Too old for the crèche? Too young for the bar? Eastercon and Junior Members.

We are delighted to announce that children’s and young adult novelist Francesca Barbini (F. T. Barbini), author of the science fiction series Tijaran Tales, will be running a writers’ workshop especially for younger writers. You don’t need to bring anything with you, but if you’re between 11 and 18, come along for tips, techniques, guidance and advice.

Across the weekend, we’re putting together a programme to interest members of all ages. Indeed, teenage con-goers will be among those discussing recent films, TV and gaming on panels. With regards to books, we have two panels particularly worth noting; New Classics for Old Fans, where young adult readers recommend some of the latest good books in the field, while Old Classics for New Fans will see some of those who have been reading Young Adult books since before the term was invented recommend early examples, however they were marketed at the time.

We now have volunteers, including more of our teenage members, to staff the Games Room, under the overall supervision of David Cheval, who is also running the LARP. If you’re interested in taking part in that, don’t forget to check out the Ithica LARP homepage and sign up.

As well as the Doctor Who broadcast on Saturday evening, there will be a full video programme running through the weekend.

The volunteers who’ve organised ‘Cyberdrome’ at past conventions wish to take a break this year. So do keep an eye on the Newsletter for informal junior fun such as the recently proposed Paperchain Competition. Details to follow at the convention.

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EightSquaredCon’s Entertainments – Zulus, Music and Magic

As SF and Fantasy increasingly looks beyond its traditional European focus, we are delighted to announce that the convention’s opening night will see Zulu Tradition take to the stage in the Cedar Court.

From Kwa-Zulu Natal to venues worldwide, this vibrant troupe are rekindling the spark of Zulu culture and heritage, through song, dance and drums. They specialise in traditional Zulu warrior song and dance compilations. Imagine a youthful mixed gender Ladysmith Black Mambazo with high energy kicks; the raw power of acappella voices; the enchantment of the story; the pounding rhythm of the African drums and the energy of the dance.

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Zulu Tradition have performed internationally in Africa, Europe and Russia. They first hit national TV in the UK in 2010 and in South Africa when they performed at the first ever UN sanctioned Nelson Mandela Day at the British Museum. They also work with schools all over the UK on cultural understanding and racial integration projects via workshops including music, dance, art, culture and language. You can find out more via their website and also at the panel before the performance where group members will talk about their heritage, their act, and their cultural work.

On Saturday night, EightSquaredCon’s costume event, the Mirror Mirror Ball, will see trad-goth band Witching Hour in the spotlight, providing the live music. Now a two-piece band consisting of Alys Sterling and Trevor Barnes, Witching Hour’s roots go back to 1991 and a series of gigs in legendary venues like Powerhaus in London, and Cafe Transylvania in Birmingham. They have played support for bands such as Dream Disciplines and London After Midnight.

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In 2006, playing a private Halloween party started a new chapter in the Witching Hour story (yes, that is Tim Burton in that photograph with Trevor and Alys). The band’s back catalogue is now available on iTunes and CD. Promo videos for She’s Alive, Your Cries and Carnival of Souls can be found on YouTube and recent gigs have included spots at The Purple Turtle in Camden, a goth festival in Birmingham and playing in Madrid with The Eternal Fall. 2011 saw their second album, Raven, released. Learn more at witchinghouruk.com

Incidentally, Witching Hour are very happy for people to record their live performances and post them on YouTube and the like. So feel free to bring your cameras and phones along.

To complete your Saturday night, we’re very fortunate to have a performance from John Lenahan, magician, comedian, novelist and the original voice of Red Dwarf’s Talkie Toaster. The first person to be ejected from the Magic Circle in 85 years, for exposing the truth behind the 3-card trick on TV, John is one of the UK’s most sought-after magical entertainers. He first came to this country for a short visit from his native Philadelphia and somehow never made it back. Since then he has appeared on prime-time shows for the BBC and ITV, as a presenter, entertainer and hoax-buster. He’s appeared on stage alongside Jack Dee, Victoria Wood and Lenny Henry.

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John has also built a career as a fantasy novelist, drawing on his professional skills to create a highly successful podcast introducing his teenage hero Conor and the Celtic-inspired fantasy world he gets tangled up with. That’s Conor, obviously, not John. Hopefully. Though he is a magician. Who knows what could happen? Assuming we’re not all swept away to Tir Na Nog, you’ll have a chance to learn more about John’s writing, beginning with “Shadowmagic” through the course of the convention. You can find out all sorts of things about his other talents at johnlenahan.com (Do check out the video clip about the Puppy Scam).


Your mission should you choose to accept it – EightSquaredCon’s Games Room

We find ourselves without a games room coordinator at this late stage and so are seeking one or more volunteers to fill this role. The duties are not onerous; the coordinator is responsible for ensuring that the room is locked up, keeping track of any games which have been lent, and a certain amount of encouraging/assisting people to play games.

This adventure is suitable for one or two mid-level characters, at least one of whom should be at least partially nocturnal.

Please contact info@eightsquaredcon if you would like to volunteer for this role.


J.B.Priestley – EightSquaredCon’s Ghost of Honour.

