Saturday, 17 April 2010

DearthCon 2010

I know it's been a short while since I last posted but rumours of my death were greatly exaggerated. I've been really busy and, if I'm honest, trying to recover from a touch of burnout.

Okay, now that I've made my excuses I can get to my point. No, I'm not announcing a new convention in the UK as the title of this post may suggest.

I am in fact mourning the utter dearth of good scifi/fantasy conventions in this part of the world with my own inimitable literary excretions. I have searched this great interwebs of ours to see what was on offer and recently came across one that gave me some hope. Eastercon 2010 a.k.a Odyssey 2010 at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel near Heathrow in London. I couldn't go for the first two days but I was hoping to go on the Sunday with some like minded friends.

So, the night before we checked out the following day's programme to see what we could look forward to...well long story short. Nothing. Unless of course I wanted classes in BDSM, yes seriously. What the hell that has to do with SciFi or fantasy I have no idea but there it was on the schedule along with Ikea classes and other assorted nonsense. Most of the good talks were over and done with on day one of the convention followed by two more days of almost unbroken banality. My narrowly avoided experience is echoed by this blog post written by author extraordinaire Graham McNeill.

The convention before that, for me anyway, was the MCM Expo. I went there very excited and returned thoroughly underwhelmed. I was worried about spending too much money, I needn't have. There was nothing there worth buying. In the end I bought a hardback copy of the Watchmen graphic novel just so I could pretend excitement about the whole day.

To be honest some of this is a case of "take a cell/mobile phone into a third world village for the first time" syndrome. What I mean is that before I was made aware of what the world has to offer in terms of conventions, and by 'the world' I mean the ol' US of A, my standards and expectations were set really low. However, now that I maintain an online 'connection' with the likes of Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, Scott Kurtz, Mike & Jerry at Penny Arcade (all convention stalwarts) and see the amazing...yeah I'll say it, inspiring conventions that they attend and in the case of Penny Arcade Expo, make, and frankly my old two cans and piece of string setup just don't cut it anymore. I want an all singing, all dancing mobile phone! Or, metaphor aside, a decent convention with decent guests about more than just SciFi/fantasy books!

Convention organisers, how about paying attention to the ever growing gaming culture, whether computer/console or tabletop? I think I remember Jerry Holkins (it may have been Mike Krahulik) once saying that Penny Arcade Expo aka PAX was the convention that should have existed but didn't. Sadly we in the UK lack the visionary types like Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik to make the convention that is so sorely lacking here.

I think the reality is that geeks, already a (vocal) minority, are really small in the UK compared to the States. I think convention organisers look at their marketing numbers and give up. I think they're wrong.

There are more of us than you think. You build a decent convention that really represents the geek scene, invite some of the names I've mentioned above and we will come. In a comment I left on her blog, Felicia Day told me that she would love to come to the UK for a convention appearance.

Would someone please make the convention that doesn't exist but really should here in the UK? I would, I've honestly thought about it, but my time is spoken for.

Is it only the Americans that have what it takes to celebrate everything geek?

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