Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Science Fiction conventions still survive in Glasgow

Robot head

I have to confess to a certain degree of nostalgia breaking through this weekend, as memories of past Eastercons in Glasgow surfaced after a chance spotting of some news items relating to Science Fiction conventions taking place around the country happened to appear in some searches I was making for some more general (factual) scientific information.

I don’t know how long ago the last convention I actually attended was, but at a guess it would have been not too long after Intersection, the Glasgow Worldcon (53rd) held at the SECC back in 1995. Things get kind of hazy in the years not too long after that, as the bottom fell out of my world, and I had to change my lifestyle to that of a carer, of which I won’t go into detail.

I have to admit that I wasn’t too impressed by the Worldcon, and found the smaller and more intimate organisation of the conventions that I had attended at various hotels around Glasgow had been more fun, if less impressive.

I’d started this particular bad habit somewhere back in the 1980s (maybe even 1980 if I checked) when I attended the first Albacon held in Glasgow’s Albany Hotel, and some others held there in later years. Albacons moved to the Central Hotel later, such as in Albacon 91, September 1991.

Probably the best of the time were those held in the Central Hotel, next to Glasgow’s Central Station, where the Con seemed to take over the whole building for almost 3 days over the weekend. I think Cons took place there for something close to 30 years, but in 2009 the building was deteriorating and tired, and administration forced a change of ownership, However this saw a £20 million revamp and it reopened as the Grand Central Hotel the following year.

Satellite 3 brought Science Fiction conventions to this renewed venue in February 2012 (something I just discovered).

Those who know the name John Salthouse will probably also appreciate that the bangs he created sometime felt as if they might bring some of the creaky ceilings down! Before the revamp, of course.

The nice thing about those days was the lack of Internet and even video. Apart from the various talks and events, you could spend much of your time wandering from room to room where you could catch episodes from many of the classic television science-fiction series on show, at a time when few people had their own copies of the material, or even the hardware to show it on, unless they were very well-heeled, or very enthusiastic.

Once these became freely available and cheap, I thought attendance numbers at the conventions seems to take a tumble, rooms that were once busy were notably quiet, and eventually the conventions seemed to become rare events too. Although once into the late 1990s, the time I had to go out and play had seriously diminished too.

Once we got into the 2000s, I had a hunt around the web for any local events, but by then they seemed to have largely dried up, although I see the he 63rd World Science Fiction Convention, Interaction, managed to pop up in August 2005, SECC in Glasgow again, and an Eastercon in 2006, Concussion, the 57th British National Science Fiction Convention.

So, things have not gone quite as quiet as I might have thought.

I’m not sure which event it was, but I think my favourite Guest of Honour was Gerry Anderson, who sadly passed away recently. It was intriguing to see this quietly spoken gentleman had been behind all the series I had enjoyed over the years and, despite the success these had ultimately brought him, it was also a bit sad to see how he still didn’t really like them, as he had only created the puppet series as a means to reaching live action.

Present day

Things seem to be on the up for the Science Fiction Convention, and there’s one event coming in Glasgow this year:

Collectormania Glasgow – Movie Stars and Memorabilia at Braehead Arena

Saturday 24th – Sunday 25th August 2013

Saturday: 9 am to 6 pm, and Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

Although it’s next year, there’s also:

Satellite 4

Taking place 18th – 21st April 2014, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow, UK.

At the moment, I can’t dig up anything else, and given how far in advance these events are organised to  make sure that the guests and venue are available, I doubt that there may be any more to be found at the moment.

(I’m sure anyone that knows better will add any other event via the Comment below.)

I like to think of Science Fiction as escaping the usual politics, prejudices, sexism, Political Corrections, bias yada yada etc that we have to put up with in daily life (that’s not to say these do not feature, just that we don’t have to make an issue of them), but as you’ll see from this Guardian article, those who like to wallow in the self-imposed misery of such things have no problem in bringing their issues to Science Fiction conventions too, and making life miserable for the rest of us, right from the opening sentence:

The rise of Eastercon: the SF/fantasy convention with community spirit | Books | guardian.co.uk

Grand Central Hotel

Grand Central Hotel © Thomas Nugent via geograph

The figure in front of the hotel’s entrance was unveiled on 17 June, 2001. A bronze sculpture entitled “Citizen Firefighter” by Kenny Hunter, one of Scotland’s foremost sculptors, it is a tribute to all firefighters past and present who have served in Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.

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April 5, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Hi,

    It’s not a convention but there will be lots of sci-fi! We are hosting a Speculative Fiction bookfair on Sunday 1st Dec, Old Hairdressers 6.30 p.m. There will also be readings from comic artists/writers Stephen Goodall and Craig Collins and writers Hal Duncan, Alexander Abraham and Douglas Thompson. The event is free in however we are asking for a suggested donation of £3 to cover expenses

    More details are here: https://www.facebook.com/events/220600698109692/ which also has a link to our facebook and wordpress sites.

    Cheers

    Like

    Comment by thespeculativebookshop | November 26, 2013


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