New Releases: The Age of Zeus by James Lovegrove

EasterCon, April 2010

We only attended two days of this four day convention (arguably London's biggest), but that was enough. Not to give the wrong impression - EasterCon is a blast, but more than 48 hours at any convention is pushing it.

Interestingly enough, it seems that many others felt the same way. Lots of folks showed up for a couple days and then disappeared again - I imagine for those spending the whole weekend at the Radisson, it felt like one of those breakfast buffets where the fresh bacon just keeps coming from the kitchen. 

So, when it comes down to it, everyone's a winner.

(More detail & shameless name-dropping after the jump)

It felt (substantially) less crowded than 2008. I'm not sure if that's a fault of my memory, having World Horror the weekend before or just the lack-of-Neil-Gaiman, but I definitely had the impression of more elbow room. I'm not complaining - not having to fight my way to the book dealers or Guests of Honor is always a bonus, and it still seemed busy enough to keep everyone happy.

For better or for worse, we were a little more focused than usual - spending Saturday shmoozing and Sunday shopping. So the highlights and low-lights below are from a fairly narrow look. Not that there's a shortage of EasterCon reviews. Here's one - the author's take on the changes in the fandom community is something that should be explored in depth. I'm not sure we saw the "generations" at work, but we did do some thinking out loud about the insular nature of the community (...with everyone else in our clique).

The authors: Iain M. Banks is always a gentleman. Alastair Reynolds stopped to sign despite his crowded schedule. Mark Charan Newton was his amiable self - clearly the fame hasn't kicked in yet. Pornokitsch favorite Rebecca Levene made a rare convention appearance to promote her new book, Cold Warriors. Blagging our way into lunch with her, Abaddon/Solaris overlord Jonathan Oliver, and former Tharg David Bishop was definitely the weekend highlight. 

The dealers: Lots of second-hand and rare books. Very little of anything else. We're OK with that. In a little-heralded but extremely meaningful event, Fantasy Centre made their last convention appearance. Some of our favorites - Porcupine Books and Cold Tonnage - were also present. (And looted accordingly.)

The good: Books in the goodie bag are a great touch (although does anyone really care about the mugs or pens?). The hotel facilities are terrific - there's been a lot of kvetching about the drink prices (legitimately), but there are numerous restaurants, clean bathrooms and plenty of staff (hotel & convention) on hand. If you pre-registered, getting in the doors takes about 15 seconds. Lovely!

The bad: I understand the need to keep everyone busy for 96 hours, but there was a lot of chaff on the program. The democratic process has turned into a weekend-long demonstration of the long tail - much of which takes some fast-talking to relate to fandom. Yes, (some) fans are also interested in German and B&D, but the connection still seems tenuous. Are we really out of less-tenuous genre discussions? Judging by the merry chatter at the bar, I doubt it. On a more administrative note, if you were buying day passes, the process was ridiculously complicated - more like 15 minutes per person. It was like that in 2008 as well, I'm surprised that it hasn't been addressed.

Overall: Always a highlight event, EasterCon didn't disappoint in 2010. Great shopping, accessible authors and friendly folk add up to a good weekend. Like everything fannish, best shared with friends.