Convention Review

Sci-Fi London

The 2007 Sci Fi London affirms this event as part of the UK science fiction calendar. Jonathan reports on goings-on covering its venue, the Fest's launch, films and added-value, as well as giving a few tips as how one might get the most attending future events. If all this were not enough, he has a rant at this year's Douglas Adam's Debate...


The 2007 Sci-Fi London was the 6th in the series. Since it is over half way to double figures, fest conrunner Louis Savy noted that it now had 'long trousers'. Indeed to mark this development the Fest shifted up a gear... but more of this later.

The first thing die-hard SF aficionados need to know about Sci-Fi London is that it uses the term 'sci-fi' as an abbreviation for science fiction (or even the broader 'speculative fiction' that includes fantasy and horror) and not in the other sense of 'sci-fi' being a sub-branch of SF (along with things like: golden age SF, hard SF, cyberpunk, science fantasy, science horror, etc). It therefore is not restricted to cheap commercial SF offerings concerned more with catering to the masses rather than content and/or originality. Having said that, Sci-Fi London did include some (B) and (C) movie type offerings which are, of course, fun in their own right. This is a point worth making as a few might easily have been put off by the event's title if only because there are other gatherings that do solely look at sci fi, conversely Sci-Fi London takes a welcome broad look at cinematic SF. This breadth of look does mark it out from a number of other offerings such as say the various Bradford genre offerings which are sporadic and tend to be specialised, or even the fairly broad-based Festival of Fantastic Films (Manchester) which -- though containing a good amount of SF -- is horror dominated and aside from the independents and shorts these days arguably focuses more on older than recent films. In fact if anything Sci-Fi London is a little reminiscent of the first decade of the Festival of Fantastic Films both with regards for its breadth and balance of old and recent. Of course the one thing Sci-Fi London is not, unlike most conventions, is residential with a hotel providing a social area into the small hours but, again, more of this later. However it is attracting numbers. Whereas the Festival of Fantastic Films in its heyday attracted a couple of hundred or so to see their selection from a programme of over a score of films in a hotel, Sci-Fi London 2007 saw an estimated two or three of thousand most of whom just saw one or two films non-residentially. While it is hard to estimate exact numbers actually attending, what is known is that over 4,500 individual film tickets were sold!

Venue. This year's Central London venue was the Apollo West End in Lower Regent Street (post code SW1Y 4LR should you wish to do a multimap location check). It is just down the road from Piccadilly Circus and just 8 minutes walk from Charing Cross: hence is served by the Piccadilly and Bakerloo, as well as District and Circle lines (if you don't mind a short additional walk up from the Embankment). Previously the event had been split between two cinemas and while this worked, having a single venue meant that there was a single foci and rendez-vous point. The foyer to the Apollo is actually in the basement. This has a small bar area and an equally small hallway but with tables and seats for folk: ideal for short waits (but not much longer) before films. There are 4 cinemas of varying sizes. The seating is tiered (which is why the entrance is in the basement) at a good angle and the leg room reasonable (take it from me being 6 foot 2 inches and with legs like a gazelle). A bonus is that the arm rests have a drinks holder and this was ideal as a few events, such as the pub quiz and the all-nighters, saw the audience get a complimentary beer (or white wine -- but no fruit-based drink -- for the ladies). So the views of the main halls' screens were good from both near the front (but perhaps not the very front row) right to the back: I do know as I checked this out. Finally, it was also well ventilated (something lacking in many recent multiplexes that additionally, frequently have the compound problem of selling cheap popcorn). So it was a fine venue.

