Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 14.22.57Howdy folks!

We’re getting back into con season on both sides of the pond. While Mike heads over to C2E2 over in Chicago, we in the UK are heading up to Manchester for Easter weekend to hang out at Mancunicon.

On Friday there will be an Angry Robot party in the Presidential Suite (aren’t we fancy?) from 20:30 – 22:30, so make sure to swing by and take full advantage of the (limited amount) of free drinks and nibbles. Fancy dress optional, as usual, but extra bonus points go to anyone dressed as a character from an Angry Robot book, like Jonathan Thornton who turned up at the Liverpool ComiCon as Omega John from Matthew De Abaitua’s If Then (see photo)

Here’s where our authors will be, if you want to catch up with them. They will also be floating around the convention, happy to sign books or chat away into the night, as long as there is a bar nearby.

Below is where our authors will be throughout the Mancunicon but remember that times and appearances are subject to change.

Matthew De Abaitua

Friday:
13:00 – 14:00 Hilton Deansgate, Room 6
Transcending the Genre and Other Polite Insults

We all know that classifying work as ‘genre’ can be a touchy subject. For some critics, there is no higher praise than to say that a genre novel has transcended its origins; for some publishers, the notion that books like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale might be considered SF is baffling; and for some authors all labels are shackles to be avoided. To what extent are these reactions rooted in snobbery and/or ignorance, and to what extent are we in fandom too forgiving to the literature we love? Does the recent explosion in “literary apocalypse and dystopia” novels by writers such as Emily St John Mandel and Michel Faber work to reinforce the situation, or break it down? What happens to the discourse when Zadie Smith talks about reading Octavia Butler, or Marlon James says his next novel will be “an African Game of Thrones”? And at the end of the day, do we really want all the walls to disappear?

Panellists: Kate Wood (m), Tiffani Angus, Matthew De Abaitua, Tom Toner, Val Nolan

Saturday:
14:30 – 15:30 Hilton Deansgate, Room 7
Catastrophe and Salvage

In a recent essay for Salvage, Nicholas Beuret and Gareth Brown drew a distinction between between disaster or apocalypse, which are terrible things that may happen (or in some stories, have happened), and catastrophe, which is “a constant presence, shaping how the act of survival takes place.” Which real SF deals with catastrophes in this sense? How do such stories reflect our daily experience of life in a world of austerity, ecological disaster and war? And how do we, as readers and as writers, balance the need to escape and to inspire, and the need to confront and acknowledge?

Panellists: Andrew M Butler (m), Matthew De Abaitua, Graham Sleight, Tricia Sullivan, Jo Zebedee

Guy Haley

Monday:
14:30 – 15:30 Hilton Deansgate, Room 8 & 9
Criminality in SF&F

The cross-fertilisation of crime and the fantastic has produced some of the field’s most memorable works and partnerships, from Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw to Mosca Mye and Saracen (and Eponymous Clent); or from Gentlemen Bastards to Sex Criminals. What is the appeal of such stories? What do crime stories gain from a touch of the fantastic? Are particular crime subgenres — from cosy mystery to hardboiled — more or less suited to the SF treatment, and why?

Panellists: Virginia Preston (m), Chaz Brenchley, Guy Haley, Peter McLean, Sarah Pinborough

Matt Hill

Thursday:
18:30 – 19:30, Waterstones Deansgate
Graft book launch

Join Matt Hill for the launch of his novel Graft at Waterstones, Deansgate. Matt will be reading from the novel as well as taking part in a Q&A session.

Sunday:
16:00 – 17:00 Hilton Deansgate, Room 6
New Visions of Manchester

New writers Anne Charnock (A Calculated Life, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind) and Matt Hill (The Folded Man, Graft) interview each other about their new books, and about writing Manchester’s future. 

