Brandon Sanderson was the guest of honour at this year’s FantasyCon, and Sci-Fi & Fantasy Network were there to get a glimpse of everything else going on at this massive event. As one of the longest running genre literary conventions in the country, FantasyCon 2015 covered everything from gigantic franchises to the smallest of small press. There were panels, talks, podcasts, and a fairly big dealer’s room. It was everything a convention should be.
There were a variety of panels on over the weekend covering almost every topic you could imagine. From writers’ workshops, publishing tips, and research material, all the way to discussions about Doctor Who and other large franchises. Some panels struggled to fit everything into the hour time slot, and often people were forced to dash between them or else miss the beginning of the next one. This could be quite stressful for some and also left the dealer’s’ room empty for long periods.
I was invited to speak on the panel ‘Diversity in SFF – Are We Still Too Male, Pale and Stale’. It was the first panel I had ever been on and I was a bit of a nervous wreck. However, the moderator and my fellow panelists were warm and welcoming, offering a few minutes beforehand for us all to prepare for the upcoming discussion. This helped to ease my fears and I hope I wasn’t completely incomprehensible. What was interesting about this panel was the number of times somebody on the panel insisted that we shouldn’t need to have one! That diversity should be a natural thing. We hope one day it will be considered so!
Brandon Sanderson talked on ‘Someone Else’s World: Writing in a Franchise’, referencing his recent task of finishing the final volumes of the Wheel of Time series. Sanderson stressed that he had always wanted a fan to take over the writing of the series and so when he was offered it, he jumped at the chance. He also spoke of treating the source material with enough respect, but still leaving room to be creative.
Besides the panels and talks there were entertainments such as a rather embarrassing karaoke and a live recording of the Tea and Jeopardy podcast. Both of these produced great amounts of laughter (though not always intentionally).
There were also a number of book readings from new and established authors. It was a delight to see some of the people who have been at this game for years getting to stretch their performance muscles. Any author who can also pull of some first class voice acting is going to draw a crowd!
There were also a number of book launches, including the new Heir to the North by Steven Poore (watch out for our exclusive interview coming soon). These events were the kind of thing that authors dream of and it was nice to see the organisers being so open to giving so many new names a chance to shine.
And, of course, there were plenty of books for people to buy! Some of them were free, too! This was a particular surprise and it was not long before several people were carting multiple bag loads of books off to their cars.
The venue was fairly uncomplicated and so it was not too difficult to find your way around. The food selection left an awful lot to be desired and the hashtag crispgate got some people’s blood boiling. But, all in all, a really enjoyable experience.
Next year: FantasyCon By The Sea, in Scarborough!