BristolCon, the annual SF and fantasy convention for the south-west, has warped through and swept me up in its wake. Off I tottered last Saturday (just on a single crutch, getting bolder now) to the Bristol Doubletree Hotel, transformed for the day into a galaxy far, far away. Rubbing shoulders with witches and fairies (sadly no Klingons and not a single Darth Vader anywhere), I enjoyed the dealer room, where I browsed the latest genre books and general SF and fantasy goodies. Some books were sold and signed by the authors themselves (including J G Cressey, whose gentleness and courtesy completely belie his fast and furious, action-packed, Firefly-inspired Star Splinter, the first outing in his Fractured Space series Also purchased: A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood ( and Max Adam’s peregrination into Dark Ages history, In the Land of the Giants (

Delegate numbers were up into the three hundreds, a friendly and convivial crowd comfortably populating the space available. Big-name guests  of honour included Jaine Fenn, ( who was skilfully interviewed by Ian Whaites to reveal the Secrets of Her Success (turns out she cheats on her science, and claims a lot of good luck helps. I think massive talent like Jaine’s helps, what do I know?;  Jasper Fforde ( , denizen of Hay on Wye, and creator of fantasy detective Thursday Next: and Chris Moore, the legendary artist and illustrator (

For me, the highlights of the day were early coffee in the Brickout Room, where I met Maria from Bristol whose literary tastes are scarily similar to mine (my equally mad but more successful astral twin); hearing why blogger Cheryl Morgan thinks Emily St John Mandel’s 2014 hit Station Eleven – incidentally not marketed as SF – is beautiful writing but poor SF; learning from Jasper Fforde what the X-factor is that sells squillions of books (it can be learnt but not taught, is as far as I got); Rosie Oliver’s engaging and concise romp through a longlist of real emerging technologies that SF writers need to take on board (textile solar panels in clothing that will power your personal devices, anyone?); and of course, the great Emeritus Professor Ian Stewart, who makes time travel a cinch (not really).

I came away delighted, enthused, exhausted and very underwhelmed with my own credentials to be an aspiring writer in such a talented and imaginative field. Perhaps I’ll turn to historical romances from now on….

All SFF fans, here’s next year’s BristolCon date for your diary: Saturday 29 October 2016.

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