From Easter to Volcano Days

I don’t get round to these things quickly, but this is, at least in part, a report on my family’s visit to Eastercon. This year the British National Science Fiction Convention was practically on our doorstep, just the other side of London, at Heathrow.

As with [two years ago][easter2008], my son wanted to come. And since my daughter did as well, my beloved bit the bullet and came along too. SF isn’t totally her thing, but I think she may have enjoyed the weekend more than any of us.

[easter2008]: “Eastercon 2008”

The telling detail was this: there are lots of things to do.

I tend to use cons as a way of seeing friends that I haven’t seen for a while — often not since the last con I was at. So I mainly hang out in the bar. Or that, at least, is the impression I gave — give — to people who don’t go to cons.

In fact, I have always gone to programme items. I guess I just never made a big thing of them when I got home.

This con — [Odyssey 2010][odyssey2010] — had a particularly good set of programme items for kids. There were hands-on science workshops, making Dalek cakes, and building string-propelled robots (my son won a prize for the best ramp-mounting attempt). And not least, a thrilling battle between various knights of the [Society for Creative Anachronism]( (SCA).


The programme was full of fascinating and fun things, many of which I wanted to see, but didn’t manage to, as ever.

And of course, I saw a lot of old friends, and had a good time hanging out in the bar with them.

We only stayed for the Friday and Saturday nights, to keep costs down. But after going home on the Sunday (and watching the new Doctor Who again), we went back on the Monday, and spent most of the day back at the [Radisson] [Radisson].

[Radisson]: “The Eastercon 2010 Hotel”

Travelling all across London was a bit of drag, but it was a lot shorter than many people’s journeys. And of course, there was absolutely no chance of [ash-induced delays] [volcano].


Am I a bad person because I found all the volcanic disruption kind of amusing and quite fun, really? The cloudless and contrail-free blue skies over London were gorgeous, and it was interesting to follow people’s tweets of how they were striving to get home. And a world with a lot fewer flights is something we’re probably going to have to face in the future.

What annoyed me about it all were the idiots who blamed the government. Marginally more sensible than blaming ‘god’, I suppose1, but even if anything other than sending in the Navy had been the government’s decision, can you imagine the fuss if flights had been allowed to go ahead, and there _had_ been a disaster?

Plus, the idea of getting a trip home on the _[Ark Royal]( “Not the original one, though”)_ is pretty cool.

  1. As somebody said, if that’s an act of god, then it’s a pretty limited kind of omnipotent deity.

From Easter to Volcano Days

Easter Time is Here Again

Easter rolls around on its mad-god-inspired schedule, and so too does Eastercon, the British National Science-Fiction Convention.

This year, as it was two years ago, it’s in the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, near Heathrow. Not the most pleasant or interesting of locations, but it does have the large advantage for me of being relatively close to home. An hour and forty minutes by bus and tube, if TFL is to be believed. And curiously, not much less time overall if you take the crazily-expensive Heathrow Express.

Anyway, the whole family are coming with me this time, which should be fun. We’re just staying for the Saturday and Sunday nights, though some of us may pop back on Monday.

I don’t have any particular plans to see anything on the programme, except the big ones: Iain Banks’s guest of honour speech, and Doctor Who. Looking forward to that one a lot. And it’s going to be interesting watching it with a few hundred other people.

Speaking of guests of honour, the other one is Alastair Reynolds, and i’ve never read any of his stuff (well, maybe a short story or two). So I thought I should do some homework. I’ve been meaning to check him out for a while anyway.

I’ve started Revelation Space, but I’m having a hard time getting into it. It’s just a bit slow to get going. I hope it’ll pick up soon.

Easter Time is Here Again

That ‘reporting back from Eastercon’ business

I realise that I “said”: I would report back from “Eastercon”: It already seems like quite a long time ago. I had a great time, though I missed out on the Saturday night and Sunday morning and early afternoon, as I went to collect my son from his grandparents’.

It was his first convention, and I think he quite enjoyed it; though the next time we’ll need to ensure that there are some other kids there who like “Yu-Gi-Oh! (mental trading card game beloved of ten-year-old boys)”:

I saw some old friends and had a fine time. I was very restrained in comparison with my old conventioneering days. Early(ish) nights, the lot. It was quite refreshing to come home on the Monday and not feel at all rough.

The guests of honour were great, those of them that I saw, at least. I missed “Charlie Stross’s”: speech because of being away for a while, but he was by far the most visible of them all around the con. “China Miéville”: gave a great speech about how it doesn’t spoil stories to read more into them than the author consciously intended; or than our interlocutor might say we should (you know, the kind who say, “You’re reading too much into it! It’s just a _story_!”).

And “Neil Gaiman (the net’s no. 1 Neil)”: was lovely. He read a short story, and talked for a bit, and then read the start of his new novel ??The Graveyard Book??. Later on, he did a kids-only reading of ??The Wolves in the Walls??. The best part of that was that parents and carers were allowed in too. He really knows how to handle an audience; even one of the most demanding kind, such as this.

And my boy got his books signed without having to join the apparently-mad queues for the official signing sessions.

Then there was a performance of my friend “Andrew’s”: play, ??The Terminal Zone??, which I wrote about when I read the “chapbook”:, It’s a fine work. This particular performance could have done with more rehearsal, but of course, these are amateurs, fitting it all into the rest of their lives, and doing a damn fine job.

That was followed by a live set from “Mitch Benn”:, who I’ve been a fan of for some time from his performances on Radio 4’s ??The Now Show??, and live, he was absolutely fantastic, especially, I think, since the audience got all his SF references (you don’t say) without any prompting.

All in all, a great weekend, in a fine hotel (pity it’s lost its swimming pool, though).

That ‘reporting back from Eastercon’ business