Bristolcon is the perfect convention for my set of requirements: easily accessible from where I live (a five minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads*); only one day (though I know there are voices clamouring for making it a two-day event); just the right size for the optimum mix of socialising and business; and above all, a good programme that will probably have at least a couple of somethings for everyone. In between the somethings – well, see the above point about socialising.
(*This year for the first time I drove, or rather got driven, which also is very easy apart from having to cope in the last ten minutes of the journey with Bristolian traffic, and one of Bristol’s quaint roundabouts that are actually two parallel bridges over the river. Also, the hotel’s carpark is not big and as my driver remarked, it appeared to be National Park Like A Twat Day, but we squeezed in.)
I will confess making it to only three panels, of which I was on two and moderating one. Though I did also make it to the essential guest of honour interview with Liz Williams, who is always interesting, a lovely person, a consummate professional, an extremely good writer, and hopefully now recovered from the cold that had lowered her voice to the nearly subsonic bass range.
My panels were “My Back Up Plan” (writing and producing art can be a precarious occupation. How do you balance the books as a writer, how do you pay the bills?) and, the one I was moderating, “Author, Publish Thyself” (a panel about the experiences of self-published authors). I enjoyed both of these greatly, I think because they weren’t just opinions that ultimately come down to taste (see paragraph below): all of us were money-earning professionals in these fields and were able to impart, share and learn actual practical expertise. And that was just among the panellists, but I hope the audience got the same.
The third panel, just to show the range, was “There were no elves at Helm’s Deep”, which is a pet peeve of many who watched the Jackson movies. I have to confess it’s not one of mine, a) because I didn’t know the book that well when I watched the movies and b) because I didn’t care. But thankfully this was not a panel of Tolkeinista fanboy ranting; it was in fact a very good discussion about adaptations. When does the adapted item become an item in its own right, divorced from the original source material?
And as J.A. Mortimore pointed out, even those who burst a blood vessel at an elven presence at Helm’s Deep stay strangely quiet over the omission of Tom Bombadil from the movies.
I also bought Juliet McKenna’s latest from Wizard’s Tower Press: if you haven’t discovered her perfectly blended brand of folk and modern fantasy, then start now. Greatly looking forward to reading this one. This is a series that richly deserves to be adapted for screen; it really should be a matter of time.
So, that was Bristolcon for another year. For all that there was so much more I could have seen, I’m also in the group that would rather keep it as a one-day event. It’s far more fun to have so much that you can’t get a grip on it all than to start spreading it thin.