Manchester. Mostly it impinges on my consciousness as being one-town-over from where a bunch of my family live, but last weekend it also impinged as the location of the 2016 Eastercon – the British National SF Convention (not the only one these days, but that’s what it’s called).

Rather than doing a full, end-to-end con report, I’m going to instead post up some sketch-notes I took in some of the programme items I went to and make a couple of comments along the way.

This won’t cover everything I did, as some of the programme items were too dark for me to take notes, some didn’t support it, and I didn’t sketchnote the bar or any restaurants for practical reasons. I spent a fair bit of the con chatting to some lovely people outside the programme items, so those are also not sketched.

There was also a panel on SF Music, which, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know is one of my “things”. I didn’t take many sketchnotes there because I was too busy talking.  I may have slightly over-contributed to that one.  I feel no shame!

One thing to make clear: These are live sketchnotes.

Most of the examples you see online are drawn after the fact and so are a lot neater and prettier – if you take normal notes and translate them to sketchnotes later, you can get a lot more opportunity to be clever or tidy. Doing them live

Another thing to make clear: If you can’t read my writing, that just makes you human.

The faster I scribble, the worse the writing.  Live with it.

On to the sketches, in no particular order…

The Growth of Artificial Intelligence – Threat vs. Necessity

I’m an ex-AI researcher. This panel managed to avoid annoying me by being frustratingly wrong, which is rare.

ai_1 ai_2 ai_3

Dealing with Anxiety in Fandom

I have an anxiety disorder.  As a general rule, I manage it well and you’d never notice… because I manage it well. Failure to do so would be messy and awkward, so I avoid it.

anxiety_1 anxiety_2

Food, Glorious Food – Cooking in SF

I like cooking, too.  I’m pretty good with Mexican and Indian, which is pretty good going for somebody who grew up never trying either.

food_1 food_2 food_3

How High Is Your Brow?

What does “highbrow” mean in genre fiction anyway?

Little Known British SF TV Shows of the 1950s-1970s

Another panel after my own heart.  I wrote down a pile of notes, which I am yet to follow up on…

Conceptions of Privacy in the Marvel Universe

I went to this to fill time, half expecting a dull privacy wonk to drone on about private keys, ciphers and that lot.  It wasn’t that at all.  I’m still not sure what it actually was, but I enjoyed it all the same!


Radical Worldbuilding

How far can you bend the world and still have a reader engage with it? What is “Radical” anyway?

I learned the word “Heterotopia” in this session, which is a good word that meant something I wasn’t expecting it to.  I also got a reminder of what is meant by “Liminal Spaces”, which was handy as “Liminal” is a word that won’t stay in my brain.

radical_1 radical_2

Campaigning for Representation

A grab bag session of thoughts and ideas.  Good stuff.

representation_1 representation_2


I loved the show, so I went to the panel.  I am now eagerly awaiting season 2, and am thinking of rewatching season 1.


Spanish SF & F

I went to this panel as I’m interested in broadening out my reading experience, and it was a good panel.  Now I just need to track down the recommendations and see if I can get hold of them in a language that this regrettably monolingual reader can handle.
spanish_sf_1 spanish_sf_2 spanish_sf_3

Other panels of note…

Gravitational Wave Astronomy – Interesting, but in a dark room, so no notes. Please, Tech, I know you’re used to situations where a completely dark room is ideal, but a little bit of houselight keeps the crafters happy and helps keep the sketchnotes flowing.

There only needs to be a certain amount of light differential for the stage to be highlighted…  and a bit of houselight means that the panel have more chance to gauge the room, too.

Third Rock and Roll From The Sun – Science Fiction Music.  There may well be another blogpost when I’ve unpacked what I did manage to note down in that session.  Mostly, I just talked a fair bit and scribbled down some music recs which might turn into a separate blogpost at a later date.

There were probably some other panels as well, but they’re not in my head at the time of writing, so it’s just the above for now.

All in all, a successful and sketch-heavy con for me.