Al Reynolds, Charles Butler, Juliet McKenna, Cheryl Morgan, Paul Cornell, Colin Harvey... This list contains award winners, bestsellers and big thinkers, so it was great to see them supporting a venture by the Bristol Fantasy and SF Society last Saturday.
Attendees at the first, and aptly named, BristolCon enjoyed an afternoon of panels and readings, plus dealers (including Murky Depths, which has been our fanzine of the month more than once), a charity auction and more. Angry Robot took the opportunity to launch Colin Harvey's new book there. The whole thing took place at the Mercure hotel in Redcliffe, Bristol and it ran for about three hours, during which five panels managed to happen - a tight schedule. Talks included a debate about TV adaptations, Guest of Honour Charles Butler talking about Diana Wynne Jones (particularly the identification of genuine west country locations in her work), American versus British SF, Guest of Honour Alastair Reynolds talking about hard SF, and Eugene Byrne, Colin Harvey, Lee Harris and Juliet McKenna talking about where the dividing line is between fantasy and SF... although it segued into that old chestnut about the attitudes towards genre fiction by the mainstream literary community. SFX joined Angry Robot's Lee Harris and writer Paul Cornell in the bar afterwards for a pint and a chat, before heading back to SFX Towers.
On his blog, Paul Cornell described it as "the world's smallest convention" (adding "I suppose the vanishing point for that would be, say, Cory Doctorow stepping into a cardboard box and declaring it to be BoxCon, with just him, but then he'd have to do at least one panel and take audience questions" which made us chuckle.) On the official BristolCon website , chair Jo Hall thanked everybody who helped make the inaugural Bristol event a success, describing it as "so much wonderful geekdom" and "a brilliant celebration of all things sci-fi-ish." It's good to see small conventions making a go of it and with this one day gathering BristolCon demonstrates that it can be done - perhaps if the feedback is good the event will happen again next year, and perhaps grow to a full weekend. See you in 2010.