This weekend I attended the 2008 Freecon, a sci-fi and fantasy convention organised by the Sydney Futurians. I was very kindly invited by the organiser, Garry Dalrymple, to go along and take part in some discussion panels and do a reading from one of my books.

The Freecon is a small event – let’s call it intimate – but it’s a good one. The people there really care about their spec fic in books, movies and tv and there were a number of entertaining and informative panel discussions with topics ranging from “Why are there so many vampires around at the moment” to “Is fantasy all just the middle ages retold”. Enthusiasm was maintained all day Saturday and Sunday, right to the end where the final panel, a discussion on Dark Fantasy, led to a hearty debate on the moral obligations of writers and whether they should be feeding a market for the darker things in human nature. I found myself on the discussion panel indirectly defending my own work as definitions of dark fantasy, horror, schlock and more were deperately sought. It was all highly enjoyable.

I had the opportunity to read to the convention and chose to read the opening passage of RealmShift. It went down fairly well and I sold a few books. Always a good sign. I got to talk about the forthcoming sequel, MageSign, and the nature of self-publishing, small press and the new Blade Red Press mission.

It was an honour to spend the weekend in the company of some great authors, and to be included in their number. We had panel discussions and readings from Richard Harland, Pamela Freeman, D M Cornish, Bruno Bouchet, David Kowalski, Gillian Polack and Gerry Turcotte as well as myself. It was a great mix of people and styles, with representatives from big publishers right through to small press. There was kid’s sci-fi, epic fantasy, urban dark fantasy and even a sneak preview from Richard Harland of his forthcoming steampunk novel.

Hopefully there’ll be some pictures around somewhere – there were a few cameras going on both days. If I find any shots anywhere I’ll link them up from here. I strongly encourage anyone to go along and support this event – it’s on every year – and, as the name suggests, it’s free. Having any kind of Sydney convention, however intimate, is really worthwhile and the more we support these things the bigger they can grow, which is good news for fans and authors alike. Hopefully I’ll get invited again next year – I’ll be more than happy to get involved again.