Bristolcon 2013 – Science, soft-toys and Squidpunk

Is this squid a punk? (Image: Shutterstock / panda3800)

I’d liked to start this blog with three cheers for everyone who organised this years Bristolcon.

Hip hip, hooray!

Hip hip, hooray!

Hip hip, hooray!

What a wonderful event it was. One of the friendliest cons I have ever been too, full of smiling faces left, right and centre. Everything seemed to run like clockwork and everyone I spoke to said they enjoyed it.

Is this squid a punk? (Image: Shutterstock / panda3800)
Is this squid a punk? (Image: Shutterstock / panda3800)

The good news is that folk also said they enjoyed my two panels. The first, ‘The Evolution of Genre’, saw me in the moderator’s chair to a packed crowd alongside Joanne Hall, Jonathan L. Howard, Lou Morgan and Dev Agarwal. It was a lively discussion about trends in genre fiction, comics and films taking in all manner of subjects, including the rise of the anti-hero, how YA is blurring genre boundaries and even the creation of an entire new sub-genre, courtesy of Miss Hall. Expect to see Squidpunk romantic fiction very, very soon. Probably.

A point that came up time and time again was that writers shouldn’t sit down and write with specific genres in mind. Very true that one. Chasing genres stifles creativity as you find yourself trapped within artificially created boundaries. Better to just go for it and follow the story. You can always try to pigeon-hole it later if you really feel the need.

The one question we didn’t answer was ‘what will be the next big trend?’ Is it surprising? Even if we knew, do you think we’d blab it out in a panel? No, we’d be laughing all the way to the bank. Although saying that, Jo wouldn’t stop going on about Squidpunk. Perhaps she really does know something we don’t.

Later, I turned up on the ‘How Science Got Its Groove Back Panel’ which saw us talking about everything from 3D Printing and the Starship Enterprise to whether religion has a place in science fiction and how the human race will cope with inevitable economic collapse. I even managed to squeeze in a David Bellamy impression (without the big bushy beard unfortunately) It was great fun, even though moderator Peter Sutton had managed to track down a rather peculiar quote from me. Way back in 2010, during an interview for the Un:Bound website, I was asked: “If you were a sentient soft toy, what would you be?”

My answer was apparently this: “I think I’d be a cuddly mongoose that is harbouring a dark, dark secret. Or an owl with a former crack habit. Or a paranoid frog.”

I’d completely forgotten I’d said until Peter read it out during my introduction. I think I’ve changed since then. I’d probably be a bemused frog now.

The Groovy Science Panel at Bristolcon 2013 (Photo: Gardner Goldsmith)
The Groovy Science Panel at Bristolcon 2013 (Photo: Gardner Goldsmith)

One of the other highlights of the con  was the lovely Emma Newman interviewing one of my favourite children’s authors Philip Reeve. Mr Reeve waxed lyrical about Excalibur, a defining film from his youth and entertained us with tales of his proto-steampunk, Victorian Mad Max film, which sounds like it was beset by more disasters than Apocalypse Now. Eventually the film would evolve into Mortal Engines, a YA adventure that I’d recommend to anyone young or old. I’ll even forgive him for saying that he wished that instead of bringing back Doctor Who the BBC had created something new. I can see where he’s coming from, but could never agree with that, could I? 

As an aside, after the con I searched online to see if there were audiobooks available of Mortal Engines and it sequels and there doesn’t seem to be, which is a crying shame. There used to be one narrated by Kenneth Branagh but it seems to have been deleted. Someone make new ones immediately and that’s an order.

At the con bar, with SFX Dave Bradley and comic legend Mark Buckingham. Dave thought we were doing three wise monkeys. We unfortunately never received the memo.
At the con bar, with SFX Dave Bradley and comic legend Mark Buckingham. Apparently, Dave thought we were doing three wise monkeys. We unfortunately never received the memo. (Photo: Gardner Goldsmith)

There were lots of great moments, of course. Catching up with my old buddy, Gardner Goldsmith (if you see him at a convention ask him about his Red Dwarf story), continuing to plan the X-Men musical with Lou (it will happen one day) and meeting Paul and Caroline Cornell’s lovely son, Tom (although I think I made him cry). All in all, another runaway success for Bristolcon. Someone was even selling cakes in the dealer’s room. Cakes at a con! What a brilliant idea. I’m already looking forward to next year’s.

Now, if you’d excuse me, I need to start work on my epic Squidpunk trilogy…



  1. Now if I could just get my 14-volume squidpunk romance epic to an agent…. 😉

    Seriously, it was brilliant being on a panel with you, thanks for being a great moderator! Hope to catch up with you soon 🙂

Join the discussion! Leave a comment below!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.