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November 20th, 2021 · No Comments

Bav calling Orson… 

So, BristolCon 2021 happened! Like It Actually Happened!

After 2020 became an online-only event it was a question of needing to get back to the in-person event track… but keeping our virtual presence too. Becoming a truly hybrid convention would be a stretch goal, but I feel like we’ve taken that first step.  It seems to have gone reasonably well.

Without a doubt, the biggest challenge for the committee this year was doing our first Convention with a remote accessing MEG. I think it’s fair to say a chairman deciding not to attend a convention because of everyone’s health is the strongest act of leadership there is… but I won’t dwell, except to say, everyone at the convention was touched by the personal act of sacrifice.

We were blessed with two amazing guests of honour for our return, both Gemmell Award shortlisted author Anna Smith Spark (Empires of dust) and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky (Shadows of apt, Children of Time) who not only took part in panels and interviews but also briefly became part of our unloading/loading crew!

Our slightly smaller offering allowed us to open up more spaces for people, saw us a little less cramped, but didn’t reduce the quality of the content at all. From a panel that saw BristolCon favourite Steve McHugh declare himself the new global tyrant, to discovering that a podcast about aliens, cats, and taking off and nuking from orbit can be quite romantic actually. The whole day felt like family coming home.

Our family extended its reach again this year, to the distant lands of Pasadena with first-time attendee J. Dianne Dotson and, via Perth (the really far away one), we welcomed back Alicia Wanstall-Burke.

Both had celebratory news, with Alicia marrying Graham Austin-King, and Dianne becoming engaged to two-times BristolCon Guest of Honour Gareth L. Powell. We managed to give them a cheer during our publisher’s event with Handheld Press, which included the lovely touch of voting for readings, a lot of little nibbles, and a lovely glass or two of something tasty.

Reading back through past chairman’s reports/thank yous, I note that we’ve always been a convention that seems to grow. We add a workshop stream, or we add a panel room. Way back in 2010 Joey and MEG added an extra half a day and a brand new hotel! This year, we added some firsts…

  • Our first-ever live stream of a panel room (we managed well over 80% using the made-up statistics rule)
  • We had our first chill-out area featuring a live-stream from panel one
  • Our first-ever recording of a Podcast (thanks to Dianne and Gareth for letting us be a part of that)
  • Our first ever online art gallery set up by the fabulous Andy. 
  • The first time we didn’t have a female chair (shall we wait another ten years eh MEG?)
  • Our first Discord inclusive event with Mark running the online chats (we’re looking to keep those going throughout the year!)

But it was also a year of repeats

  • Another year where the hotel staff were brilliant (I think they used up all their staff on Saturday which left them understaffed on Sunday. Apologies to all the Sunday stayers, including myself!).
  • A wonderful Art Room filled with models, paintings, photographic art, comic book art…  a really lovely display
  • A truly splendid array of wares and lovely people in the dealer room. 

Our grateful thanks go to everyone who attended, took part, hosted workshops, moderated, and shifted furniture. Without you, BristolCon would not happen.

As with every year, we had a sterling crew of members helping and committee members doing outstanding work. A special mention to Simon who not only didn’t get to have me bumbling about during set up, but also ran the live stream and the audio mixer in Panel Room one!

And so… with the last sentence of this report, I’m happy to say I was Chair for 2021, but even happier to say MEG returns as Chair for 2022!

As I said in the closing ceremony… BristolCon22 Electric Boogaloo!

Tags: Events