Tuesday, 30 October 2018

At Leisure in Chester

It's a long time since I've been to Chester, so I was glad to have a half day to explore before I went home from FantasyCon. I was able to leave my suitcase at the hotel, which was a blessing - it was full of books and a lot heavier than when I'd arrived!

This amused me, at the Westminster Hotel right by the Belgrave Hotel.

A short walk up City Road, and there was this view:

And a little further on, a nice example of late nineteenth century social housing:

Then the familiar sight of the Eastgate Clock:

I was heading to the Roman amphitheatre, which I remembered when the building next door, which covers half the site, was still a girls' school. I was sad to see that the building is now derelict. The amphitheatre itself has been improved though:

There's still only half the amphitheatre visible, but now there's a walkway across the semicircle, with a public space beyond it, where I found this model:

There's been a major dig since I last visited, with new walkways put in, and the positions of the original seating marked out in wood, and with rebuilt walls. The altar to Nemesis in a small room just off the arena is also a replica - I think the original is in the Grosvenor Museum:

Monday, 29 October 2018

Rosa - Doctor Who

I no longer have a working TV - when the local area went digital I decided not to bother, because I only really watched Doctor Who.
So an added bonus of being in a hotel on Sunday evening was the working TV in the room, and the ability to watch Doctor Who!
I'm really glad that the episode I managed to watch was Rosa, and not Arachnids in the UK.

Now I've seen the new Doctor in action, I like her a lot, and I also like the new Companions, especially Graham. I was completely unaware of Bradley Walsh before he was cast in Doctor Who (not being a watcher of game shows) so I had no preconceptions about him. The fact that he was a retired bus driver worked really well in this story. And Vinette Robinson was brilliant as Rosa Parks.

From what I've seen so far, it seems that Chris Chibnall really is taking the show back to basics - bigger Tardis Team and more historical episodes, just like 1963 but with better production values!

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Sunday at FantasyCon

I started gently on the Sunday, in the dealers' room, chatting to people like Ian Whates, who runs Newcon Press, about the Tanith Lee collection on his stall, short stories chosen by her friends (and which I must get at some point....).

The first panel I went to was From Fanon to Canon, moderated by Cheryl Morgan, who mentioned that she had interviewed Joanne Harris for her radio programme the day before, while demonstrating good mic technique.
This was about ideas that grew up in the fan community which might (or might not) make the leap across into official show canon - such as Kirk and Spock being more than just good friends....
This led to a discussion of the literary canon being authoratitive - and who gets to decide? Who gets to enforce canon? In the early days of the Christian church, it was the Council of Nicaea, choosing which books and scriptures to keep in the definitive Bible and which to discard, or move to the Apocrypha.
Adjusting the canon to suit the fan is a subversive act.
In The Number of the Beast Heinlein suggested that all fictional universes existed in the same multiverse or fictional space, so anything can cross over with anything else. So it totally makes sense that there were hieroglyphs depicting R2D2 and C3PO in the Indiana Jones films, or that E.T. was a Jedi.
Historically, the King Arthur stories written in the Middle Ages were fan fiction of the original Welsh legends, and so were most of the Robin Hood stories, being added to over time with new characters (Lancelot, Friar Tuck).
On the video game front, there's the question of who actually stole the Death Star plans? One of the panel was adamant that it was him! Never mind the "many Bothans".
Video games encourage people to invest themselves in the characters more than traditional story telling did, which is why it's important to have more characters who look like the players, and why people feel so intensely about their pet theories about the world they're playing in.
Authors who are writing licenced fiction for established universes, like the Star Wars and Star Trek ones, are not allowed to read fanfic, in case they use an idea that a fan has come up with, and then get sued for royalties. This has happened. So that makes it difficult for fan theories about characters to make that leap to official canon.
And in Avengers: Civil War, many fans were disappointed that Tony Stark didn't go to Peggy Carter's funeral, because in fandom it was widely accepted that Peggy had become Tony's honorary auntie, because of her (canon) friendship with Howard Stark and Jarvis. But then, as another panellist said, maybe Tony was just being a dick!

