BristolCon 2016 report

BristolCon has always been one of my favourite conventions. I’ve been to every one since the first, eight years ago, and it has remained one of the friendliest and most enjoyable conventions I’ve known. Plus, I only live about twenty minutes from the hotel, so that’s also a big plus.

This year, the relaxed, all-friends-together vibe was still in place, and it was fantastic to spend time with friends and fellow authors. My workshop for aspiring writers went very well. It was fully-subscribed and the attendees asked lots of good and interesting questions, on subjects including: how to pitch to an agent; which rights you should offer a publisher; whether or not you should write an entire series before submitting the first book; and dozens of others.

I found this format to be much more useful than the traditional kaffeeklatsch format, in that the subject guided the conversation, and I felt I was providing useful information, rather than just talking about myself for an hour.

Next, I took part in a panel discussion on writing during times of crisis, emotional upheaval and illness. It was a serious subject that touched on some intense and personal themes, but I tried to keep my answers as light as possible, and the audience seemed appreciative of our discussion.

The big surprise of the day was sprung on me with only a few hours notice. The lovely Ed Cox had been taken ill, and I was asked to take his place interviewing one of the guests of honour, Sarah Pinborough. It isn’t easy conducting a 45 minute on-stage interview with no time for preparation. Luckily, Sarah’s an entertaining and talkative guest, and the time flew past.

After that, we retired to the bar for drink and conversation well into the night. Looking around the tables at around 10:30 pm, I couldn’t help but find myself humming a few lines from the Cheers theme – lines which sum up the BristolCon experience:

Sometimes you want to go
where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came…

My BristolCon Schedule

BristolCon will soon be upon us, and the programme has now been released.

I will be taking part in the following programme items:

12:00 Your Questions Answered – The Snug*
A roundtable discussion with award-winning author Gareth, in which he will do his best to answer your questions about writing and publishing genre fiction. An essential session for all aspiring SFF authors.
With: Gareth L. Powell

15:00 Writing Through the Storm – Programme Room 2
Writing fiction can provide emotional catharsis and writers often draw on challenging life events in their work. How does writing support you through challenging life events and how do such events enrich or distract from people’s writing? How has reading fiction helped our panel to navigate through life’s dark places?:
With: Kate Turner (KS Turner) (M), Joanne Hall, Stephanie Burgis, Gareth L. Powell, Neil Beynon

*If you want to attend the 12:00 session, please be aware that places are limited. 5 places will be available to book in advance on the BristolCon website, and 5 will be available to sign up on the day.

My FantasyCon schedule

As many of you will know, FantasyCon fast approaches. If you’re going along, you can find the full programme on the website here.

If you’d like to see me talking or reading from my work, my schedule looks like this:

She Blinded me with Science
Friday, September 23 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Palm Court Ballroom – The Grand
How Much Science Should There Be in SF Stories? Elizabeth Bear, Gareth L Powell, Ian Sales, Ren Warom, Alex Lamb (Chair)

Rocket Man
Friday, September 23 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Palm Court Ballroom – The Grand.
After Years of Space Opera Domination, Is It Time To Bring Sci-Fi Back to Earth? Nina Allan, Jacey Bedford (Chair), Gareth L Powell, Al Robertson, Matthew De Abaitua

Friday, September 23 @ 10:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Cocktail Bar – The Grand
Gareth L. Powell and Al Robertson

I will also be floating around various panels, book launches and other events, and will probably be in the bar from time-to-time. Feel free to come and say hello.

Eastercon Schedule

If you’re going to Mancunicon next week, you’ll be able to catch me on the following panels.

1). That Which We Call Reality, By Any Other Name …
Saturday 20:30 – 21:30, Presidential Suite (Hilton Deansgate)

In many speculative stories, reality is stubbornly stable: a lot of readers love their worldbuilding to be consistent. But in an important strand of the field, which includes the work of writers such as Carol Emshwiller, Philip K. Dick, and Kelly Link, reality is something more subjective, contested, arguable. What is the appeal of such stories, for readers and writers, and how do they achieve their effects? Do they contain distinctive types of characters or narratives? And can we identify differences of approach or effect depending on whether a given writer’s starting point is literary experimentation, philosophical enquiry, or scientific exploration?

With: Andrew M Butler, Gareth L. Powell, Christopher Priest, Justina Robson, Tricia Sullivan


2). How High is Your Brow?
Sunday 10:00 – 11:00, Room 8&9 (Hilton Deansgate)

Science fiction and fantasy have long had a tumultuous relationship with the world of “highbrow” art. There are divides in funding, attention, and prestige between artforms deemed (by some) to be “serious” and those deemed to be “popular”, and it sometimes seems that never the twain shall meet. What would science-fictional high culture look like? (SF opera?) How are discussions about “high” art shaped by social class and background? How do we, as science fiction readers and writers, challenge the divide? In what ways do we find ourselves reinforcing it? Can we just ignore it — and why, or why not?

With: Peter Harrow, Trevor Hoyle, Pauline Morgan, Gareth L. Powell, Simon Morden

This Week

This week, I’ll be appearing at two events.

1). Tonight, I am going to be reading at the BristolCon Fringe. I’ll be doing a 20 minute reading of new material at the Shakespeare Tavern, Princes St, Bristol (next to the Arnolfini). Entry is free, and the event starts at 7:00pm.

2). On Wednesday (24 Feb), I’m going to be in London for the BSFA Interview, where bestselling author Peter F. Hamilton will be questioning me in front of a live audience. This is also free to attend, and takes place at The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London EC1Y 8ND from 7:00pm.

Please come along and say hello.

New Event: Adam Nevill and Gareth L. Powell in Plymouth


Bar Facilities Available in the Arts Centre


– See more at: Literature Works website

Stop Press: Venue Change

Next week, on Weds 24th Feb, my BSFA interview has been moved to The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London EC1Y 8ND. All other details remain the same (7pm start, free entry, interview to be conducted by Peter F. Hamilton).

Hope to see you there!

Audio Recording: Gareth L. Powell at Aberystwyth

Simon Williams, the manager of The Bookshop at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, recorded the reading I did there on Wednesday 11th November. The recording is below, accompanied by photographs from the event.

Forthcoming Events

11 November – Aberystwyth UniversityI will be talking to students during the day, followed by an evening reading.

19 November – Novel Nights Science Fiction Special, 8:00pm, The Lansdowne, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1AF. Reading and talking about science fiction.

25 February – BSFA Interview, (time and venue tbc) London. I will be interviewed in front of an audience by novelist Peter F. Hamilton.

25-28 March – Mancunicon, Hilton Deansgate, Manchester. For the second year running, I will be hosting the BSFA Awards ceremony.

Upcoming Event: Aberystwyth

Science Fiction MasterclassOn 11th November, I will be giving a reading and talk at The Bookshop – Y Siop Lyfrau in Aberystwyth. The event starts at 6:00pm. Entry and refreshments are free.

Address: Aberystwyth Arts Centre / Canolfan y Celfyddydau, Aberystwyth

Earlier in the afternoon, I will be hosting a masterclass in creative writing at the University of Aberystwyth, where I will be commenting on six pre-submitted pieces of work by students, and sharing what I know about the pleasures and perils of writing science fiction.

[Photo by Val Nolan]