20 August 2014

FantastiCon was Fantastic - 2

FantastiCon was, ostensibly, a book launch by Fantastic Books Publishing (top that, London literati).

The books, four novels and an anthology of short fiction, are based in the universe of the SF Elite series of combat and trading computer games. Back in the 1980s the late Robert Holdstock wrote a novella The Dark Wheel to accompany the initial launch, and gaming and fiction have gone hand-in-hand ever since.

This may come as an eye-opener, as to many the stereotypical gamer equates to a pale-faced bloke in a black T-shirt staring at a screen, often wearing full 3D-immersion goggles and headphones. There were some of those in attendance, and a friendly lot they were, too, but believe me, they read books. Helping with the bookstore I watched as an eye-watering amount of cash changed hands for the printed word. Even I sold books and I’m writing Contemporary Mythic Fiction, almost as far from SF gaming as it is possible to get. As one buyer quipped ...a good read is a good read... How fantastically refreshing.

At any –Con, authors and books means panels and they were all extremely interesting: actors from the earlier episodes of Dr Who rubbed shoulders with the cast of anime Vampire Wars. The Q&A session with the writers of the Elite: Dangerous novels was funny and inspiring, and one of FBP’s audio downloads from the anthology made the busy room hush – the sound effects were extraordinary.

And then, at just gone 8pm, Stuart Aken and I were asked to the stage to talk about our different Fantasy novels, and give a reading. By this time there were around ten in the room; hey, I’ve spoken to less. But when we’d answered our introductory questions our audience had grown substantially, and very appreciative they were, too. JS Collyer followed with her debut SF novel Zero, launched that day, and she handled the spotlight as if she’d been doing it all her life.

Throughout, Dan Grubb, FBP’s CEO, acted as compere with a never-ending supply of enthusiasm, insightful questions and seemingly no script. The surprise video tribute to him was hilarious and for once left him speechless.

At midnight I bowed out for the drive home, leaving the event still going strong, and that was before it closed for the night and everyone headed for the bar. Now I understand why these things are held in hotels. Next year... or even before. I feel quite privileged that an entire new and welcoming world has opened up to me.

18 August 2014

FantastiCon was Fantastic - 1

In Hull on Saturday, Fantastic Books Publishing put on the book launch to end all book launches – an SF&F Convention

FBP was launching the hardback and paperback editions of four licensed novels and an anthology of short fiction based in the universe of Elite: Dangerous, a space combat and trading online computer game.

If that reads like a bit of a mouthful, the whole day was a bit of a jaw-dropping mouthful. Never having attended a Con, and knowing nothing about the game, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as can be seen from a selection of photos there was plenty going on, and never a dull moment.


...a few of the Cosplayers...

...photo opportunities...

...and a fast-moving Dalek intent on chasing me round the raffle mountain.

There were also the gamers, both old school round a table...

...and 3D immersion via Occulus Rift, which unfortunately I never got to try.

Not that I'd have known what to do. And probably I would have ended up going on the stage suffering from motion sickness.

Add in X-Box consoles, Manga, Anime, and various merchandising stalls, the biggest problem was finding time to eat. This doesn't even touch the stage panels, including Dr Who actors, or the eye-opening amount of books sold, but I'll cover that side tomorrow in FantastiCon was Fantastic - 2.

Everyone was friendly and ultra chatty, and most willing to explain the inner workings of anything in words of one syllable. I had a spectacular time and will definitely be going to another.

11 August 2014

Supermoon Monday

I managed to see the supermoon tonight, a day late thanks to the remnants of ex Hurricane Bertha tearing across the UK over the weekend. Not that I would have realised, by eye, that the moon was a waning gibbous 97.9%. It looked bright; it looked beautiful; it looked big. I’m aware that it is a mere 356,994 kms distant, instead of the more normal 400,000+kms causing it to seem up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter.

Did it help fuel Bertha? Debatable. It certainly increased the tides. Supermoons do, and it was a phenomenon understood by our ancestors – those who built the pyramids, those who built Stonehenge. Full moons played a role in ancient belief systems, in water worship, when the guardians of those health-giving Otherworld portals were believed to be able to pass from their own plane to ours. How much more powerful did they become with the onset of a supermoon?

It is this element that plays a pivotal role in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy. It fuels a need to survive in a time that lacks belief. No matter the cost.

2 August 2014

FantastiCon in #Hull - 14 Days and Counting

Funny how life can change. One moment I'm attending Hull's FantastiCon as an inquisitive visitor, the next I'm invited to participate on a panel!

On 16th August the Mercure Hull Royal Hotel will be the venue for an SF/F and gaming extravaganza hosted by Fantastic Book Publishing. It's part of its launch for its Elite: Dangerous tie-in novels that seems to have taken on a life of its own and now includes Cosplay, RGP Gaming, Dr Who actors and an I-AM-A-DALEK, independent films, a Star Wars speeder bike complete with a green screen,  R2D2, and...er... me.

I'm on a panel with Stuart Aken and JS Collyer talking about our books. For obvious reasons I shall be concentrating on the Torc of Moonlight trilogy, and this is where I really should have written faster as those taking notice will recall that only books 1 and 2 are available.

And Cosplay? If there are any Roman legionaries attending, do call by the author table. Other than that, what costume to wear for a Celtic water deity? I knew I should have bought that torc when I saw it advertised.

If you're on Facebook, FantastiCon has an Event Page, a link to the Programme, and as can be seen below, a rather eyebrow-raising YouTube trailer. I think I need to raise my game.