I don’t know how successful the KSP thought the SF Minicon was going to be, but I don’t think they anticipated it being that successful.

The place was packed, kids. If you didn’t come, well, maybe that was a good thing. You wouldn’t have been able to squeeze in. I’ve been attending functions at the centre for a few years now, and never, not even on their open days, have I seen the function room audience spill out into the adjoining room. People stood, people sat on the floor, people crammed in any way they could.

The panels were just long enough, the speakers were bright, informative, and lively, the cheap and plentiful lunch went down a treat, and books left the table at a regular rate. Over 30 people came for the 5 and a half hour event, which was enough to keep the building jumping, and very few of them left before the end.

What was most pleasing, for me as MC, was the number of faces I didn’t recognise: people who were attracted from outside the usual SF scene by the location, the fresh take, or just the lure of cheap hot dogs 🙂 Whatever the reason, they stayed, and they bought books, and if we come away with a couple of converts, well, good business.

I was exhausted by the end of things: 330 minutes of MCing makes for a busy day. But happily exhausted. And proud: Erin and Connor were as well behaved as kids their age can be expected to be in a non-kid-attuned environment; Luscious was her usual articulate and professional self (and hot! My missus is proof that SF can be intelligent and sexy, lemme tell you!).

But Aiden:

At 13 years of age, Aiden was the youngest panellist I’ve ever seen at a convention (There may have been younger. I wasn’t there). And he was nervous, for the first couple of minutes. Sitting next to the likes of Sally Beasly, Elaine Kemp and Juliet Marillier has unnerved adults. But once he found his feet, he was great: at ease, confident, quiet and serious but good value for his questions, he made Lyn and I very proud. And for the rest of the day he behaved as perfectly as any parent could want. He even came away with a couple of fans, not to mentiuon a signed copy of Hal Spacejock: Second Course and a Hal frisbee, gifted to him by one of my favourite SF people, Simon Haynes.

We’ve been making jokes of the One of Us, One of Us! variety at Aiden’s expense for a little while now, but no more. He’s one of us, and he’s damn good at it.

The day was a roaring success, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’ll be on again next year, should the relevant parties want to saddle up. Big-mob kudos to Satima Flavell Neist for driving the day to a successful conclusion, and to James & Margaret for coping with the task of feeding such a large crowd. You did a great job, guys.


Sunday also marked the occasion of the announcement of this year’s winners in the annual KSP SF/F Awards. Lyn and I had a couple of stories in, as we do each year, and we’d received letters asking us to be in attendance because we’d been shortlisted.

Each year, the judges award a first and second prize, as well as as many Commended and Highly Commended notices as they see fit. Lyn and I judged the competition last year, and we gave out 11 gongs for what was a high quality field. I’ve won before, back in 2003, and Lyn always captures a commendation of some stripe, so we were pleased to have kept our records intact.

Angela Challis, of Shadowed Realms fame was this year’s judge. Including the winner and second prize, she gave out 5 commendations.

Lyn and I won 4 of them.

Only 2nd prize eluded our grasp.

That is what we call a good day’s work. 🙂

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