Eastercon 2015 Con Report

So last weekend was Eastercon! I went along and had a jolly nice time.

Y’all probably know what Eastercon is by now, but if not – it’s an annual sci-fi convention held over the Easter weekend. It has a focus on literary sci-fi but includes a healthy (ish, depending on the year!) representation of media, gaming, actualfax science and anything else that comes under the header of ‘geeky’. It is run by volunteers and the committee changes year-on-year, as does the site. I’ve been going for a few years (I’ve been to nine or ten over twelve years) and I’ve always had a good time.

This year was particularly special as we decided to stay in the con hotel – the Heathrow Park Inn, I have to say it really improved my overall con experience.

We arrived on Thursday, checked in very easily, registered and then relaxed in our rooms. We did go for dinner that evening – an Italian restaurant close to the hotel, although I can’t remember the name, haha.

Friday came and Mum took advantage of the pool (a pool! Classy!), whilst I slept in and only emerged for breakfast. Personally, I really liked what the Park Inn was offering (except for the veggie sausages, which were awful, but I suppose at least they were there!), and it was a good way to set up for the day.

Friday's makeup! Gryffindor inspired :)

Friday’s makeup! Gryffindor inspired 🙂

I did manage to attend one panel on Friday – webcomics and how they’ve evolved, which was pretty good (well, and two which I didn’t stay for) – but I spent most of my day hanging around, checking out the dealer’s alley, wandering to and from my room. It was pretty relaxed, but still very nice to catch up with people.

Saturday turned up, as it does, breakfast was lovely and I failed to get to most of the panels I wanted to see, also as per normal (damn my chatty nature!). I did have some nice makeup though!

White-gold and turquoise!

White-gold and turquoise!

Still, I attended Equal Rites, which was discussing diversity and inclusion in SF – but I found the discussion distressingly 101. I feel like this conversation has been had at Eastercon quite often, and I keep going to these panels, and I keep hearing the same things. At this point I think (if there are enough volunteers!) I’d like to see panels that focus on more specific issues – I feel like an hour of briefly scratching the surface of the myriad elements of inclusion is getting less and less useful. However, I’m happy it happened because it means the conversation hasn’t been forgotten and hopefully it was useful to members of the audience.

Later I went to The Brains Trust, A Panel of the Living Dead – a panel that literally just had different names for the living dead as a description. I did enjoy this panel – I love listening to people talk about ghouls and ghastly things, but, as with a few panels/items this Eastercon, I think it would have been better served to have more than 3 people up on stage.

I unfortunately missed the BSFA Lecture this year –  pop songs in dead langauges – because Mum and Dad returned from their shlep to the wilds of London to visit my uncle. Aside from checking that no untoward conversion to Catholicism had happened, I was also brought food (food! Aaah!), and I think everyone will agree – sustenance trumps Let It Go  in Latin.

Still, this did mean I was well set up for the first Filk Concert I’ve ever been to! I’m not sure if a well-lined stomach is the prerequisite to enjoy Playing Rapunzel and Talis Kimberley, but I’m going to go ahead and say it doesn’t hurt. They were both utterly fantastic! Beautiful voices and just incredible musical talent – I’m so glad I went! It was a shame that Seanan McGuire couldn’t take part in the music part of this concert, but she was a fantastic MC.

So, Saturday finished and Sunday started!

Sunday's makeup - slightly more neutral. Slightly.

Sunday’s makeup – slightly more neutral. Slightly.

Mum, Dad and I were up nice and early to attend Doug’s Easter service. If you’ve read any of my con reports before, you know that I’m always impressed with these services, and this year was no different. It was incredibly thought-provoking – Doug presented us with a series of questions and evidence from the bible to make us reflect on the traditions we take part in as members of a church. Why do some Christians drink wine and eat bread as part of the communion? What other options are there, as found in the bible? Absolutely fascinating, and I thank Doug very much for opening these questions up to me.

