Fantasycon 2017 (convention report)

October 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

Peterborough is a nice little town, tricky to drive round but that is where Fantasycon was held this year. Over the weekend of the 29th September to 1st October, the usual suspects and a few others gathered in the centre. The Bull Hotel itself is a rambling, old building with small alcoves for sitting and a warren of rooms. A few doors further along the street, squeezed between older buildings, is a modern conference centre. The first floor was where most of the programme items were scheduled. The second floor was the dealers’ room.

We arrived mid-way through Friday afternoon and immediately ran into friends. After all, this is mostly what these conventions are about. The conference centre had to wait.

All conventions have minor hiccups. This one made the mistake of putting the programme schedule inside the A4 size programme book which was so well glued that removing it meant total destruction. Most people much prefer spare sheets that can be folded up and thrust into a pocket. Nevertheless, it was quickly discovered that the one large conference room within the hotel was the venue for a continuing sequence of book launches, mostly by small, independent publishers who were providing the alcohol.

The important one from my perspective was from Theresa Derwin’s Terror Tree Books. ‘Mummy Knows Best’ contains one of my stories and Theresa wanted me to read from it on the Saturday. That was also the evening of the Poetry Round Robin expertly handled by Allen Ashley. While many people think poetry is alien, it is surprising how many admit to writing it, especially if they have a chance to perform it to an audience and there were some excellent performances.

The main room in The Bull was also used for the Guest Of Honour interviews. This Fantasycon had invited Nancy Kilpatrick, Ben Aaronovich and Pat Cadigan as their guests. The latter two were highly entertaining (I didn’t attend Nancy’s interview so I cannot comment) and the discussions being expertly led by Charles Christian and Jeff Noon respectively. On the Sunday, the space was laid out for the regular banquet and then the BFS award presentations. This year, the BFS committee instigated a new award, Legends Of Fantasycon which was deservedly given to Dave and Sandra Sutton who started the whole series. The Karl Edward Wagner Award which is given to someone who has made an important contribution to the BFS. This year it was awarded to Jan Edwards.

The dealers’ room was largely populated with independent publishers selling books and magazines with a few scattered purveyors of artwork or jewellery. There was very little in the way of second-hand books. A shame because that was what was missing. There is a good opportunity here for a dealer in fantasy and horror with affordable books.

Traditionally, Fantasycon does not have an Art Show. Instead, Peterborough had a small Art Gallery in the shopping arcade opposite the hotel where artists from the con were among the works displayed. It was a good opportunity for Jim Pitts, Judy Perrin and Morgan Fitzsimons to show their work to the general public.

While I attended very few programme items, there was a good range of panels and talks which seemed to be well attended and all attendees went home with several free books to add to their collections.

Next year, Fantasycon will be in Chester.

Pauline Morgan

October 2017

 

Category: Cons

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