Ian Hunter reports on the 2017 British Fantasy Convention
After a 'Fantasycon-By-the-Sea', last year in Scarborough, it was off to more pastures new for the 2017 Fantasycon taking place in Peterborough, a compact little city with a solid centre of bars and restaurants and shops for those attending who wanted to venture out from the convention hotel. I was staying at a place called 'The Hub', about a mile and a half walk from the city centre, which was pleasant enough during the day, taking in cycle paths and narrow leafy lanes, but perhaps not the place to walk alone after midnight on the return journey especially with echoes of some horror readings still swirling around your brain.
For those who had came down early, like myself, there was a small gathering in the bar and restaurant boat called Charters on the Thursday night, but proceedings really got properly underway on Friday with panels starting at 2.30pm, and running through to 10pm. The first of the book launches started at 4pm, with Black Shuck Books launching some titles before the mighty PS Publishing launched several books, including a fistful of Solar Pons titles by Basil Cooper edited by Stephen Jones. That was followed by a reception, opening ceremony and book signing by the guests of honour and other gathered authors who made way for a disco until late. Apart from the panels there was a programme of readings culminating in some horror comedy at 10pm. Before that I was one of the panellists on a panel about the 'Role and Relevance of Genre' poetry.
This year the guests of honour were Pat Cadigan, Nancy Kilpatrick and Ben Aaronovitch who appeared at various points during Saturday for their guest of honour interview, or were on a panel such as 'Occult Detectives' . This I attended to hear Aaronovitch and Mike Chin and A.K. Benedict and others talk about their own occult detective creations and famous detectives from the past such as Carnacki and John Silence. Before that I had gone to one of the few workshops that were on the programme, this one about writing comedy and led by Heide Goode and Iain Grant who together write the 'Clovenfoot' series about a cast-out Satan living in Birmingham, which sounds fun and is being turned into a film, set in America! I cropped up in the programme in a couple of places that day chairing a panel about 'Being a BFA Nominee' with panellists who had previously been nominated or were holding their bated breaths to see if they were going to win a British Fantasy Award the very next day, and one of them did! Later, I took part in the annual 'Poetry and Open Mic' event, and as poetry editor for the British Fantasy Society homed in some talent to submit their poems. As usual there were book launches galore from small presses to the likes of Angry Robot and Solaris, and after the last of these, the room was turned over to...horror of horrors...a karaoke while the readings and panels continued elsewhere.
Sunday was more of the business end of the convention, with the British Fantasy Society AGM taking place followed by a panel examining the success of this yearís event and the options for next yearís convention. This was followed by Titan Books launching a new horror anthology edited by Mark Morris called New Fears, then there was the banquet and the 2017 British Fantasy Awards ceremony, followed by the obligatory dead dog party with the dogs lasting until almost midnight before expiring or turning to dust. Meanwhile, panels and readings continued elsewhere, along with workshops on writing submissions and world building.
Next year, the convention is in Chester, a train ride away, Iím already looking forward to it.