FantasyCon 2016 by the Sea, or Why Cons are Great

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The last weekend in September was FantasyCon, the British Fantasy Society’s annual shindig. And so I headed to sunny Scarborough, famed tourist lure of the Yorkshire coast, to paddle, play in the arcades, and maybe learn something about writing.

I always enjoy FantasyCon. There are lots of interesting people, the panels provide something to talk about, and there are bars. That means lots of interesting late night conversations with other people who love writing, reading, and sf+f. These days, I also know enough authors for there to be someone I know releasing a book. So I go along to hear a reading, offer my support, drink the free wine, and add more paper to my already overloaded to-read shelf.

Adrian Tchaikovsky and Keris McDonald signing The Private Life of Elder Things.
Adrian Tchaikovsky and Keris McDonald signing The Private Life of Elder Things.

I’m trying to broaden my reading, so this year I listened to panels about horror. This meant hearing new speakers, recommendations for books I hadn’t heard of, and some new perspectives on storytelling. Conventions can be great for that kind of thing.

I also talked on a panel about time travel in sf+f, which was a fun way to spend an hour. Of course I got in a small rant about inaccuracy in Braveheart, because any excuse.

And no, not freedom.

But honestly, the best part about conventions is getting to know people. I’ve come away with a load of new friends and contacts, as well as the memory of lots of interesting chats. I feel inspired and motivated by it all. I really look forward to seeing the same faces at future cons. These are the moments where a community of interest – something that exists largely online – becomes a physical community, and that’s great.