at Fórum Fantástico 2010

It was hell getting to the Forúm Fantástico. I flew from Edinburgh at the unearthly hour of 6am… I’ve NO idea why it is necessary to be there 2 hours before the flight, and I wasn’t, but still! I loathe flying – it is by far one of the most unfortunate modes of transport devised by the human species. All that queueing, waiting, undressing, unpacking, dressing, packing, waiting, going here, waiting, going there, waiting, being sardined into an aluminium tube then squeezed out the other end. Could anything more ludicrous be conceived than a metal box hurtling through the air jammed full of hassled, short-tempered apes?! I would’ve rather gone by camel.

Amsterdam was suffering a gale. When the pilot managed a hair-raising landing, we all spontaneously burst into clapping to thank him for having saved our lives. Of course my connecting flight was also delayed. By the time I arrived at my hotel in Lisbon, I had been travelling for nearly 13 hours. It took me less time to get to Cambodia!

Hours late, I got a taxi to the convention. The driver hadn’t a clue where that was, and we wandered utterly lost before Rogério Ribeiro came to my rescue – not for the last time. The poor man organized the whole thing on his own (with some help from Safaa Dib) from Pisa!?

Eventually, a whole load of us went out for dinner. I had a real laugh with Daniel Cardoso, Inês Rôlo and Sofia Correia, chums I knew from facebook…

After yet again not enough sleep, I opened the morning’s proceedings with a talk on ‘World Building’… from which come all the gesticulations above. I did this in English because it would have been unfair to inflict such a ‘technical’ talk on my audience in my ropey Portuguese. (I found out later that Raquel Garrido had filmed the whole thing and you can find it here (part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). This was followed by a talk on ‘Technology and Atmosphere’ by Stephen Hunt and another on ‘Characters and Characterization’ by Peter V. Brett. I later had interesting chats with both of them.

When I got back from lunch with my editor Raquel Dutra, I watched a panel on ‘Fantastic Lisbon’ with four Portuguese authors who, with delightful fluency and wit, opened my eyes to a world of Portuguese fantasy and sci-fi I simply hadn’t realized existed. It’s easy to fall into believing that speculative fiction is entirely an English language affair.

After David Soares launched a book, I did an interview with Rogério in my less than sparkling Portuguese. Daniel produced a recording of this and I will try and put it online once I have it.

Stephen and Peter did their interviews. Then we all did a signing.

Then it was out for dinner (with among others Guadalupe Cabral and Inês Botelho), bed and the flight home the next morning.

Though quite a small convention, Fórum Fantástico was beautifully located, smoothly organized with a great mix of warm and bright people. As speculative fiction increases in popularity in Portugal, I am told that the Forum will grow bigger. I hope so, it deserves to be even more of a gathering than it already is.

19 thoughts on “at Fórum Fantástico 2010

  1. Perhaps the convention being ‘small’ (how many visitors?) also makes it more intimate – which in my book would be a good thing. I’ve been to an EasterCon once (many, many years ago), and it was a bit too massive for my taste. Of course, a bigger convention also gives the opportunity to meet more people, expand one’s horizon…

    Having this blog post up this quickly must surely be a sign that you’ve had a great time! It does sound like an “I wish I’d been there”-situation (obviously, I’d’ve been quite lost, not speaking the language). Hopefully the Forum Fantastico will indeed keep growing (without, of course, getting too big). I’m sure you’ve done your bit to help in that!

    1. don’t know how many visitors – anyone out there know that? You’re right, intimate is good, but it was also free… and it could do with generating a bit of money because otherwise it can only scrape along. Also, Rogério had to do most of it – so that it depends entirely on his energy – that’s not only not fair, it’s not sustainable…
      I did have a great time, and the language issue wouldn’t have much diminished your enjoyment – everyone seems to speak and understand English to a high degree and much of it was carried out in English.
      Whatever I contributed was enthusiastically given and I wish the best for it in the future…

  2. And I loved being there, learning a lot from you, from Stephen Hunt and Peter V. Brett. It was an unforgettable day. And I hope to go to the next Fórum Fantástico, next year. P.S. : hmmmm, that’s weird, from all the pictures taken on that particular day, you picked the one that I’m on it. O_O A little bit spooky ;)))))

      1. You are so right, It’s the last one, you are signing my “The Third God” English book and I was asking some questions, I think. And it was the second time we meet, the first one being at the Book Fair in Lisbon. (^_^)

          1. Thanks Daniel.Yes, that’s correct, is very common in here and my closest friends call me that. (^_^) And I prefer it rather than Conceição. *wide grin*

  3. I really enjoyed your participation at this year’s edition of Fórum Fantástico. I had to miss out on your appearence earlier this year at Feira do Livro de Lisboa, so this was even better since I hadn’t seen you in the flesh!

    I’m glad you liked Fórum Fantástico – I think it’s the only event here in Portugal, which focuses on fantastic literature (and other fantastic-related things, but that being the main drive), and this year there was more attendance than in previous years, which is a great sign of how things are evolving here.

    Regarding your lecture on worldbuilding, I coundn’t help but wonder if your experience as a game designer/developer has been an influence on how you build the environments for your narratives. I ended up not asking about it at the Fórum, so, I’m taking the chance to ask it here, where I don’t need to talk out loud in front of a large audience. :p

    Before I forget, next week I’m going to post your interview videos online. I did a lot (maybe too much!) of footage during Fórum Fantástico and I’m slowly posting it all online.

    1. yes, it was a good gathering :O)

      you’re right about my lecture – my experience with working on computer games had a big effect on my writing – especially at first. That said, creative stuff I did before the computer games – including, perhaps surprisingly, my degree in mathematics – these contributed massively to my computer games work. In short, they’re all just stations on the line of creativity that my little train is puffing along *grin*

      er… thought you already had posted them online – there’s links to the 6 segments of my worldbuilding talk in the post above?!

      1. Hello again!

        The six videos already online are of your ‘Worldbuilding’ lecture. The ones I haven’t put up are the ones of the talk you had with Rogério Ribeiro in the afternoon.

  4. All I can say is that it was great, both your talks, and the dinner. And, also, getting to talk so much about the Stone Dance and explore all those minute details.

    I’m glad to have contributed to this blog post through pics and the still-to-come audio, and I hope we can meet again.

  5. Glad you had a good time! I love how 1/2 the story was dedicated to the terrible road there. 😛

    And I agree about the misery of flying, and the fortunate thing about being in HK is that I’ve actually LEFT work 2 hours before my flight, flown to the airport, just to arrive 15 minutes before boarding. That’s generally how I like to do things. 😛 Cuts -as you said – the wait time, since we have online check’s in and automatic customs clearings in HK for residents. ^^

    I have to say – at least with HK’s flying system, I’d rather fly than bump my way for 6 hours on a bus up to the “nearby” cities along the China eastern coast. 😛

    1. you’re right, I’m a moany old git! (And much given to interminable descriptions of terrible journeys *grin*)… I’m too anxious a traveller to leave it until the last minute… unless I’m beyond the ‘Western world’ in which case I take things as they come… Stayed in HK for a while myself… loved it! Sounds like you’ve got the right kind of idea… And, of course, flying is preferable to the alternatives in many situations – but it’s a necessity I don’t at all enjoy! :OP

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