Monday, 6 February 2012

Thoughts on the SFX Weekender 2012

Picture courtesy of Mark Charan Newton
Ah, look at the wee Biker Scout as he has a rest from posing for pictures. Just out of shot is a Stormtrooper DJing in the pub. Excellent. Only at a Science Fiction convention can this cute-meets-surreal-meets-nostalgia mash-up occur.

I’m not really into the Cosplay thing, but I appreciate some people are and respect the fact they go to such great lengths to make amazing costumes. The Star Wars fans are particularly vigorous. And of course there’s the fact that people feel relaxed enough that they can dress up as The Doctor or Vader or Super Girl. I’m probably a little jaded about the whole thing, but imagine if your parents took you to a convention and you got to meet a Stormtrooper for the first time. Awesome, right? Like Father Christmas in the department store. But without the uncomfortable pause as you realise that you’re sitting on a stranger’s lap –  and then asking for stuff you know you’ll never get.

Actually I’m not jaded at all, I love Stormtroopers.

Simon Spanton said it best during the ‘How To Get Published’ panel – Sci Fi fans enjoy a greater sense of community than any other genre. Trekkies, Whovians, 501st Legion, Steampunks, Manga fans, the list goes on. What brings folks together is a passion for things they love, namely genre, be it in books or on the silver screen, television or comics.

SFX are ably providing an annual event where people can let their hair (or tentacles) down and enjoy the best of Sci Fi and Fantasy. Sure, there were teething problems with the new venue and the larger crowds, but next year will be a smoother affair, just as the second year at Camber Sands was smoother than the first.

Personal highlights were:

Paul Cornell hosting an SFF special of Just a Minute with Sarah Pinborough, China MiƩville, Joe Abercrombie and Toby Whitehouse. Plans are already afoot to bring this feature back next year. Very funny and lots of smiles all round.

The Ready, Steady, Flash! panel had some really great moments. I’ll never think about Unicorns in quite the same way thanks to Stacia Kane. Tony Lee was also hilarious.

I have to mention The Kitschies Awards. It was nice to see all the hard work by Anne, Jared, Lauren and Rebecca rewarded by a nice big venue and an accommodating schedule slot by SFX. Well done on a great award and neat ceremony.

And of course, Mr Craig Charles. There was an awful moment when we all suspected the trek to North Wales had defeated our spinner of tunes, but then he arrived (at midnight) and answered all our prayers.

All in all the 2012 Weekender was a fantastic event with lots to do and see for all the attendees. I’ve no doubt that 2013 will be a smoother, slicker and even more entertaining affair. Kudos to the Dave Bradley and the SFX Team.

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