Sunday, February 13, 2011

My SFX Weekender - Day Two


More bacon sandwiches and Green & Blacks hot chocolate that is the stuff of awesomeness – what a way to face the day!
Is Doctor Who still for children?  This was the subject of day’s first panel containing Paul Cornell, James Moran, Toby Whithouse and Ben Aaronovitch.

There was some rescheduling and a 2000AD came on first, so Hannah and I popped back to the chalet to inform our other trip members.

After the allotted hour we headed back to the main void to watch the Doctor Who panel, it was very interesting for me especially as a great ‘whovian’ if you will.  It contained great writers for both the TV show and novels which tie into that universe.  The conclusion that I (and I think they) came to, is that Doctor Who is both a children’s show and for adults at the same time, it is not one without the other. 
Again I went back to the Forbidden Planet stall as another favourite author was signing – Paul Cornell.  I had only really gained knowledge of his work after he opened my local comic store Proud Lion, ( but he was very jovial and pleasant to speak to and he even let my wife take an impromptu picture.

With my mind on signings I thought about the ‘headliners’ signing area as we had brought signing passes for an extra £20 and the queue was increasing.  We joined it, hoping that it wouldn’t take long – we ended up watching the next three Q&A’s while still in the queue! 

These Q&A’s ironically contained the people we were queuing to get signatures from!

Keeley Hawes
Craig Charles
Russell Tovey (Replacing Tony Head)

Keeley was lovely and I think slightly overwhelmed by geekyness at the event, Craig Charles had a pint in has already and was raring to go ready for his DJ set later and finally Russell Tovey seemed almost shy and completely down to earth.

At this point we were nearing the actual signing area (only about two and half hours later!) and to our discovery they had split the queue for the different stars in order to speed things up.  Much to our disappointment this meant we had to decide who we wanted to meet most.  We tried to separate and grab Keeleys signature first but as she started signing first her queue actually got shut off, in a way this decided things for us and we stayed in the queue for Craig Charles. (Sorry Russell but I just have been watching Red Dwarf longer)

Alright Babe?

Craig seemed like a laugh (still a pint next to him) and a bit of a sleaze when it came to the ladies, but I feel that has almost become expected of him.

After the signing we sat in the bar with a pint while probably my favourite author of all time came on stage Sir Terry Pratchett.  There was complete love for him in the room, I felt it was a shame that I found it difficult to hear him (not sure if that was because of the mic or the pitch of his voice in general) but after the signing queue I was knackered and had to sit down for a bit.  After a while a friend actually forced me to get closer to hear and I shuffled to the side of the stage and actually was quite close at that point.  I felt Stephen Baxter was only on stage with him to assist, as there were a few moments where Terry was struggling with his sentences (in 2007 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease).  Seeing this made me very depressed, a great person and amazing writer stuck with a disease that makes it more and more difficult to do what he loves and which will eventually a life not worth living.  I know he has mentioned before that he would like to commit ‘assisted suicide’ before it gets to this point and in my personally opinion I completely agree with that choice.

(For more information - and )

We then had a massive break where there was nothing going on in the main area and not much we wanted to see elsewhere, so we headed back to the chalet and cooked brinner (breakfast for dinner!).  By a strange coincidence we switched the TV on and Robert Llewelyn’s Carpool show was on, guest starring Craig Charles!

We then headed back for the SFX Sci-Fi awards and Richard Sandling; a stand up comedian.  The awards were quite funny even though not much was happening, no-one really turned up to accept the coveted awards – apart from one surprise guest (Steven Moffat!).  Robert Rankin and his wife were hosting the awards, he was very fun and friendly which made the proceedings much more entertaining.

I found the comedian Richard Sandling alright, I enjoyed his YouTube style sketch videos but I wouldn’t venture out of my way to see him again.

Next up was the late night entertainment in the form of Craig Charles DJ, I not a massive dancer so my wife and I headed back for a chill out eve with music (My Iphone4 is louder than I expected on its own) and some cider.  

Life’s a beach and then the journey home . . .  

My SFX Weekender - Day One

Up early maybe I was getting used to my surroundings but honestly it probably had more to do with the fact the beds were a bit uncomfortable - rather hard even for me.

Bacon sandwiches for breakfast thanks to my awesome wife and onto our first panel. The panel - How to get started in comics; (with Tony Lee, Dan Boultwood, Dez Skinn and Paul Cornell) was light-hearted and easy to watch with discussions about their combined experiences in the business and how much harder it is than most people think.

