Thursday, 31 March 2016

Mancunicon Saturday

On Friday morning, we went in search of the free bus service that serves the town centre, but it was a bit of a long way to walk to the bus stop by Oxford Road railway station (the first railway station in the world!) with my Young Man still needing his crutch, so for the rest of the weekend we got taxis either way instead. I could definitely get used to helpful staff phoning for a cab which arrives within five minutes every time I want one!

I wanted to see the A Feminist Fantasy Canon panel, which included one of the guests of honour, Aliette de Bodard. The consensus was that we don't actually want a fixed canon of women fantasy writers, because that would be bound to exclude other writers, but we do want the existance of women SF and fantasy writers to be acknowledged, instead of being discovered anew every generation with astonishment, as if women had never written SF or fantasy before (except for Ursula le Guin!).
At the moment I'm following the re-read of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni books on - she was writing historical fantasy in the 1970s which was influential, but overlooked now. One edition of her books has an introduction by Lin Carter, who did a huge amount of work to get fantasy books published, and he was astonished that the first four authors he had published were women, and that they were better than any of the men's work he had looked at! Another of those authors was Joy Chant, whose Red Moon and Black Mountain deserves to be far better known.

Lunch was down on the ground floor, with more helpful staff behind the counter - we had a burger and potato wedges, and drinks from the American Craft Beer stand which the hotel had laid on specially for the Con. I never usually drink lager, but the Amber Lager I had was really very nice (and now I've forgotten the brewers!). Outside the windows, the rain was blowing sideways, which really made me feel I was back home!

Later, the Young Man went to the Tribute to Tanith Lee, another great fantasy writer, while I went to the Kaffeeklatch with Charles Stross.
This was very exciting. I first became aware of Charles Stross when he won a Hugo for Equoid - and thought that I probably wouldn't like to read it because it was described as horror. Then I saw him at EasterCon last year, sharing a stage with Jim Butcher - and they were both very funny together. So I tried one of the Laundry Files series, and was instantly hooked. For me, horror is a lot easier to read when it's also very funny. The other people in the room with Charlie were far better versed in his work than I was - now I need to look out for the Merchant Princes series, too.
He is immensely busy at the moment, with five books on the go at different stages (on another panel the following day he said he managed to watch about two new films a decade, prompting the response "That's why you meet your deadlines!"). He also gleefully described the way he's going to blow up Leeds (with added dragons and elves) in his next Laundry Files book, and make Bob (main character in the Laundry Files) go on TV to be interviewed/grilled by Jeremy Paxman at the beginning of the following book about elvish immigration policy!

Later, we went to the talk by Lilian Edwards entitled Privacy and Identity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which she said was her Daredevil talk, with a bit of Captain America. She works in the area of privacy laws, and casually mentioned being quoted in New Scientist, and attending a House of Lords committee - but she's also a great Daredevil fan (and a fan of the present trend for male heroes to take their tops off for the delectation and delight of middle aged women!). The talk also went off into the areas of real names on Facebook - and the good reasons some people have for using a pseudonym, illustrated with the way Matt Murdock's life was ruined by him being outed as Daredevil.

We were going to the Little-Known British SF TV shows of the 1950s to 1970s talk - but it was in Room 6 and there was no way we were going to squeeze in, so we went up to the Presidential Suite for the Elsewhen Press book launch. We didn't stay too long, because the Young Man needed to sit, and all the chairs were taken, but several of the authors appearing in the new anthology read from their work, with the backdrop of sunset over Manchester from a great height.

We finished the evening off with An Adventure in Time and Space: 53 Years in 53 Rels - a play dashing through the entire history of Doctor Who, with a small cast who all played several parts (and were all holding their scripts, which didn't detract from the fun at all), with minimal costume changes (Adric had his gold star of mathematical excellence; Davros sat in a chair holding his arm at an odd angle etc.) with Daleks and dinosaurs being represented by toys being waved in the air from the side of the stage. It was very funny.
There was a running gag about girl companions leaving to get married ("Yay! Feminism!"), topped off by Missy snogging the Doctor near the end ("Yay! Feminism!"), and the chap playing the War Doctor did a very good John Hurt impression. He also played the Fourth Doctor. Oh, and Leela had a Scandinavian accent for some reason.

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