Convention Review

Reclamation 2022

The 2022 British Eastercon
15th-18th April 2022, Radisson Conference Centre, Heathrow, London.
Arthur Chappell reports.


Reclamation logo

The 73rd Eastercon (the 71st live event) took place between 15th and 18th April 2022, at the Radisson Conference Centre, near Heathrow, the very venue it was held at the last event pre-CoVID. The British Eastercon is the UK national SF convention (natcon).

CoVID-19 was never far away. Though all attendees had to prove medical clearance on registration, and wear masks when not eating, drinking or presenting, many fans (myself included) did catch the virus before leaving, though this was in no way to be blamed on the con-runners or hotel. By 22nd April (four days after the con), there were some 74 reported cases of CoVID which was well over 10% of those physically present.

Given unreported incidents and asymptomatic cases, it is not a long stretch to contemplate an infection rate possibly getting on for 20%. Some, who collected their badges and who subsequently tested positive, attended virtually from their hotel rooms. We all knew the risks and hopefully with triple vaccinations everyone will come through this wave safely.

Nonetheless, it was for many of us an emotional reunion with dear friends, with moving tributes to the fans who didn’t make it through the maelstrom, especially poignantly referenced during the opening and closing ceremonies. The former included a very moving presentation by Doug S. on the ravages and toll the CoVID virus has had on fandom since the first ripples of the tragic virus started rolling round the world in December 2019.

Many found the hotel check in process was bogged down in computer glitches that caused massive queuing and backlogs: I was very glad I had checked in a day early.

Some 659 members physically attended out of a total of 797 registrants. There were 80 people logged in to the on-line streaming service and so were virtually present. 41 of those were not physically present at the hotel, but 39 were having collected their badges.

The event's programme consisted of six parallel streams of panels and talks, so it was not too crowded. These included science items and there were also book launches and author readings.

Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six had had a great deal of hype as a' must read' work. I saw a full window display of the work in the Preston Waterstone’s days before heading for London so I was looking forward to this reading and launch. All the elements were there, including free wine for attendees but the author read only the back cover blurb rather than even the opening pages of the book: I had hoped for more.

The first event I took part in was the only one I had to sign up for in advance, a creative writing workshop assessing work in progress. I presented a section from a novel I’m developing about demon-haunted pubs, which was well received with suggestions for tightening up some elements of the narrative. All the writers who presented material were really good, with stories ranging from a man being relentlessly pursued by a shadowy death figure to a fan fiction tale in which Harry Potter joins the Marvel Universe Avengers (this was hilarious). Wendy Metcalfe ran and moderated this event beautifully.

Ruth Booth moderated a fine panel on the plethora of different publishing routes and platforms available to authors, with traditional print, e-books, self-publishing, gaming, blogging, crowd-funding, etc. The panel included Gianni Ceccarelli, P S Livingstone, Sarah Inkpen, and Sarah Cole. It was in many ways too much of a list to allow too much depth on each medium touched on.

The other highpoint of the first day was the opening of the real ale bar, with its complicated double queuing for tickets and for the chosen beers. The hotel staff mastered the art of barrel tapping incredibly well and the choice of beers and ciders was excellent. I can’t comment on the ciders as I stuck to the ales, provided by two brewers, Beerblefish and Tring. Beerblefish (the name derived from the works of Douglas Adams), further tied themselves to the Hitchhiker’s series with Gingerbeerble spiced ale (4.5% alcohol), which had only faint traces of its ginger spicing but otherwise a fine session ale, and the gluten free Pan Galactic Pale Ale (4.6%), named after Adams’s Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster which is more of a cocktail (not a beer) in the books.

The excellent twice daily newsletters proved to be great updates on activities around the con and list the worthy winners of the BSFA Awards. The awards ceremony itself was very well presented with some recipients being clearly very emotional in their acceptance speeches

The Doc Weir award went to James Shields. (The Doc Weir Award being given to an SF fan who has otherwise been unrecognised but who has been around for many years.)

