BristolConon October 22, 2012 at 9:47 am
This was our first Bristolcon. Tom has done more of the broad, speculative genre events in America, in the past, but I realise I’ve only ever been to much more focused gatherings. There are pros and cons… if you’re at an event for a specific genre or social grouping the odds are you know where you fit, but you may also be preaching to the converted. At a broader event like this one, there may be fewer of ‘your’ people, but more scope for exciting cross pollination.
On my first panel, I found myself sat next to a chap called Paul Graham Raven, who writes more on the non-fic side and for New Scientist. He intrigued me, and I shall be following him round online as a consequence, so that’s a win for cross pollination, by the looks of it.
We found Jenny Gyllblad, a lovely artist, fey, bit Steampunk, crazy in all the right ways and James E Snelling, whose oil painting based graphic novel work blew us away.
My first panel was a breeze – thanks in no small part to Del, the moderator who had brilliant questions for us. We talked about collaboration and the different ways in which that works, and it was interesting to do. The whole panel had a nice flow to it, and we were diverse enough to have different things to say, but not so different as to get at cross purposes.
Tom was on a panel for art in the digital age, which was fairly well attended, no moderator so they just winged it, and talked about their relationship or lack thereof, with the digital options. From no digital component to serious use of technology – again a good mix of approaches.
I also did the panel on Steampunk, which was terrifying. I was the only person on the panel who said ‘yes, I am a steampunk’ which meant I got several of the questions about ‘why do steampunks…?’ but I’ve only been exploring this for a couple of years, so felt rather under qualified. As the setup had referred to innate colonialism I’d anticipated that it might be hostile. It went ok, and if I’ve done anything to express that most Steampunks do not want to bring back everything that was bad and wrong about Victorian England, that’s got to be something.
We got to meet Mark Lawrence, and Freda Warrington, we talked to a lot of really lovely people, I was able to sit in on Emma Newman’s lovely book reading. On the whole, a very good day. I will admit I was disappointed by the shortage of dressing up. I’d rather imagined that there would be more of that – we did get a handful of steampunks in nice jackets, but not one Klingon! No sci fi costumes, no furries, no anime gear. Rather a lot of jeans and t-shirts, really. I thought I’d be underdressed in my goth skirt and top hat. I wasn’t. Tom is never underdressed in the spoons jacket!