St. Petersburg April 2015

So having gotten past the Worldcon/Eurocon “singularity” that was August, I am back in work.

In an effort to not go crazy after a month off I have begun looking at April 2015. There will be Eastercon and Eurocon.

With Eastercon i will probably just travel for the Con, with a day each side for comfort. This requires no real planning.

With the Eurocon though. Because it is so far from home and i am unlikely to do it again in the next ten to fifteen years I should probably try to get some tourism in. For Travel reasons i am looking at travelling through Helsinki, and then train, as there are no direct flights from Dublin, and the single transfer ones have VERY LONG layovers (8+ hours).

There is one direct flight from Dublin to Helsinki on Mondays and Fridays. so there are two options.

The short option

20/Apr/2015 Fly to Helsinki. Overnight in Helsinki, Plane arrives at 23.50.

21/Apr/2015 possibly short tour with train to st. Petersburg.

22/Apr/2015 Full day in St. Petersburg.

23-26/Apr/2015 Eurocon

27/Apr/2015 Early train back to Helsinki followed by direct flight back to Dublin.

 

The Long option

20/Apr/2015 Fly to Helsinki. Overnight in Helsinki, Plane arrives at 23.50.

21/Apr/2015 Full day in Helsinki

22/Apr/2015 train to St. Petersburg (19.00 is last train, so another day in Helsinki is possible, Though that is 23.30 arrival in St Petersburg, there is a 15.00 train that might be better).

23-26/Apr/2015 Eurocon

27-30/Apr/2015 four Full days in St. Petersburg

01/May/2015 Early train back to Helsinki followed by direct flight back to Dublin.

 

I have a strong preference for Option two, for what i think are obvious reasons.

So some rough costing’s for that option.

Flights Currently: €162

Helsinki Hotel: €150 for the 2 nights (still need to pick a hotel)

Train trip €100 (not able to find a return price so doubling single rate)

Hotel in St. Petersburg €900 (9 nights at ~€100, no breakfast or taxes)

Total Cost: €1,312 though should add another €100 for hotel taxes.

Now if i can get someone to share a room for all of this, then the individual cases are ~€787.

Satelite 4

So I have been away from the blog for about two months, apologies work just got really busy.

This coming weekend is Easter, which for me means Eastercon, the British National Science Fiction Convention, Which this year is in Glasgow.

I am on two programme items:

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Cluedo Friday 16:00 – 17:00

A deep and incisive exploration as to why, in this age of complex, sophisticated, interactive video games, some people still enjoy playing board games.

Great Expectations, or Dealing with Unreasonable Fannish Demands Monday 10:00 – 11:00

Conrunners discuss the evolution of fannish expectations, from a time when it was appreciated that Cons were run by amateur volunteers, and a few logistical hiccups were accepted, to modern demands of essentially a professional conference level of service.

I am looking forward to both of these panels, as I think that there will be some good discussions had. You should check out the full programme!

Anyway, I hope to see some of you at the convention.

Bejing in 2016

It is official, a bid to bring Worldcon to Beijing in 2016 has been formally filed. This means that they will appear on the ballot at the site selection vote in London in August.

Normally I would be all for a bid that is outside the United States, as Worldcon has been too often in the US. However I am a supporter of the rival bid to bring the Worldcon to Kansas City.

Beijing have appeared very late, they only declared they intended to bid at the start of this year(see earlier post). This makes it quite hard for people to have had a chance for us to ask questions, and for them to come up with answers for some of these questions. It makes them seem a little disorganised. When Helsinki in 2015 appeared late, they still did it a full year before the Site selection vote.

I hope that the Bid team will not be discouraged by some of the response that some fans have had, and consider coming back at a later stage.

A Chinese Worldcon would be very different, and I would love to attend one. The current bid committee have impressive  facilities.

More information on the bids, along there formally submitted bid documents are available:

http://www.loncon3.org/2016_bidder_filing.php

So it is worth having a look at both, and if you are voting make an informed vote.

Work Life Balance

So a lot of the time I have from conventions is that normally I can do all the work involved in my job in about 4 hours a day. However that is usually spread out over the day, with flurries of work every half hour to an hour. That normally allows me to sneak in about 90 minutes of convention work during the work day, and still have a relaxing evening.

However, just before christmas an urgent project landed on my manager. Which of course filtered down to the rest of the team. It was a project with an impossible deadline, by the time my boss took it on we had pretty much missed our first deadline! we have gotten a lot of work done over the last few months, and are on track to meet our start of March Deadline, however technical issues may mean that we can’t get it into the release pipeline until the start of April.

