Odyssey 2010 – Breaking Into The Future

And so, to the Heathrow Radisson, two years on from my own return to fandom – and with a wash of déjà-vu borne by the wings – and the scent – of the aircraft overhead.

This year, we finally witnessed the fusion of fandom with social media – the Saturday afternoon saw a plethora of panels discussing blogs, soc med platforms and the glory of the #EasterCon hashtag. Saturday membership soared from speculative walk-ins – not fans, just people who’d seen the chat on twitter and wanted to see what was happening.

My own Social Media panel was live-streamed – huge thank you to Nik Butler for the tech spec and to Lee Harris, Del Lakin-Smith and Paul Cornell for their expertise – but the hotel was full of many digital champions. Mark Charan Newton, John Coxon and the ever-blogging Cheryl Morgan only touched the screen-surface – for one glorious moment on the Sunday, the #EasterCon hashtag hit as a world trend.

As ever, I spent much of my time behind the Dealers’ Table – but, with MacBook open, was able to track the Twitter backchannel and attend events by proxy – something that was happening with fans at home, I’m sure. Cheryl’s panel on Virtual Attendees opened this concept wider – a huge potential for people to attend Conventions all over the world, for knowledge and family to be shared. Not only that, but the huge out-spilling ripples caused by the Award announcements each made more noise than the Heathrow runways outside.


My work-mate Mat commented ‘you know everybody’ and it did feel like that – an odd two-year jump from ‘08 where I sat scared on the Thursday evening knowing one name from the 1,000 plus in attendance. This year, I could stroll the semi-marble oddities of the Radisson, from the Corner of the Damned (Smoker’s Terrace) to the Atrium Bar, and there would always be someone to chat to – and always something to chat about. Reading, writing, gaming, fighting, costume-making, publishing, tech spec and social media – whatever your part in it, the SF/F industry is a strong community; it embraces its own and no amount of hashtagging can equal a Con’s strong feeling of extended family.


‘I like Cons’ I overheard one fan said to another ‘It’s okay to be weird’.

In the Venn diagram of real and virtual, this was an EasterCon that occupied the centre – where we watched as the two things met and overlapped and enhanced each other, working on dual level to share information within the Con itself and to broadcast that information to the outside world.

I know ‘everybody’ because of Forbidden Planet – but also because of Twitter – and because of the way I’ve woven them together. Watching this happen on a bigger scale, on a Worldwide Trending Topic scale, was astounding.

Fandom’s gone digital. And high time!
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SF/F and Social Media and – Join Us Live at EasterCon


At EasterCon this year, on Saturday 3rd April at 3:00pm (BST), UStreaming live from Odyssey 2010, we will be merging industry and Social Media to debate – and real-time demonstrate – this question: –

Just how far has the SF/F industry really embraced Social Media?

We know that writers are all over Twitter; they’re everywhere. Promoted by publishers, orbited by bloggers and followed by fans, they meet one another through the #amwriting hashtag or join David Rozansky’s #scifichat. Competitions and give-aways abound freely (please RT), circling like little bluebirds over the head of a dazed man.

But, in the grand scheme of things, how much impact does this have? In a world where only the top 15% of books published sell more than 5,000 copies… can we do more with Social Media to ensure that the industry accepts change and allows itself to grow?

The Twitter support community is great – on one level, we’ve embraced the ideal of completely. People help each other – no, I mean it. But socially, the industry is insular – despite the ‘New Age of Geek Chic’ and all of that gubbins, are people reluctant to reach beyond their safety zone?


Are we going round in circles, preaching our love of SF to the already converted?

And it goes beyond Twitter. Twitter is the foyer; there are many other rooms to peek into. The David Gemmell Legend Awards can be found on Ning; video promotions for book titles are becoming quite the thing, dahling – and more and more authors follow the free-download example set by Accelerando.

Is good Social Media an effective long-term investment – or is its short-focus immediacy just a smart way to give out a quick dozen books? Will it, as Jim C Hines mused, eventually prove to be the end of the book signing?

And, of course, the very nature of those books is changing under our hands – not only their format, but how they’re sold – that was one trip up the Amazon we all remember. How far can Social Media promote the awareness and acceptance of those changes – professional, legal and personal – and help ensure that they’re beneficial in the right places?

To find out – and to chip in – come to #LiveCon.

Track the #EasterCon and #LiveCon hashtags at UStream TV, or on the BSFA website – or join us on Twitter – use the #LiveCon hashtag to ask my panel a real-time question.

Join author Paul Cornell and Angry Robot Books’ editor Lee Harris as they match their industry wits with Social Media experts Nik Butler and Del Lakin-Smith – and follow all of us live on Twitter for commentary, not only from #LiveCon, but from the whole weekend.

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