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Novacon

I still haven't been to Birmingham. Last November I went to the Good Food Show at the NEC, which, among other things, highlighted some of the city's restaurant highlights. This weekend I went to Novacon, held at Junction 10 of the M6.

Friday: Con? What con? After checking in with the hotel, I came down to register at 7:10 pm, only to find the registation desk already closed for the night. I finished a book, and then found friends I'd not seen since Eastercon (including paul_skevington and wishus), which greatly improved my evening.

Saturday: Single-track programming has its merits. "The Cult of Science" dabbled in interesting and tangential areas, most of which had only little to do with the assigned question. The advantage of this is that there is plenty to follow up with from the session. With the Convoy Eastercon cancelled two weeks before, the "Conventions: What do we do next?" panel was crammed. Few con sessions are ever this production: by the end of it, Contemplation had been formed, complete with part of its staff, a plan, and a method of ensuring some continuity with Convoy. Where will Eastercon be held? That's still a mystery.

Ken MacLeod was guest of honor at Novacon. I've heard him on panels before and chatted with him before, but not heard him give a largely prepared speech. He was densely thoughtful, organized and thought-provoking on the nature of science fiction's role in the literary world, among other things.

Afterwards, I loitered socially until recruited for My First Pub Quiz. It was an Experience which I am told was unexpectedly typical of the Pub Quiz experience. It was boisterous. The room was too crowded. It was fairly well organized but clarity occasionally required audience intervention. And I learned a lesson: the best pub quiz team is one of diverse ages and knowledges and abilities. I was recruited to one too much of an age; the others were at least Brits, but I was the only one who'd been around fandom in any form for more than a year or so. And we were all way too young to know the answers to many of the questions. ("We're too young!", I found myself frequently lamenting in resignation.) In fact, out of the thirteen teams which stuck it out to the prolonged end of the quiz, we easily came last.

On one hand, this struck me as a fine example of how fandom expects older fans; how fewer younger fans come into the community with a diversity of alternative media or anime or gaming cons out there. The lack of younger fans is frequently touted as a problem - how can fandom attract them? On the other hand, why shouldn't a con pub quiz feature fannish history and people?

Sunday: I really like the odd irrelevant panel as a convention. swisstone did one on Greek Theatre 101. It featured a history of the development of drama in Greece, along with audience-recruited demonstrations of the different styles of theater over the years. He also surveyed the major dramatic conventions, including masks and scenery styles. Later, the awards ceremony, where, for novelty, I knew everyone who won - frostfox, fishlifter. A light and mediocre dinner with makyo, and then homewards. The train was ideal: on time, fast, uncrowded, and I boarded at its first stop.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
andromakie
Nov. 14th, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)
The NEC was all I ever saw of Birmingham. Eliza Dushku distracted us from doing anything else.
tinyshel
Nov. 14th, 2006 01:49 pm (UTC)
I'm still trying to go to My First Pub Quiz, but I can't really find willing participants, nor a decent pub to lose my virginity.

Birmingham has some nice bits. It'd be worth going for a day to explore properly. My favourite place is still the Custard Factory.
owlfish
Nov. 15th, 2006 11:25 am (UTC)
I'm not eager to do a pub quiz again after this. My competitive side kicks in, and it's irritating, for the circumstances are best enjoyed with a more laid-back attitude, I suspect.
a_d_medievalist
Nov. 14th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
I love pub quizzes in general -- especially the walking out with money part -- but I bet I'd be crap at one held at a con. All breadth and no depth, that's me. Well, and obscure stuff.
owlfish
Nov. 15th, 2006 11:22 am (UTC)
It's all about choosing the right team members.
owlfish
Nov. 15th, 2006 11:22 am (UTC)
P.S. Although the team that had Ken MacLeod on it lost a point on a Ken MacLeod question, so you never know.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )