Sci Fi Weekender 6

Last weekend I went to the 6th Sci Fi weekender run by Chic at Hafan y Mor Haven Holiday park in Pwllheli. I’ve attended the last four of these events and I’ve always enjoyed myself. However, this year whilst I enjoyed the partying it felt somewhat flat.

In the past the weekender has been buzzing with activities. Author panels and signings, great panels and much in the way of cabaret entertainment and parties.

The first biggest difference was that this year the Sci fi weekender was sharing a site and facilities with the prog rock weekender. This essentially meant that the usual venue for all of the films was out of use and instead of an all day programme, there was only a evening one.

The author panels were relegated to Starbucks but at least that meant you could hear what was being said.
The trading area was not full of fandom goodies but of rawk paraphernalia and of no interest to me at all.
Some of these issues are not new which is frustrating because it feels like Chic is not learning from event to event.. There is always a sense that the programming for this event is a little bit weak. The weekenders are forever calling for more guests and more things to do.

This year the party didn’t really get started and that has left me really disappointed and trying to weigh up whether I want to go back to further events in the future.

For example in Previous years Area 51 have worked their socks off to provide on-going pizzazz. Whether you like the scantily clad ladies in sci fi gear or not they are out and about working the crowd and giving the event something else. Last year there was the carnival of lost souls which was utterly brilliant. This year as far as I could see the Area 51 only did the imaginarium and that was more miss than hit. Caspian was excellent but the mesmerist was really quite dull. I could be wrong but the guy who appeared to be in charge last year wasn’t there and they did seem to be missing half of the crew, were they double booked?
In previous years the stage has been dressed and efforts have been made this year, it felt very lacklustre.

The weekender is not a serious con. I don’t expect it to be, but what I do want to do is have is choices of things going on. This year was the first time I’d ever felt that things were severely limited in what was being offered.

Things I did like: Festival of the Spoken Nerd were as ever awesome. I

Darth Elvis and the imperials were also a lot of fun. They got us boogying. The sci-fi London quiz was as impossible as ever. And still pandered to a tiny minority. Just saying. Just a minute is totes awkward without the Lovely Paul Cornell running it. But watching Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred with Gareth L Powell and Bryony Pearce was a lot of fun. Well done to David J Howe and Sam Stone for stepping up for that event.

I didn’t enjoy the one man star wars/Lord of the Rings. It was too shouty and I couldn’t see much of what was going on as he spent most of his sets rolling around on the floor shouting.

If I’d been there on my own and didn’t know anyone then I would have been a very sad panda indeed. Fortunately I shared a caravan with some brilliant people and we did indeed make the best of things.

I got the impression that there were a lot less people there this year. There seemed to be fewer costumes. Bars were quieter, the dance floor was half empty on the saturday night. This is an event that needs people, it needs an atmosphere and for the first time this year, the atmosphere lacked somewhat.

So Chic, if you are reading this here are my bullet points.

  • A shared site for events is not working.
  • You’ve promised us a range of guests and have not yet managed to deliver we know stars back out but still you don’t manage to match up to other events.
  • Content content content not everything has to be staged but maybe offer slots to event goers who feel like organising something in the space port.
  • still need a chill out space somewhere to play board games

Outside the Comfort Zone

I wanted to write about reading outside of my comfort zone and it has got a bit weird. Firstly I tried to define what my personal comfort zone is and I couldn’t. If I say fantasy I have to immediately re-qualify it with not all fantasy and I guess that is the thing. Its easier for me to say what I am unlikely to touch which feels negative.

For the last few years I’ve binged mainly on Fantasy and SCience Fiction and all kinds of funky subgenres inside. I’ve dabbled with reading paranormal romance and enjoyed some of it but I struggle with some of the established tropes.

I guess that the above paragraph sums it up although it doesn’t do justice to the breadth and depth of what I do read. I adore ‘literary’ writing as well but nothing shocks me so much as when I dip a toe in a neglected genre and I find I enjoy the novel I’ve found.

I feel like I construct myself from the books I read. If I stay too long in an era or world I will start speaking like a character. I once told my old boss that I would be obliged if she would do something after reading the complete Jane Austen. I seek other times and other places because reading for me is the ultimate escape I regain energy by retreating from reality for a bit. And when I say I construct myself I have deliberately avoiding genres like Romance and Chick-lit because I don’t want to be defined by those elements. That said when I have been persuaded to read something from that area I have loved the novels but something stops me from pursuing more titles in that area. Likewise thrillers and detective novels and manly men grr books also put me off.

I should try and read more widely. I recently read something that would normally be way outside of my comfort zone. Gemini Cell by Myke Cole is probably best described as military fiction meets fantasy. Its set in a contemporary world but magic has been returning and the US government are using magic and jinn in order to create super soldiers. It really isn’t something I would ever have picked up but I’ve been following Myke Cole on twitter, heard him on Tea and Jeopardy’s podcast and he seems like a fascinating guy and so I picked up the book.

The book itself was good, strange because a lot of the tropes deployed were unfamiliar and it took a while to get used to the writing style.  A couple of moments I found somewhat difficult to deal with but for the most part it was well thought out and very enjoyable.

Will I read something like this again?  Yes but not straight away.