Just back from ArmadaCon, Plymouth’s annual Science Fiction & fantasy convention. This was its 26th year, and it’s easy to see why it’s been running for so long – it was an excellent weekend, in a nice hotel full of friendly, funny and fascinating folk. I didn’t bother taking many photos (my ‘phone can’t cope with hotel lighting) but I did do some drawings. I’ve never been much good at capturing likenesses, but the costumes were fun to draw.
There was a nice line in the play by David Wake which opened proceedings on Friday night, when some time travellers arrive at a 2014 convention and say, ‘Are you sure this is 2014? Everyone seems to be dressed in Victorian clothes…’ A lot of the ArmadaCon regulars also attend the Discworld convention in Wincanton and/or take part in historical re-enactments, so there were some impressive mediaeval, Civil War and Napoleonic outfits on parade as well as at least two Doctors Who – but the default setting for SF fans now seems to be Victoriana, which is a bit bizarre. Still, the ‘Tea Duelling’ was fun, as pairs of frock-coated or be-crinollined competitors tried to out-genteel each other over tea and biscuits, under the watchful eye of organiser Dave Trace, with cello accompaniment by the amazing Miss Von Trapp. The lady in the trilby and the leg-of-mutton sleeves is meant to be the brilliant Frances Hardinge, who was guest of honour at ArmadaCon 25 and enjoyed it so much that she came back for more this year.
Meanwhile, much strangeness was going on in the lobby, where the very elaborate looking ArmadaCon fan film was being shot (it should be ready in time for ArmadaCon 27). Actual science was provided by Gary Loveridge and Dr Bob (AKA Amanda Kear), who gave entertaining talks on (respectively) the Rosetta mission and strange reproductive techniques in fact and science fiction.
Andrew Cartmel (not pictured here) arrived on Saturday to talk about his books and his time as script of editor of Dr Who (back in the Sylvester McCoy years, which I mostly missed, but the episode he showed stood up very well). And the charity auction on Sunday raised over £1500 for St Luke’s Hospice, a very good cause indeed.
I had to dash off straight after the auction, so apologies to all the people I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to – I really enjoyed your company, and I’m sure I’ll be back next year for more. Thank you so much for inviting me along!
Sarah McIntyre and I had a great time last Friday at the North Cornwall Book Festival. It was a long drive, especially for my son, who had had a collision with a low-flying skateboard the previous day and looked as if he’d just gone six rounds with Jack Dempsey, but once we got to Endellion there was a warm welcome from chairman Patrick Gale and the rest of the team, and I finally got to meet Matt Haig (and learned that his wife’s brother is none other than the great Dave Semple, who drew the excellent cover illustrations for my Goblins series).
Ever since Sarah and I started doing the Cakes in Space show we’ve been haunted by the knowledge that sooner or later we’d forget a major prop, and sure enough we did – the Nom-O-Tron somehow didn’t make its way into the car. But Sue Harbour-Robertson, owner of the lovely house where the festival was held, came to our rescue, providing us with random vegetables and bits of electronic equipment, so the crisis was over almost before we’d had time to start panicking.
That was the last Cakes in Space event of the year, but we’ll be dusting off our spacesuits again for various festivals and schools events next spring.
I’ll be doing another West Country event soon; the ArmadaCon science fiction convention in Plymouth. The programme is starting to take shape over on their website, and I know that the guests will also include Doctor Who writer Andrew Cartmel. I’ll be talking about my own work from Mortal Engines to Cakes in Space, and I’m also putting together a talk about some of the things which have influenced me over the years.
Unfortunately the North Cornwall gig meant that I couldn’t make it to BristolCon this year, but I gather it was as good as ever, and next year’s has already been announced, with Jaine Fenn and Jasper Fforde as guests of honour, so I will make sure I get there on September 26th 2015.
… which is why I haven’t posted much here recently. It doesn’t stop the indefatigable McIntyre, though; she has written detailed accounts of our adventures in Budleigh Salterton and at the Isle of Man LitFest.
Photo: Sarah Reeve
Now we have a short breather and a chance for Sarah to work like crazy on the pictures for Reeve & McIntyre Book 3, and for me to enjoy some nice long walks in the autumn sunshine. Then we’re off to the North Cornwall Book Festival, where we’ll be appearing on Friday 24th October.
Before then, on Saturday 11th, you’ll be able to find me at my local comics shop, Gnash Comics in Ashburton, where I’ll be helping to support the Books Are My Bag campaign for bookshops. And I’m also sorting out what I’ll be doing at Armadacon in Plymouth. Both of those are solo Reeve events – no Sarah McIntyre, no spacesuit, and definitely none of this sort of thing…