At the weekend I attended Fantasycon 2011 in Brighton at the Royal Albion Hotel (one of the dreaded Brittania chain...) Last year I was also at Fantasycon in Nottingham - and I had a few issues with the content of the convention. I was a little worried that this convention would again be all about the horror - and I was thrilled to be proved entirely wrong.
The schedule warmly embraced every facet of genre - fantasy, SF, horror, comics, YA. Last year I struggled to find panels to attend - this year I was full of woe about this panel clashing with that reading, or that guest of honour being put against that book launch. No complaint about the scheduling - there was just so damn much that I wanted to see. Add to this the fact that the organisers also decided to throw in a burlesque and a disco, and Fantasycon 2011 might be one of the better conventions I've been to.
In the end, despite my grand intentions, I only attended two readings and one panel (and I do regret that - but talking with all the very cool people in attendance seemed more important at the time!) I saw Lou Morgan and Anne Lyle reading from their forthcoming novels - both did an excellent job to rooms that were reduced to standing room only.
The panel - The Rise of YA - actually made me a little angry. The panellists made numerous disparaging comments about Twilight and other novels of that ilk, which seems curious regarding they also write for the people who are reading and enjoying Twilight. There didn't seem to be much knowledge or appreciation for the YA scene - it seemed as though the panellists haven't read much in the way of YA since Judy Blume *sad* There was no mention of Monsters of Men hitting the Arthur C Clarke shortlist. There was no talk of the fact that the YA shelves are simply full of books with exceptionally strong female protagonists, presenting a wonderful example for teenage girls growing up. There was no discussion of the fact that YA right now is mostly about celebrating the fact that we are different, but that that's okay. In my mind YA is forward-thinking, dynamic, progressive and an area that writers should be desperate to be included in - rather than something to be looked down upon, and considered to be only about Twilight. But enough of that...!
The rest of the time I spent nestled in a corner of the bar, talking to many fantastic people about such diverse and important topics as alligators, magnetic dwarves and leaping cacti. Yes, Fantasycon 2011 lived up to the madness and joy of other excellent conventions.
Thanks to everyone for the excellent company, and to the organisers for such a tremendous job. This was a good one!