Alt.Fiction 2007

Alt.Fiction 2007 is a one day event in Derby featuring leading UK talent in science-fiction, fantasy and horror writing. The event is in its second year and is proud to present great authors such as Iain M Banks, Harry Harrison, Ramsey Campbell, Mike Carey, Graham Joyce and many more.

Alt.Fiction consists of four rooms, offering you a choice of 28 sessions throughout the day featuring nearly 40 fantastic writers. You’ll have access to a wide range of sessions including workshops, discussions, readings, Q+As and book launches, making Alt.Fiction 2007 a day not to be missed for readers and budding writers.

The event takes place on 28 April 2007 at the Darwin Suite, Assembly Rooms. Doors open 11am for 12pm start. Final session ends at 8.45pm. Tickets cost £20 (£15 concessions)
(Source: Derby Council)


What a brilliant day. Even though it was all a bit last minute for me as I didn’t even know it was on till yesterday morning, I managed not to miss too much. I even took part in a writing workshop, by accident. That’s what happens if you follow authors around.

I got there late and missed the talk with Peter Hamilton and Tony Ballantyne. This was a pisser as I love both those authors. So, I wandered up to the stage, hoping to at least get a couple of mooncalf glimpses of them. Luckily, I’d written my name on my badge and Tony said, “Jyoti – hello!” (I’ve emailed him before, trying to set up an interview that never panned out due to my rubbishness). Then I made my confession to Tony:

Even though I’ve been an SF fan for the last 32 years, I’ve never been to any kind of convention before. I’ve always been a bit too shy.

Well, Tony then took me under his wing and introduced me to loads of people. Yep, I’ve forgotten all of their names! But they were all very friendly. The vibe was so positive, so… well, familial is the only way I can describe it. All of us there were fans. Whether we’d come for the SF, fantasy or horror, we’re the kids who grew up with their noses buried in books, shunning the sunshine to escape into fantastic worlds.

I realised then that I was with my kin. Here were people that would understand my rambling about Inconstant Moon or I’m In Marsport Without Hilda or Flowers For Algernon or All My Sins Remembered. These were my brother and sister geeks!

In the afternoon, I heard this man speak:

Yes. Harry fucking Harrison! In the flesh! Unless you’re an SF nut, you won’t understand just how much this means to me.

I’ve been reading this man’s stories since I was eight years old! He’s written both some of the finest short stories and novels I’ve ever read. And every ounce of the wit, wonder and energy of Harrison’s writing was there when he spoke. I felt so privileged, being able to sit there and listen to anecdotes about John Campbell and Isaac Asimov.

The last session of the event was this feller:

Iain M. Banks. (I’m using the ‘M’ as he was there in his massive, fuck-off spaceship, SF capacity.) His talk, and the Q+A session that followed it, was both funny and very illuminating. Banks got a lot of serious stuff over covered with fluffiness. We heard about the snobby “proper” literature world vs. the SF community, the perils of having books adapted for the screen, the reason his SF pseudonym is so crappy (and could have been Johnny Glenlivet). But the best bit for me was hearing the author read the prologue to his next Culture novel, ‘Matter,’ which isn’t released till next February. It’s going to be a doozy, I can tell you…

I felt very lucky to spend the last half of the day in the company of Tony Ballantyne and Roy Gray. We went for a meal after it finished and, again, we could have talked all night. I felt so at home with these people I’d only met that day, it was quite spooky. Just finding out that Tony’s also a Greg Egan fan made me so happy! But, forgetful as always, I was having such a good time that I forgot to get pics of them. 🙁

Perhaps at the next con? 😉

(Click here for the alt.fiction blog)