I'm an unashamed Fantasy and Science Fiction Reader. I firstly blame my uncle who gave me a box set of the Chronicles of Narnia when I made my Communion and later a neighbour who answered my mother's plea to save her from having to buy a lot of books for the summer when I was 11 or 12 by introducing me to Andre Norton's Witch World and Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels (Dragonflight is the first). Those stick in my mind and I still revisit them occasionally.
It isn't surprising, then, that at the beginning of March (March 4th-6th) I was to be found at P-Con, or Phoenix Con. One of the two major Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions in Dublin (the other is older, Octocon). RF Long, one of the writers reviewed P-Con from her point of view here.
Unfortunately for me I was a little under the weather for this convention, so I missed the Friday night as usually it's more of a gathering of people, with a certain amount of revelry, so I decided to pass. Saturday morning saw me up and ready for the off. I had taken a quick look on the website to decide what to go to first, so I picked up my badge and headed for the Panel on Disasters, this year the convention decided to have lunch times, during previous years I had to make some unhappy decisions to keep my caffeine levels at an acceptable level. I was on the panel for one programme piece, on the Sunday, about the Future of Libraries, where we talked about some of the issues that face the libraries in the future and about some futuristic visions of libraries.
But the panels aren't the most important part of going to a convention like this, the most important part for me is meeting up with people like R F Long, and C E Murphy and Maura McHugh and Juliet McKenna and many others. Some of these people are folks I knew before they were published, some I have thrust books into their hands to get signed, some of the fellow attendees I fail to meet more than twice a year (usually at PCon and Octocon!) and this is a chance to sit down with some like minded people and chat, talk about topics of interest and let my nerd out for a short while. The Central Hotel where it was held encourages this with their Library Bar.
It was a fun experience. Full of interesting conversations and reading suggestions. Next year PCon will be in the Irish Writers Centre, hopefully this time it won't clash with the Dublin Book Festival!
Coincidentally, the monthly knitters who meet in the Central Hotel were there when I had a break, so I joined them as well. I used to live in the city centre and I met up with this group fairly regularly then, these days I live outside the city centre and don't often get a chance to come in and visit. (There's a useful website that lists most of the Dublin Knitting Groups) So a chance for two of my interests to get an outing. I also was waylaid by an RTÉ interviewer doing a documentary about the hotel, who wanted to know about this group, I was "volunteered" to talk. I often knit during conventions, it makes me think about what I'm going to say. This years socks were a pair called Bellatrix in a yarn called Harry & Ron; I try to pick a pattern or yarn that is Fantasy or SF related, but that isn't so complicated that I can't enjoy myself!
I know some people who approach events like this and are intimidated by the people and the fact that everyone seems to know everybody else. Many of the attendees have been going to a variety of conventions for years and the links between conventions can be entertaining, the trick is to take part in the panels, relax, find a chair near a group talking about stuff you're interested in and try not to repeat what someone else is saying. If all else fails, sit reading a book or doing something unusual, it will never fail to get people talking to you, why do you think I started knitting at conventions?