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A very quick report on Alt.Fiction. A couple of hundred people gathered in Derby’s QUAD for one day of genre action, and this was not a leisurely convention by any means – the authors were worked very hard.

The good: this was the best Alt.Fiction to date. The bad: well, still essentially a good thing – for the first time, I was constantly being pulled in all directions to chat to various people. As a consequence, I didn’t get to speak to as many friends from the con circuit as I’d have liked. At a Worldcon or Eastercon you can arrange to chat at a more leisurely pace, but this was just one day. Despite that, I did manage to natter to the bloggers and reviewers who turned up, and also Cheryl Morgan, Lee Harris, Paul Cornell, Mark Chadbourn, Sarah Pinborough, John Berlyne, Conrad Williams, M. D. Lachlan, John Weir, Damien G. Walter, James from Speculative Horizons, and Mark Yon from SFF World. And I did meet new people (and fans – something I’m still not used to!) which is always lovely.

I did some panels and stuff, which went very well. A good crowd managed to turn up at the 8pm one, despite it being during the football. I signed some books (many more outside of the actual signing time). I talked – a lot. Kudos to Adele who sat assiduously throughout the podcast sessions all day, and which should be online soon, so if you weren’t there, you can at least listen to what went on.

Julie Crisp (a most definite non-mother figure (big frowns), but certainly happy to be a queen figure) of Tor UK popped along for moral support and a good schmooze. The highlight of the event was actually watching her approach Joseph Abercrombie, expecting him to be the real Joe Abercrombie and not, in fact, his Polish doppelgänger. Joseph merely looked up with a confused expression on his face, thinking Who is this crazy woman? whilst I chuckled in the background. I have never seen my editor so embarrassed – apart from, perhaps, when she reads this realising it’s now captured online.

Some folk mentioned the day had the vibe of a much smaller World Fantasy con, which for those of you who haven’t attended that event, means that there were a lot of industry professionals – editors, authors, reviewers etc – all in one place, and much more of a networking atmosphere was present. If forced to recommend three annual conventions worth going to in the UK, then Alt.Fiction, Eastercon and the SFX Weekender would be on the list – for thoroughly entertaining, smooth events, with lost of fresh faces and a great atmosphere.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

5 replies on “Alt.Fiction”

Great day.
Loved your panel discussions and my friend and I shamelessly went to Waterstones in the afternoon break and bought Nights of Villjamur just because you made a good impression on us there and then :)Looking forward to reading it along with all the other books I staggered home with at the end of the day!!

Adrian – very true!

Stephen – good to meet you too, and any conversation with a spot of Vonnegut involved is a fine one indeed.

Carole – glad you enjoyed the panels and found them useful/entertaining. And huzzah for an extra sale! 🙂 I really hope you enjoy the read.

Couldn’t agree more, Mark. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the event. I was hugely impressed at how well it was all handled and put together, the quality of the guests and panels and the venue itself. Glad to see everyone feeling the same in the blogosphere.

Was great catching up with friends old and new and the whole day had a positive vibe about it, probably greatly helped by the gorgeous sunshine and cheap beer!

I said in the publishing panel that I think as a genre we are exceedingly lucky to have so many opportunities to mingle with other industry bods, authors, fans, bloggers and publishing professionals at so many varied but incredibly enjoyable events throughout the year. Alt Fiction has already turned into an essential part of the SF calendar as far as I’m concerned and long may that continue.

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