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Confessions of an Alt.Fiction Virgin

Regular visitors to the this site will know that I tend to stick to just book reviews and nothing else but last weekend I had the opportunity to spend a day at Alt.Fiction for the first time ever. As it is book related, I thought it would be fun to share some of my experiences.

Now in its fifth year, this is the first time that the convention has been spread over an entire weekend. Like the huge coward that I am I decided I would just go on the Saturday. Then if it was terrible and/or I made a prize fool of myself, I could rush home and hide under my duvet weeping into my oversized pillow for the remainder of the weekend. The good news is that my fears were groundless and I only wish now I had taken the plunge and gone for a two-day ticket.

One of the best things about an event like Alt.Fiction is that the program is chock full of events that cater to every taste. It’s great being able to pick and choose the panels you attend. You can get involved with as much, or as little as you like. I sat in on a couple of panels covering the diverse subjects of The Digital Revolution as well as Inhuman Horror. Later in the day I also got to watch the recording of the Steampunk podcast by Un:Bound. All the sessions were hugely entertaining and insightful, informative and a great deal of fun.

I have a few random thoughts about the various comings and goings as I watched the day unfold. For those that know me, this will come as no surprise. Here are just a few of the better ones.

• Mark Chadbourn is not only a top author, but also awfully considerate when it comes to the subtle art of man hugs.

• Adrian Tchaikovsky has hypnotically epic facial hair. Please note this is not a compliment I give lightly. I continue to be jealous now, days later.

• I have discovered a new concept that I will christen ‘book karma’. This occurs when you give one book away and another appears magically to replace it. What prompted this revelation? I decided to pass on the free book I was given when I registered first thing in the morning. I had read it before and didn’t see the need for a second copy. Later in the day I was randomly chatting to someone and he gave me an advance copy of a book I have been waiting to be released for months. Once again the universe cosmically redresses the balance.

• Home-made cheese scones guarantee a picnic atmosphere, even indoors. I remain unconvinced about gluten free flour however.

• I learned that it is possible for me to go into a room full of books and not spend any money. I should stress that this iron like restraint on my part was purely to do with reasons of economy. If I had had more cash with me at the time, I would have spent it.

• I have come to the conclusion that podcasts, like bow ties, are cool.

Another key ingredient to a good convention experience is the people that you meet. Everyone that I met was real nice and they were all very generous with their time. Special mention to @SamaelTB, @Mithciriel, Mark Yon, @damiangwalter, @mygoditsraining, Susan Boulton, @AbaddonDave, @ThermobaricTom and @theginfairy – all of whom happily chatted to/humoured a slightly dishevelled and over-awed @PabloCheesecake.

I look forward to my next convention experience. Roll on Fantasycon 2011 in September.

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