AltFiction is now in its fifth year and is rapidly establishing itself as one of the best conventions for anyone interested in fantasy, science fiction, horror, comics…basically everything that falls under the “speculative fiction” umbrella. 2011 was its first year as a two-day event, and my first attendance, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The venue was the QUAD, a small but well-equipped arts centre in the middle of Derby – handy for restaurants and pubs if you want to eat out, but the centre also has an excellent café and bar, with efficiently, friendly staff. In how many other places have you received an apology for it taking ten whole minutes to bring your lunch?
The high quality of the venue was matched by the packed programme of events. There were the usual panels and author readings, of course, but also podcasts, writing workshops, film showings, and a surprisingly entertaining book raffle, hosted by Guy Adams and Sarah Pinborough.
The small size of the convention also makes it easy to meet people. Whereas at larger conventions, the guests of honour are often remote figures who turn up for their interview and then leave again, at AltFiction they are more inclined to hang around and chat in the bar.
For me, the event was a good balance between interesting events and free time spent hanging out with friends and colleagues. My one frustration was that I wasn’t able to volunteer for any panels far enough in advance, as my deal with Angry Robot was under a press embargo for several weeks this spring. Still, there’s always next year!