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

On going to a Convention by myself

I have done something for the first time. I have booked to go to a convention on my own.

Of course now I am a little bit terrified, but I did expect it.

The con in question is Bristol Con and I understand it isn’t a huge one but I am fearful and excited in equal measure.

My main motivation of going is to see Emma Newman talking about stuff. But that is only part of the day. There are hours where I’m not sure where I’ll be going or what I’ll be doing and I won’t have a friend to keep my spirits up. I know I will enjoy myself but the shyness I feel or the overwhelmedness I experience in new places on my own will be quite the battle royale.

In order to give myself the illusion of control I will be all over the programme like a rash when it is published. I will read inwardly digest and then plan my sessions like a german train timetable. I will no doubt invoke the power of the spreadsheet and then I will feel like I have control.

The biggest fear is talking to people. Once you know me you cannot shut me up but I need to feel safe in order to be me. Nineworlds with its clips for please talk to me I’m shy were great but at this event there won’t be any and I’ll have to try and save sanity chips in order to not be a complete doofus. I am incapable of small talk, even the phrase makes me tense.

The other worry I have is that large rooms full of people talking is one of the hardest environments for me to cope with. I’m not sure if I’m going a bit deaf, or whether I just struggle filtering out the wrong noise, but there are times in loud rooms where I rely on being able to see people’s mouths move at the same time as they are talking.

I will be there though, and I will love it and you are going too say hi and wave because its nice meeting fellow geeks.

Ten things you should do to survive at a convention

Having just got back from Nine Worlds I’ve been reflecting on Conventions of this type and how just attending can really impact on your body.  Folks tend to push themselves beyond their normal capacity for doing things because there are so many shiny things to do happening from dawn til dawn if we’re honest so here are some tips that have helped me.

  1. Pace yourself.  It sounds lame but it really helps survive the cons that run over several days.  Don’t get stupidly drunk, try to grab some sleep you will handle everything better.
  2. Plan your panels and have back up choices.  Try to get to panels early and if something is full or not going to work for you go to something else.  At nine worlds I had to plan carefully and I kept having to miss things because rooms were full or I had been distracted by something shiny.
  3. Be polite.  Let people come out of a room before trying to enter it. Be aware of what you are carrying and try not to take people out with it.
  4. EAT. No I mean it you will need to.  My strategy is load up on breakfast and then try to grab a decent evening meal.  In between times I have a bag with various snacks that are designed to keep me going.  Also be prepared to wander away from the hotel in order to find cheaper food.
  5. DRINK. Nine Worlds were brilliant for making sure that there was tonnes of water freely available some tracks had tea available (yay feminism) but I didn’t know this in advance and I carried bottled water everywhere just in case.
  6. Don’t try to do everything as a huge group.  You will block thoroughfares, you will annoy other con-goers and half your group will be resentful of going to things they don’t want to. Instead meet up at prearranged times in pre arranged spots to squee and stuff.
  7. Try some panels on your own. Scary I know but I ended up sitting next to or by some very interesting people who were lovely to talk to and I’m now stalking them on the twitters. A great way to make friends.
  8. Compliment people. Not in a creepy way, when someone was wearing awesome cosplay or were wearing something cool. Or had done something cool at a panel I tried to say hello and that I liked what they were doing.  It was a way of giving them a little bit of kudos and it started up a couple of cool conversations.
  9. Enjoy yourself. That’s what cons are about at the end of the day, you get out of them what you put in.
  10. Thank volunteers and organisers.  They have worked very hard to make things happen.  Show them your appreciation.

Add your own tips in the comments.