Pontin’s. In Wales. In February. Eight (yes, eight) trains and eight-and-a-half hours from Sutton – by the time I rolled in, a G&T was necessary and the travel chaos was having a similar ‘blitz spirit’ effect to the chalets at Camber.
The weekend’s been maniacal, fantastically busy – we’ve had non-stop a stream of signings, as well as a huge array of fans and costumed characters, buying t-shirts and goodies and books. We’ve met John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra; we’ve seen Daleks and K9s and giant Predators and hot girls on stilts. We’ve seen robots, large and small. We’ve seen Steampunk, we’ve seen superheroes, we’ve had a large amount of beer. We’ve seen Pat Sharpe and Craig Charles, spinning their tunes, getting us all up to dance our arses off.
Thanks go to all of the publishers and guests who signed for us, to Suzanne and the girls for letting me nab chalet space (and bacon), to Gollancz for letting us nab taxi space, and to Alasdair Stuart for extremely well-timed coffee runs (did I mention we were busy?)
Memorable moments include Al Ewing’s tunes, Raygun Rankin’s ink and Sam Sykes’ thighs (don’t ask). Oh, and the gorilla with the unlikely banana.
Through all of the event though, there was a common theme of conversation. Namely – the face and content of the ‘SF con’ is changing. Angry Robot’s Lee Harris drew the difference between the ‘fan convention’ – the cons that we know and love, the ones at which we see the same faces, the same friends – and the ‘commercial convention’. The SFX Weekender was the latter, it was more like Kapow! than it was like EasterCon – it’s a con that’s opened out to new ideas and new demographics, to more people and younger people, to new blood and enthusiasm. China Miéville said the ‘Geek Pound’ is still strong – and he’s right.
SFX got the mix right; they’ve effectively blended the traditional ‘book con’ (panels and signings) with geek-cool celebrity, with cosplay, with props and monsters and movie culture, with music, with glamour, with in-jokes and eye-candy… all of this explodes out of the traditional mould and comes together to bring us something new.
We like it. The Con has come of Age.