All of this has meant that i have no time for conventions during the day, and so more of it ends up been done after hours. This is normally fine as it is only about 90 minutes of work, except at the moment i am trying to learn how someone else did something on a website so that I can work out how to make changes to it without breaking everything. Turns out i may have to break everything!

It just brings home how much i hate web design. We are stuck in browsers because people won’t download standalone applications. Of course more and more enterprise applications are going that way, which is also a bit annoying!

I think i have rambled a little here, i think the main upshot is that i am very busy on all fronts, so may be slow to respond!

Convention Planning

There are many stages when you are planning a convention. Each of them is important, though sometimes you can skip a step or two because you are not a new event or you are not changing hotel!

I am not going to enumerate them, because to be honest this is just a quick post to talk about somethings.

We had a Full committee meeting for Sharmokon over the weekend, and we moved onto the next stage of convention planning. Not the final stage of planning, but putting the final framework in place. Deciding how many program rooms. assigning rooms to various background functions. Identifying what extras we would like if numbers are on track.

We had brought a number of new people on board over the last while, someone to handle promotions and also various people who will be taking on important at convention roles, and while we had a number of Skype meetings it was good to get nearly everyone in one room to discuss a lot of things.

Until now most of our focus has been setting foundations for the event and bringing members onboard. We had done some early programming, pulling together random ideas and so on. This changed to large extent on Sunday, as we started to build on those foundations. We made decisions that begin to shape the event that we want to run.

It is not that long away, and we have a lot of work to do, but it is coming along nicely.

Plans for the year

I am currently planning on visiting two international Conventions, Eastercon and Worldcon.

Eastercon is the British national convention, and moves around the united kingdom every year, with different groups organizing it. This year will be in Scotland and is called Satelite 4 I have applied to be on the program, but doubt i will get much. Most of my time will be pushing Shamrokon.

Worldcon, is a convention that moves around the world, though tends to be US based. This is a historical thing, and this is changing. This year is in London, Loncon 3, next year is in Spokane (Washington state),Sasquan. This is basically one of the longest running Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions in the world. the First one occurred in 1939 at the New York Worlds Fair, this is where the name originally came form.

So my two international cons this year are both in the UK. I had hoped to make it to Swecon (Swedish National Convention) in June, or to Finncon (Finnish National Convention) in July,  but looking at finances that is almost certainly not going to happen.

Locally I will probably get to a number of Dublin Gaming and Anime cons. Will try to get a Ticket for Dublin Comic Con as well.

I will also be at Shamrokon which is taken place at the end of this August .

Octocon in 2015

Since the end of the 2013 Octocon I have not really been working on the next Octocon, which will be in 2015. We had a meeting were we laid out some general plans for 2015, including something that will be great fun if we can pull it off.

However nothing serious has actually been done. I dropped an e-mail off to the hotel to start the process of negotiations for the rooms we want to use. It will hopefully be a painless process, but is an important part of the Budget, as the hotel takes up a large part of our spend.

Once we have an actual date, it will most likely be in October of 2015, set we will move onto organizing an actual website. Some of you may have noticed that the Octocon website had a fatal error at some stage in December. Rather than try to fix the old web site which we intend to replace anyway, we decided to just put a holding page in place.

Hopefully we can get some good help with the website, and continue to grow the convention as it has over the last few years.

Chinese Worldcon

So a few days ago a friend discovered information about a bid to run a World con in Beijing in 2016. Here is the website, it is in Chinese, But a translate program is interesting.

People who have friends in Chinese fandom have identified the parties, and where the idea came from. Without going into too much detail, it is unlikely that such a bid would win at the site selection this year. However i think a Chinese World con would be a very interesting thing to have happen.

While there may be issues around how much control the Chinese government might have over programme, these are questions that we should wait until we have an actual bid team around to ask questions of.

For me, i would love a Chinese Worldcon as I would love to visit Beijing and the surrounding area. There is also a chance to meet some Chinese fans and see how Chinese fandom works.

of course this then leaves us wondering when would be best for them to bid?

If you look at the bid years that are around, there are no open years for a long time (There is a declared intention to bid for every year out until 2022)

So doing some analysis on the best year for such a bid, I think we can ignore 2017, as four bids is already more than enough, and I don’t think we want the War of the Five Bids.