Launch. The Fest began with a reception for SF personalities connected with some aspect or other of the event as well as specialist journalists. This doubled as the pre-gathering point for the Clarke Award presentation ceremony: the 'Clarke' book award, and not the 'Arthur C. Clarke' space awards. Among those seen present was Peter Marshall Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation and Clarke's brother Fred, SF encyclopaedist John Clute, Brian Ameringen (Porcupine Books (who did our Essential SF book)), Dave Langford (Ansible newsletter), John Landis (brilliant director and general cult film good egg), David Clements (astronomical researcher and SF fan), Caroline Mullan (from this year's Brit Eastercon's 'Not the Clarke' panel), as well as a few from the production teams of some of this year's premieres and sponsors Red Bull, Cobra, Mvision, SFX magazine, Coffee, Cake and Kink and Video Europe among others. Concatenation was represented by Susan Griffiths and myself. So the first half saw the gathering packed with, as are many receptions, those prone to sheep behaviour forming a near impenetrable barrier to the bar. However the organisers had also arranged for nibbles served by kind folk with trays and this helped split the herd as those who shunned the press were clearly getting a good caloric count. The honey-glazed sausages were a success, less so the mini-Chinese rolls that could have benefited from a quick microwave zap. The beer was kindly provided by Cobra (normally I'm a real-ale guy but this was not that bad) and there was a choice of white wine for the ladies. Naturally enough the initial conversation (aside from the standard catching up of old friends/colleagues) revolved around the forthcoming films and the Clarke Award. Interestingly with regards to this last there appeared to be a near equal (but this proportion was probably perception biased) number who said that this year's Clarke short-list was a strong one as to those who said it was rather weak. (I only had read a couple of the titles and could not comment.) Then after an hour the party split: interestingly with the grey haired going to the award and ice cream, leaving the remaining younger (under 50) folk to socialise. One cruel person quipped, as the Clarke people filed into the auditorium, that the one book short-listed in closest vein to the space-going and exploration fiction for which Clarke was renowned would not win. This was cruel, because true, and it didn't: the equally good Nova Swing by M. J. Harrison (Gollancz) got the bookend prize and £2,007 (US$4,000). The Clarke Award was (according to the prog book) meant to be streamed on-line by Mvision: maybe this was live only, but (apologies) I could not find the link when checking various sites later (and I since found out that this fell through). Meanwhile outside, chat with less of a crowd was more relaxed and Mark Bennett was able to show off his 3-D installation... Then it was time for the first of the films...

Films. What can one say. A brilliant selection. Many of them were recent and so will soon be out on DVD. Hence Sci_Fi London afforded them some publicity and so it's only fair that reviewers assist, not only for your delectation but, to ensure that film makers offer films for next year's fest. First up was the World premiere of the 1936 film Things to Come. As you probably know, this was based on the Wells 1933 novel that effectively predicted future war and weapons of mass destruction with the subsequent rise of superpowers, superpower-mediated regime change and space travel. The film itself predicted the outbreak of war in 1940 and was arguably the first post-apocalyptic block-buster. But hang-on, is your reviewer taking them reality changing Dick-type pharma's: a 2007 premiere for a 1936 film? Well yes, this was the director's cut. The film as it initially came from the editing room back in 1936 was 130 minutes. This was trimmed for the original release to 109 minutes but further cut to 98 minutes for general release. In recent years a 93 minute version has been shown on TV and available on video: so this is the version with which you are probably familiar. However now some lost footage has come to light and restoration work re-mastering undertaken by Network DVD who are releasing a 116 minute version. Sadly I was too tired at the end of the day to see the preview screening and did not fancy the premiere the next day as I have seen the 1936 general release cut which does, it has to be said, drag a bit. I am aware that a good bit of the futuristic society part of the tale was cut from the original: perhaps back in the early 20th century this was considered as too fantastical and sit uneasily with the war and post-apocalyptic dimensions? I would like to see whether this was the lost part restored as clearly there was an ethical question being posed as to the need to go into space. One day...

There was also the UK premiere of the Canadian Recon 2022: The Mezzo Incident which is not to be confused with Recon 2020: The Caprini Massacre its prequel. This time the space marines the ice world of Hoth Mezzo to hit the Ma'hars. On the way they encounter giant snow worms and an underground city of cyborgs. A gung-ho offering if ever there was one.

Another UK premiere was that of the Spanish film, shown with subtitles, Proxima. With Philip Dick undertones, it portrays an SF author at a con who decries his work as fictional hokum but instead announces that he has found a portal to another world in the Proxima system. 'Simply listen to my new boon on CD and be delivered' he entreaties. Someone in the audience tries this and begins to have weird experiences. Could there really be a conspiracy to aid an invading alien fleet?

Having its London premiere (which means it has had a previous specialist showing elsewhere in the UK) was the Japanese film Paprika. A new invention enables psychologists to enter people's dreams. All well and good until the dreams start spilling over into reality and then there are those that will use this for their own nefarious ends. Can Paprika stop the psycho-terrorists?

Though not a premiere, it was the premiere week for the sequel to 28 Weeks Later the excellent Brit independent 28 Days Later. This time we have a Spanish director at the helm. It is 28 weeks after the virus outbreak of 28 Days and the virus is thought to have died out with Britain's infected population. The US is helping those not in Britain at the time, plus a handful who out-rode the event, to rebuild. George Bush The US declares the war on the virus has been won but have they spoken too soon? No, we are not taking bets.

