So, on Saturday I made my way to Birmingham for the Andromeda One convention; this is the con’s first year and as such it felt like a small, friendly gathering of like-minded genre fiction fans. The venue was the Custard Factory, an interesting space with a statue of the Green Man, dragons on the walls, and members of the public randomly shopping in the middle of things. To be honest, for a small convention like this the various rooms seemed a bit to spread out, and there was no kind of central ‘hub’ (like a bar...) where people naturally congregated. But the pub round the corner did a decent pint of bitter, and as I said there was such a friendly atmosphere it didn't really matter.
I went to three of the panels: one discussing genre boundaries (really interesting stuff, especially from Adam Nevill and Adrian Tchaikovsky), one about zombies (plus Scooby Doo, bizarrely) and one around the role of the small press (in a word, vital). All were lively and informative, although I did miss some of the genre one because I was laughing so much when Steve Harris (who was sitting next to me) attempted to re-enter the room ‘quietly’ and ended up destroying his seat somehow.
The Books – Part 1:
During the zombie panel I was chuffed with myself for answering a spot-question to win a copy of Dave Jeffery’s Necropolis Rising and in the (somewhat sparse) Dealer’s Room I picked up a copy of a book I've wanted to read for ages: Whitstable by Stephen Volk. Along with the book I received in my goody-bag on arrival (where I bought three strips of raffle tickets with my usual convention pessimism) I thought this would be a good haul to take home. Little did I realise the tsunami of books yet to come…
It was great to finally meet up with Mark West, who I've mentioned on here many times before, Phil Ambler (who I appeared alongside in City Of Hell: Trifecta), and Spectral Press head honcho Simon Marshall-Jones. And lovely to see KT Davies and Alex Davis again, however briefly. A nice writerly chat in the pub at lunch with Mark and Phil as well as Steve Harris/Byrne, Ian Whates and Dave Jeffery where we put the publishing world to rights over a pint and a Cumberland sausage pizza. We also spoke about one of the con’s star-guests Adam Nevill (who we all admired) - later on I had a nice chat with Adam about Robert Aickman – always brilliant to meet another Aickman fan. I'm sure there’s people I've missed, to whom I say hello and sorry.
Oh, and then there’s all the many people who were heckling us by the end of the raffle…
The Books – Part 2:
The raffle. So, myself, Phil Ambler, Mark West and Steve Harris went to raffle, with typical low expectations from previous cons. These expectations seemed to be accurate when the ‘star’ prizes (mainly signed Raymond E. Feist limited editions) were being raffled or auctioned off. But by about midway all four of us had won a prize, which felt pretty nice. And then… well, the four of us just kept winning. And winning. And winning. It actually got pretty embarrassing and we all ended up pretending we’d not got tickets we had, or giving prizes away. Even with this we still must have had fifty books between us by the time the raffle ended – fortunately I think most people in the room ended up with something, if only one of our cast-offs, so we weren't stoned to death Lottery style outside…
So all in all a great day out, with friends old and new. Congratulations and well done to the organiser Theresa Derwin, and here’s to next year’s Andromeda Two(?).