OK so: a very hurried round-up of past crimes will have to suffice for this post: Fantasycon was great fun – I don’t know if it was the hotel (the Royal York) which was the fanciest of any con this year, and definitely superior to the place that the con was at for two consecutive years in Brighton (not the World Fantasy hotel, the other one from before). Lee Harris helmed the con – and MC’d it in place of poor Graham Joyce – very ably assisted by what seemed to be a small army of efficient ‘redcloak’ volunteers who seemed to keep everything ticking along nicely. I had a grand time, best Fantasycon so far, for me (being local probably helped of course). Highlights were the live Tea and Jeopardy where Emma and Peter Newman interviewed Toby Whithouse, Paul Cornell’s regular Just a Minute and a panel I was on (modestly I say it) on writing and fighting, which degenerated into a physical demo where I, Fran Terminiello, Juliet McKenna and Clifford Beal demonstrated our various styles, and Juliet did her best to remove my arm. There is a recording of this last part up on Youtube here, courtesy of my wife Annie, in which, among rather better tutors, I give a fairly inadequate gloss of the Lichtenauer school of longsword fighting.

After that was Titancon over in Belfast, who were kind enough to invite me over. This was a lot of fun, and they looked after me splendidly (much thanks to Phil for organising, and Jo Playford for acting as author liaison). I got to meet SF legends Pat Cadigan and Ian McDonald, and fellow fantasy writers Laurence Donaghy, Peadar O Guilin and DJ McCune, we had a round of panels and a Family Feud-style quiz against some of the cast of Game of Thrones. Rounding off the evening was some truly inspired Karaoke, including a truly awe-inspiring Meatloaf and Pat performing Bad Romance.

So, we’re done with cons until Bristol. Do I get any breathing room? Do I hell, frankly. However, In Other News, I’ve had a scattershot of new short stories fly into print recently. Those two reprobates Walther Cohen and Michael (from ‘The Dissipation Club’, ‘Pipework’ and ‘Lost Soldiers’ (1)) have had another couple of their exploits chronicled. ‘Where the Brass Band Plays’ can be found in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic 2, whilst my personal favourite, ‘The House on the Old Cliffs’ is at last out in the Fantasy Faction anthology – and believe me, if I hadn’t seen a copy of this at Fantasy at the Court I would have held it as a mere traveller’s tale.

Also out is my frankly unpleasant story ‘The Girls from Humaji’ in Fox Spirit’s Girl at the End of the World volume 2. I think I must have been in a pretty dark place when I penned this one. For no readily explicable reason, Fox Spirit commissions bring out some weird and sharp-edged stuff from my imagination (see ‘Fragile Creations’ in Tales of Eve and my story in their upcoming Wicked Women antho).

Finally, I am very, very proud to see my story ‘The Final Conjuration’ in Abaddon’s 221 Baker Streets, a collection of alt-world Sherlock Holmes stories. Of these new anthologies, this is the only one I’ve had a chance to read and – seriously, you should grab a copy as soon as it’s readily available. Never mind my own offering, this is a set of beautiful and varied stories, far more so than you might think the shared theme might allow. I particularly liked Emma Newman’s ‘A Woman’s Place’, centring on a near-future Mrs Husdon’s trials and tribulations, Guy Adams’ ‘A Study in Scarborough’ which cast Holmes and Watson as a pair of Goons-style radio comedians, and Kaaron Warren’s ‘The Lantern Men’ which frankly  creeped me the hell out.

(1) In Feast and Famine from Newcon Press, Vivisepulture from Anarchy Press and 13 Ghosts of Christmas from Spectral, respectively.

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