All year Jenny and I had been debating whether or not to make the short hop over to Bristol to attend BristolCon in late October. True to form, upon achieving various deadlines last weekend I suddenly realised late October was upon us, and one snap-judgement later we were heading for the border.
Our previous con experience mostly comes from our honeymoon at Eastercon, and BristolCon is certainly on a very different scale – Eastercon took over the majority of a decent-sized airport hotel, BristolCon nestled cosily into four or five function rooms – but both cons shared an atmosphere of friendly collaboration, of writers (and artists) gathering together to talk about their work, to share tips and advice, but more importantly to sit around the bar and chat with people they’d never met.
As is the norm, Jenny & I had grand plans to attend a bunch of panels, plans which were almost immediately sidelined by absorbing conversations. There were plenty of people we’d met or been on panels with at Eastercon, so the morning flashed by catching up with Janet Edwards, Aliette de Bodard and Emma Newman, and meeting the lovely Jennie Gyllblad – manning an art table in the foyer – then attended Emma’s reading before finally braving the bar for some non-caffeinated liquid refreshment.
After running into our good friend – and pillar of our Eastercon experience – Mhairi Simpson in the bar, the afternoon rapidly devolved into the revolving door of Con conversations with an assortment of delightful people. Most of the rest of the day was spent lost in discussion with Fran Terminiello, Jennifer Williams, Lou Morgan, Anne Lyle, Jon Oliver and Dave Moore from Solaris, and the irrepressible Guy Haley – whose book Omega Point I was entirely coincidentally reading on the train to Bristol, after Angry Robot maestro Lee Harris sold it to me in the Eastercon dealers room – amongst others.
We did manage to tear ourselves away long enough for a panel later in the afternoon, on Art techniques in a digital age. The panelists were good, and there were some interesting points made, but given the topic I was personally a little disappointed by the emphasis on the gallery-focused model of making money from selling a single, non-replicable “original” piece of artwork rather than any consideration of alternative methods of monetising art in the digital age. Finally, as evening approached, we were able to sneak into a kaffleklatsch – five of us interrogating Guy Haley in a cosy little side-room; waterboarding may or may not have been employed to find out all about his latest novel, Champion of Mars.
And then it was time to get back on the train, reinvigorated by the company of fellow creative types. BristolCon may not be the biggest con out there, but it has a great atmosphere and a fine program, and we’ll definitely be back in 2013.