The Mythologies panel was next, with a late substitution of Jeannette Ng for Micah Yongo.
To the question of what mythology was, the best answer from the panel was that mythology is the best we can make of history - showing the highest ideals, for instance King Arthur being the ideal King. Mythology can also be the spiritual tellings of a culture - but there is a difference between mythology and folklore.
Tolkein was trying to create a mythology of England when he started writing Lord of the Rings.
There's an online game called Smite, in which gods of different pantheons fight each other - but some of the gods in the game are actually still worshipped in some parts of the world, so is that really okay?
This led on to a discussion of the Norse pantheon, with the point being made that the records of the myths are incomplete, so the evidence we have about the different gods and goddesses is skewed in favour of the ones (like Odin) who were written about most. Thor, for instance, was not only a god of Thunder - he was also a healing god, on the evidence of a charm which asks Thor to kill the invisible elves who cause headaches!
The Prose Edda is an example of myths being written down as a way of defining a group identity - and also writing stories down when it seems that they're about to be lost, which was an important incentive for Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century.
As Jeannette Ng was on the panel (showing a comprehensive knowledge of Arthurian myth, among other things) her book Under the Pendulum Sun was mentioned, with the comment: "Come for the fairies, stay for the theology!"
She also talked about how Chinese religion is contradictory, between Tao, Buddhism and Confucius. She called herself a Source-lander, a term I hadn't heard before (but which makes perfect sense when I think about it) as opposed to Diaspora - so stories change when the people of a Diaspora tell them compared to how the people of the Source land tell them, and that's okay. American Gods is a good example of how this works. It's also important to pay attention to the sources you're drawing on when writing a story with cultural diversity, and paying attention to the voices of the people of those cultures.
They also talked about the mythic trope of the Damsel who basically leads the Knight through his Quest, and explains it all for him.
And also, Hawai'ian dwarves are known for their skill in building canoes.

Then it was upstairs to the Gladstone room for the panel on Renaissance Fantasy. Jeannette Ng was also on this panel, and it was impressive how she mentally changed gears in the ten minutes between one panel ending and the next beginning.
The panellists were first asked about their recommendations for good Renaissance fantasy, and came up with Marie Brennan who writes about Tudors and fairies, Mercedes Lackey, and Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards. Mary Gentle's Rats and Gargoyles was also mentioned.
And, why Renaissance? The coolness factor of having both guns and swords was a definite plus.
They all agreed that Renaissance stories needed more contact with the East, and more trade (all that silk had to come from somewhere).
And apparently the Elizabethans invented the drive-by shooting!
There was some discussion of societies where the authorities say "this is the way it's always been" but which are actually changing, in some cases quite quickly, and some of the authors on the panel had examined that idea in their writing.
Printing presses led to an explosion of books, because if a press isn't printing something, then it's not making money, so all sorts of things were put into print.
At the end of the panel I managed to get to the corridor at the same time as Jeannette Ng so that I could ask her to sign my copy of Under the Pendulum Sun.

One of the panel for Renaissance Fantasy had to leave early because he was going to the Banquet in the Jubilee Room. This lasted from 1pm to about 3pm (I went off for a more modest potato and leek soup in the hotel bar, which was very nice) and by 3pm I was outside the Jubilee Room with an increasing crowd as the waiters cleared the plates away and more chairs were brought to seat everybody. The room got very full indeed! But it was well worth it to be there for the presentation of the British Fantasy Awards. The complete list is widely available online now, but I was very pleased to see Under The Pendulum Sun win the Best Newcomer Award. It was lovely to see Francesca Barbini and Noel Chadwick going up for awards too, as I'd been chatting to them in the dealers' room - Francesca for the Best Non-Fiction Award and Noel for Shoreline of Fantasy, the Best Magazine.

And so the Con ended. I had an absolutely brilliant time, and met lots of really interesting and lovely people, and my brain has been stretched with new ideas. I'm not sure I'll be able to get to Glasgow next year (and my main Con next year will be WorldCon in Dublin anyway) but I'll certainly try to get to another FantasyCon in the future.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Saturday Afternoon and Evening at FantasyCon

I had lunch at the Town Crier, and as I was ordering my ham baguette one of the staff there noticed my Con badge and asked me what was going on across the road. They'd seen several customers with the same badges. Now I had my official Con programme, I was able to give her the printed sheets for the weekend's programme, so they knew what was happening. I saw her pinning them up in the kitchen area.

