9 February 2011

SFX Weekender: Dual Britannia

In the second year at secondary school (that's year 8 in new money) there was a period when the boys ran from one class to the next to get the envied desk in the back corner by the window. Winning that was a badge of honour but it also put you in last place in for the next race facing the prospect of a desk at the front next to the teacher.

And so it was that my front row seat for the first two sessions of the day turned in to a pretty poor one when I had to move downstairs to the Screening Zone for the next session.

Never mind.

In Dual Britannia authors who had presented alternative Englands (particularly Londons) discussed the attractions, approaches and issues in doing so.

This was a fascinating talk for me, particularly as the only author who's work I knew was Bryan Talbot.

Over the next half hour or so several ideas emerged, some of which were slightly at odds with each other due to the authors' different perspectives.

London has familiar landmarks, e.g. Big Ben or Crystal Palace, that can be morphed in to new realities to mix reality with fantasy.

London has real places that suggest fantasy. A good example of this was Neil Gainman's Neverwhere which reinterpreted places like Earl's Court, Old Bailey and Knightsbridge.

There are alternative Londons (fantasy) and obscure Londons (real).

Michael Moorcock is generally though of as the inventor of alternative but similar worlds with his Eternal Champion stories. He invented Steampunk too!

I had reasonable hopes of the Dual Britannia session but these comfortably exceeded due to the wide range of knowledgeable contributions from the diverse panel. This was exactly the sort of thing I went to SFX Weekender to see.

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