Panellists: Anne Charnock, Matt Hill

Matthew Hughes

Sunday:
13:00 – 14:00
Supporting the Short Stuff

In his editorial for the November 2015 issue of Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke warned that the current boom in SF short fiction may be coming to an end: new markets are appearing continuously, but very few have truly viable business models in the sense of being able to sustain themselves and pay their editors and contributors. At the same time, the growth in markets has been a key factor in the increasing diversity of SF short fiction. So is the current landscape healthy or not? Is it realistic to aspire to full sustainability for today’s magazines, or is limited crowdfunding enough (or even advantageous)? Is a crash coming, and if it is what should we do about it?

Panellists: Val Nolan (m), Ruth EJ Booth, Matthew Hughes, Juliet Kemp, E G Kosh

Peter McLean

Monday:
14:30 – 15:30 Hilton Deansgate, Room 8 & 9
Criminality in SF&F

The cross-fertilisation of crime and the fantastic has produced some of the field’s most memorable works and partnerships, from Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw to Mosca Mye and Saracen (and Eponymous Clent); or from Gentlemen Bastards to Sex Criminals. What is the appeal of such stories? What do crime stories gain from a touch of the fantastic? Are particular crime subgenres — from cosy mystery to hardboiled — more or less suited to the SF treatment, and why?

Panellists: Virginia Preston (m), Chaz Brenchley, Guy Haley, Peter McLean, Sarah Pinborough

Foz Meadows

Saturday:
10:00 – 11:00 Hilton Deansgate, Room 8&9
Shipping the End of the World

The Hunger Games, Insurgent, The 100, The Walking Dead, and countless other TV shows, films, novels, and comics are set at the end of the world or in a post-apocalyptic environment. Many of these have huge and enthusiastic fanbases that often all but ignore the apocalypse in favour of shipping multiple characters. In fandoms not set at the end of the world, it is common for AUs to do just that. The zombie apocalypse being particularly common. In this session we enjoy the delights of the apocalypse and question its appeal as a setting among shippers. 

The nature of this session may result in adult themes being discussed.

Panellists: Lexin (m), Emily January, Foz Meadows, Ms Kate Wood, Louise Dennis

Monday:
10:00 – 11:00 Hilton Deansgate, Room 8&9
Read My Enemy

The relationship between art and politics is not straightforward, and the political status of great art is always contested. This can go beyond liking works with problematic elements: which books, films, TV shows or other artworks do you profoundly disagree with at their core, and yet adore nonetheless? How do you process that disjunction? The devil is said to have all the best tunes: might he also write the best stories?

Panellists: Nick Larter (m), Roz Kaveney, Foz Meadows, Peadar Ó Guilín, Tom Toner

14:30 – 15:30 Hilton Deansgate, Room 6
Radical Worldbuilding

From the anarchist society in Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic The Dispossessed to the multiple cultures of Kameron Hurley’s Worldbreaker Chronicles, some SF societies have always been constructed to challenge what at least some of their readers might consider plausible. What are the advantages and disadvantages of showcasing radical alternatives in this way, as opposed to starting with something that looks familiar and then breaking it? Who are such stories for: the readers who will be challenged, or those who will be delighted? Is “plausibility” actually a meaningful or useful goal? Is there a limit to how much writers can change in one story, and if so why, or why not?

Panellists: Ms Kate Wood (m), E G Cosh, Foz Meadows, Taj Hayer, Graham Sleight

Susan Murray

Susan isn’t doing a panel at Mancunicon but will be the the Angry Robot party on Friday night!

David Tallerman

Friday:
14:30 – 16:00 Hilton Deansgate, Room 8&9
Twisting the Story

Intrigue! Betrayal! Revelation! All these options and more are available to the writer looking to take their story up a notch. But what is the key to making a good twist work, and work as SF or fantasy? Is it primarily a question of making the reader care about a character? Is it about managing and playing with the reader’s expectations, particularly in those stories which draw on established structures, such as a heist or a procedural? Is it about the logical but unexpected implication of the speculative setting? Or is it something else entirely?

Panellists: Gillian Redfearn (m), Susan Bartholomew, Charles Stross, David Tallerman, Chris Wooding

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