I also had time to go round the dealers' room, where I treated myself to lots of things - well, mainly books.... I got a Christmas present for my sister from a lady who made jigsaws. I'm not sure now how the topic came up - possibly talking about historical re-enactment, and she mentioned an axe making workshop. I know someone who would love to learn to make his own axe, so she gave me the details. The chap from Elsewhen Press, at the stall next door, said: "That's what I love about these Conventions - a person mentions something random like making axes and someone else has the details for doing it!"
I also treated myself to a pewter pendant of a stag done in the style of the Uffington white horse. Apart from the jigsaws, jewellery, a t-shirt stall, and a Japanese Steampunk in full costume selling Japanese SF memorabilia, most of the stalls were for books. Even the artist from Ireland was selling some of his work in the form of picture books. He belongs to a group of artists who live and work in the top corner of the island of Ireland, "further north than Northern Ireland!" on the Inishowen Peninsula.

At 4pm I went to the Disraeli Room, upstairs, where authors were reading from their work all day. This particular session had Tasha Suri, who I'd seen in the Religion in Genre Fiction panel earlier in the day. I wanted to see what her work was like.
I also was treated to extracts from the works of JA Browne and Suzie Wilde - I really want to know what the heroine of the YA story saw by the side of the car in the storm. The author left the audience in suspense with "Oh. My. God!"
The other author had written what she felt was a historical novel about Vikings (with lots of research) but it had somehow been chosen as one of the best fantasy novels of the year by a newspaper columnist. She read an extract about a dam about to break and drown a village.

At this point, more or less, there was a mix up in the printing of the programme so that the Edward and Albert rooms were swapped over, so when I got to the Albert for What's Changed in Worldbuilding, the room was full. I was told I could stand at the back if I wanted, but I decided to head for the hotel bar instead.
It was a bit disappointing that the two handpumps on the bar were out of action all weekend (or at least, every time I went in), but at least they had Brooklyn Lager in bottles.

6pm, and time for Women in Genre Fiction in the Gladstone room, upstairs next to Disraeli. There were doubts about the usefulness of the microphones for this panel, so it started with the moderator, Teika Bellamy, asking "Can everyone project?"
"I'm American - I'm really loud," said Tiffani Angus.
All the members of this panel were newish authors, and the only note I have about this panel is that there was some discussion of 2D characters and how to avoid them.

Then it was down to the Jubilee Room (down that really long corridor with the Romans) for the Guest of Honour interview with Farah Mendelsohn - who turned out to be absolutely fascinating. Farah has written about Diana Wynne Jones and Children's Fantasy, and was also involved in organising the whisky exhibition in honour of Iain Banks at LonCon in 2014. Iain Banks was going to be one of the Guests of Honour at that WorldCon, but died a few months before. The exhibition got together whisky bottles representing every single whisky mentioned in Iain's book Raw Spirits. Most of them were empty, donated by fans, but they had to go out and buy the last few to complete the exhibition. Asked which whisky was Farah's favourite, they said "Strathisla - it's what Southern Comfort wants to be when it grows up!"

They also talked about Geoffrey Trease (one of my favourite children's novelists), and how to write a historically accurate Regency lesbian romance - which Farah has also done. It's called Spring Flowering.
As part of the research for this, they found that a theatre they wanted to use in the book had been quickly closed down by the local Quakers. Apparently, Quakers had no problem with performance - music hall was fine. Theatre, on the other hand, involved people pretending to be another person, which was lying, and so frowned upon.
They also talked about black people in British history. During the Napoleonic Wars, the French brought over black Caribbean soldiers to fight for them, some of whom were captured by the British and imprisoned in Devon. When the war was over, these prisoners were released, but they didn't go back to the Caribbean. They stayed in Devon.
The Regency period was also the time when the marriages of daughters was fraught with danger. Before this, there was a good chance the family knew the suitor and his family, so no problem, but by the Regency period the suitor was likely to be a stranger to the family, who might abuse the daughter and have control of her inheritance. This is why cousin marriages became more common, and also marriages to the friends of the bride's brothers.

Farah was also fascinated by historical diaries where the clothing allowances of the writers were discussed in minute detail - it seemed almost like anorexics counting calories, until they realised that this was the only money that the women controlled themselves, so of course they were fanatical about exactly what they wanted to do with it. The other area women had legal control over was the tools of their trade, which often meant kitchen equipment - which is why gifts of toasters, electric mixers and vacuum cleaners were so popular at one time.
There was a brief digression about the Times Literary Supplement "Who reads that anymore? It's increasingly pompous!" Leading to the comment: "Most of us are sitting here because we ignored people's ideas of respectability."

They also mentioned a book called Glorifying Terrorism, which was written as a response to the Terrorism Act, and underwritten by Iain Banks - I think the reasoning was that, if the authors weren't prosecuted for writing this book, it undermined any other cases for prosecuting people under the act.

