LONCON 3 [Event Report - Day 2]

PrintE-mail Written by Tony Jones

STARBURST MAGAZINE attended Day 2 of the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, LONCON 3, at London’s ExCel Centre. This report presents a few highlights.

Science fiction fans from all over the world gathered at the ExCel Centre in their thousands for the 72nd World Con. The formal event runs from the 14th to the 18th of August 2014 with one of many highlights being the presentation of the Hugo Awards on Sunday evening.

STARBURST attended the second day of LONCON3 and managed to dip into a wide range of talks, catch up with some people and take in the atmosphere.

The overall impression of LONCON3 was that there was a lot for people to do, everyone was enjoying themselves and seemed very relaxed. Apart from socialising and the main programme of talks there were art exhibitions, dealers’ tables and a massive, tented fan village on the lowest floor complete with real ale bar, TARDIS, and a very popular throne from the TV series of Game of Thrones. The ExCel is a good venue, right by hotels and public transport and LONCON3 took the eastern end of the building. There was also a tremendous range of food and drink, plenty of places to sit and although not the cheapest prices could have been a lot worse. It isn’t every day you can Tweet someone to arrange to meet by the TARDIS for a beer! The venue also organised into several floors with all the talks / panels in a set of rooms on the uppermost floor, below that a green room area for participants then the various floors for food, dealers and the gathering fans. With plenty of space, it was easy to move around and was busy without seeming crowded (except when every panel finished at the same moment!).

There were up to 14 tracks of talks / other events running at the same time and all seemed to run exactly to time and fans debated every topic in the universe with the various panels. In no particular order STARBURST checked out a talk on bad science in science fiction, use of social media for authors and a fascinating talk about Springheel’d Jack courtesy of the Wireless Theatre Company.

There was a Missing Presumed Wiped talk, which didn’t have any new Doctor Who to announce. What it did have was a whole host of programmes such as Object Z (an obscure ITV offering from the mid-1960s), Moonbase 3 and Adam Adamant Lives among others. The room was packed but not as crammed full as the Paul Cornell reading which was turning people away. Paul is about one-third of the way through writing his third Shadow Police (called James Quill by Amazon) novel. Sadly, we are sworn to secrecy regarding the title and the plot but we can say it features a universally recognised London figure. We could say more but have been threatened with horrors to dark to describe even for STARBURST readers. Paul also took questions and confirmed that he will not be bringing back Neil Gaiman in to do any more novels. On the strength of the fan reaction, the third book may well be the most successful yet and Paul gave a brief though enlightening insight into his approach to accuracy in his writing.

As the day moved from morning to late afternoon, more and more costumes appeared and sitting down to tea opposite Lara Croft, while listening to someone playing the Indiana Jones theme in the distance gives a brief sense of the flavour of events. Even with social media and free Wi-Fi, it still wasn’t possible to do everything listed on the online agenda and that, if nothing else, is the sign of a good event.

It was nice to note that, despite having passed away, Iain Banks was still very much a Guest of Honour and there were several pieces of art / exhibits in his memory. I think he will be pleased and maybe raise a wee dram along with everyone else at the convention.

If you haven’t been to an event this large in recent years, the sheer quality of the organisation and the amount of volunteering would have surprised anyone with memories of some conventions in the past and while it may (just) be too late to catch this one there is always another convention coming along somewhere.

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Photo Credit: Tony Jones

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