BristolCon 2016

BristolCon is over for another year. As always, it was a friendly and fun affair. This year’s Guests of Honour were authors Ken Macleod and Sarah Pinborough and artist Fanghorn (Chris Baker). The turnout was good, around the same as last year I would guess, although the later than usual date may have reduced the attendance a bit due to it being the end of the half-term school holiday.

I attended the Ken Macleod GoH interview conducted by Janie Fenn which was followed by a reading by Ken from his most recent novel Dissidence – the first in a new trilogy entitled The Corporation Wars. In the afternoon I had the pleasure of a chat with Ken who I last saw at LonCon 3 when he chaired the emotional Iain Banks tribute session (he and Iain having been at school and also worked together in times past).

During our conversation I discovered that, like myself, Ken had been a programmer working on IBM mainframe systems although in his case, it was as a business programmer/analyst as opposed to my various technical roles in areas such as operations, systems programming and installation management. Iain was also a programmer and at one time worked for IBM.

Ken also kindly signed my two copies of Dissidence and also the posthumously published book of Iain’s poems edited by Ken who also wrote the introduction.


I’m not familiar with the work of Sarah Pinborough (although I do note that her work is becoming more popular around the world). On the other hand, the work of Chris Baker has been on my radar for a long time, beginning with covers for the UK editions of the Phule’s series of humorous sci-fi novels written by Robert Asprin.


Chris also created the cover for the graphic novel edition of David Gemmell’s Legend and this caught the attention of Stanley Kubrick who hired him to work on design elements of the film A.I. (later released as A.I.: Artificial Intelligence after being completed by Steven Spielberg following Kubrick’s untimely death).

Amongst other sessions, I also attended one entitled Under the Covers in which panel members discussed their experiences of the processes through which cover art is chosen. Without doubt, the award for faux pas of the day went to panel member Janie Fenn for her negative appraisal of the artwork selected for the space opera novels of Alastair Reynolds, only to hear the words “I did those” from artist Chris Moore who was in the audience. To her credit, she did grovel on the floor in remorse.

As is now traditional, there was a book launch, replete with a splendid selection of cakes and beverages. The book in question was Amunet – a steampunk/urban fantasy novel  written by Robert Harkess whose reading from same was rather let down by the quality of the sound system, but that didn’t prevent BristolConners from giving him a rousing reception.

Finally, I had a brief exchange with BristolCon regular Jim Burns regarding the proposed commission he has received from Canadian GoT artwork collector Pat Robinson which involves Jim producing cover art for A Feast for Crows in the style of that which graced the first three UK editions of A Song of Ice and Fire. He has agreed and is working on it!

That’s it for this year. Next year’s date will be announced shortly and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will most certainly attend.


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