The Secrets of Ireland’s Science Fiction Convention

Octocon is Ireland’s National Science Fiction Convention, and has been running since 1990. I was there all weekend representing a website that I founded about women and comicbooks called Girls Like Comics.

You shall not pass!

Having made a joke at a rather inopportune moment at the registration table, however, this happened:

Gandalf aka Jessica

It resulted in many people staring very hard at my chestal region for all of the weekend.

The Programme

The programme of Octocon was very panel-heavy, described by one of my fellow con-ers as ‘academic’. This suited me just fine.

There was a panel on Copyright and Creative Endeavours, for example, as well as Disabilities in MediaFantasy Explained with Science! and Telling LGBTQA Stories, all of which I attended. You can scrutinise the guide for Saturday and Sunday if you are really that anal.

The Panels

I scrawled notes like I was in college. I made audio recordings (you’ll see one below). Were the panels entertaining? Quite. Were they thought-provoking? Yes. Did they give me ideas for my own comic book writing? Of course.

Guests: Richard K Morgan & Gail Simone

Previous guests of honour at Octocon included Terry Pratchett and Anne McCaffrey, so expectations appear to always run very high for Octocon.

The guests for 2013 were Gail Simone and Richard K Morgan.

There’s a long, long story about Gail Simone and Girls Like Comics. Another post is forthcoming when I get over the huge effort expended in writing/curating this one.

FYI she’s super-amazing. No really.

Suffice to say, yes; just yes:

Gail Simone rocks my socks
Gail Simone rocks my socks


Not strictly comics related: Richard K. Morgan

I think I might be in love.

No, really.

Go get his books right now. I wish I could write like this. Listen to that DIALOGUE. Whoaza.

Here’s a recording I made of him reading from his work in progress.

The takeaway

People who go to conventions are all sorts of people. You go to these things initially expecting an onslaught of nerd, and yes, while there can be an element of that, everyone just seems to be…all kinds of everyone. As Gail said at one of her panels, actually;

The comicbook industry doesn’t represent its own audience.

What she was referring to is the physical perfection and general maleness of mainstream comicbook characters. However it’s not just physically perfect men who read comics. It’s everyone.

I loved Octocon. It made me want to go to more conventions. There was a lovely vibe to it, and I really got a sense that the crowd were made of people who Thought About Things And Issues And The Meaning Of Stuff, but weren’t too shy to have the craic.

I met some great people. I count two of them as among my friends (hi, if you’re reading this. Yes, we’re friends now, you can’t escape).

Bring on the next convention!


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