Authors including George RR Martin and Tricia Sullivan will head to Olympus 2012, the 63rd annual nation SF convention, at Heathrow this Easter. Committee chair Rita Medany explains all
An old-fashioned Easter weekend at home with the family eating chocolate? Not for us! As usual we'll be enjoying one of the highlights of the SF calendar, the annual get-together known as Eastercon.
This year's event, named Olympus 2012, will be held at Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow from Friday 6 to Sunday 9 April. We ask Rita Medany, chair of the Olympus 2012 committee, to explain what Eastercon is: " Olympus 2012 is London's fan-run, not-for-profit, National Science Fiction Convention event that aims to provide a socially inclusive and entertaining event for all science fiction and fantasy fans. In many ways there is no such thing as Eastercon! What there is and has been almost annually since 1948 is a British National Science Fiction Convention, which until the 1960s was held over Whitsun weekend then moved to the now traditional Easter weekend. It did skip a few years but this year will be the 63rd one."
At its heart is the fact that it has always been run by fans – generally a different small group every year (although Medany was chair of Odyssey 2010 as well as the Olympus 2012 committee). She continues: "Traditionally if any money from convention memberships is left in the pot at the end of the event, most is 'passed along' to the next two Eastercons to help them get up and running, with the rest going to charities."
It's perhaps the fact that it's run by fans that Eastercon has the sense of being unspoilt and proudly non-commercial, having a more literary focus and featuring less of the autograph culture of the familiar media conventions. "I guess the main difference between our event and a lot of modern commercial conventions is that it does not have a focus around autographs or photo selling," says Medany. "It does have some free author signings going on but generally its guests and attendees are kept busy on panels, talks, workshops and the like or in the bar socialising." It's that last pleasure, the informal chance to meet guests of honour as well as other authors and publishers at the bar, which is at the heart of an Eastercon event. Olympus 2012's guests of honour are authors Tricia Sullivan , Paul Cornell , Cory Doctorow and George RR Martin and fan guests of honour are Margaret Austin and Martin Easterbrook.
When asked about how the guests of honour are selected, Medany explains: "We wanted to invite people who first and foremost understood and welcomed fans. Olympus 2012 is likely to be one of the largest Eastercons held in recent times and we wanted to select guests that would appeal to this broader range of fans. They have a diverse fan base and their work includes comics, hard SF books, fantasy books, Young Adult books, TV and radio dramas as well as a range of articles and blogs that keep them in touch with their fan base."
George RR Martin is expected to be a particular crowd-pleaser, following the popularity of A Game of Thrones , the HBO series based on his novels. “The choice of George RR Martin was made before the HBO series was commissioned, the timing was a happy coincidence!” says Medany. “The best thing about this is it has enabled us to bring Eastercon to the attention of a whole group of fans who discovered George via the show and would not have otherwise been aware of this type of event and we look forward to welcoming them.”
So what specific delights are lined up for the Olympus 2012 event? "There will be guest talks, panels, workshops, themed discos, a ceilidh, book launches, a fabulous dealers' room and art show and an opportunity to socialise with like-minded souls," continues Medany. "There'll also be a masquerade, table-top gaming, demonstrations, an exclusive LARP game, screenings, author readings and a few signings. Quite a lot of stuff to pack into one Easter weekend!" A list of all the sellers confirmed for the dealer's room is available on the Olympus 2012 website, with such names as Forbiddden Planet, Newcom Press and Witchcraft Shop, a mix including publishers, collectables and clothing. The art show gives the Eastercon members a chance to buy art that's often not available anywhere else.
Rita Medany concludes: "Our guests all share our commitment to fans and fan-run events. We all invite you to join us at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in Heathrow this Easter for a great weekend of unashamed geekery!"
While accommodation at the Radisson is now full, a list of available nearby hotels is available on the website. For further information head to olympus2012.org tout de suite .
Article compiled by Helena Cole and David Bradley. Big thanks to Rita and John Medany.