And finally, a recommendation: Robin Stevens, who writes books which are basically Agatha Christie crossed with the Chalet School!

The final panel of the evening for me (my brain was full by this time!) was Writing and Representing Queer Characters in Genre Fiction, in the Edward room.
This panel got off to a fairly rocky start, as the moderator had to excuse herself and leave - she looked quite upset about it, but said she really couldn't carry on. However, the rest of the panel had the list of questions they had been going to discuss between them, and carried on quite well.
PR Ellis described themselves as gender-fluid, and writes detective fiction in which the detective is a trans person in the process of transitioning.
Joel Cornah said he was asexual, and added: "In this world of beautiful people doing amazing things who would want to be straight?"
Powder is American and grew up on a cattle ranch in Texas - he didn't meet another gay person till he got to university. When asked about including homophobia in his work, he said, to applause, that "we deal with enough phobia - sometimes I just want my awesome gay knight on a dragon!"
While talking about writing historical fiction with gay characters, someone said that it shouldn't be a case of "parachuting a gay Edwardian in!"
The response being: "It should be an emergency service!"
At the end of the panel (which started with more panel than audience, but ended with about 20 in the audience), the panel asked for any more questions. After a short silence, Powder suggested: "We can do an interpretive dance?"

Friday, 26 October 2018

Saturday at FantasyCon

After breakfast at the Town Crier, Saturday morning started for me in the lovely courtyard at the heart of the Queen's Hotel:

I was planning for a full day of attending panels - as much as I could manage while remembering to eat!

First was Feminism and Feminist Themes in Genre Fiction, in the Albert Room. Teika Bellamy, who I'd met the previous night, was on this one, along with Cheryl Morgan (member of the Women's Equality Party, among many other things).
One of the questions was what constituted anti-feminist themes, to which the immediate answer was "Chainmail bikinis!"
It was also pointed out that there is a clear difference between novels and TV/film - and more people are likely to have seen something on TV than read a novel, so it's a pity that films and TV series are lagging behind the novels in terms of feminist themes. It surprised one panellist that Star Trek Discovery had gender parity in casting, which is a step forward (but problems with the gay relationship, so still some way to go....).
The book edited by FT Barbini, Gender Identity and Sexuality in Science Fiction and Fantasy, from Luna Press, was recommended - the book later won the British Fantasy Award for Best Non-Fiction.
Black Shuck Press are also re-publishing work by lost women writers.
Another writer who was recommended was JY Yang, so I was pleased that I'd picked up her Descent of Monsters at Forbidden Planet earlier this year (that list of books I want to read keeps getting longer and longer!).

Next, in the largest panel room, the Victoria, was Breaking the Glass Slipper. I had no idea what this might be when I went in, but it turned out to be a live podcast (they were also up for a British Fantasy Award, but beaten by Anansi Boys). That was a highly entertaining session, with Claire North the third Guest of Honour and RJ Barker bouncing ideas off each other and being very funny. Claire North also writes as Kate Griffin - I'm sure I've seen some of her books around somewhere.
Top tip from the panel was that koalas have human-like fingerprints, so if you're planning a murder always take a koala bear with you.
They talked about plotting and how they plan stories out. RJ Barker said that "My subconscious is looking after me because I'm an idiot."
They also talked about murder mysteries, with RJ Barker saying that "There's no pity in Miss Marple! Even Sherlock Holmes sometimes gives a villain a 24 hour head start, but Miss Marple would never do that." And, in answer to a comment that Sherlock Holmes was chill: "I don't think Sherlock's chill - he's off his tits!"

Following on in the same room was the Writing for Children panel, with Francesca Barbini (who edited the Gender Equality book and runs Luna Press as well as being an academic) and Pauline Kirk on the panel. I didn't write any notes down for this panel because I was too busy agreeing with what they said about children's imaginations and some favourite fantasy books. Several of the panel go into schools to work with children, so they see what children are interested in first hand.

