Alt.Fiction 2011: Cakes, Raffles and the Shepard Shuffle

Things I learnt about at this weekend’s Alt.Fiction: the direction of modern science-fiction, John Wayne, 1980s toy related comics, memetic theory in relation to religion and mythology, the Gordon the Gopher novel, waxed moustaches, Thai food, and… lots of other great stuff.

 

Alt.Fiction is like that. It’s a whirling multicoloured pinball machine of an event, where you bounce wildly from one interesting talk to another- whether that’s in a panel, a podcast or just by the bar while you’re drinking a cider. I think this is why it is regarded as one of the friendliest of conventions, the one where you make new friends in a short space of time and have more giggles over the drawing of a raffle than is strictly healthy.

 

In my opinion the real heroes of Alt.Fiction* are those writerly people (I’m including all manner of authors, publishers and publicists here) who probably were amazingly busy and probably did have a hundred people they had to meet up with but still stopped to say hello and have a natter. It’s easy for the writer at the beginning of his or her career to feel like publishing is a big exclusive circus on the moon with clowns made of gold, where everyone already knows each other and you are a tiny orphan child with a homemade t-shirt saying “I luv cirkuses”: the publishing people who pause to make the experience an inclusive, positive one are absolute stars and I cannot praise them enough.

 

I was involved in two podcasts this weekend and was pleased (and slightly alarmed) at the number of people who turned up for both, even the one on Sunday when we must all have had thumping headaches and delicate stomachs. Big thanks to Adam Christopher and Kim Lakin-Smith who spoke more sense about steampunk than I was capable of, and much slightly hungover gratitude to the lovely Jenni Hill, Mark Charon Newton and Graham McNeill who were all utterly charming and gave me an excuse to blather on about video games. Adele Wearing and Vincent Holland-Keen kept the whole thing running smoothly with style and panache, and indeed were true podcasting heroes.

 

Other highlights include meeting up with twitter buddies Andrew Reid (@mygoditsraining) and Hollie Chapman (@holliechapman86); talking to Graham McNeill about Dragon Age 2; the Mythology in Writing podcast where a brass band attempted to upstage the panel; and Dave Moore’s impromptu grammar demonstration over sticky rice. There were loads of other great moments but I think I’ll need a few days for my brain to process them all, and indeed I wish I’d had the good sense to bring a camera- a few pictures would have helped me remember everything beyond the haze of coffee and alcohol.

 

Looking forward to next year already!

 

*the bar staff were also heroes.

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