Everybody else in the universe seems to be doing a blog about FantasyCon so I suppose I'd better do one as well.
Arrived in Nottingham with my friends Pam Creais and Lilly Ibelo.
Went with Pam, Lilly and Mark West to an Italian restaurant around the corner. Lily and Mark were taken aback to find that the pizzas they ordered were only slightly smaller than the Isle of Wight.
FantasyCon quiz. The problem with the quiz these days is that only the real hardcore fans attend. The kind of people who can answer questions such as, "To the nearest footpound of pressure how strong did William Shatner's girdle need to be for Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Gut?" People like me who can barely spell K-9 don't stand much of a chance. Fortunately our team had Jay Eales and Selina Lock who could not only tell you the exact combination of sandworm excretions, water, sun and air needed to create melange but could also draw you a diagram of the molecular structure of each component. Just as well as Mark revealed a hitherto unsuspected competitive streak as he sat there muttering, "Don't let us come last. Don't let us come last." Finally the results came in aaaand ... we came last. It took the fire brigade three hours to talk Mark down off the top of the hotel.
Get Real panel. Bit disappointed with this one. The participants were eloquent and erudite but they all seemed to have been booked for the wrong panel. Instead of discussing the way real life issues impact on genre fiction the panel quickly digressed to talking about the writing process.
Consoled Gary Greenwood about Ryan Reynolds' costume in the upcoming Green Lantern film while non-comics fan Paul Meloy looked on in bemusement trying to work out what all the fuss was about.
Visited Nottingham Castle and its museums. They had exhibits from the Russell Crowe Robin Hood film. Reminded me of Lord of the Rings but without the elves and magic.
Chatted with John B Ford who I haven't seen for ages. John published my first collection, Spare Parts, but don't hold that against him, he's a really nice bloke.
Catastrophia signing. I had to keep apologising to all the people who asked me to sign the book as my signature looks like that of an epileptic dyslexic writing while onboard a plane experiencing severe turbulence. Also, no one told me that photos would be taken of the contributors; I hate having my photo taken and my attempts at a casual, relaxed pose resembled someone about to have a circumcision without the aid of an anaesthetic.
Went for a curry with Pam, Lilly, Paul Meloy, Gary Greenwood, Gavin Williams and Roy Gray. Great food, great company. Funniest moment came when Pam casually asked, "So are you guys up for anything?" Turned out she was talking about the awards.
BFS award ceremony. My leg cramped up halfway through and I was sitting on the far side of the room from the exits so I couldn't just sneak out and shake off the muscles. By the end of the ceremony I was in agony. Consequently I wasn't giving the awards my full attention but there was much clapping and cheering so presumably everyone was happy with the results. Apart from the losers, obviously.
At the bar Paul Finch regaled a croup of awe-inspired listeners with tales of his time on the police force. Then I chatted with John Travis, Andrew Hook and Terry Grimwood about noir books and films; the pros and cons of The Mist (both the film and the novella); the way the media encourages unhealthy body images for women; and why, despite what Gary McMahon thinks, Cary Grant and James Stewart are great actors. John also became obsessed with figuring out as many sports as possible for decomposing zombies to play. And at some point Allyson Bird wandered over and discussed how men often ignore what women are saying. Or something like that, I wasn't really listening.
Chatted with David Price and Gary Greenwood. Jonathan Oliver nearly fainted when I told him that I actually quite liked the latest series of Dr Who. Well, apart from the Daleks and Spitfires episode. Obviously.
Robert E Howard panel. Passionate and informative discussion of Howard's works that makes me long for a clean sword and a clean foe to flesh it in. Or maybe to just read some of Howard's books.
Got Ramsey Campbell to sign my copy of Night Visions. Yay! Failed to track down Lisa Tuttle to sign the same book. Boo!
Bryan Talbot slide show on the history of anthropomorphic animals in comics. Fascinating lecture.
Chatted to Bryan Talbot as he signed my copy of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. Think I avoided coming across as a total idiot. No small feat.
FantasyCon raffle. Hosted by the hilarious Guy Adams. I won a copy of Stephen Volk's multi-award nominated novella Vardoger which he graciously signed even though he knew I'd blagged it in the raffle rather than actually bought it.
Allen Ashley and Andrew Hook collared me for a photo of Catastrophia contributors. I was forewarned about the photo this time so I managed to dial down my look of discomfort from recipient of medieval circumcision to, "Christ, someone just gave me a wedgie!"
Then it was time to go home. Thanks to everyone at the Con: Simon Bestwick, Gary Couzens, Chris Teague, Carole Johnstone, Martin Roberts, Helen Hopley, Jenny Barber, Tim Lebbon, Adele Harrison, Nina Allen, Mick Curtis, Debbie Curtis, Gary MacMahon, Emily MacMahon, Gary Cole-Wilkin, Soozy Marjoram, Gary Fry, Lord and Lady Probert, Ray Russell, Gwilym Games, Trevor Denyer, Steve Upham and Stephen Bacon. And to everyone else who I've forgotten to mention.
And of course a special mention to London Underground and National Express who, thanks to their hard work and dedication, were able to turn a ten minute detour on my return journey into an extra hour of travelling time.