Live Action Role Playing (LARP for short) is one of the many ways that SF and fantasy fans can engage with their favourite genre’s stories. It’s a natural development of the questioning, active reading that speculative fiction demands. A story set in a spaceship, near or far future, or on an entirely unknown world, constantly ask us to imagine ourselves somewhere else, where the rules we know don’t necessarily apply, whether they’re the laws of physics or a pre-industrial society. Role-playing games, whether table-top or live action, take that one step further, drawing players into the story-weaving directly. So it should come as no surprise to learn that a great many of the genre’s most successful authors have a background in gaming, including one of our Guests of Honour, Walter Jon Williams.
If you played the Red Planet LARP at last year’s Eastercon, you’ll be very pleased to know that David Cheval is running the game again this year. The EightSquared event is set in the Ithica universe and promises diplomacy, intrigue, espionage and warfare among the representatives and leaders of Ithica’s three main factions; the Federated Republics, the Kingdom of Umu or the Shale Empire. There will be some neutral parties too and each group will offer players its own style, advantages and disadvantages.
Previous experience certainly isn’t essential. If you’ve never played a LARP before – if you’ve never heard of it before – you’ll be very welcome to come along and join in regardless. Costume isn’t essential either, though if you think it’ll help you get into character, feel free.
The game will start on Friday, running from 6 – 8 pm. Saturday and Sunday sessions will run 12 noon – 2 pm and 6 – 8 pm, with a final wrap up on Monday from 12 – 2 pm. You’re not committed to every session scheduled throughout the weekend though. We know there will be programme items you’ll want to go to instead. Just let David and the team know you won’t be at a particular session and the story can be tweaked to accommodate you. That’s the whole point of role-playing; it’s interactive.
You can find out all sorts of background at the Ithica LARP website. You can also register in advance, to develop your character and get a feel for the scenario. There is an upper cap on numbers, so the sooner you register, the sooner we can gauge the level of interest and plan accordingly.
When we talk about SF, most of us initially think of books, TV and film. This is how the majority of us engage with the arcane, the adventurous, the otherworldly, whether those world are unseen realms alongside our own or distant planets. If we take that step from enjoying SF to attempting to create something ourselves, these are the paths which most of us are able to venture down, to some degree at least. Far fewer of us can ever hope to translate what we see in our mind’s eye into a drawing, a painting or some three-dimensional artwork. The rest of us stand in awe of those with such talents.
This artistic aspect is a priceless asset for our genre, and not just because so many writers will cite a particular picture or illustration as an inspiration, any number of times. You only have to look at the best of the artwork adorning our books. We also have graphic novels; a marvellous and evolving story-telling medium in its own right. Add to that, we have the drawings and paintings inspired by pure imagination, to hang on our walls, to offer us a daily reminder of all there is to be found beyond the routine and the mundane. Our Artist Guest of Honour, Anne Sudworth, is internationally renowned for just such glorious and absorbing artwork.
Anne will be exhibiting a selection of her work at EightSquaredCon, along with range of other talented artists working in a broad range of different styles. There will be work for sale, with the Art Auction held on Sunday morning. There’ll also be an opportunity to meet the artists, to learn more about what inspires them and how they work.
So make sure you make the time to visit the Art Show. It will be open from 12 noon to 6 pm on Friday. 9 am to 9 pm on Saturday and 9 am to 11 am on Sunday. After closing for the auction, it will re-open for pick ups and after auction sales at 4 pm. The show will finally close at 6 pm but will still allow pick ups while everything is being dismantled, just no sales will be possible.
If you’d like to know more about getting involved as an artist yourself, or indeed, to help the tireless team of Robbie, Dave and John without whom none of this would be possible, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the cover for Freda Warrington’s forthcoming book, the third Aetherial Tale after Elfland and Midsummer Night. The amazing artist is KY Craft.
