FRIDAY 6TH APRIL 2012 EASTERCON OLYMPUS 2012 THE EDWARDIAN RADISSON HEATHROW AIRPORT HOTEL
I got up about 8 30 am, and got to breakfast for about 9 am. The marvellous buffet breakfast was wonderful and all the more so for coming after the bland sometimes inedible breakfasts of my previous London accommodation.
After an hour of relaxing in the real ale bar area, and seeing various friends start arriving, I went to my first organized event of the Convention, a noon reading by Guest Of Honour, George R R Martin. The reading took place hours before the official convention opening ceremony, and George read from the as yet unpublished sixth novel in his epic Game Of Thrones series, before taking questions from the audience. I asked him whether the TV series and its success were affecting how he wrote scenes now. He assured us that the entire plot was well storyboarded and worked out well before the first book gained such TV success.
George also discussed his previous TV work, as writer on the TV series of Beauty And The Beast, featuring Ron Perlman as The Beast. Asked if Perlman would be in Game Of Thrones, George pointed out that while he’d love to involve him, Perlman is busy with his own TV series, Sons Of Anarchy.
It was a great reading and discussion, with George presented both live on stage and on a giant screen to its left, set up by the Convention tech crew. Their work would hold the entire convention together and none of us could thank them enough for what they would do in the four days to come.
I returned to the bar area which was now filling up dramatically, highlighting one of the few problems and criticisms the Con would face all weekend – there were rarely enough chairs for everyone who needed to sit down. George R R Martin’s presence as a major media celebrity (due to the runaway success of Game Of Thrones) had made Olympus the best attended Convention in several years. It was actually sold out completely. The hotel was often unable to provide seats for all. The Convention’s organizing committee provided many chairs themselves, with attendees invited to take them home afterwards, (not practical for me as I was on public transport). Getting somewhere to sit would be a problem for most of the weekend to come.
The Manchester based science fiction fans had now turned up and we received copies of Gavin Long & Caroline (cal) Loveridge’s annual FONTzine, which included two of my stories, as well as contributions by other members of FONT, and Gav’s annual diabolically hard crossword puzzle. This was actually the FONTzine’s thirteenth year in print.
Among other highlights of the first true day at any Eastercon are the opening of the dealer rooms and art show presentations. There was original SF related art from Jim Burns, Ann Sudworth, Smuzz, Eira, Fanghorn and many others. Much was up for auction but outside my buget.
The book dealers had many bargains on offer. I bought several additions to my SF Masterworks collection for just £10.00, and an anthology of Cthulhu stories. From visits to the tombola stalls I would get to add other titles over the weekend.
At 3 pm I attended the first Masquerade / cabaret sign up meeting, as I had a routine to present in the Cabaret. Many others were there discussing their requirements for their respective acts, and presentations. It was already looking like an exciting show.
5pm Appropriately, the next event I attended was a science fiction on stage discussion, run by dramatist Dave Wake (whose shows I have been involved in as a minor player at previous conventions. His panel and audience discussed the difficulties of bringing science fiction to the stage. Many assume it will be big budget impossibility but it often proves to be relatively low cost to produce. A few SF and horror plays have had great success, notably The Rocky Horror Show, The Little Shop Of Horrors and Wicked. Fantast work seems to fare better on stage than hard Science Fiction work, but mention was given to recent Manchester productions, such as The Lass O’ Gowrie’s staging of Russell T Davies’s Dr Who story Midnight, and Alan Moore’s The Ballad Of Halo Jones. I saw these though it was another attendee who mentioned them. Sadly I never got to meet the chap later in the convention.
Pantomime and children’s theatre was also highlighted as a rich vein of stage produced science fiction, so there are certainly SF works out there.
At 6pm I attended an ambitious and physically demanding Acting Workshop run by the delightful Ruby Sahota. We were really put through our paces here, with warm up exercises including running round, catching a ball, etc. We were then given to passing round various objects, including a pen, and a purse. We had to react emotively to them, feeling pain, revulsion (disgust0, and sorrow at them being lost. We were paired up and given imaginary props to make a short dramatic or comical sketch from. My partner and I had to use a ladder, and came up with a neighbour borrowing it while someone was still up on the ladder, causing him (me) to fall off.
We read scripted lines from a rather confusing play about an alien child trying to fit in at a human school. I was the school bully giving the visitor a rough time.
Ruby was very keen on feedback to the workshop and continued to offer us advice and support in the bar after we vacated the room (needed for another programme item). Her support and dedication to her event participants was exceptional.
The workshop running so long meant I missed the main evening meal at the hotel, but a late night burger and chips stand was set up in the con bar area, and I was very happy to make use of its services. The rest of the night just involved alcohol, chocolate and finding somewhere to sit down. It was a lovely start to what was already shaping up to be the best Eastercon ever.
For more information on FONT see http://arthurchappell.me.uk/manchester.font.science.fiction.group.htm
And back issues of FONTzine are online here http://www.gavncal.demon.co.uk/fontzine/index.html