Once we knew we would be holding Eastercon in Bradford, we wanted to honour a local SF writer. One of our local members, Colin Fine, promptly suggested J.B. Priestley. Barely a moment’s thought showed us what a very good idea this was. Most of the Committee recall studying one or other of his plays at school. When my class did ‘Time and the Conways’, I distinctly remember the thrill of realising you could have time travel in an English lesson as well as in Doctor Who. Thirty years later, a good few of the convention’s teenagers enjoyed ‘An Inspector Calls’ as a GCSE set text just last year. His quietly durable work is well worth a fresh look as modern literary writers increasingly adopt SF ideas and themes. Priestley was doing that decades ago, as well as using elements of the fantastic to address political and social debates; a tradition which continues to this day.

Our Committee member Kari, who knows her way around academe, traced the Priestley Archive to Bradford University. She was soon liaising with Alison Cullingford, librarian in charge of the Archive and a member of the Priestley Society’s steering committee. Consequently we are delighted to welcome Lee Hansen of The Priestley Society to EightSquaredCon as a guest speaker. As well as offering an overview of Priestley’s life and work, this talk will look at the inclusion of new technologies in his fiction, at his interest in time theories, and at his friendship with HG Wells. Did you know that Priestley gave the address at HG Wells’s funeral? No, me neither. I cannnot wait to learn more.

For further information, do visit The J.B.Priestley Society website.

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Photograph courtesy of the J.B. Priestley Archive, University of Bradford


Because readers are writers and writers are readers – opportunities for chat, signings and honing your own creativity at EightSquaredCon.

We often debate the difficulties of drawing a dividing line between SF and Fantasy in our beloved genre. But what about the challenge of establishing where ‘reader’ ends and ‘writer’ begins? Every published writer started out as a reader and any number of readers are busily writing in their spare time; some in hopes of publication, some just to share their enthusiasms with friends, some entirely for their own satisfaction.

One of the great pleasures of any convention is having a chance to chat with your favourite writers and maybe getting your books signed. Even better, you may find yourself drawn into conversation with a favourite author and another writer in the same genre whose works you haven’t read yet. Occasionally, you’ll get chatting to someone and only discover in the course of conversation that they’re a writer you’ve heard of but not read – and you would never have dared to talk to them if you’d known, for fear of having to admit that!

This year, EightSquaredCon are planning Genre Get-Together sessions in the Cedar Court’s Conservatory over the course of the weekend. These will be somewhere between a kaffeeklatch and a formal signing. Authors working in the same sub-genre within the broad scope of speculative fiction will be able to sit and chat with each other and like-minded readers. So come along with a beer, coffee or other beverage of choice to join in the conversation.

These Get-Togethers will be your chance to bring your books to be signed, so make sure you check out this particular schedule. This is also where we’ll be offering the free books so generously donated by the publishers supporting Eastercon. While it’s great to get a book in your welcome pack, it’s less of a thrill if it’s a title you’ve already got. So we’re trying to find the best way to get the right books into the right hands. Do come along and see what’s on offer.

For more formal discussion of writing by our Guests of Honour, we’re running book groups on Walter Jon Williams’ ‘This Is Not A Game’ (and sequels), and Freda Warrington’s ‘Elfland’ (and doubtless her other books will get mentioned). The Edward James discussion will focus on ‘The Origins of France: From Clovis to the Capetians 500-1000’. Get reading and come along to talk about the books and the ideas and people within them.

For those looking for more detailed insight into the craft of writing, we’re scheduling panels on editing truths and myths, on characterisation, on scene-setting and also on the how and why that drives a story; motivation and internal consistency. Editors and writers will be sharing their practical experience and observations from both sides of publishing. You can also find a current list of attending authors on the website , though bear in mind that list will doubtless be subject to change between now and the convention itself.

You can put actual pen to paper at one or both of our two Flash Fiction Writing Workshops. One will focus on fanfiction with a crossover potential, the other will offer genre prompts for timed fiction writing. Sharing your writing will be encouraged but not compulsory. For the fanfiction workshop, please be ready to suggest at least two fandoms (books, shows or movies you’ve enjoyed). No experience is required and these sessions will be led by Tanya Brown and Kate Keen, both of whom are capable, amiable and well practised at running such workshops.

There will be a Poetry Read-Around, for those who express themselves in verse, whether blank or rhymed. This will be a performance session rather than a critical or analytical one. Simply bring along some poems and take your turn sharing them with a friendly audience.

So whether you’re a reader first, or a writer first, come along to one or more of these events and be inspired.


Book it and Secure it or Lose it – A Gentle Reminder about your Accommodation

We currently have a few rooms left in the Midland and some more in Jury’s Inn but with just four weeks to go, all of the EightSquaredCon hotels are filling up fast. The Campanile and the Cedar Court are now full.

If you have booked your membership online but not yet been assigned a hotel please email accommodation@eightsquaredcon.org straight away.

If you have been emailed to confirm which hotel you are in, please contact your hotel and make sure that you have secured your room with a credit/debit card by 7 March at the absolute latest.

We will stop taking bookings for hotels on 15th March. Any rooms which are unsecured by debit/credit card at that point are released back to the hotel.

We look forward to seeing you in Bradford at the end of the month!


Ithica – A Chance for Peace – the LARP for EightSquaredCon

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.

Any other questions? There’s a useful FAQ on the Ithica LARP website and you can also email IthicaLARP@gmail.com direct.

Federated Republics of Ithica

House Cain

Shale

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