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Messages - Lermontov

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Mark Chadbourn, Natasha Mostert and Adam Nevill taking fiction and forteana at the Fortean Times' 2010 Uncon. While I might not make the most exciting chair in the world I was proud to have them there and speaking for themselves and we covered a lot of good ground in the hour of the panel and the audience were mostly engaged for the duration!

You can find the full video of the panel at Mark's website:

http://www.jackofravens.com/2010/11/15/unconvention-2010-forteana-and-fiction/

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It's time for another round of the esoteric and the downright weird at this year's Fortean Times Unconvention. The Blue Dogs of Texas, Fortean Themes in Doctor Who, A History of Talking to the Dead, Wired for God, Queen Victoria's Stalker, Amazing Dope Tales, Sex and the Poltergeist, Fantastic Taxidermy, Magical Landscapes and Vampire Rabbits among the talks and what's not to like?!

On the Sunday 3pm, there will be a Writer's Panel: Forteana and Fiction with Adam Nevill, Mark Chadbourn and Natasha Mostert talking about influences in their work and fiction in general. The panel is tastily sandwiched in between Lucky Skeaping singing bawdy Elizabethan street songs and a panel on the current state of Ufology. There will be a dealer room and Psi tests going on and all sorts of fun stuff!

Details of the event and the talks over the two days (University of Westminster Baker St Campus, London, 10am onwards, doors open 9.30am) can be found Here:

http://www.forteantimes.com/events/uncon2010/

And a list of the talks here:

http://www.forteantimes.com/events/uncon2010/3952/talks_and_speakers.html

If anyone is interested in having a stand in the dealer room message me and I will give you the details.








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Books / Re: Beware The Limited, Limited Edition!
« on: February 05, 2009, 09:40:45 am »
I've been following this here and on Shocklines, David. Not since Robert Stanek has there been such a monstrously delusional ego trip manifesting itself across the Net. Feckless? Dishonourable? Likely he is. It also seems clear that he has some serious issues. Best thing to do is cut off the oxygen supply where you can. He had been a MySpace friend but he isn't anymore. (Many of his friends on MySpace are himself!). As long as he is, it remains free advertising to feed the delusion. It's annoying to say the least for those who got stung - and all really rather sad. In our desire to 'make it' - there but for the grace of God and all that.

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Promote Your Projects / Richard Wright -Co-Founder of Pink Floyd R.I.P.
« on: September 15, 2008, 11:06:56 pm »
Deeply sad and shocking news today that he passed away, cancer.  Always the most self-deprecating member of Pink Floyd without Richard Wright much of their magic simply wouldn't have been there. Those gorgeous spacey chords in 'Us and Them', just for starters.

If anything personifies fantasy and the fantastic in sound it is Floyd's music and Richard Wright was an integral part of that. He will be much missed.

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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 08:35:31 pm »
No worries, Stephen. You were fighting for what you have invested your time and energy into.

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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 08:34:10 pm »
Stephen with all due respect I wasn't writing angry letters of complaint that the things I proposed were not done, but that they were at the time met with what amounted to lackadaisical indifference.  People maybe had a lot on their plates, they were already pushed, one more proposal to do this or that may well have been one too far. You know, that's fine, we all may succumb to that. But my perception at the time was that there was a general air of things being, well, okay as they were. For some. It was also my perception that they weren't. I did make efforts to take part and make a difference but I felt like I was hitting a sort of glass ceiling.  I also, like other members and committee members had a life to live, too and I didn't want to hit my head against that glass ceiling any more. I put my spare energy to other things.

