After Eastercon

Now the long Easter weekend is already a fading memory, some of us are looking back fondly on Eastercon , the 59th UK national science fiction convention. Were you among the crowds? This year's event was the biggest ever: 1300 people descended upon Heathrow’s Radisson Edwardian hotel, nicknamed 'Radisson Non-Euclidean' for its confusing layout, to chat (or argue heatedly) about genre writing, dress up, play games, break the bank in the dealer's room, and - most importantly - drink the bars dry.

Above: the top floor bar of the Radisson Edwardian.
(Picture courtesy of Niall Harrison )

This year's Guests of Honour were novelist, screenwriter and Sandman creator Neil Gaiman; Tanith Lee, prolific doyenne of dark fantasy; China Mieville, Arthur C Clarke-winning author of Iron Council and all-round ferociously-intelligent chap; Charles Stross, whose recent Hugo nomination for Halting State is his fifth in a row; and long-serving fan Rog Peyton, sometime publisher, editor, and bookseller. Gaiman performed two readings, one an extract from the forthcoming The Graveyard Book , and spoke warmly of his 20-year history with Eastercon and its bars. Mieville gave a passionate speech calling for in-depth critical engagement with fiction, entitled "For God's Sake, It's Just a Story! A Reader's Guide to Ruining SF".

A host of writers, editors and artists – including Christopher Priest ( The Prestige ), SFX columnist Dave Langford, Doctor Who writer (and nicest man in fandom) Paul Cornell, Canadian author and blogger Cory Doctorow, and Holly Black ( The Spiderwick Chronicles ) - joined the guests for a full programme of discussion panels, on topics ranging from climate change to the pitfalls of authors responding to reviews. The usual egalitarian friendliness of Eastercon saw pros and fans mingling on panels, in bars... and, in the case of Mieville, on the dancefloor.

Saturday was the presentation of the BSFA Awards, voted for by members of the convention and the British Science Fiction Association, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Best Novel prize went to Ian McDonald’s Brasyl , while Ken MacLeod took Best Short Story.

All round, an excellent Eastercon : well-run, well-programmed, and well-endowed with beer. People are talking about it on the SFX forum, here . Next year’s will be held in Bradford, before a return to Heathrow in 2010. See you there?

Report: Nic Clarke

DON'T FORGET! Vote for your favourite SF and fantasy authors in this major new SFX POLL !