Another Eastercon has come and gone. Ironically, this one, Follycon 2018, seemed less of a capital ‘e’ event for me because it was in Harrogate, only a 40 minute walk from home. That meant a much lower financial and time investment this year, for which I was grateful in a year of watching both costs. Nevertheless, it was interesting and notable for a few reasons.

Nnedi Okorafor

The international guest speakers Kim Stanely Robinson and Nnedi Okorafor were both very interesting and inspirational. I attended both their main solo events, and their readings and wasn’t disappointed at any of the four sessions. I was also excited to hear several other well-respected authors, such as Paul McAuley, Michael Cobley, Fiona Moore, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Gareth L. Powell, Juliet McKenna, and Justina Robson on panel discussions ranging from Future Cities, The AIs are Coming, and Negotiating the Otherworldly, to Genre Economics and Fundraising Your Project.

Kim Stanley Robinson

Notable in its absence this year was the writers workshop usually hosted by the London genre writing group T-Party, which was replaced by instructional literary critique sessions.

A few interesting discoveries I made this Eastercon were The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt Podcast and Handbook, which I’m looking forward to listening to. I also discovered an interesting space program called Lunar Mission One with the aim of sampling the soil of the lunar south pole — and burying there a capsule of stories from as many cultures as they can. You can get involved in a local chapter by checking on their website. Finally, although I’ve known of a science fiction group in Sheffield for a while, I didn’t know they were as large and organized as I recently discovered. I will be contacting the Sheffield Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Group soon for a variety of things and hopefully I can build a mutually beneficial bridge with them.

As for upcoming conferences, I learned the 2019 Worldcon is in Dublin, so I’ll be making a large effort to attend that, as well as the next Eastercon (Ytterbium) in London (adult membership until the end of this month is £60 for the weekend, after that it increases incrementally to a max of £90).

An interesting social experiment that was performed this year were the gender neutral toilets. In the main lobby, the Majestic hotel has men’s and woman’s toilets side by side, and distinguishable due to the presence or absence of urinals (and consequently, the number of stalls). The convention organizers labelled these gender neutral and, for the first couple days people entering each were quite mixed (I used the one with more stalls, as I don’t usually like urinals). Interestingly, by the final day, the washroom users had essentially self-segregated back along traditional gender lines with men using the urinal washroom, and women the non-urinal washroom.

Finally, this Eastercon was memorable for me because it was the first one my young’un was old enough to attend. She enjoyed it immensely, focusing, of course, on the children’s events such as an improve acting session, the Easter egg hunt, and the games and dealers rooms. She also made a few new friends her age from around England.

Overall, for me this was a low-key event that ended up being enjoyable, although different, from the usual Eastercons I’ve attended.

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