There was more zombie hokum with the UK premiere of the US film movie Plane Dead. The body of a scientist killed by a GM virus is being transported by passenger plane when a thunderstorm allows her to escape and assuage her passion for the old human striated (bio-fact: tastes like pork you know). Working through a menu of economy class passengers, the crew have to work out what to do. Governments will not let the plane land and there is talk of blowing it out of the sky...

Another UK premiere -- by now you are probably getting the gist of topicality of many of the films -- was the Canadian film Run Robot Run. In it an average office worker is demoted and his old job taken over by a robot. Revenge is in the air...

A world premiere, no..., a galaxy premiere for the space-going Brit spoof Captain Eager and the Mark of Voth. Eager is a camp and cardboard version of Dan Dare who totes his ray gun to save companion Jenny from the evil Colonel Regamun. Were 'B' movies ever this bad good?

The Ferryman, an offering from New Zealand, is a fantasy chiller and, yes, at Sci-Fi London it had its UK premiere. Young tourists on a yacht in the Pacific come across a dying Greek. Little do they know that he has been cheating death for centuries by trading in new bodies for old. However the mythical Ferryman who enables the departed to cross the river to death ain't a happy bunny and is close by... The frights in this come more from atmosphere than horror from gore 'n splatter. Chillies with your kebab anyone..?

With a big star, and being a World premiere, there was the UK cum India production Exitz with Malcolm Mc Dowell. A billionaire computer games magnate creates a game where the subject matter is taken from reality. All well and good, but his scheming employees decide to take advantage of the time the magnate spends in his own creation to take over the business...

Then there were the shorts. Now this is something sat which Manchester's long-running Festival of Fantastic Films excels and it is good that Sci-Fi London also has a slot for such offerings. Of note there was Entity Nine (16 mins) from the US in which a genius cyberneticist refuses to undertake corrupt work finds himself replaced by a droid bearing an uncanny likeness to his good self...   More ghostly there was the Canadian Haunted Planet (14 mins) in which a woman and her partner become, Doug Adams-like, convinced that reality is a product of his imagination. To prevent atrocities in the World desperate action is required...   Among the other offerings there were a couple severely temporally challenged. These included Death of the Dinosaurs from the UK coming in at a brief 15 seconds and Tarot, also of Brit-Cit origin, of similar length. Such ultra short shorts are often very worthy in their own right; indeed sometimes less is truly more. Would that TV channels occasionally screen these.

Returning to feature films, It was not all premieres: oh no. The Sunday afternoon double bill was The Quatermass Experiment (1955) and Quatermass II (1957). This was not as well attended as it might have been. You really need to be either an oldie or a bit of a fantastic film buff to realise that over half a century ago Quatermass had as big a hold over the country as, say, Dr Who has today. Who's recent re-invention means that it not only appeals to those who grew up in the 1960s and '70s but also those born more recently. Quatermass had a similar broad appeal albeit for different reasons. It was originally a 1950s BBC TV series at a time when there was only one channel and so all the family and friends huddled around to watch landmark series. Hammer brought it to the big screen. (This was to creator Nigel Kneale's dismay: the films greatly truncated the TV series to fit into a feature film timeframe.) Quatermass was therefore iconic to Brits of the mid-20th century. Anyway good on Sci-Fi London showing them.

Nor was it all fiction. Those into science fact and fiction got the chance to see the UK premiere of the Mars exploration documentary Mars Underground (this link has a good trailer). This not only covered some of the key points in the history of our exploring that planet, but also looked forward to possible terraforming. Possibly biologically unethical, bold stuff nonetheless. All of which chimed with another documentary premiere for the UK, that for Future by Design about the 90 year old, modern day Lenardo Da Vinci, Jacque Fresco.

And then there were the all-nighters for those with the stamina or who had youth on their side. One was of Hammer SF films, another anime and the final an eclectic mix of rarely-shown offerings. My favourite was Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (1985). For those up to such marathons beer and then coffee and a snack breakfast kept mind vaguely connected to body.

The Fest's final film was the aforementioned sequel to

Added value happenings
In addition to being bombarded by celluloid-moderated, reflected EM radiation from a flickering photon generator, Sci Fi London interacted with other spheres of the fantastic arts. Academics into cult films gathered for a conference under the banner of Cine-Excess. This was organised jointly by Sci Fi London and Brunel University; the latter have started to run an MA on Cult Film and TV. Brunel already has a Cult Film Archive and so as such can be viewed as a kind of complimentary outfit to Liverpool University's SF Foundation that focuses on SF in book form. Though the Cine-Excess conference had its own programme of panels and workshops, there were three films screened for Cine-Excess attendees that were also open to those participating in Sci-Fi London.

