This SF media (TV) convention was held in Hinkley,
England, on 23rd - 25th February 2007. Tim Broadribb reports.
Back in the mists of time Redemption started as an homage to Blake's 7, a show so bad that the title character left after the first series. Not surprisingly it then gained 'cult' status and continues to sell on video and then again on DVD. This may be because, dreadful though it was on almost all criteria, it had some sort of internal cohesion and it was possible to discern 'plot'. This puts it well above the dross served up currently. Big Brother (the UK television programme) please copy. The con was, for a number of years, held in Ashford at a hotel that welcomed fans, however weird, and was always happy to take their money! The venue was slightly quirky but this added to the fun. This year the Paramount Hotel Hinckley (near Leicester) was the venue. Formally the Hinckley Island, the hotel has recently been purchased by the Paramount Hotel chain and has been radically altered. Gone are the 'streets' and shops. Gone is the newspaper shop. Gone, even, is the statue of Poseidon. Gone, in fact, everything that gave a distinctive 'feel' to the place, only to be replaced by 'corporate bland' (plus truly horrible lighting).
Breakfast. This should be the gentle easing of a body back to the world. It should start with someone quietly asking if one requires tea or coffee, followed at a discreet interval with the offer of food. It should not be some mad scrum around a table covered with solid eggs and limp sausages, over which the staff have coughed, scratched and sneezed. And as for Nescafe, which you have to get for yourself, words fail me. Suffice to say I endured the rip-off of the internal Costa (just 30% above the usual rate!) for breakfast.
The programme. Most attendees went to some. We dropped in on a Lego session, but left when they had no trains. An animated discussion of 'The Military In SF', with panellists including Martin Easterbrook, Gary Stratman and Nigel Furlong, all of whom have some specialist knowledge, made for a fun half hour. We also risked the 'It's Crap But We Like It' panel. It was... Fun in its way, but it would be good to hear why once in a while, rather than the bald statement.
Sadly the con did not have the whole hotel, so we had the mundanes (non-SF fans) to cosset. A little gentle music (courtesy of the wonderful Chris O'Shea) was asked to desist on the grounds that one cloth-eared muppet did not like the noise. No regard was paid, however, to the screaming eldritch chavs and their noisome offspring! But despite all that Redemption was a wonderful event. Fans mainly have the nous to avoid the hotel rip-off game by the old standbys of Filling the Boots at Breakfast (quantity, not quality, is the watchword), bringing in surreptitious booze and going down to the chip shop ('fries shop' for our North American readers) for a real treat (for the rich there was Barnacles, but take that second mortgage if you wanted the lobster).
Judith, Chris and their team did an excellent job of herding cats. The programme was diverse. Fancy dress/cabaret was up to a good standard and, odd though it seems, bunnies danced at the disco. Special mention to Kelvin who arrived in a double-decker bus, real style, and ran Tech like a consummate professional, i.e. no one realised he was there. Best part of the con for me was dropping in on an old friend, Tony Chester (one of the Concat team who now lives in Leicester), and sitting in the bar swapping tall tales.
Editorial note: Subsequently we learned that the Hotel Hinkley has decided not to allow Redemption to return in 2009 (the next year in Redemption's biennual run) as apparently (see Ansible no 237) a number of guests staying at the hotel at the same time as the convention complained...
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