Shamrokon – Day 3

I know many of you were gripping the edges of your seats, eagerly thirsting for my last day of adventures at Shamrokon, to you, faithful readers, I apologise for the delay.

Sunday was the day with the most nerve racking start since I was on a panel at 10am “Where Are All The Adult Irish Speculative Fiction Novels?”. You don’t have to be Irish or even a con goer to know that 10am on a Sunday morning of a con is a ridiculous hour to expect people to be awake, attentive or coherent.

Needless to say we did not expect a packed room, but I think we got a fair turnout for the ungodly hour. My fellow panellists where Ruth Frances Long, who is an author of fantasy romance and young adult fantasy, Paul Anthony Shortt, who you guys may have heard me talk about before, because he’s awesome and the launch of the third book in his Memory wars trilogy is next Saturday. We were also joined by Bob Neilson of Aeon Press and Patricia Kennon who is actually a lecturer in children and young adult fiction.

The resounding consensus was that there were no adult speculative fiction authors (Save those present on the panel, and a few we had tracked down on the interwebs). This was the panel I prepared the most for and did the most research and I will definitely be doing more of that as I have been assured by multiple persons that more panels are in my future. The lack of speculative fiction written by and for Irish adults was attributed by the panel to the unwillingness of most of the publishing industry in Ireland to “Take a risk” on a genre book in such a small market. With a lot of Irish authors finding publishers overseas and finding themselves able to self publish, perhaps this will help turn the tide.

Once the shock of having to speak and give opinions woke me up I slipped into the panel next door for the second hour. This was “Steampunk: Monorails!”. We were treated to wonderful descriptions, pictures and even video of a late 19th century Monorail that has been restored at Listowel. The discussion ranged from that monorail to others to crazy Victorian inventions to the appeal of the steampunk genre.

I then promptly took the next three hours off. Not that I had intended to, but a lovely lunch at the hotel bar with my wife ran long, and then I got chatting to wonderful Larpers and authors, and I also had the highlight of my day. I got to meet and chat with Laura Anne Gilman. She is without doubt one of my favourite authors and I’m extremely proud of myself because I:

  • Didn’t squeal, faint or wave my hands about too much (I think)
  • Kept the over enthusiastic fanboy zeal to a minimum (I hope)
  • Got to tell her how she confirmed a childhood theory of mine

You see, when I was a kid, I didn’t realise quite how big the world of authors was, or indeed the world in general. So I had all these books that I loved and the authors were so cool, so I figured all the cool authors must know each other, right? They probably talked a lot and swapped story ideas and met at cool author parties. Now, you may recall on Shamrokon Day 1 we attended a panel that included Carrie Vaughn, who is another author that I absolutely love. At the end of the panel, while we were all shuffling about and moving to leave, in walks Laura Anne Gilman, walks straight up to Carrie and they greet each other with great big smiles and start catching up. So it turns out 10 year old me was totally right, only the “Cool Author Parties” are called cons.

It was 4pm before I could a) recover from talking to a favourite author, and b) manage to persuade myself to stop having interesting and diverting conversations with my fellow congoers. These conversations may have led to a boardgame and a LARP for Gaelcon 2015, this stuff just keeps happening. The 4pm panel was about project Gutenburg and was moderated by my good friend Lora O’Brien. There’s not a lot of bad things to say about a project that preserves old texts and makes them freely available, but we certainly learnt a lot more about it and some of the worries about changes in copyright law.

The 5pm slot held a real treat, Des Doyle let us have a sneak peek into his upcoming feature length Documentary Showrunners. The Documentary looks at the people behind our favourite TV shows, the ones who keep all the plates spinning. It includes interviews with Joss Whedon and Jane Espenson and the clips he showed painted an intriguing picture of a world we seldom get to see. It is due for cinematic release in September as well as being available on the line later in the year.

After that, all that was left was the closing ceremony. My hands were sore as we clapped for an hour through thanks and awards and speeches, but then, it was all well deserved. Shamrokon was one of the best cons I have ever attended and it has given me some unforgettable memories. Now I look forward to Octocon 2015 and hopefully, Worldcon 2019. We’ve done Europe… now the world.


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