Next science in science fiction with Peter F Hamilton, Gary Gibson, China Mieville, Stephen Baxter and Kevin J Anderson.  An in-depth conversation about what science fiction is and how we perceive it.  The panel was very interesting, the subject as well as my observation of the authors on it.  I felt that Peter F.H and China didn’t get on at all, one discussing the old the other the new.  There were a few moments where Peter completely verbally disagreed with China, the general argument and banter made things much more interesting to watch.

I then went to the Forbidden Planet stall at the back of the room which Kevin J Anderson had moved to for a signing session.  There was less of a queue, rather a small rabble of people but I was very glad to get to meet him.  He seemed very pleasant and down to earth (lol).  I brought his new novel to get signed, shook his hand and complemented him on his Saga of the Seven Suns series (it has some brilliant characters and immensely intertwining story).  I wholly recommend you check them out.   

We then had a bit of a wonder and checked out the barter town, a small selection of stalls to purchase from - some kooky, some cool but all geek!
One thing I was very interested in getting was a signature from the great Terry Pratchett, so when I found out that he wasn’t signing I was highly disappointed. 

I then realised that the next item on the program was an auction for the Great Ormond St hospital, one of the items up for bid was a signed Terry Pratchett book!
The auction was great fun to watch and they had some great items, which donated a reasonable amount of money.  Shame I didn’t have enough free cash to throw about, the TP book went for about £160 and they also had a replica Cyberman helmet which went for £300!

We then stayed to learn how to survive a zombie apocalypse; this consisted of four stage actors creating rules and scenarios in which they had to act out to find out which of the audience would actually be capable to survive.  This was all done with tongue firmly in cheek but overall very well rehearsed and definitely made me laugh.

A bit more wondering and some food before the final events of the day, we then headed to the main void for the Imaginarium by the Area 51 group.  This was two jam packed hours of dancing girls, fire eaters, jugglers, contortionists, an escapist which was also a comedian (a bit like Russell Brand) called Chris Cross and a guy called Mental Dave.  Oh and did I forget to mention a blooming great big robot? No wait there was two! (I recommend you check out Titan the robot)  
Check out further photos here -

For late night entertainment Pat Sharp (yes Funhouse's Pat Sharp and no he didn’t have the twins with him) was on stage controlling the decks.  Some stayed but I decided to retire to our chalet for some drinks and relation ready for the next day . . .

End Of Day 1.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My SFX Weekender

Also my first convention.
I am quite surprised it has taken me this long to go to one, and this one was only by chance!
I am an unlimited member of Cineworld Cinemas, because of this I get a monthly newsletter which usually I tend to only glance over . . . but this time I noticed something extra.  A competition for something called SFXWeekender2 you say?  What’s this?  Now during my time as a newsagent I had read many a copy of SFX while bored out of my little brain serving the masses. (a light and entertaining TV/Movie/General Sci-Fi magazine)
I had actually forgotten about entering and about a month later while I was living the general SSDD (same sh*t different day), I had a phone call from a very lovely lady called Terri to say I had won - Not only one ticket but four!! I got suddenly excited to say the least!
The organising and planning on who I was going to invite and what accommodation etc did take the wind out of my sails a little, but then the day came it was time to leave.  A long journey through towns, country roads and getting slightly lost, we finally arrived at Pontins (Yes Pontins!) Camber Sands. 
Glamorous Aint It?
Trying to find our chalet in the dark felt eerie, we wondered around much like zombies in a place that time forgot.
Actually our chalet was sufficient, it had a roof, bedrooms (with added nursing home feel plastic sheeting!) basic utilities and a tiny little TV.  Oh and don’t forget the faint waft of piss!
Decided to have a little wonder, went to the first item on our schedule – a double episode viewing of SyFy’s Alice.  A much stylised mix of the classic story and dark fantasy/science fiction. Had interesting actors and some good ideas but I can see why other channels hadn’t picked it up, I just couldn’t get away from the rest of the cast & shoddy CGI. 
I was rescued from the incredibly uncomfortable seats (like your old primary school plastic ones) by a call from my lovely wife, who had just arrived.
We had a small case of getting locked out of the chalet and was luckily rescued by Mcbain the maintenance man who nicely broke in for us to get back in!

Once in the fact we were off work and frivolities commenced – pizza, cider and crisps party time in style :-)

End Of Part 1 . . .