Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Eastercon (British Science Fiction Convention)
Just back from Birmingham – the Hilton Metropole, where Illustrious, the 2011 Eastercon has been held over the Easter weekend. It was a weekend of highs and lows. The lows came mainly from the hotel bed, the most uncomfortable bed in the world. It was like sleeping on a mountainside. The mattress had collapsed leaving a 1 in 4 gradient down to the wooden frame and thence the floor. It was a bed that required perpetual attention and spatial awareness – these are not attributes that sit well with sleep.
But everything else was good. Some excellent panels and some excellent people. I met up with a few writers from Codex and it was good to be able to chat face to face. I was especially delighted for Aliette de Bodard who not only won the BSFA short story award but also secured a nomination in this year's Hugos. Way to go Aliette!
Best panel was a British Interplanetary Society presentation, delivered by Bob Parkinson, about the Skylon project, which could become a viable replacement for the Space Shuttle. And it's British! I was very sceptical to begin with. The phrase 'pie-in-the-sky' kept on popping into my head. Let's face it, we Brits are ideas people. We're dreamers not doers. When it comes to 'doing', what we do is sell off the designs to other countries for fractions of their true value. It's the British way. Let us hope that for once, we can be very un-British and do this properly. Because it's good. I was especially taken with the design philosophy "How little do we have to do to make this work?" They are keeping it simple and keeping the exotica to a minimum. What they have so far is brilliant! It is also encouraging that the British Government is not involved in any way. It's an encouraging start.
The photo is one I took from our bedroom window at the Hilton. The futuristic structure is the roof of the hotel swimming pool. It occurs to me that it looks a little like the bridge of the starship Enterprise. Very appropriate, I think.