I attended both days of Newcon 4, plus I took more pictures than Niall, so some thoughts on the Sunday panels and the convention in general:
- The Fishmarket in Northampton is a really nice venue – light, airy, right in the town centre, and there’s even a garden outside. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible venue for a panel discussion because it lacks certain features essential in a panel room, like walls and a ceiling. I went to less panels than I otherwise would have, because I wasn’t willing to put in the effort to listen to anything. I started watching the “Are Graphic Novels the future of Genre Magazines?” panel and gave up when I realised that no one had a clear idea of what it was going to be about, and I could go and sit in the sunshine.
- I did make it to Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod in conversation with John Clute, which was only an hour and could have easily stretched to two. It wasn’t a typical Guest of Honour interview – as Clute himself admits, he’s not that good at interviewing unless you’re happy with a question which lasts for three minutes and confuses your interviewee, but it was a fascinating discussion. They started out with a discussion of the public persona of the author and those of Banks and MacLeod in particular, and moved to the reviews in New Worlds by Clute and M. John Harrison (Banks called it a move away from ‘cosy criticism’), and how they wanted to write the science fiction they would like. I hadn’t seen Banks speak before, and I liked how relaxed, laid-back, and most of all how funny he was.
- The last panel was Just an SF-ing Minute, starring Banks, MacLeod, and Cornell, plus Ian Watson and someone else whose name I have forgotten but was pretty funny. An hour was possibly too long, but we did get such gems as Iain Banks channeling Ian Watson, and Paul Cornell’s whole minute on the sonic screwdriver.
- Acoustic problems aside, it was a fine little convention which I will attend again, especially given it’s so close to home and attracts so many cool people.
- And on a final note of fangirl squee, I met Alan Moore! Who was extremely nice when confronted with a tongue-tied person shaking his hand.
- More pictures here.