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BristolCon 2012: My first science fiction and fantasy convention

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Last year, I attended my very first science fiction convention! And they say you never forget your first time…

I decided to go firstly because I’m a reader and fan: to meet authors whose books I’ve enjoyed, such as Philip Reeve, Alastair Reynolds and Ben Jeapes, among others; to discover new authors and titles that I will enjoy. The second reason I went was as a writer. It’s a chance to be inspired, to meet other writers, to learn more about developing my craft and about genre publishing.

Not having been to a convention before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would everyone be in costume? Would people talk to me as a newcomer, or be huddled in their own impenetrable groups knit together through years of attendance? Would I be able to resist the temptation to come back laden with several years’ worth of reading material?

Spoiler alert… I had a great time! Listen to the episode for interviews with Joanne Hall, one of the convention organisers; author Philip Reeve (previously interviewed for the podcast), who is this year’s Guest of Honour, plus panel clips and chats with other fans at the event!

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I recorded several panels – you can listen to the Apocalypses debate here, and there are more to come.

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BristolCon 2013 takes place 26th October – for full details visit www.bristolcon.org.

Attention, book lovers!

The agony of editing!If you enjoyed our interview with Kieran Mathers about his forthcoming fantasy novella, The Darkness Embraces, you might be wondering what happened to the new series of articles we promised you, charting his journey from first draft to publication.

Well the good news is, they’re already happening! But as we’ve decided to draw Impossible Podcasts to a close this year, you’ll find them at Bell, Book & Candle – the blog about reading, writing and the life in between, managed by our Stories In Print editor, P.G. Bell. The column, called ‘Mundane Adventures’, is updated every Saturday morning and is already proving popular as Kieran wrestles with the challenges of getting a book ready for market – from misunderstandings with his cover artist to rising above the sea of rubbish straight-to-Kindle titles. It’s fascinating and insightful stuff but don’t take our word for it – check out Part 1 and Part 2 for yourself. And we can promise some fascinating twists and turns in the next few weeks!

Friend of the podcast, Simon Kurt Unsworth

Meanwhile, Simon Kurt Unsworth’s occasional column ‘The Bellows’ also has a new home at Bell, Book & Candle. The World Fantasy Award-nominated author is preparing his own novel for publication, but it’s a very different journey to Kieran’s. P.G. will be re-posting the first four instalments over the next few weeks to bring new readers up to speed, before starting on the brand new material.

Lastly, P.G. recently announced that his blog is going to host a brand new podcast of its own. If you enjoyed our interview with Philip Reeve, you’ll want to hear Bell, Book & Podcast – a monthly interview with a notable writer, editor or publisher. The first instalment is due out in July, so keep those ears peeled!

If you’ve ever wondered how words get out of a person’s head, onto the page and then onto bookshelves, Bell, Book & Candle is worth a look.

Doctor Who Review – Season 7.13, ‘The Name of the Doctor’

The Doctor and ClaraIt’s here – our last (ever?) Doctor Who review. James Willets hammers the final nail into the coffin of Series 7b. Can it make up for the past six weeks of disappointment?

I think we’re going to face a problem here, because there are essentially two things to consider with ‘The Name Of The Doctor’. The first is the episode itself; the plot driven bit that sought to wrap up the loose ends of the last few episodes, in particular the status of Clara as The Impossible Girl scattered through time. The second is the ending of the episode; not the culmination of the plot itself, although we’ll discuss that too, but the very final surprise, a moment which is going to overshadow the rest of the episode somewhat.

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Doctor Who Review – Series 7.13, ‘Nightmare in Silver’

The Doctor vs Mr CleverIn our last review before the Series 7 finale, James Willets revisits ‘Nightmare in Silver’.

Don’t forget to download our new Moffat Bingo cards before tomorrow’s episode!

Neil Gaiman is rightly lauded as a titan of genre writing, the guy behind enduring classics like Sandman, Neverwhere, Stardust and Coraline. He’s written extensively for young adults and comics, and won numerous awards for his fiction.

It’s hard to overstate the impact Sandman had on me. It was one of the titles that first got me into comics – the gateway drug that drew me into the wider four colour world, back when I had a sneering disdain for the garish funny books from the big two. Without them I wouldn’t have discovered the world of non-cape comics; no V for Vendetta, no Transmetropolitan, no Y: The Last Man or Ex Machina or Walking Dead.

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Doctor Who Review – Episode 7.12, ‘The Crimson Horror’

The Doctor was not cut out to be a Jehova's WitnessJust two days left until ‘The Name of the Doctor’ and James Willets continues his rundown of Series 7b. Was he tickled pink by ‘The Crimson Horror’?

There’s still time to get your hands on the brand new Moffat Bingo cards.

‘The Crimson Horror’ marks the return of Victoriana, the Paternoster gang, and that gnawing sense that Mark Gatiss may be the most hit-and-miss Doctor Who writer since Chris Chibnall. You may remember that I really loved ‘Cold War’. I thought it was fan-pleasing without being introvertedly self-referential, action packed without being over the top, and in a setting that felt historically real enough that the cracks in the likelihood of eccentric Soviet professors knowing much about English electro-pop bands didn’t really matter too much.

This certainly isn’t to suggest that ‘Crimson Horror’ approaches the levels of ‘Fear Her’ or the inaccurately named World War Two shocker, ‘Victory of the Daleks’, in being a bad episode. Quite the opposite in fact; I found it hugely enjoyable, even on a second viewing. It’s simply uneven in a way that many of his episodes seem to be.

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Doctor Who Review – 7.11, ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’

'What's a nice pirate like you, doing in a police box like this?'As we count down to the Series 7 finale this weekend, James Willets continues his reviews of the last half-season.

Don’t forget to download our new Moffat Bingo cards before Saturday!

At what point does a TV series reach a critical mass of recycled plotlines and a bloated parody of itself, reflecting enough of the bits that you used to long for to make you hope that it’ll be good, but never quite managing to regurgitate enough substance to satisfy? Because I think Doctor Who has reached that point.

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