|Putting the 'F' back into Fantasy...|
It's September. The sun is shining over Nottingham and the Brittania hotel is home to Fantasy Con and the British Fantasy Society's annual awards ceremony. For three days, people working and writing within the flexible genre that is ‘speculative fiction’ get to celebrate this most obsessive of literary forms. The cast includes writers, publishers, agents, publicists and the occasional reader, but one thing that unites us all, is that we are all fans with a capital F. So forget that foul mouthed expletive we’ve come to associate with a temperamental chef, here the F word stands for Fantasy.
I happily wave goodbye to the rare British sunshine and eagerly enter a quite literal ‘other world’ to catch up with friends, do a few interviews, and record proceedings via podcast to broadcast to those who couldn’t make it down. The place is abuzz with excitement, as strangers debate favourite novels of the past year into the early hours of the morning. Such is the passion of this unique industry that very little business gets done. I call this 'con space', where sleep is treated with the same contempt as the sun and fans simply indulge themselves in the fantasy that proudly speaks its name.
When the need to eat eventually drives people away from speculating over what exactly falls within the permeable parameters of speculative fiction, they move on in small packs, continuing their discussions in between quickly grabbed bites of sandwiches.
For a fan like me, this is unparalleled access to a world of strange imaginings. Sitting and chatting with the people whose books line your shelves is complete ecstasy. Unlike other literary events, there is no separation between reader and author. All three hundred of us happily mingle together discussing our shared love. Contrary to what you may imagine, we’re not dressed up in nostalgic costumes or claiming to be from another planet. We’re simply writers, aspiring writers, bloggers and fans who enjoy horror, fantasy, science fiction, graphic novels, cover art and people who tread into the murkier side of the imagination.
This year saw Vincent Chong win his 4th award for best artist and a touching tribute to Robert Holdstock, who sadly died last year. But the real shock was hearing Robert Shearman (writer of the 'Dalek' episode of season 1 of the new Dr Who) deny that he was Russell T Davies. This was enough to send me and a few others back to the bar, finding a familiar friend in the optics.
I love Fantasy Con. It has become an annual pilgrimage. Next year that pilgrimage will take me down to Brighton where I’m sure the Russell T Davies ‘moment’ will dominate conversations. Why don’t you join me and find out for yourself why the F word is no longer offensive.