Fantasticon 2016 and Other Treats

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A book launch, where we sold out of the publisher’s stock! A meeting with Royd Tolkien and lots of other authors. A gathering of enthusiastic and generous people at an event celebrating science fiction, fantasy and gaming.

Plus: Visits to relatives and friends in various locations. Visits to Family Research Centres to gather facts for the family tree. Wined and dined in several places.

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The prime reason for the trip was the launch of Blood Red Dust at Fantasticon 2016 in Hull. As usual with this event, arranged by my publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing, a great time was had by all. This time, the venue was really special. The Guildhall is right in the centre of Hull (EU City of Culture in 2017). It’s a wonderful old building with plenty of character and great facilities.

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I arrived early on the Saturday morning and helped out with the bookstall, where Penny Grubb was already busy placing the many books on offer. Blood Red Dust sold well and we exhausted all but 3 of the publisher’s stock. The horror anthology 666 sold out completely over the weekend. And we sold many copies of other books, my fantasy trilogy, A Seared Sky, and scifi novella, The Methuselah Strain, among them.

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The usual and fantastic Cosplay folk were there in force; Storm Troopers, Dr Who, Superheroes and Superheroines of all sorts, a few steampunk characters and some I couldn’t identify! All wearing great costumes.

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There were games; virtual, board and online, aplenty.

Food in the shape of fudge and cake, as well as free biscuits and soft drinks. There was a bar and a café on site, too. One of the four Daleks approached the bar and demanded a drink of the barmaid on pain of extermination: a human hand emerged from within to receive the proffered beer!

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The awards ceremony and raffle prize giving was, as usual, handled with great humour by the inimitable Steph Wyeth.

And there were writers of all sorts, showing off their books, selling and signing copies to a public who know a good thing when they see it. Several of the authors gave readings that had the wandering crowds sitting in rapt attention. And Royd Tolkien entertained and informed with his two talks; one on his adventures with the films of his great grandfather’s books and the other about his late brother’s challenge to fulfil the latter’s bucket list.

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Through it all, Dan Grubb and his lovely wife, Gabi, were on hand, running the event and ensuring all went well; their army of volunteers taking care of the many fascinating attractions.

So, a great time was had by all. A shame my camera decided to play up, so the flash was useless. Still, I got a few pics and here’s a link to a lot more from another photographer (much better quality).

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We always take a trip before Christmas to visit friends and relatives we otherwise see too rarely. So we combined the two. Valerie’s doing research for our family trees and was able to visit Family Research Centres in Hull and Sunderland to hunt for clues to our lineage. We drove 690 miles and slept in 3 different locations on our tour of the north.

Our journey took us to Hull (and a visit to 2 sets of relatives who live close to each other but where we got utterly lost due to a combination of a cloudburst and darkness!), Driffield, Sunderland, Washington (Tyne and Wear, the original, not the pretender in USA), Middleham, and Castle Bromwich.

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Middleham Castle

All in all, a great 8 day trip.

Next year’s Fantasticon will take place under the banner of Hull’s year as European City of Culture. Watch this space for news so you don’t miss what promises to be a truly fantastic event!

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