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Blog and tweets are appearing on the subject of the BristolCon Just Gone, so I thought I’d add my humble thoughts to the pile. I have a rather different view of BristolCon from that of being an ordinary member or guest, because it’s partly my baby (though I share it with my wonderful Concom, of course). Flirtations with disaster this year mainly involved the cancellation, non-appearance, late-running, double booking, driverless and wrong sized VANS – please don’t talk to me about vans without at least buying me a stiff drink first for about the next 18 months…

Vans aside (that’s the part you lot don’t see!) the biggest disaster this year was the non-running of the Infamous BristolCon Quiz, due to Quizmaster Nick being taken ill during the afternoon and having to go home. Wishing Nick all the best and hoping he gets better soon (emergency Minions have been dispatched with Lemsip and Hazmat suits in case it turns out to be Ebola 😉 ) Now obviously that makes it Not A Proper BristolCon because you can’t have a BristolCon without the Quiz, so it looks like we all have to come back and do it properly next year. You’re ok with that, right?

This year I was on two panels and did a short reading from Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion (more on that later) and a quick reading at the Friday night Open Mic from Rider. The Open Mic was a great success; Roz did a brilliant job of organising it and we’re hoping to bring it back next year and schedule it for a bit later – people who didn’t get into the hotel until 8.30 were disappointed to have missed it.

First panel of the day was talking about Discoverability and Representation, something I’ve blogged about here before. I was on it with Rob Haines, Del Lakin-Smith, Jessica Rydill, and fabulous Guest of Honour Emma Newman, who has strong opinions on the subject of booksellers display tables. We talked about algorithms and how to get round them, the use of social media, and how to use word of mouth and the SF community to help make yourself known. It was good fun and Jessica was a great moderator 🙂

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The second panel I was on was on Influences, which I didn’t think we’d get much mileage out of, but Paul Cornell was moderating and he’s brilliant at drawing out things you didn’t know you wanted to say. Also on the panel were Jessica (again), Piotr Swietleik and John Baverstock, who was very complimentary about both my writing and my lasagna 🙂 We talked about Dan Brown (really!), Polish SF, and fielded a very interesting question from the audience about the role of archeology in world-building that was so good that I carried on the conversation with Alastair Sims of Books on the Hill after the panel had finished.

Convention highlights – lots of things. Getting to sit down and have a drink with Ellen Croshain, Sammy HK Smith and Sophie Tallis as Team Kristell Ink were in the house, playing Mhairi Simpson‘s “Be A Bard” in the bar with her and Chris, having an actual conversation with Mark Lawrence, hugs off Snorri Kristjansson, the completely unofficial charity game of Cards Against Humanity in the Snug where we were serenaded by a heroically drunk Donna Bond, the cake (oh goddess, the cake!), Teaklatsching with Emma…

On the subject of Emma, she was an absolute star GOH under very difficult circumstances, and I hope that BristolCon was a high point for her in a year that has been full of unmitigated suck. I hereby declare 2015 to be the Year Of Emma, and she shall be fabulous, successful and anxiety free for twelve whole months.

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One of the big highlights may seem small and probably slipped most people by, but some time during the afternoon the aforementioned Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion quietly broke even and then went into profit. We had to sell three paperbacks to break even, and we ended up selling five. It’s very rare for a small press anthology to break even, let alone make money, and credit has to go to Cheryl Morgan and Roz Clarke for all their hard work. And it was extra-special for it to go into profit actually at BristolCon, with so many people there who had contributed to the success.

So all in all it was a fabulous day, many thanks to all three of our Guests of Honour, Emma, Jon Courtenay Grimwood and Julian Quaye, and to everyone who minioned or attended. I hope you had as good a time as I did. See you next year?

Memberships for next years BristolCon, which will take place on 26th September, same Bat-place, same Bat-Channel. Memberships cost £20 until the end of April and will be on sale from www.bristolcon.org really soon, and our Guests of Honour will be Jasper Fforde and Jaine Fenn – be there AND be square!

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