Talking of Liverpool U. SF Foundation, it provided one of the judges for this year's book Arthur Clarke Award (as opposed to the space Arthur Clarke Awards). And this year's award ceremony (winner here) took place between Sci-Fi London's launch bash and an early screening of the restored (and extended) Things to Come.

TV sci-fi had a presence with a panel on Blake's 7. This very much focussed on the new audio adventures that have been developed by B7 productions and the Sci-Fdi Channel (well, the promotional flier had the Sci-Fi Channel logo). This is very much a re-imagining of the original series as opposed to a continuation. Details on

Of interest to scientists into SF (arguably one of Concatenation's customer groups) was the 2007 Douglas Adams Memorial Debate 'curated' and chaired by the 'Institute of Ideas'. Good on Sci-Fi London for providing the Adam's debate with a forum. This year the subject was "is science fiction good for public debate [about science]?" This was something I was looking forward to as it is an important topic (albeit in this instance suffering from a badly phrased motion) yet hard data (as opposed to unqualified opinion) is extremely limited. Alas the range of panellists was skewed, eclectic and key expertise necessary to address the subject was seemingly missing! Three of the six panellists were into specialist aspects of science education and two of these were from the same institution. There was one clinician (into reproductive medicine) and one science museum curator (that at did least have some expertise albeit only on running an exhibit relating to an SF trope: 'alien life'). Now I may be wrong but there was only one person with some knowledge of science communication and the public at large and another that had some knowledge of SF. Indeed there was no scientist that I recognised from the UK science fiction community (who would ipso facto have had a substantial knowledge of the genre). I was not the only one with misgivings. The Hugo-winning fan writer David Langford had similar qualms and noted these with the comment: "To ensure a properly balanced debate of such issues as `does sci fi skew our understanding of science?', no detectable SF author, critic or scholar was included in the panel" (Ansible May 2007 ). He is, of course, right: one was needed, and one obviously with a sound science background so as to provide examples from the genre of the issues raised by those with a knowledge of how scientific understanding and appreciation is generated within the population as a whole. Others too grumbled suggesting that perhaps a substantially genre-versed author of hard SF might have been on the panel (see here for example). Had a well-versed hard SF author been chosen to provide examples rather than an SF critic then perhaps there would have been the added advantage of commenting on why science has to be skewed in hard SF. (Obviously it goes without saying that science is increasingly skewed as you move away from 'hard SF' to 'science fantasy', and in that sense the wording of the debate's premise was facile.) Getting scientists who have SF expertise as well as those who have worked in science communication writ large (not just - with the greatest respect to many of the panellists - in a fringe way) is not difficult. Now maybe I am being completely unfair. Maybe panellists had at their fingertips the statistical results of surveys into how SF book readers relate to science qualification, or the data on the difference and overlap between SF and fantasy readers, or the proportion of school pupils who go on to become science students because of being inspired by SF. Maybe they knew why some SF films have had a different reaction from the science community on either side of the Atlantic. However if this were so then the panel did a great job of not showing it. One panellist even said in the introduction -- and this beggars belief -- that she knew nothing about sci fi. Yes, hard to believe but true! You could not make this up even if you tried. It was an evening of unsubstantiated opinion and the making of generalizations from eclectic and local examples. (I get that down my pub for free thank you (and more than I want from one of Concat's reviewers, but that's another story).)

As for the 'debate' itself, well it was not a debate' but a rambling discussion of talking heads. The chair did not tackle the daftness of the debate's phrasing except in the closing minutes when he said that perhaps we should be discussing what sort of SF promotes and understanding in science. Of course had this been said minute one and in minute two we moved on to what sort of SF stimulates an 'enthusiasm' (as opposed to an understanding) for science, the discussion would have moved at a cracking rate and it might have got somewhere at the hour's end. Truth be said the question and answer session was more interesting, though of course the audience had precious little to go on from the preceding discussion: so full marks to them. However the scientist who, in reply to a question about the public availability of science material, said that everything (science abstracts at least) is free on the internet and that nobody subscribes to journals anymore, demonstrated how out of touch she was with the world of science communication or indeed is aware of the hard data that the number of journal subscriptions has actually increased in recent years with more journals launched! (True, individual journals are struggling to maintain subscriptions but that is due to the fierce competition due to a rise in titles.) Goodness sakes, just a couple of years ago we had a major Parliamentary House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee into science access and it came to quite different conclusions (as did all the scientists at the time with whom I discussed the issue). As for this panellist's comments: first off, abstracts (be they PubMed, BioBase, GeoBase etc) only give you a taste for a paper and by themselves are certainly not enough for a journalist to base a story. Second, even if they were detailed enough, journalists simply cannot understand most technical abstracts even if they are lucky enough to have a science A-level (British high-school qualification). (Heck, molecular biologists and whole-organism biologists have a hard enough time communicating with each other let alone journalists or some poor lay member of the public!) Third, the average member of the public simply is not motivated to develop the internet skills to access such material (otherwise they would do so). Fourth, even if they did most would not have the background knowledge to put the information so acquired into context to address their interests or concerns: witness the national level news debate following Channel 4's recent and specious 'The Great Global Warming Swindle'. (And I'm not even going to bore you with points 'five', 'six' and 'seven'.)