And following on from that was the Religion in Genre Fiction panel, with a diversity of religious groups represented. Rosanne Rabinowitz writes about Jewish Kabbala and socialism in early 20th century Russia, Tasha Suri has a Hindu and Sikh background and her epic fantasy based around Indian mythology is out shortly, and Iain Grant has written a book about Satan losing his job and going to live in Birmingham. There was also a Quaker lady who had been an activist in Palestine. Again, I was too swept up in the discussion to take notes!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Friday at FantasyCon

As a newcomer to FantasyCon, I'd intended to go along to the New to FantasyCon meeting at 4pm.
Then I got distracted. The Blogging in Genre Fiction panel started at 3.30pm, and looked interesting - and I'd already seen two familiar faces by the registration desk. I first met Babs at Baskerville Hall near Hay, at one of the regular Wednesday night music sessions, with her friend - they're both from Holland. And then Russell Smith dashed by in a Red Cloak vest (they're the stewards for the convention). I first met Russell at LonCon 2014, though I only got to speak to him properly at the Dysprosium EasterCon, when we were both at a panel about swords (the speakers brought some really cool swords along for people to handle).
So, Blogging in Genre Fiction it was, then, moderated by Kit Power, who writes for Gingernuts of Horror (it was the first panel he'd moderated, and he was quite nervous). Another panellist was Alisdair Stuart, who writes for the Doctor Who RPG (he said the background info on the Tenth Doctor nearly killed him!), and then there was Kate Coe, and Micah Yongo (who is from Manchester, so instantly endeared himself to me). On the basis of this panel, I later went off and bought Kit Powers' book containing some of his columns for Gingernuts of Horror, and Micah Yongo's novel Lost Gods.
I bought a lot of books in the dealers' room over the weekend....

The next panel in the same room (the Edward, right at the end of a maze-like corridor) was on The Role of Class in Science Fiction and Fantasy, with some more interesting panelists. Alison Baker (she pointed out this was her posh name - she's usually Ali) is a researcher in children's literature, and introduced herself by proclaiming "Hogwarts would never pass an Ofsted report - buy a drink and I'll tell you why!"
The conversation was fascinating, discussing working class characters like Ser Davos Seaworthy in Game of Thrones, who came from Flea's Bottom in King's Landing and is raised to be advisor to Stannis Baratheon without really wanting the honours. Another good working class hero is Commander Vimes in the Discworld books, who is slightly embarrassed to be raised to the nobility when he marries Lady Sybil (and wouldn't it be interesting to get those two characters together for a chat?).
The books of Patrick Ness were also recommended.
The discussion went on to talk about the Chosen One (in so many fantasies, and Buffy, of course), and it was suggested that the loss of the apprenticeship model has led to writers emphasising innate talent over learning a skill, and led to the rise of the Chosen One in fiction.

Russell Smith was one of the panellists talking about Robot Companions in Film and Television in the Albert, the other room down the maze-like corridor, for the next panel I went to. One of the thoughts I brought away from that panel was - never be a villain with a robot sidekick, because they always turn on you in the end, the classic example being Maximillian in The Black Hole! The conversation bounced around from Metropolis to the present (was it this panel where they hated KITT from Knight Rider? Or thought he was insufferably smug?).

At 8pm it was time to go to the Jubilee Room for Welcome to FantasyCon, down another long passageway. This was more modern, leading to the new extension to the hotel at the back (the King's Suite) and had specially built niches in the wall on one side to display the armour of several ranks of Roman soldiers (and a gladiator) suspended over real Roman column bases on loan from the Grosvenor Museum in Chester.
The first thing the organiser said was: "I'm very sorry."
This was because the printed programmes had not yet arrived, so they had been giving out sheets with the programme details on them. He went on to talk about the good will that Conventions such as this run on - the people prepared to be on panels, the Red Cloaks, and so on, working together to make a good, smooth-running convention. Then he introduced two of the Guests of Honour, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Farah Mendlesohn. I'd seen Adrian before, at EasterCons - he's quite tall and has a distinctive dark beard, and I've even read some of his Shadows of the Apt series.
Farah Mendlesohn is a historian and has written a book about Robert Heinlein, and a book on Children's Fantasy Literature, amongst other things.
The third Guest of Honour, Claire North, wasn't due to arrive until the following morning.
In the queue for the prosecco, I met Teika Bellamy, who has edited books of modern versions of fairytales - and her name means fairytale in Latvian (she is half Latvian and half Russian in origin), and we had such an interesting conversation that I ended up buying three of the fairytale collections in the dealers' room the following day. The series title is The Forgotten and the Fantastical. And I discovered later that she is actually Doctor Bellamy - there were such a lot of very intelligent, articulate, and interesting people at the Convention, I had to work hard to keep up!

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

FantasyCon in Chester

This will be the first of several blog posts - I had a fantastic time, and I want to write down as much of it as I possibly can!

