The Year of the Doctor
The panel of DougS, Piers Beckley, Steve Lawson, Paul F Cockburn and Tlanti were billed to discuss the recent trinity of "Doctor" episodes (The Name of the Doctor, The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor) which apparently celebrated the past, present and future of Doctor Who, and why some of these seem more memorable than others. So... the panel was supposed to be about three episodes, but most of them chose a fourth one as their favourite: The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
All the panel also agreed that the various shorter webisodes (including The Night of the Doctor and The Last Day) needed to be considered when discussing this particular story arc.
The Time of the Doctor was generally considered to be the weakest of the complete episodes seeming both too long and too short, and constraints by the expectations placed on it as both a Christmas episode and a regeneration episode. Then again, this was coming from diehard fans, and the Christmas episode is traditionally aimed at a wider audience.
After that panel, I moved next door for...
Traci Whitehead, Juliet E McKenna, Ken MacLeod, Farah Mendlesohn, Nicholas Whyte discussed politics in science fiction and fantasy. They covered questions such as: why are so many stories about dystopias rather thasn utopias and why do so many people assume that epic fantasy is all about feudalism without reading any of the epic fantasy books that aren't?
The panel also discussed good examples of real politics being mirrored in SF&F including workplace politics and the intrusion of the state into women's lives as well as other issues of state surveillance affecting the ordinary people.
Good suggestions of books and authors to read came from both panel and audience, and I left feeling that there's plenty for everyone out there.
From that panel I went straight on upstairs to...
Humans are weird presented by Dr Bob
This was billed as SF often assumes that humans are the default setting, so many aliens are just thinly disguised versions of us. But humans do things in all sorts of strange and bizarre ways. What aspects of human biology are bonkers and would have aliens scratching their heads in bemusement? and I posted my newsletter write-up over there.
The presentation included fun facts deriving from the knowledge that humans are:
Sexually dimorphic, with males bigger and stronger compared to females
Inclined to form family groups
Obsessed with sex
Helpless as babies and exhibit distinct lifecycle stages with mothers performing childcare
Reliant more on some of their senses (and in certain sectors of those senses) compared to others
The bolded examples are those considered vital for the development of a spacefaring civilisation.
Comparisons were drawn with other species to show how humans have evolved and ways in which aliens might quite justifiably consider us weird. Fun science indeed.
Following that, I had a bit of a break, and then came back for...
The Great British north-south divide discussion
Kate Keen, KSimes, Dave Lally, Duncan MacGregor and Alice Lawson considered whether Eastercon would continue in its present format if Scotland became an independent nation and what might happen north of Watford if 'Big Conventions' continue to favour London as a venue.
For the first issue, we can look at the examples of both Benelux fandom which has been running cons across two the countries for years and the Czech and Slovak fans who have carried on happily since their countires split by alternating the country in which they hold their main national convention each year. Meanwhile within the British Isles, EasterCon has been to Jersey, which has parallels with an independent Scotland, and really needs to go to both Wales and Northern Ireland as well as to other cities in Scotland beside Glasgow. Not all fans want to travel outside London, but nor do all fans want to travel to London.
Unfortunately for fandom, the venues most suited to the EasterCon format tend to be in London and one or two other cities (like Glasgow), but conrunners can be imaginative with finding ways around this, such as having a main daytime venue and a designated hotel for evening socialising. Although it might be possible to learn something about venue choices from the big media cons, these tend to have major differences to fandom cons in terms of what is offered and what fans expect to pay.
Overall, people seemed optimistic about the future of EasterCon regardless of the political and geographical issues relating to venue choice.
Following that panel, I went on an expedition to the SECC. Photos will follow in another post, although I failed to obtain sandwiches on that trip and had to rearrange my plans for grabbing food in order to get myself to...
Good practice in editing and reviewing
This panel was made up of Gillian Redfearn from Gollancz; Marcus Gipps an editor and former bookseller; Ruth E.J. Booth an author, journal editor and music reviewer; Jack Deighton a writer and reviewer; and literary agent Juliet Mushens, who all discussed styles of editing and reviewing, and tried to identify best practice.
One memorable anecdote concerned the way in which UK, US and Canadian editors can have very different ideas of what improves or brings down a story with different nationalities wanting to keep or discard a particular line.
After that I rushed off to track down my cast and organise our big event of the day...
Redemption 2015 presents 'Man of Iron'
This starred many of the usual suspects and a few new ones according to my usual slightly random casting methodology. David Wake was his usual Blake (offstage), while Lesley made an excellent Renaissance Avon and The Magician was a particularly menacing Gabor.
We must have done something right as I already have a more or less complete cast for the next production at Redemption 2015.
After half an hour in which to recover, I headed off to the main hall to watch...
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Earth's funniest footwear (Kev F. Sutherland, Left Sock, Right Sock) brought their 5-star sci-fi themed show to Satellite 4. As always they were funny, irreverent and quite a bit sweary.
They over-ran slightly, but I still had time to get over to the start of the...
Dysporium Launch Party
Following a successful Bid Session, Dysprosium will be the 2015 Eastercon. To celebrate, they provided us with free wine, free cake (and other nibbles) and distributed free copies of Seanan McGuire's Discount Armageddon.
After chatting with various people, I reluctantly left the party and headed upstairs for...
Blake's 7 Wobblevision
Having recreated all the TV episodes, Steve Rogerson has turned his attention to the radio plays. This time we attempted The Syndeton Experiment. I foolishly allowed them to stage one scene in my room and was so traumatised by the experience that Steve had to buy me wine.
I drank my wine to the sounds coming from the main hall where the disco, The Modern Prometheus, was going strong.
And so to bed...