Douglas Adams was a brilliant, funny, environmentally concerned, technophile kinda guy who enjoyed science and SF and whose memory deserves far better. All of which begs the question as from whence the Institute of Ideas gets its, er, ideas?   Please folks (yes, you in your 'ideas' institute), do us and the memory of Adams a courtesy: next year apply a little thought to this. (Or even a lot of thought if you can be bothered to muster it.) Meanwhile, a month on from the debate and only one of the top 50 results for a Google search on "'Adams memorial debate' + '2007'" had a comment on what took place at that event. Similarly a Technorati search of blogs drew a similar lack of coverage. So, so much for fulfilling the Institute of Ideas self-proclaimed mission 'to expand the boundaries of public debate'. This comment, within this convention review, is probably the most coverage you will see on-line about this 2007 debate.   As you may have gathered, this incident pushed one of my buttons. (Gawd help them had they looked at the science fact and fiction of global or biosphere catastrophes.) As said, being the Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation comment on the science-genre interface is germane to this site's raison d'Ítre, hence my making substantive remarks. My one regret is that the wonderful Douglas Adams and marvellous Sci-Fi London might be tarnished by association this decidedly poor (and I am being kind) Institute of Ideas contribution.   Rant over.

Anyway Adams Memorial Debate aside, Sci-Fi London had a number of excellent added-value items in addition to the screenings. Of these, last but no least was the Pub Quiz. Now, it may seem strange to have a pub quiz in a cinema but the beer provided by Cobra (and white wine but no fruit-based drink for the ladies) helped ensure the appropriate atmosphere. Furthermore the cinema itself enabled, photos, film clips and soundtrack excerpts be included in the questions. The questions and chairing was admirably undertaken by Louis Savy whose knowledge of SF cinema was exactly as one might fully expect from the Fest's main organiser. During the quiz it turned out that the minor classic Russian film Kin Dza Dza has never been aired in the UK. Hint, hint BBC2 and Channel 4.   Meanwhile SFX magazine fielded a team as they had the previous year in which they came second. Then halfway through they left en masse due to calls of nature. Whether this canine-like communality was a critical factor will never be known but they missed out on questions and did not do as nearly as well this year. The participatory audience was friendly and everyone that wanted to could join with their neighbours to make a team. And there were surprise prizes too. These included several Prism Media DVDs and a few copies of Essential SF (now where did those come from...?).

Central London as a venue has been largely neglected by major SF events (due to venue and hotel costs), so it has been good that with Sci Fi London we now have one. For those that live in and around London, going to such an event is not a problem as they know the score. However those from outside of London might like to know that within 30 seconds walk of the venue there is Piccadilly Circus, two minutes Leicester or Trafalgar Squares, and four or five minutes away there is Covent Garden or China town. Forbidden Planet, the big SF book, comics and model, shop is itself only several minutes walk. There is therefore plenty to do and see in addition to attending the film fest. Furthermore as mentioned at the beginning of this review, the West End venue has direct tube (underground rail) links with all the main rail rations from the south, west and north of the country. In short attending the Fest could be regarded by some as a sound basis for a mini-holiday combined with shopping trip.

Tips for attending future Sci-Fi Londons should, that is, you feel you want to go; a thought worth bearing in mind as it looks like there may be more in this series of fests for a few years to come at least.

Tip 1. In addition to attending the Fest, work out what else you would like to do when in London. Because since you pay to see a specific item (pub quiz excepted), it is likely that you will have two or three free mornings or afternoons in which you can do touristy things or alternatively shop. As mentioned, with regards to SF there is Forbidden Planet but there are three or four other books, comics and genre-related shops in London's West End and a short while searching on the internet will reveal these to you. However SF book buffs who seek the classics from yester-year might well benefit from taking a 15 minute tube (underground rail) journey to The Fantasy Centre (Holloway Road), the World's longest-running second hand SF bookshop under the same management. Indeed their staff are extremely knowledgeable of genre classics over the decades and the Fantasy Centre really is worth a visit if you have gaps in your collection. (If seeking something particular then best e-mail a week in advance as they may have to get what you want in their off-site lock-up.) STOP PRESS: After many decades this shop closed in 2009.

Tip 2. If visiting London from a long way away then stay with friends who lives in or around London. Central London hotels at around £90 a night are expensive. For under £7 (2007 prices) you can buy a one-day travel card that gets you unlimited travel on buses, trains and underground from 09.30 to midnight anywhere within the London area (and cheaper still for just the central zones). In return you can buy your hosts tickets for one of the Fest's films for each day of your stay and a meal, or a few drinks, in town. You'll still save half or more of what you would have paid to a hotel and you'll have a guide for those days your host(s) go(es) with you as well as catch up with old friends.

Tip 3. Decide what you films you want to see well in advance. The Sci-Fi London website announces a couple of months in advance some of the premieres and other films they will have. There will often be a website for each of these films (easily searchable) and many of these in turn will have trailers. So spending an evening working out what you want to see. Then a couple of weeks in advance when the programme is on-line, decide on your a schedule of film viewings and other events (including the pub quiz of course). This will not only determine what tickets to get but also what free time you have to do other things... Here it is worth noting that in addition to the touristy and SF shopping options in central London there are also regular science and also SF happenings. For example this year's Fest coincided with the first Thursday of the month when SF book afficionados gather for the London SF Circle pub evening. Who knows, you may even meet one or two authors. If you are new to the Circle when you turn up explain to someone that this is your first time and could some explain who is who and what is what. Other groups also meet and the TV sci-fi group LOTNA meets in a pub near London Bridge rail station most 2nd and 4th Saturday evenings. Should you wish to go then check out their website and e-mail them in advance. There are also other occasional events such as book signings and these are usually buried somewhere in the monthly Ansible newsletter. On the science front the nearby Royal Society regularly holds free evening lectures for the public given by internationally leading scientists, so you may be lucky here.

Tip 4. Establish a good base of operations near to Sci Fi London. Because Sci Fi London is held in cinemas you need to find somewhere nearby as a rendez vous and where you can get a coffee or beer and cheap-ish food. (Food in London is expensive and the restaurants either cost a lot or, if cheap, want to get rid of you quickly so as to get the next punter in.) A currently good pub is the answer and the one near this year's (2007) venue is the Captain's Cabin in St Albans Street (30 seconds walk down a back street in the direction of Leicester Square). This pub is known by those working in the locality as well as tourists who stumble upon it. It therefore gets very busy at lunch times and early in the evenings (up to around 8pm when it quietens noticeably). However if it is crowded when you go then try upstairs where there is a second bar. This idea of a good base of operations might be worth exploring formally by Sci-Fi London so that its attendees can go somewhere to meet likeminded souls... (Just a thought.)

So there you have it. By and large the 2007 Sci-Fi London not only had come of age and moved up a gear, it was also a scintillating success of a statistically staggering stature. How long the director Louis Savy can keep this going is an interesting question, as is whether he is nurturing a deputy or has plans for such to ensure longevity? The late Harry Nadler founded the Festival of Fantastic Films (Manchester) and its first decade up to his death (not causally related Louis) was as rollicking: which makes it hard not to draw comparisons between these so different events that are yet appear to draw from the same love of the genre in its cinematic form. A shame Harry and Louis have never met, though in spirit it appears that they may very well already have.

Roll on the years to come. Camera. Action...

Jonathan Cowie


Notes: Our overseas readers might be perplexed by the reference to 'beer for the gentlemen and white wine or a fruit-based drink for the ladies'. This alludes to a current British comedy show fronted by someone who provides a caricature of the owner of a traditional British pub.

Sci-Fi London now has an on-line film channel. -- see for details.

Want ideas as for a film for the weekend? For details of annual genre top films (as determined by a meta-analysis of UK weekly ratings across the year) see Concatenation's film charts.

For details of future major SF conventions check out the diary page which is updated each New Year.

Seeking current genre film news or links to short films you can stream then see the films section in Concatenation's seasonal Science Fiction news.

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