Well, don’t know about you guys, but 2013 has been interesting so far. And we’re only in what..March? Feels like I’ve done a year’s worth of stuff in two months.
Though, to be fair, I am usually quite slow moving. But less so for the last few weeks.
The end of February saw me flying out to Amsterdam as a guest of Sonic Acts, an arts festival that has been running since 1994 and ‘has a strong focus on contemporary and historical developments at the intersections of art, technology, music and science.’ Much of this manifests itself in evening performances of experimental music and film screenings, but a large component is also the daytime conference consisting of a range of talks and discussion panels covering everything from sociology and economics to the environment and cosmology. I was there as part of a panel put together by New Scientist’s Arc magazine, comprising of Arc’s editor and novelist Simon Ings, the very entertaining/scarily clever science writer Frank Swain and some science fiction writer you might have just heard of called Alastair Reynolds. Oh, and me – who was nervously screening the Paintwork short film we’ve made for the first time – more on that to follow.
I don’t really know where to start heaping praise on Sonic Acts. A fantastically organised event, run by passionately enthusiastic, friendly and professional staff, that just happens to be in one of my favourite cities in the world. Despite nerves at my own tiny contribution the whole event left me feeling enlightened and inspired. I can’t recommend it enough.
Back in Bristol for about 48 hours, I managed to squeeze in an appearance on local radio station Ujima. After a great chat with the show’s hosts and station staff about the issue of getting boys to read, I also got to talk about my own work, Bristol and science fiction in general. You can listen to the audio here, and many thanks to Cheryl Morgan and the super-friendly Ujima crew for having me on.
And then I was off again, this time over the pond to Albany, New York State where I was a guest at Genericon – a non-stop 48 hour science fiction, anime and gaming con run by the students of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Again, words fail me* in knowing where to start describing how much fun I had, and especially in praising the professionalism and warm-hearted enthusiasm of the event’s organisers – even after days without sleep. It was my first in-at-the-deep-end dive into American fan culture, and thanks to the friendliness of everyone around me I loved every second of it. A large part of that was getting to hang out with people I’ve known online for a while but never before met in the flesh – excellent human beings like Ink, Vinnie, Reverse Thieves’ Alain Mendez, this year’s con-chair Evan Minto, Vertical Inc‘s main man and all-round manga gangster Ed Chavez as well as my fellow guests – stand-up comic Uncle Yo and the legendary voice-actor Kyle Hebert. Basically it was 3 days of geeking out and jokes, punctuated with talks to nerve-wrackingly large audiences and peanut butter orientated food. Again I can’t recommend it enough, and hope I get to go back one day.
*Yes, I am a writer.