Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

Progress on EightSquared is gathering pace, as those who’ve already joined up will see from our Progress Report 1 now being emailed and posted. For those of you still checking with diaries, finances and families, here are a few thoughts prompted by my role as Chair.

EightSquared will be the 64th Eastercon. Eight squared, four cubed, two to the – (counts on fingers, consults someone more at ease with Hard Sums) sixth power, to interest mathematicians. In the early days of home computing we had the Commodore 64 and the marvels of the ZX Spectrum with a whole 64 kilobytes of memory. More recently, portable computer memory first became widespread through 64 megabyte datasticks. So far, so good, thematically, for the scientifically inclined.

For those drawn to the fantastic? Chess is played on an eight by eight square and offers every element of epic tales; kings, queens, knights, castles, a struggle for power sacrificing helpless pawns to secure victory, with bishops (or mages) providing supernatural power and inspiration. Old-style fantasy fiction pitched black against white in the eternal struggle between Light and Dark. Modern epics explore chequerboard reality with black and white or good and evil intermingled, with race, gender and belief no longer seen as either/or issues.

Isn’t it fascinating how quickly we can find so many associations with a simple number? There is no single speculative fiction definition of the number 64, just as there is no one definitive form of science fiction or fantasy narrative as our genre comes to the fore in books, films, TV and computer games, from cyber-thrillers to military SF to epic and urban fantasy to steampunk to whatever the next big new thing will be.

Our fascinating and talented Guests of Honour are Walter Jon Williams, Freda Warrington, Anne Sudworth and Edward James. Their work exemplifies the breadth and depth of ideas explored through science fiction and fantasy, through the visual arts and written and spoken words.

Let’s have a convention where all the different perspectives on our beloved genre are accommodated, debated and celebrated, offering everyone the chance to share their enthusiasms and to encounter something new and unimagined. Add your own voice and thoughts to the weekend’s discussions as a programme participant or by suggesting a topic for discussion. All perspectives welcome.

Juliet E McKenna,
Chair, EightSquared Convention

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