After the impressive vastness of Loncon3 and the London Film and Comic Con, FantasyCon proved to be smaller and more relaxed, with a friendly, approachable atmosphere. It was held in the rather attractive Royal York Hotel, next to York’s railway station.
My first panel was “Gentlemen Thieves, Lovable Pirates and Sexy Tricksters”, wittily moderated by James Barclay, and my co-panelists were Joanne Harris, Kim Lakin-Smith, Libby McGuigan and David Tallerman. We discussed the glorification of criminals, whether they were a gender slant in their depiction, the appeal of subversion and rebellion, and whether sympathic crooks needed to have potential for redemption. A good, thorough description of the panel can be found here.
Later that day, I appeared with Gollancz editor Gillian Redfearn, Tom Pollock, James Oswald, and Joanne Hall in the panel “The Chosen One”. Personally, I’m wildly allergic to Chosen Ones in fiction, and said so at some length. The conversation touched on the inspirational effect of such characters, the class implications of notions of ‘birthright’, the question of who the Chosen One was chosen by, and the fact that quite a lot of ‘Chosen Ones’ seemed to be white males. Joanne Hall has a description of the panel here.
(I realised afterwards that I had neglected to embarrass Tom Pollock by mentioning Filius Viae from Tom’s excellent The City’s Son – both a ‘ Chosen One’ and a really interesting subversion of the trope.)
In the evening, I competed in a live, SF-and-books-themed game of ‘Just a Minute’, skilfully compered by Paul Cornell. Scores were read out by Tea and Jeopardy‘s butler extraordinaire, Latimer (AKA Pete Newman). My fellow contestants were Gillian Redfearn, Kate Elliot and Stephen Gallagher, and we had proper buzzers that buzzed and lit up.
I’d never played it before, and hadn’t predicted how much fun it would be. Several times contestants fell prey to ‘hesitation’ because they or the audience were laughing too much. I learnt two other things as well. 1) I am capable of prescient challenges. 2) Audiences like it if you offer to kill them all.
Stephen Gallagher was victorious, and I came second (with Gillian Redfearn barely a step behind).
Altogether, a lovely convention. On the Sunday I even had time to scamper all over York, like a history-obsessed squirrel…