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Fantasycon XXII - 11-13th September 1998

Master of Ceremonies: Ramsey Campbell

Guests of Honour: Freda Warrington & Jane Yolen

Report by: Jenny B

Not only did they say: 'Write a Con Report,' they said: 'and by the way, we need it by Tuesday at the latest.' Now bearing in mind that I've just had a two and a half hour drive back down south from the depths of rainy Birmingham, you'll understand the note of panic in my voice. But what the hell, here we go.

Not having a clue what to expect, I decided to donate my body to the committee so three hours before the hoards were due to descend, my sister and I were mucking in with Goodie Bag stuffing. 180 of the buggers. Oh yes. The booty was flowing freely from the very generous organisers with books, magazines, the Horror Writers Calendar (signed), a really swish looking convention brochure type magazine (sponsored by Earthlight), badges, pens, tattoos … Oh and prize for best stuffer goes to the diminutive Clare Bennett whose care in choosing each item was a joy to behold!

The Amber Citadel and other stories
Freda Warrington, in conversation
with Stan Nicholls and Anne Gay

Where else but at FantasyCon could you engage in such blatant name spotting hey? I can personally say I've shared a lift with Mark Morris, had lunch with Jane Yolen (Guest of Honour and brilliant lady) and not only sold raffle tickets to Guy N. Smith but also chatted about his own upcoming convention.

If you're as painfully shy as me goodself, it can be a little terrifying at first since most of the coven members, sorry, attendees, seem to know each other and the sight of all the friendly huddles can make you feel a mite lonesome but fear ye not, the committee do their damnedest to include you and once you've been introduced, you'll find that not only is everyone great, but they'll talk to anyone so you can abandon any silly ideas of cliques right here.

Over this wonderful weekend were wall to wall panels (hee hee!) which are a convention must. They ranged from such delights as 'Fantasy on the Web', 'Censorship in the Movies' and 'How the Media Affects the Genre' - that one spent some time examining the various merits of 'real' books vs. tie-ins and didn't get quite as … heated … as the discussions on where to draw the line between SF and Fantasy. My … that one was fun. It was hosted by Paul McAuley, Nicholas Royle, Stephen Laws, Douglas Winter and Simon Green who raised some good points before getting to watch the explosions in the audience as certain points of plotting were debated. I wish it could have been longer.

The Dark Terrors 3 launch party
(L to R) Paul McAuley, David Sutton,
Stephen Jones, Les Edwards, Seamus Ryan,
Conrad Williams, Joel Lane

Panels are just a small part of the whole experience - oy mama, there was so much going on - and all the names dah-lings:

We had MC Ramsey Campbell in conversation with Stephen Jones, Freda Warrington (Guest of Honour and lovely lady) in conversation with Anne Gay and Stan Nicholls, Jane Yolen in conversation with Jo Fletcher … the list is almost endless.

Speaking of whom; Jo Fletcher, Les Edwards, Seamus Ryan and Michael Marshall Smith held a book signing for Jo's new poetry collection Shadows of Light and Dark, out now from Alchemy Press. Dark Terrors 3 was also launched by the fabulous people from Gollancz and various specialist/small press peeps were touting their wares during a party around Saturday lunchtime.

There were even storytelling sessions! Top spooksters Michael Marshall Smith, Stephen Gallagher, Derek Fox, Joel Lane, Conrad Williams and Pat Cadigan told a round-robin ghost story into the wee small hours of Sunday morning which I'm told was entertaining but my favourite was the fantasy round-robin crafted by Jessica Palmer, Tom Arden, Jane Yolen, Cari Crook and Freda Warrington. What a riot! You could tell the clichés were killing 'em!

Several pencils and a trilogy
Plotting the next maga-fantasy series
(L to R) Tom Arden, Jane Yolen, Jessica Palmer, Cari Crook, Freda Warrington

Of course you can't do a FantasyCon without mentioning its popular folklore, namely the raffle (fix!), the awards (there are way too many jokes possible on that subject) and the semi-legendary antics of one Whispering John Carter, who, contrary to his raucous reputation, was very quiet (I probably don't hang out in the right bars or something) and turned out to be yet another one of those nice people I keep talking about. I'm telling you, the Convention was stuffed with 'em. Of course, the raffle, famous in its own right, was the single biggest draw (snigger) of the weekend.

Genre electronica
Fantasy on the Web
(L to R) Stan Nicholls, Gilbert Gallerne, Anne Gay, Helen Knibb, David Howe

The big Sunday Banquet was one of the better ones but I was too skint to try it out so the alternative option was milling around outside with the liquid lunchers while we waited for the awards to roll around and what you really want to know is who won what?

Winners of the 1998 British Fantasy Awards
(Back to front, L to R): Chaz Brenchley (August Derleth Award for Best Novel: Light Errant); Jo Fletcher (collecting for Ken Bulmer: Special Award for his services to the BFS); Peter Crowther (collecting for Best Short Story: 'Wageslaves' by Christopher Fowler); D. F. Lewis (Karl Edward Wagner Special Award); David Pringle (Best Small Press: Interzone);
Front L to R: Val Edwards (collecting for Best Artist: Jim Burns); David Sutton and Stephen Jones
(Best Anthology: Dark Terrors 3)

D. F. Lewis was visibly stunned when he was announced as winning the Karl Edward Wagner Award for his contribution to the genre, Best Small Press went to David Pringle's excellent Interzone, Best Artist was Jim Burns (collected by his agent, Val Edwards), Best Short Story went to 'Wage Slaves' by Christopher Fowler (collected by Douglas Winter), Best Anthology was Dark Terrors 3 edited by Stephen Jones and David Sutton, and finally, whoops of pleasure from the audience were heard as the award for Best Novel was picked up by Chaz Brenchley for Light Errant. To close the awards ceremony off, a special British Fantasy Society Award went to Ken Bulmer, the first president of the BFS and a great friend of the Society.

As well as all I've mentioned above, there were more parties and drinks and talks; new books, old books, RPG stuff, gorgeous artwork, glass sculptures from Freda Warrington … it was an absolutely fantastic event.

The BFS Committee
Di Lewis (Liaison), David J Howe (Special Projects), Debbie Bennett (Newsletter Editor), Jan Edwards (Chairperson), Ramsey Campbell (Convention MC, standing) (President), Mike Chinn (FantasyCon Adviser and Co-Treasurer), Peter Coleborn (FantasyCon Adviser and Co-Treasurer)
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