As a writer of sorts with a passionate interest in fantasy I wanted to be a part of it and in its progress forward, the focal point of it being everyone's love of fantasy in all its forms. I didn't get anywhere. Maybe I didn't try hard enough, or what I did in my own piffling way try to help out with was ineffectual or just not useful.  In my membership of three years I saw the society going if not backwards, then just static. I think in many ways the first Nottingham Fcon with Gaiman and Barker and Feist was the exception that proved the rule. Those first two writers were closely involved with the society from way back. It was fantastic to have them there, and Feist. It was a big occasion but it was also an extra special occasion. The committee surpassed themselves that year and all credit to them. But maybe that was the peak of the society in that form and it is good now that change is finally taking place and people move on to pastures new, while still being associated with the society.

There is already new blood.

(And I will not be tempted into semantics over a politburo and any or all of the ironies in my choice of that concept in context here!)

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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 06:08:49 pm »
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Shame.  I question the logic of saying 'I won't get involved until I am confident that anything will happen' as one rather necessitates the other.  Still, I appreciate everyone's time is limited and of course one still has the right to air an opinion just - as Peter points out - not the right to be surprised if it is not acted upon!

As it happens I think you may be in luck in that the society will move in a direction that pleases you with or without your input.

I did get involved Guy! I set up that exchange with the mag and once I handed it over to a committee member to act upon it, not a thing happened. It sank without a trace. I invested my personal time (and I remember being on the phone about it once nattering passionately away without realising my HoD at the time was standing over my shoulder and not much pleased with what I was doing) under my own initiative to contribute to the society of which I was a member and the thing just got flushed down that toilet. I'll be a member again eventually, pay my fee, attend and support the Open Nights and the Fcon and a Showcase etc but - and this is my perception - to get involved and being a fan of fantasy with swords and magic and brutal mediaeval milieu when pressed on it for that desert island, I think I would have to fight for it on a committee. And frankly it shouldn't be like that as the genres should not be in opposition to each other but mutually complimentary. Yes you have to fight in what you believe in but with a supposedly catch all Fantasy Society you shouldn't have to. Never mind the inevitable personal ego factors involved in such enterprises.

And I did offer my help actively elsewhere twice, with the MySpace page for example but I could feel that my involvement either wasn't required or simply not trusted. Things were not open a year ago, they were defensive. If they are about to change, great. The more open and wide reaching the society becomes the healthier it will be. And I was there early at an Fcon stuffing freebies into bags.

This is the British Fantasy Society, The British Fantasy Society and many people on these shores who like the genre in all its forms haven't even heard of it. There comes a point at which any body has done what it can do, like a government, it just needs to be changed, because change it must. The Earth turns and all that. When you keep doing the same thing you usually get the same result. If you want a different one you change what you are doing. Well you seem to be intent on doing that, Guy. I'll stick my hand up for you and I'll join again and attend events when you have/hopefully become Chair and for now that's all the contribution I am prepared to give. If that's scorned upon by anyone, well then sorry for that! At least I'm actually voicing an opinion and helping to energise the debate. I'm not having a pop, I do actually care enough about it to voice the opinion.

And time and time again when you do have the temerity to offer suggestions and ideas - which have no copyright on them -  time and time again you get them bounced back with something along the lines of a - yes, hectoring -''well fine, good idea, you get up and do it then clever clogs' knee-jerk response. That sort of mentality has got to change too, because it still persists. Members put forward proposals to a committee and they either act upon them or vote upon them and carry them out as a committee and if the ideas are very popular a committee finds ways to make them practicable if they can.  If some ideas are so good and so vital (none of mine necessarily were, I hasten to add) there is no reason not to act upon them. No time? Not enough money? Expand the committee base and become media whores to swell the coffers to make them practicable because you have to do that now or you just remain in stasis and obscurity.

The BFS is in a state of stasis and obscurity.

People just don't want to come out and say these things. Are they blind? They bloody well should to help effect change. It isn't personal. Everyone either has a job or a family or a career to scramble through life with and yes it is no wonder that the society as it stands has its limits and remains within that - uncomfortable - comfort zone.

The first thing that's got to stop is by inference telling someone that their idea has no validity if they themselves are not prepared to actively help carry it out. It might be a good idea. That mindset must change for starters. It has happened on this thread today! That's partly what I meant about a politburo.

