2 March 2013

Sci-fi Weekender 2013 (SFW4)

I enjoyed Sci-fi Weekender 2 (then called SFX Weekender) because comics featured heavily and I had a busy day attending panels.

This year, SFW4, was rather different. I knew that the comics element would be a great deal less but that there would be some. It was also in a different location, Pwllheli rather than Hastings, and an excuse to spend a few days in the unknown territory of North Wales was another attraction.

Besides, while I am not up to date with the current science fiction programmes or books I have enough of both in my history to be comfortable spending a couple of days immersed in the oeuvre.

And I had free tickets.

The very first session in the main hall was one that I wanted to catch. It was Dez Skinn giving a talk on Revisiting The House of Hammer, the magazine he created and edited for 23 issues.

I had heard of House of Hammer but it was a little before my time and I had not read an issue. I was interested in the subject though because I liked the old Hammer films and also because Dez has done many things in comics since then, notably with Warrior.

What Dez had not done was learn how to use a PC and the technology defeated him despite helpful advise being provided from the floor. Technical problems came to be a feature of SFW4 and significantly marred the event.

In the end Dez managed to fill only half of his allotted slot and that was with the help of some long pauses and a long lame joke.

The few things that Dez managed to say were interesting, particularly the insights of the intense mechanical process producing magazines used to be. It's called cut and paste for a reason.

Over the next couple of days I attended several panels. None of them was astonishingly attractive beforehand or amazingly insightful afterwards but they were all good enough to listen to.

With this blog in mind I even took a few notes. They make even less sense out of context than they did at the time but they are all I've got so I'm going to include them anyway.

Youths are more open to women writers than adults. Some women choose to use gender neutral names, such as Raven Dane and E J Newman. Higher standards of behaviour are expected from female protagonists. Men can be drunks and drug addicts, but not women.

Digital media lets you do everything that pencils and brushes can do, and more, but the ability to rework everything can be a curse as well as a blessing as nothing is ever truly finished. Hand-eye coordination can take some learning, with the hand on a tablet and the eye on screen, rather than both on the paper. Digital media first changed the way that comics were produced, then the way that they are consumed and they are starting to change the way they are constructed.

The publish industry has a ingrained prejudice against shite books. Books are never finished, they are just abandoned.

One of the unexpected treats was the talk with an artist now known for his storyboard work on Game of Thrones, which is why he was there, who had previously worked on 2000AD and we were treated to some stories and art work from that time.

We spent a lot of time talking about genres, what happened to Space Opera? There was an audience vote on whether Star Trek and Star Wars are Science Fiction or Science Fantasy. There were mixed results but the (wrong) consensus was that Star Trek is Science Fiction and Star Wars is Science Fantasy. I'd not call Star Wars Science Fiction as the science in the story is immaterial to the plot. Magic, i.e. The Force, plays a far greater role. Dr Who is Science Fiction as he always uses technology to solve the problem.

There were other treats too.

SFW is a fan convention and that means cosplay. I did not recognise a lot of it but there were some obvious characters from Dr Who, Alien, Star Trek etc. and a couple of Hit Girls too. So I took a picture of some judges.

A little away from the two rooms where the panels were held was a cinema, of sorts, where I went to see Galaxy Quest. There was something both ironic and appropriate about seeing a film that pokes gentle fun at conventions at a convention. It was well received by a full house, and rightly so. I thought about staying up for Alien but that was on just a little too late and I cannot claim that I have not seen it for a while.

There were merch stalls and it was good to see Tim Perkins there promoting Worlds End as well as being a panellist. I bought a copy of the book and a few other things as well. I was expecting to buy more but the Forbidden Planet stall only had the obvious comics that I either had or was not interested in. I would have bought Saucer Country and got Paul Cornell to sign it if they had had any.

Sci-fi Weekender was harder work and more of a struggle than it should have been but it did enough to keep me entertained for a couple of days, just not enough to be certain of going again next year.

1 comment:

  1. Possibly the most frustrating on-stage session ever! I had intro music ("Mr Skin, Know Where You Bin"by Juicy Lucy). They couldn't get that to work. I had a great little 8-minute US-made documentary about House of Hammer. They couldn't get that to work. I had a 30-pic slide show to accompany my talk. They couldn't get that to work. So, in despair I told a silly joke and quit! MEVER BE FIRST ON. You get all the tech problems!


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