This was the first FantasyCon I'd been to. I wasn't able to go to EasterCon this year, and I'd heard some customers in the bookshop where I work saying how much they enjoyed FantasyCon last year, so I decided to go - and it was brilliant! My brain isn't used to working quite so hard these days - I went to lots of thought-provoking discussion panels - so now I'm really tired, with a lot of new information to digest, and a large number of books to read!
I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived, but FantasyCon seems to be very much about getting authors and small presses and editors and agents, and a surprising number of PhD students and academics, all together in the same space, and seeing what happened.

And this is where it all happened:

The Queen's Hotel, Chester, conveniently just opposite the railway station.

I was not staying there - I thought I'd be trekking in from the other end of City Road, but as it turned out, the Belgrave Hotel was just across the road from the Queen's:

My window was the narrow one at the far end of the first floor. Some of the corridors in the Queen's Hotel were wider than that room, but it had everything I needed - tea and coffee making facilities, a TV, a bed, shower and toilet, so I was quite happy. What the Belgrave didn't have over the weekend was a working kitchen, but I had been assured that there were "many cafes" nearby which did breakfasts. That was probably true, if you were prepared to walk up into Chester city centre. Fortunately for me, there's a large pub called the Town Crier, also facing the railway station, which turned out to do excellent breakfasts. I also went there for other food during the day - they did a very nice sausage and mash which kept me going for the rest of Friday, served with a pint of Greene King IPA.

The holiday really started on the train, a tiny two coach affair that goes all the way round the coast of North Wales eventually. I sat next to a lady who was reading a Terry Pratchett novel, Unseen Academicals, and who was just coming back from a holiday in Glastonbury, all the way to Criccieth. So we had a lovely chat.

Once I'd checked into my hotel, and had a substantial lunch in the Town Crier, I headed for the registration table in the Queen's. They didn't have the Convention programme book yet, but they did have sheets showing the timetable. So I started off with a cup of coffee from a table by the dealer's room, to see what events I wanted to go to.
The dealer's room was off a corridor which runs round a courtyard with tables, and a variety of interesting statues, and it was warm enough to sit out there all over the weekend, which felt very civilised.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Earl Cameron, actor

BBC Two have shared a short video of the actor Earl Cameron speaking about his life. He's just over 100 years old, and in 1951 he was the first black man to star in a post-war British film (Paul Robeson, Elisabeth Welch and Nina Mae McKinney had all starred in the 1930s). The film was Pool of London, and he played a sailor who got involved with a local white girl.

He also played the astronaut in the 1966 Doctor Who story The Tenth Planet. It had always impressed me that a black actor had been chosen to play the astronaut, and I never imagined he was still alive now.
He's had a varied career on stage, film and TV, appearing in Tarzan and Bond films, and many British TV series.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Filk Singing

I first became aware of filk - science fiction folk music - in the 1980s, when I was a regular attendee at Star Trek Cons, and (one of the highlights of my Con going) Conspiracy 87, the WorldCon in Brighton. There I went to a filk concert - I think it was on at the same time as the Hugo Awards - and heard groups like Technical Difficulties perform. I bought cassette tapes, and song books like The Old Grey Wassail Test and A Wolfrider's Reflections, which I still have. I discovered Off Centaur Publications, and singers like Julia Ecklar and Leslie Fish, and songs celebrating the novels of Mercedes Lackey and CJ Cherryh.

Every week I go to an acoustic session, where I sing. Occasionally I'll sing one of Kipling's poems that Leslie Fish set to music, but I don't normally do anything more esoteric than that, simply because no-one else in the room will know anything about the stories that the songs are based on.
But I'm heading off to FantasyCon soon (this year it's at the Queen's Hotel in Chester), so I thought I'd dust down one of the old filk songs I know to celebrate. I chose Threes, which I learned off Julia Ecklar's tape Horse-Tamer's Daughter, which tells (more or less) a Mercedes Lackey short story.
It occurred to me that I last sang it in public at the Wrexham Folk Club in 1989, which seems like a very long time ago. I was working on an archaeological dig at Bersham Ironworks, and got some of the other girls there interested enough in the song that they said they'd be my backing group if I got up to sing it. On the night, they chickened out and left me up there at the mic on my own. I have a distinct memory of seeing them in the audience, where it was nice and dark and anonymous, singing along quietly.
This time, I've got a lot more confidence when I'm singing, and it actually went pretty well - it's a song that doesn't need any prior knowledge of the books to understand the story (an ambush that goes really badly for the bandits).
Maybe I'll try Pride of Chanur next.... :)