Well, I'm all mouth and not willing to walk the walk when it comes to it? I have walked the walk in the past and I think becoming a member again, supporting events, turning up to them and maybe getting others outside of the society to come alone too can count as walking the walk as an active member and I won't apologise for it. And if it is disparaged so readily and that vibe lingers will it be any wonder why people either don't hang around as members or just stay away?

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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 12:26:38 pm »
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Nick, I must confess I find the fact that you think me potent enough to destroy the BFS and all of creation with it rather charming!

I've seen you in action in a pub, Guy!

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To go back to the stance of having to have everything in London seems like a step backwards to me.

Caroline I quite agree with you, because having everything in London is not what I was suggesting! What I was suggesting was a Vice-President ideally based in the south to cover an area that Ramsey's presence as President in the north rarely does.

And certain events will likely be based in the London because that is the capital. The Fcon is not in London for very good logistical and economic reasons, but Open Nights and Showcase evenings and the most attended Open Night at Christmas often are. They can coexist with other events in other parts of the country helped to be generated by membership and committee cells.

If the next Showcase evening is in the Midlands or the North and more people turn out all well and good, but the society needs a consistent strong showing in the capital as well simply because it's the capital of the country and that's just the way it is. Same reason why the Olympic medalists will likely come back triumphant to the capital for a parade even if they don't live there. Why not Manchester or Birmingham etc? Because London, for all its stinking maddening imperfections, is the capital and having a strong presence in the capital of the country is good for - apologies to anyone who find it vulgar - the society's image. As is showing that the society has a strong presence in other parts of the country, of course. But having that consistent (consistent not central) presence in the capital is a given.


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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 12:01:58 pm »
Quote
Screenwriting (TV) and Screenwriting (Film) should be serious contenders (or variations, thereof), and with the huge interest in electronic publishing over the last couple of years, perhaps something to specifically recognise electronic publishing (and I don't just mean webzines - I'd include podcasts, blogs and videocasts in this category...)

How about a 'genre contributor fan' award? Given to someone who has promoted the fantastic genres through their efforts online, be it on Blogs or reviewing/interviewing etc over a cumulative period and recognised for it as such.

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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 11:58:10 am »
Guy, if I am at the Fcon and the AGM I will no doubt put in my tuppence worth, insignificant guppy that I am! What ought to be proposed in my opinion is a Vice-President, yes, a Vice-President and one ideally located in the south of the country. Correct me if I'm wrong but Ramsey doesn't often get down this way for events and it is just reality that many events will be in London, you know what, they have to be. It's the capital, fact - and chances are there as much as anywhere to maximise casual attendances that turn into long-standing ones. It would be good at events in the south, such as a showcase evening or an Open Night if, in the absence of Ramsey, the Vice-President can be there as a public face within the genre community for newcomers to see standing there, welcoming folk before handing over to the Chair or whichever committee member is present at the event to direct the evening. I think it would need to be another writer. Image. Image. And then the substance when folk are drawn through the doors to back that image up.

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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 11:21:14 am »
In response, Stephen, right now I still do not have enough faith that things will change that much. I still think there will be a core of movers and shakers in the wings within the society who won't want things to change that much. There, I've said it. That is my perception, it is likely wrong. But there it is. And they don't care much for fantasy, especially of the recognisable sword and magic kind, which ironically has kept the other commercially floundering fantastic genres alive for the last 20 years or so in one way or another, be it in book sales or mass film spin-off exposure.

My spare energy at the moment is given to the other thing I mentioned. Does that prevent me from having an opinion or making suggestions as an interested party on an open forum? And people are damn right I'll say these things but not get pro-actively involved - see paragraph above. Until I have a clear sense that a profound change has been made, I will do my little bit here and there as - a once again future member - when prompted but I'm not prepared to actively stick my hand in just now and get it chopped off. Because as far as I can see, even given the committee changes soon to take place with folk standing down, that core in the wings is likely to still exist, which is perhaps something quite other than sticking up for the genre you might love most and seeing that it gets a showing. There will always be big goldfish in a small pool. That's why a minimum paying membership of 500+ should be a base starting point and not a goal. Strength in numbers.

