Redemption 2015 – Reportage

By Pat Reynolds

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What: Redemption is a multimedia SF conference.

Where: 2015, Redemption was in the Britannia Hotel, Coventry, which has been its home for many years.  But a new venue is being sought for 2017.

When: Every two years.  A lot of ‘Red’ con-goers also go to Satellite, which runs in the even years.

Who: Yes, quite a lot of the programming is around Dr Who.  But also Blakes 7, Buffy, Red Dwarf, Scooby Doo, and Stingray, and so on.  A lot of the panel items discuss ideas across various shows/films.  There is a strong creative thread (from Dorset Buttons to a cake sale via a write-a-tv-drama-series-for-ITV-in-two hours), and an adult strand.  Each year there is a theme – this year’s was Alice – that forms the basis of the convention-world.

Why: it’s a great event for those who are passionate about a show/film that doesn’t have a lot of fans, for fans who enjoy sf media, but would prefer not to spend an entire weekend talking about one show.  It’s great for partners/parents/children who have absolutely no interest in media sf: it’s possible to attend pretty much a whole weekend of programming while avoiding media sf. Red has around 250 members, which gives it a very friendly feel.  It’s an affordable event. This can have its downsides – the quality of the bedrooms at the hotel have been increasingly edging towards the ‘no, I will not stay in the conference hotel’ territory for some people – hence the move in 2017.  It’s very consistent: there is a core team of organisers who aren’t tradition-bound, and welcome in new members.  Did I mention that it’s friendly?

More Who – the how: About that friendly feel.  It’s more than a feeling.  It’s actively promoted: there was, for example, a mixer in the opening ceremony where each table built a space rocket in silence.

The friendly ethos comes through strongly in how the programme is created.  The programme begins with a timetabled event where people come and suggest things. The entire programme is built in a collaborative way – the whole conference mailing-list is roped in to this and other aspects of the organisation.

A final example: an email sent by a conference member when, after the weekend, it was found that the hotel had made things financially difficult for someone – sent to the list by one of the attendees: “Next time, if any one has that sort of cash flow problem come find me discreetly. Unless my life falls apart catastrophically between now and then, I’ll be more than happy to offer temporary assistance. Seriously. I don’t care who you are – if you’re at Redemption, you’re a friend.


PatatSareholeCroppedPat Reynolds is the Hon. Archivist of the Tolkien Society, and enjoys a wide range of fiction and media.  She’s currently enjoying sf with a Caribbean connection, and a lot of Wilkie Collins.

 

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