Our Programme Goes Up Online – via Sched

Following on from the release of our programme yesterday we’re pleased to announce the launch of our online programme at http://8squared2013.sched.org/

We’re using Sched, which allows you to view the programme and details of individual items. From the ‘Schedule’ tab you can select a variety of view of the programme, including a simple list of items, a detailed list with descriptions and participants, or the ‘grid’ view familiar from our programme guide.

Sched also allows you to set up a personal account, which allows you to build your own personal timetable of items you want to see. It’s accessible from a computer, tablet or smartphone, and will be updated to reflect amendments to our programme.

If you’re on our programme, you’ll have already received an invitation to create an account; this will allow you, if you wish, to add details to your profile so that our members can find our more about you.

We’ll still be providing a printed programme guide and paper notification of programme changes. But we’re aware of the demand for an online programme, and we hope that what we’ve put together meets this need.


Preview our Programme

Our programme is now available for preview via our web site. Please note that there may be minor changes between now and the convention, especially to details of who is on which item, but this is now pretty much what we will be running with.

We will have an online programme accessible via computer, tablet and smartphone. This will be going live soon, so watch for announcements!

SF Fandom’s Roots in Bradford – a fascinating article in the local press.

On Sunday October 14, 1951, 44 people gathered at Pat’s Cafe, Dudley Hill Top, Bradford. The photographs of this event show a gathering of earnest-looking (mainly) men in their demob suits, arranged on wooden chairs. It could be a working men’s club committee, perhaps, or a union meeting.

But it was actually the first proper, organised meeting of science fiction fans in the north, and is now considered to be one of the early sparks that became the flames of a worldwide fan movement that today sees huge conventions held around the world…

Click here to read the whole fascinating story from The Bradford Telegraph and Argus, by David Barnett.

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

Anne Sudworth’s paintings at the Olympia International Fine Art Fair, London.

Some of Anne Sudworth’s paintings will be exhibited at the Olympia International Fine Art Fair in London. This is one of the most prestigious fine art fairs, with some of the top art dealers showing their best works. The fair attracts over 30,000 visitors and shows a wide variety of arts. The fair runs from the 7th to the 17th of June 2012 at the Olympia Exhibition Centre, Hammersmith Road, London W14.

Olympia International Art Fair, London.
“150 specialist dealers from around the world keep their best pieces for this annual event. The array of stock for sale ranges from traditional and decorative furniture to contemporary art and including: 20th century furniture and design, paintings and watercolours, silver, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, kitchenalia, lighting, carpets, Art Deco, clocks, sculpture, fossils, mirrors and natural history.
With prices ranging from £100 to £1 million the fair accommodates every level of collector. Both first-time and seasoned collectors can be reassured by the knowledge that every single piece has been checked by a 100-strong team of trade experts, who ‘vet’ the show before it opens.”

Our Aims for the Eight Squared Con Programme

Browse the SF & Fantasy bookshelves – real or virtual – these days and you will see an unparalleled breadth and depth of reading on offer, with every more sophisticated ideas and understanding underpinning the entertainment. Any boundary between genre and literary fiction is becoming increasingly irrelevant as authors like Freda Warrington and China Miéville, to name merely two, write with mature and nuanced sensibility. Established writers like Jane Rogers, winner of this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award, are moving into our field, finding our genre can offer more scope than the mainstream for the ideas they wish to develop. SF&F has most certainly advanced far beyond the fast prose, fast idea standards of the pulps.

Divisions between the Science Fiction of spaceships and alien planets and the Fantasy of magical, secondary worlds have become ever more nebulous. Always outward looking, our genre now finds inspiration from other writing, from horror through crime and mystery fiction, historical and romance. Appropriately for a genre spanning time and space, we see speculative fiction both evolving and developing as well as increasingly reflecting ‘scientifiction’s’ origins in the popular reading of more than a century ago.

At the same time, the core traditions of both hard SF and traditional fantasy offer increasingly sophisticated and thoughtful stories, contemplating the challenges of our technological age and possible futures on one hand while on the other, modern epic fantasy’s reflections on the uses and abuses of power hold up a magic mirror through which to view our own lives and societies.

Speculative fiction began with books. These days we engage with alien and magical worlds through film, television, computer games, comics and graphic novels. DVD and streaming technology has changed the ways in which we engage with movies and television while tablet computers are influencing visually-driven story-telling and the advent of ebooks offers new potential for shorter forms of writing.

So our programme, like our choice of Guests of Honour, aims to celebrate the stories being told through speculative fiction in all its current diversity, with contributions from readers, writers and artists.

If you have an idea for a panel discussion, a talk or a presentation to further these aims, please do let us know. We cannot guarantee that we’ll be able to use every proposal, inevitably. Regardless all suggestions are warmly invited, along with volunteers to take part in the programme generally. Let us know your particular interests – and both specific expertise and general enthusiasm are equally valuable.

If you have seen someone offer an interesting presentation at another convention, if you have had a fascinating chat with someone who you realise will offer new and interesting perspectives on a panel, let them know that you’ve appreciated their contribution. Encourage them to contact us and take part in the convention. If you don’t know how to get in touch with them directly, tell their editor or publicist if they’re an author. If they’re another fan, contact the event organisers where you met them, to pass on a message.

Don’t badger people, obviously. We don’t want anyone to feel pressured or uncomfortable. What we want to see is those people who might feel diffident about stepping forward, encouraged to raise their hand, knowing that their participation will be most welcome.

So have a think and get in touch through prog@eightsquaredcon.org

Juliet E McKenna

Chair, Eight Squared Con