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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 10:59:45 am »
If Guy does enter the shop and doesn't break all the china  ;) there is no reason why the committee cannot be extended in terms of who is on it. This is a society, not a polit bureau. Just to clarify one of my earlier points. Wonderlands was in no way set up by its creators nor ever intended as being in opposition to the BFS in anyway, it was created as a worldwide networking site in which anyone - even if they are also into recognisable horror or SF as significantly distinct genres or members of the BFS or BSFA or whatever - can get a primarliy fantasy focused fix, be it of the swords and magic or urban or new weird or comic or whatever. It is complimentary to and not in opposition to the BFS. I didn't want to make it seem as if it was, because it isn't!

As a society: have a 'mailshot day' once or twice a month (don't care how cheesy or 'Americanised' that may seem to some, it works), encouraging every member to send out an ad for the society via MySpace, Facebook, a Blog etc in a bulletin or whatever. It will guarantee new members to the forum at the very least and it is getting members involved.

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British Fantasy Awards / Re: Extra categories in the BFS Awards?
« on: August 19, 2008, 09:45:13 am »
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Doesn't everyone wants the society to grow? To be an inclusive rather than exclusive group of like-minded folk?

I would find it very worrying if they didn't.

You'd be surprised, Guy! I can remember on this very forum one member saying that they thought the size of the Fcon was just about right and wouldn't want it to be any bigger. There is this comfort zone that lingers in the society, that someone of your undoubted tact and subtlety, as all who have met you know, Mr. Adams, might just be able to blast through. If people leave because the society gets bigger with your - possible - arrival as Chair, leave because it is no longer that 'cosy' just the right size meeting place (that few have heard of outside of itself) then so be it. It doesn't have to lose that warmth but it does have to lose something to gain something. I've been following the debate with interest and it is ironic to me that a debate so central to the future of the society has been taking place on another forum entirely for a good week before it featured here with any sort of presence with multiple  posts to a thread!

I posted a thread here last year questioning whether there was a fantasy community which got a major response. I was disillusioned with and prompted by the way I perceived the society to be - sorry, but horror-centric was my perception - and in a comfort zone, size-wise (wash your dirty minds out with soap!). And I was aghast at the lack of advertising for major events. The first time the Fcon was held in Nottingham very little was done to promote it in the city itself beforehand. Yes, I know this is a voluntary society and everyone is a volunteer on their own time. That is why, like you are crying out, the society needs more members. More members will mean more hands to the deck. It's a simple no-brainer. My post boiled down to a general almost hectoring response from some posters of: 'well put up or shut up, if you don't like it do something about it'. I did. I left the forum and this is my first post since then. I also aided some others disillusioned with the focus of the society and set up Wonderlands, just for starters.  I was not about to invest my energy, time and ideas into things for the benefit of the society and see them flushed desultorily down the proverbial toilet when I felt like they were not going to be taken up.

I once set up the possibility of an advertising exchange between the society and a magazine, much more beneficial to the society than the magazine, it came to nothing. The comfort zone had been reached, things were in place. If it ain't broke don't fix it, I suppose.  As I remember there was also not enough money left in the kitty for a BFS pitch at a convention which brought in a minimum of 1000 people over the course of a daytime Saturday and Sunday. And I would have been happy to have manned that pitch for the day.

I suggested setting up a MySpace page for the BFS, (apparently one was already mooted) and even offered to run it myself. There was some scepticism about the benefit of a MySpace page for the BFS. Eventually one was set up. I don't know how many members joined as a result, but Christ even if only two have, that's a win-win result!

