde was interviewed by Society Chairman Guy Adams and spent an hour effortlessly charming his audience. Fforde has a deep, abiding love of all things literary and that came through in waves, as did just how much he enjoys his work. He even let slip some secrets of his time as a focus puller, revealing that Highlander II really was as bad on the page as it was on the screen and that Christopher Lambert is one of cinema’s quietest, nicest stars. Somehow, I find that unsurprising.
The convention reached it’s peak on Saturday night with the BFS Banquet and Awards Ceremony, which is where I went from a spectator to a participant. As the editor ofHub, I was invited, along with publisher Lee Harris, to present the award for Best Anthology. Because we’ve never been fans of taking the easy route, we decided to write a scripted introduction for it which, because we’ve never been fans of the easy route, we didn’t rehearse before the night. However, the big moment came, frantic edits were worked out and we hit the target, presenting the award with the right variety of respect, enthusiasm and a really good Dune joke.
We returned to our seats, the adrenalin rush fading and enjoyed the rest of the evening, which included a performance by John Lenahan and Lee returning to the stage as part of arguably the oddest, rudest episode of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue ever made.
There was good news for Being Human fans as well, with three novels scheduled for release next year to coincide with season two. The Road by Simon Guerrier, Chasers by Mark Michalowski and Bad Blood by James Goss form a three book series that looks set to not only cement but expand the show’s fan base.
Vampires and magicians, green men and werewolves, ancient myth and the future of genre fiction all came together this weekend in Nottingham and, judging from what I saw, they’re all in very safe hands. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun year.
This is a personal article by Alasdair Stuart, one of our site contributors. Were you there – if so, let us know your thoughts on the event. Sadly SFX didn’t pick up the magazine gong in the British Fantasy Awards which were handed out on the Saturday night, but you can read the results list here.