Freda’s also been keeping a close watch on recent developments in the age-old and as it turns out, on-going story of King Richard III. This won’t surprise those of you familiar with The Court of the Midnight King, her novel exploring this tale from an alternate reality. She writes more about this on her blog where she also hints at interesting possibilities for those fans with ereaders…
Science Fiction and Fantasy has always sustained a fine tradition of small press publishing. Furthermore in recent years, the genre has generally led the way in taking advantage of print-on-demand and internet-based technologies, to offer new opportunities for readers and writers alike to connect with each other.
EightSquaredCon would like to offer small press and independent/author-led publishing initiatives the opportunity to show fans what they’re offering over the course of the weekend. However as those of you who were at LX in 2009 will recall, our Dealer Room space is limited. Accordingly, we’re proposing to hold morning sessions in the Conservatory on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, where such publishers can reserve a table to sell their books and talk about exactly what they do, how and why, to interested con-goers.
If you’re interested in taking part in such a session, please email email@example.com as soon as possible. Once we know the level of demand, we can arrange the precise details.
For long-standing fans it hardly seems to need saying that SF conventions only run thanks to the great many people volunteering to help. Though after recent instances which suggest some people aren’t aware of this, perhaps it is worth a reminder. Everyone working on the convention is a volunteer, from the Committee on down. And there is a lot of work to be done. An average Eastercon of recent years has around 800 members of whom around 200 keep the convention running smoothly by helping out to a greater or lesser degree.
You can volunteer for just an hour or for several shifts over several days. It’s up to you and all help is appreciated, from folk lending a hand with putting out chairs or setting up a room for a panel, to helping with the tech for major items, to taking a turn as door security for Art Show or the Dealers’ Room. It’s also a great way to get to know new people.
This is a long-standing tradition of SF conventions and other fan organisations from their earliest days. A much-cherished anecdote has a young author explaining that now he was published he was too important to help out, only to be interrupted by Isaac Asimov emerging from a back room asking for more envelopes to fill.
We have the following Heads of Section working on EightSquared at the moment, in addition to the committee:
Mark Young – Ops
Steve & Alice Lawson – Registration
Alison Scott – Newsletter
Farah Mendlesohn – Dealers Room
Robbie Bourget & John Harold – Art Show
Marcus Streets & John Harold – Gophers
Deborah Crook – Tech
Austin Benson – Green Room
If you want to support them by helping out in any of these areas please fill in our volunteer form, or contact us and we’ll pass your details on. Alternatively, you can volunteer at the convention itself. We’ll be scheduling introductory and briefing sessions, so you don’t have to have any previous experience. An extra pair of hands will always be appreciated.
Volunteering is an excellent way of finding out just what con-running involves, if it’s something you’re interesting in getting involved with in the longer term. Looking forward, 2014 will see Eastercon in Glasgow, thanks to the dedicated and enthusiastic fans stepping forward to make up the Satellite 4 Committee. After that? We’re keen to hear from anyone putting together a bid for 2015.
“The great blade entered the writhing torso, separating rib from rib like the Argo forging its way between a fleshy, fatty Scylla and a gory Charybdis. The creature screeched, great gouts of oleaginous ichor spurting from the gaping maw of the wound, limbs thrashing and flailing like the uncontrolled tentacles of a electrocuted giant squid. Jets of steaming blood, dark and thick as ancient treacle, re-decorated the walls, like some eldritch modern artist let loose with a massive spray can, and washed across the floor in glutinous, foul waves.”
From the Epic of Gilgamesh onwards, heroes and villains have been meeting their deaths. And from those early times, writers have been finding new and variably effective ways to describe those deaths. From Lleu Llaw Gyffes (one foot in the bath, one foot on a goat) to Little Nell and beyond, some are moving, some are tragic, some mundane – and some, regrettably, risible.
Yet while bad sex scenes have long had their own award, these dodgy deaths go unacclaimed. EIghtSquared believes it’s time to redress this balance. Bring along your favourite badly-written death scene or write your own and read them aloud in this light-hearted programme item and vie for the grand prize of a round of applause and some chocolate.