I was at the first Nottingham Fcon AGM and enquired when a new website would be developed. The old one looked like it was under construction. I know people who visited it on my recommendation and thought it and the society was all but defunct. Image, unfortunately as vulgar as that may seem, is crucial. I was told at the AGM that the website was being done. It took almost a year after that for this website as we now it know to be set up. I'm not pointing the finger. But clearly for those who are volunteering it is too much work and once again - more members means more hands on deck for advertising. And yes, the society does have to pimp itself and if that means categories for TV and film then so be it. I too have to disagree with Paul. This is the networking age and you advertise within that network. The society cannot survive if it is seen as some sort of rarefied

(x2 as I for one don't like the term 'weird fiction' being bandied about as a catch-all; it is a word for me with antiquated associations and by implication suggests that it is something other than fiction, an aberration from 'real' or 'normal' - whatever that is - fiction; but embedded in the word is instant polarisation)

subtly hierarchical (rarefied x3) and outmoded, Crowley-like, initiatory coterie of literary purists. There is so much cross-pollinisation among mediums now, especially within the realm of the fantastic, that it is virtual suicide not to accept and utilise that.

What is being done now, actively to promote the Fcon, one month away? What is going on in terms of contact within Nottingham now to promote it in the run up? If stuff is being done, great! There are phones, there is email, there is the 'you scratch my back I'll scratch yours' contacts in that city which can be made. Games Workshop and it's buddy Solaris Publishing are based in Nottingham, are they not? Didn't someone elsewhere - at Pantechnicon - mention a contact on the regional Arts Council or some such? You don't have to physically be there to do it, necessarily. As a now lapsed member I need some encouragement and confidence from the steering committee to want to join again.

I for one will be sad to see Vicky go in particular. I remember she came to one Open Night in London, made sure the thing was set up, then actually had to leave as it began without seeing and enjoying it herself, in order to catch a train back to Birmingham! I will eventually join again, but that out of personal respect to Vicky as much as anything.

Yes, I am grateful for what the society has done in the recent past - the first Nottingham Fcon was memorable - and there is a sense of the society being close-knit. But nothing lasts in its given form - Newton taught us that - all good things must come to an end. Outside events effect it. It cannot be hermetically sealed off from the way things are.

Change is inevitable eventually. Yes you hold onto what is good and strong about the society, but you just have to, eventually, let go that which doesn't work anymore and/or is no longer relative with the way things are. It might not necessarily be a good thing, change. But you might just pull it off, Guy. Or, as I half suspect, drag the society and somehow - all the while getting an extended suntan - the entire country down to rack and ruin with it! But it will likely be one hell of a ride!

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Indeedy  ;)

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Like any organisation this is only if you allow it to be.

If you believe what you believe in strong enough stand up for your beliefs and stop making excuses.

I have done on more than one occasion and pardon me all over the place but no one is making excuses. How do you mean?

I am not going to trawl through the active help I offered in the past that can be found through old posts, none of which was taken up.

It took almost a year for a new website to be created after it was agreed at an AGM that a new one was needed.

As I have already said: it is in its disparate nature that lies the strength and the weakness of the society. If it was bigger its disparate nature would still be its strength and weakness. But it would be bigger. There does not seem to be any genuinely collective push to make the society bigger and I can only conclude that the majority of folk are happy with it as it stands. No one will have to worry about getting a seat for breakfast at the next Fcon. That seems to be the comfort zone. So as I noted at 1am last night David, I will quit my carping about it.  I understand that the society is their first to champion its members' shared needs and not those of the genres. The two may often go hand in hand but never always. As I said: I think I get that now. And for me to want to champion fantasy as a genre it does not follow that the BFS is the focal place to try to do it. It certainly involves it but isn't the key place. That has been my perception of the last two years or more.  I don't think that there is a focal place. Which brings me full back circle to my post about a fantasy community, or lack of one thereof.

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