I don’t know if anyone else has come across some push-back to the idea of religious items taking place at Eastercon, but I’d like to add my two-penneth if that’s ok. These items are not (as far as I know) con-sponsored or endorsed – we are given the room space, just like tai-chi is, just like bead embroidery tutorials are – and allowed to get on with it. As a Christian (not a particularly devout one, lol), I still recognise Easter as the most important event in the Christian calendar and I’m glad to have a chance to celebrate it. The services on offer (a grand total of two!) are another means of allowing fans to come together and share in something we all feel connected to – this is the whole point of a convention. I would hope that anyone, of any faith, feels comfortable at Eastercon despite these items, or indeed would feel comfortable asking for space for their own religious purpose. So yeah – no one should be forced into these items, but equally I don’t see a good reason to stop them.

And uh, now hopping down off my soap-box…

I went to Truth, Justice and the Home Office, which was a pretty funny panel. Again, it would have benefited from having more than 3 people on stage (and probably more than 4, which was how many were meant to be there).

As well as my first Filk Concert, I went to my first bid-session for Eastercon! It was interesting to hear how these things are conducted and I was impressed by Mancunicon’s presentation, particularly considering it had been thrown together in about 2 days. I was much less convinced by Pasgon, but I hope that having 2 years to sort themselves out will mean my misgivings can be sorted.

Again I took to wandering the Dealer’s alley and hanging around, before I went in for the Braided Leaf Brooch workshop with Mum.

My brooch, with two rows done.

My brooch, with two rows done.

Mum's brooch, or the beginnings thereof!

Mum’s brooch, or the beginnings thereof!

I have to say, I really enjoyed it! I’ve never considered beaded embroidery before, but it was a lot of fun. I also love craft items because they’re normally a good way to chat to new people and get to know them – the same happened at last year’s Eastercon, when we made pigeons and embroidered words for Worldcon.

Later on I went to the Sad Puppies panel, which was a reactionary panel to the announcement of the Hugo Nominees. If you don’t know, these have been overrun by voting slates from the Sad/Rabid Puppy group. To be honest, before I went into this panel I didn’t care one way or the other about the Hugos – I’ve normally not read the books on the ballots and they don’t have much relevance to me. So whilst this panel was interesting because there was lots of fire and indignation, it was also fascinating to see how much people really do care about these awards. It will be very interesting to see the results of the awards, and how they progress in the future.

I think Sunday was also the day one of my friends cosplayed fantastically as Agent Carter, so naturally, I stole her hat:

hattime

I think I completely failed to go to ANY panels on Monday, which is a surprise. Tragically, I probably spent my time talking to people and enjoying their company. Ugh. Oh, and buying jewellery – some of the steampunk stands just have the most gorgeous things on offer! Including this gorgeous kraken necklace:

avatar

So that’s my run through of wot i did on me hols, and I do have a couple of other points to close up.

I thought the artshow this year was really good! There were a couple of people whose things I’d never seen before, some good old favourites (can my house just have ALL the Anne Sudworth stuff?) and the traditional, “I think that’s too much boob for a show which is open to children”.

I personally liked the layout of Dealer’s Alley – it felt to me like it was easier to look at the things on offer and for the most part, nothing seemed too crowded. I also know that some people found it awkward and didn’t like feeling forced to interact with the stallholders (not in a rude way – some people just prefer to be left alone). I did hear that some stallholders weren’t happy either, so whilst I liked it as an experiment and as a good use of the available space, I can see that it may not be particularly popular.

If I had one particular criticism of Dysprosium – it’s that I feel there was a lack of communication and that lead to the programme feeling very sparse. To me, and I admit I could be COMPLETLEY WRONG, it felt like they’d run out of programme volunteers and were doing their best with a relatively small pool of people (I really don’t think panels should only have 3 or 4 people on [including your moderator!]). I have heard that there’d been a fairly big problem with the programme and that it had been brought together in a relatively short amount of time – and it definitely feels like that. If I could offer a suggestion to Mancunicon and Pasgon – a few more requests for programme volunteers and ideas, particularly throughout the year, might lead to a better programme. I had meant to volunteer and uh… forgot. I know a couple of other people did as well, so, just to me, I feel a few reminders could have been useful. In total fairness, I may be speaking out of my arse here, I’ve never run a con, or anything, really.

So, overall, I had a nice time! I really enjoyed being able to duck into my room whenever I needed, I had a great time hanging out with people and my mind was opened about many subjects!

The next con for me is Nine Worlds, in August. Anyone else going to be there?

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