Many fans were worthy for singling out for praise though I think we were all exceptionally taken by Orange Mike, a US fan who came over as a recipient of the Transatlantic Fan Fund (TAFF), dressed from head to foot in orange throughout, complete with a Tennessee Williams play Stetson, he proved remarkably insightful and erudite in many discussions, and made a great contribution to the questions and answers following my own solo presentation on heraldry in fact and fantasy.

With regards to my own talk on 'Heraldry In Fact And Fantasy, while my reading had drawn only a few attendees this attracted a full room: all but one chair was taken up. It was also live-streamed on the Internet to fans unable to attend in person.


Philip Reeve     Tasha Suri
Two of Reclamaton's Guests of Honour: Philip Reeve and Tasha Suri.


The big events included: the guests of honour, Phil Reeve, Tasha Suri, Nicholas Whyte, and Mary Robinette Kowal; a live screening of Doctor Who - 'The Legend of the Sea Devils'; a disco; and a lovely airing of the full length documentary movie, Alien on Stage, about a group of Dorset bus drivers who’s little charity project for staging Ridley Scott's film Alien in a local theatre (despite no drama experience between them). It drew enough attention and funding to land them a chance to do it in a major Leicester Square venue instead, fortunately with huge success. Though injected with humour their amateurish production would follow the plot remarkably faithfully. The documentary charted the troupes progress as they overcame remarkable odds, built sets, costumes and effects from remarkably little and ultimately turned out a sensational show that the live audience clearly loved, leading to the show now receiving an annual encore performance at the same venue – a sheer delight from start to finish

There was still an over-reliance on panel presentation over individual readings and discussion, but overall this was a well programmed con, with useful gaps between programmed events to save mad dashing from room to room.

Of the panels that caught my attention there was 'Twisting Tropes' – Hannah Kaner moderated this panel on messing with clichés and familiar patterns in SF / fantasy subversively. Kate Dylan, Saara El-Arifi, Katriona Silvey, and Tasha Suri chatted through the themes.

For myself, it was the quiet workshops, readings and entertainments that make the cons special. There were many great author reading and signing sessions. I even got to do one myself.

Programme events were often live-streamed on the internet too, for the aforementioned fans unable to attend in person, and ultimately for fans testing CoVID positive and staying in the groove from isolation in their hotel rooms. Much praise to the Radisson Staff who, though understaffed, were exceptionally supportive for everyone, even when computer glitches slowed down hotel registration dramatically for those arriving on the Friday. (A long walk to one’s room to find the keycard did not work was a common complaint).

Then there was the Glasgow Worldcon Bid Party. It was the last big event of Saturday night (bar a lively well received disco I didn’t attend personally). It was a celebratory launch party for the 2024 Glasgow Worldcon bid which is sure to win given that no opposing towns or countries are challenging them other than the usual, traditional spoof bids. The party included tots of whisky, Iron Brew, and sweets. It worked for me.

I had barely finished when the penultimate Jodie Whittaker Dr Who story, 'The Legend of the Sea Devils' aired, which I joined many fans in watching on the big screen, with the jelly babies (the Doctor’s favourites) being handed round – glad they didn’t go with fish fingers in custard. Though the episode was disappointing – Utter sea bilge with a few fun lines ('No ship Sherlock') – but seeing it with fans was delightful.

The venue for the 2023 Eastercon has yet to be decide, I aim to be there though. I have already booked for it. Meanwhile the 2024 is taking place in Telford.

Arthur Chappell

Note Some additional details have kindly provided by Caroline Mullan and some taken from Ansible (no. 418, May 2022).

Stop Press: The venue for the 2023 Eastercon has been decided - it is Conversation, at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.


[Up: Convention Reviews Index | Home Page: Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation]

[Article Index | Recent Site Additions | Most recent Seasonal Science Fiction News]

[Updated: 22.9.15 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy]