Northumberland Heath
DA8 Science Fiction Group

This monthly gathering is Bexley Borough's only SF group.
It was established in December 2016 for informal chat
but now does a few additional things too.
Meetings are from 8pm, every 2nd Thursday of the month
at The Duchess, Brook St., DA8 1JD.

 

If you enjoy science fiction books and/or films and would like to meet similarly minded locals once a month for informal chat, then this could be for you.

 

Do you like films such as Alien, Blade Runner, Mad Max, Guardians of the Galaxy, Gravity , Ex Machina…?

Do any of the following writers – Isaac Asimov, Iain Banks, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Greg Egan, Jasper Fforde, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Terry Pratchett etc, – float your boat?

Do you ever ponder questions such as which is better – the film The Martian or the novel?

Are you interested in some real-world developments such as: artificial intelligence; space exploration; the potential health benefits from understanding the human genome; the likely future of our planet over the coming decades, centuries, or even millennia…?

And are local news issues and goings on in the Barnehurst, Belvedere, Bexleyheath and Erith (north Bexley borough) area of interest?

If so then the Northumberland Heath SF Group could well be for you....

 

The group
The group has only been going for fours years and currently (April 2021) has 15 regulars who attend most (two out of three) monthly meets: so meetings typically are 8 - 11 strong.  (However, we have a bigger online following with over 170 following our Facebook page with around 120 of whom are Bexley borough residents.  The group is a broad church group whose members have a diverse range of interest be it cinematic SF, books, TV or comics, and even some are into science.  Some members may have some specialist interest or knowledge and they are our go to people if the conversation drifts their way.  Meetings are informal with no set agenda. We usually post a bullet-point list of some of the topics covered on facebook shortly after each monthly meeting just to show the range covered.

 

Time and Space
We have been invited by The Duchess of Kent in Brook St., DA8 1JD to hold monthly meetings the
2nd Thursday of each month.

If you are coming from a little further away then the best way to get to us is either the - 89, 229 and B12 busses -- servicing Northumberland Heath.  If you are getting the 89 (from Welling or Slade Green) or 229 (from Thamesmead or Bexley/Sidcup) then get off at the Brook Street stop and walk 150 yards down Brook Street. (Both the 89 and 229 go through Bexleyheath 'Clock Tower' which has a plethora of other bus routes connecting across the borough.

Forthcoming meetings -- (2nd Thursday of the month which) from 8pm -- include:-
          Thursday 13th May 2021
          Thursday 10th June 2021
          Thursday 8th July 2021 - Our return after months of CoVID-19 lockdown!
          Thursday 12th August 2021
          Thursday 9th September 2021
          Thursday 14th October 2021
          Thursday 11th November 2021
          Thursday 9th December 2021
          Thursday 13th January 2022

As it happens, Thursday night is often also hot dish night at the Duchess. So for those arriving a little before 8pm there is the additional option of a meal: saves having to cook coming home from work. The dish itself is advertised on the Duchess of Kent's Facebook page and to ensure you get one (in case there is a run that week) it is best to comment on that page that you'd like on. Otherwise take a chance.

 

Other stuff
In addition to meetings, for those that want we have occasional outings locally to films, Blade Runner 2049 was our first in the autumn of 2017.  We have also been to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in 2019 Ad Astra and 2020 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Tenet.  For book readers with a journalistic bent, there is also the opportunity to review new SF/F/H books.  In addition there is a seasonal free, new SF/fantasy book giveaway spring, summer and autumn courtesy of a sponsor and some members tend to exchange these around.  The society also has loose links with the North Heath Library and other local groups such as Bexley CAMRA.

The 2019 summer saw our first non-pub social with a barbecue at a local member's time travelling abode (it moves through time at a rate of one second per second) and the garden really was bigger on the outside.

 

Interested?
Then drop a line to Peter Wyndham whom you can contact by e-mail from here. Alternatively there's https://www.facebook.com/northheathscifi/.

Other venue details.  The Duchess does both draught as well as keg bitters, plus the usual range of other drinks.  The Duchess also has a beer garden at the back, and this might be a place we may well be found on hot summer days.  By the way, if you Google search on "Duchess Brook Street DA8" the resulting Google snippet is inaccurate and gives wrong opening times (this is part of Google's ploy to get businesses to register with them): be assured that the Duchess is open at 8pm and remains so to closing at 11pm.

Further bus details.  As said, the stop to get off at for the 89 and 229 is the 'Brook St' stop and it is a four minute walk down it to the Duchess. Though if you are coming using the 229 you could get off two stops later (if coming from Bexleyheath) at the 'Northumberland Park' stop (or two stops earlier if you are coming from Belvedere/Erith), and then you walk down Hengist Road (about three minutes).

 

Some more background
The idea for this group comes from two remaining souls of the former N.W. Kent SF group (The Phoenicians) that used to meet at The Phoenix near Dartford in the 1990s. Back in the day, several of the team that ran the Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation website lived in the N. Heath area but then came the great diaspora of the early 2000s and most team members spread to different parts of the country. The SF² Concatenation continues (written contributions can be submitted electronically from anywhere in the world) but the physical monthly get-together ended.

After a few years the two remaining individuals decided to see if anyone of a science fictional or even fantastical mind would be interested in a monthly get-together.

Because of this history, this group has a connection with the SF community (mainly aficionados of SF in its written form) at the national and international levels.

 

What typically happens at meetings?
Well, at most SF group meetings up and down the country, while there is chat of science fiction, fantasy and horror, books and films (as well as TV and graphic novels depending on member interests) plus associated topics (such as, say, space exploration), actually as much time is spent on general chat.  Some members of SF groups simply want to unwind towards the end of a hard working week.  Others want to get more involved.  For most it's a mix of the two.

From its formation, members grew from three before quickly soaring to five!  One year on and the total number attending became 10, and two years on a dozen, but any single meeting is likely to see between 8 and 11. Year four was a miss with the CoVID-19/ SARS-CoV-2 lockdown. Hopefully over its fifth year numbers will once more continue to rise.

Opportunities will exist for those who want more involvement with the SF world be it: reviewing books, visiting weekend SF book conventions of film festivals both in the UK and Europe. For those into films there is the annual (May) London Sci Fi Film Fest. For those into vintage fantasy and horror films and actors there is the annual (October) Festival of Fantastic Films (a small, residential hotel, based gathering). For those whose enjoy SF & fantasy books and authors the annual UK national convention (Eastercon) is held over the 4 day Easter Bank Holliday at a Heathrow hotel at least once every three year. Finally, again for those mainly interested in books and authors, the five-day World SF Covention is likely to come to Glasgow in 2024. To get a feel for these events, check out the SF convention reviews index for a review of a similar past event.

How much individual members wish to get involved is down to them.

Attendance at local meetings is free.

 

If the above interests you then e-mail us putting either 'N Heath SF', 'Peter', or something vaguely relevant in the subject line.

If you only have some passing curiosity about any of this but you live in DA8 then please do us a favour but give us a mention on your local social media, Facebook, Twitter or whatever, with a link to http://www.concatenation.org/n-heath-sf.html and/or https://www.facebook.com/northheathscifi/. Thank you.

Meanwhile, if you are vaguely local you'd be very welcome to: turn up, tune in, turn on and even drop in.

 

 

Our original 1-page PDF text rich promotional poster  and  a 1-page image rich promotional poster for you to share via your social media etcDates of our first spring 2017 meetings.

 

Northumberland Heath SF wishes to thank… The Northumberland Heath Community Library, not forgetting the Science Fiction Concatenation, the (now former) N' Heath branch of Nat West, the Bexleyheath Branch of Sainsbury's and the N' Heath Post Office for their supporting this group's autumnal 2017 launch.

 


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