2018 has two US bids, and China might have a chance there, However this is a case where the voters for two US bids would be more likely to Stay in the US.  At the Site selection in 2013 votes transferred from Orlando at a rate of approximately 2 to 1 to the other US Bidder. So avoiding 2018 is probably a good idea.

For obvious reasons I would prefer not to have them enter the 2019 bid race. Though this is the first year without a US bidder in the Race. The same can be said for 2020, for which New Zealand declared an interest in a long time ago. No one is bidding against them as yet and they have a lot of popular support among regular Worldcon attendees/voters.

the bids in 2021 and 2022 only have a single bidder each, Texas and Chicago, who hosted the 2013 and 2012 world cons. Which means they are also good places to bid.

I think the earliest that a Chinese bid would have a chance would be 2019. However as people who have not had much of a presence at a worldcon, it might be better for them to spend a few years running small parties and introducing themselves around, with a target to bid for 2021 or later.

Seven years sounds like a lot, but it means they have two years to introduce themselves at London and Spokane, then three years of bidding, with a vote in 2019. That is of course if they can actually get entrance Visas to the US…

Grey Days

It is yet another drab, wet grey day.

This of course is perfect weather to curl up and read books. I have been working my way through a pile of books I got myself as a little birthday present just before Christmas. So I thought I would throw up some short reviews

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

This is the first book in a new series from this great writer. The basic premise is that something has caused people to manifest superpowers, however so far only evil people seem to have gained powers. The book is set in a Chicago that has been taken over and controlled by one of these villains.

A really good book, with a story that moves along nicely, but that still has time to set up a great world and also throw in a few twists. I highly recommend this one.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

A story set in an alternate history Seattle. In this world the US civil war is still ongoing after 20 years.  Seattle is a city completely changed by the “Boneshaker” which was a tunnelling device that dug a tunnel under Seattle that released a heavy gas that effectively causes zombism. The authroies built a big wall around the old core of Seattle, and people don’t go there anymore.

At least that’s what the main protagonist of the story believes, until her son goes into the walled town to prove his fathers innocence in the Bone Shaker incident. She has to follow, and learns all about the hidden community that still exists inside the walls.

An interesting read, with a very different world. It has a very strong Steam punk vibe and a very good set of characterisation of its main characters.

The Prince of Lies by Anne Lyle

This is the third and final volume in the Nights Masque trilogy. The trilogy is based around a set of characters mainly focused on an alternate Elizabethan England, though the second volume is set in Venice, where the characters have travelled.

This book is the climax of the trilogy, and ties up a lot of loose ends that have been introduced in earlier books. The book itself covers a large period of time as the various antagonist forces plots progress until a quite stunning climax.

I do recommend the entire series, as a good fun read.

The Shambling guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

I was unable to find a physical copy of this book, and so i got myself the audio book version, read by Mur Lafferty. The book focuses on a woman who finds herself working for a company producing a tourist guide to New York city for the mystical community.

This book is a great mix of funny, scary, and weird. I don’t want to go into it too much as the book is so good, and anything i say would probably ruin a couple of surprises! i will say that i loved the concept of the Welsh Death Goddess who had to start working as a writer because all the followers of her religion had switched to other religions.

A new Something or other

So we are here, the first Monday of 2014.  Work was very busy just before Christmas, and I expect it to take off again very shortly. So i shall take some of this time, where nothing is happening to write some thoughts.

This is a rest year for conventions for me. By which I mean I am working on conventions, but in positions of lower stress. Having been a chair of a convention every year since 2010, a break where other people have final responsibility is nice.

At the moment my main focus is Shamrokon, where I am currently in charge of Membership. This has been busy over the last while, as we had a price increase on New Years Day. This is probably a bad time for a price increase, but there are also worse. People are aware of key dates, and New years day stands out.

After the price increase we were expecting a complete drop off of memberships, however it has been not at all that bad. no where near the rush it was, but still higher than it was in previous months. At this point, as people begin booking there travel plans, it makes more sense to get a membership.

I am still trying to work out what to do with the Historical Stuff i have for Irish Scifi, however I think I will probably create an archive site off of the main Scifi.ie Domain, as that seems logical. I will be thinking some more on this, and of course will continue scanning, Though will need better software than the in built stuff.

Other things, Convention list for this year is much much smaller than I hoped. I will be limited to two International events, Eastercon and Worldcon. Ireland wise, will probably make it to most Dublin based gaming conventions, and of course will be at Shamrokon! I may make an appearance at a couple of the other Dublin cons (Anime and Animation) in an effort to advertise or at least see  if there are things I can learn.