The House of Murky Depths has supported Bristolcon since it started, and the first year there was virtually just Murky Depths in the dealer/panel room, so unusually I was at all the panels and talks. A bonus. There was I believe around 60 people at that event. This year it was nearer 250; I sign of Bristolcon’s success, and I think one of the reasons is that it runs for just the one day and therefore makes it possible for people living within a few hours journey to avoid the problems and added cost of staying in a hotel – though missing some of the evening entertainment. A reason why I liked Thought Bubble in Leeds which has now gone to a two-day event. Great for visitors, not so good for dealers.
For me it’s a chance to visit my son, so the stay-over at his amazing new pad was worth the visit and a few bevies catching up on his achievements and plans is always enjoyable. Aside from that it’s good to meet old con friends for a drink in the Ramada bar, and leaning on it and sharing whiskey tasting with Jim Burns was the Friday night highlight after some quick catch-ups with Robert Harkess and Kim and Del Lakin-Smith. This year I set up the dealer tables on the Friday night so it was a casual ten-minute stroll in the morning for a Colosseum (just around the corner from the Ramada) breakfast – something I always look forward to, though this year the two pissed young ladies with wine and lager alongside their platefuls made me feel a little queasy.
The dealer room at Bristolcon has never been huge but spills out into the corridors, and I sometimes think the corridor might be a better place. At least everyone passes you, whereas some people never visit the dealer room itself. This year Murky Depths was at 90 degrees to Forbidden Planet, who invariable have the best spot – directly facing the entrance – with Danie Ware promoting her new novel Ecko Rising amongst other best-selling book.
From a dealers point of view, well mine anyway, Bristolcon has never been a viable proposition. I rarely sell enough to cover travelling costs let alone anything else. Initially I’d made the excuse it was a promotional exercise but, now that Murky Depths is no longer published, plugging the publishing houses, that’s The House of Murky Depths and the new YA imprint Murkee, and new titles alone doesn’t seem to excite me so much.
Despite being unable to visit the panels and reading – I’ve always been there on my own – I know it’s a good con from the attitudes of the people who speak to me at the table, or maybe my ukulele playing just makes them smile! There were several con virgins who seemed to be having a good time and I’d suggest Bristolcon for anyone unblooded at a con. It’ll give you the right vibes.
It’s a hugely well-organised con. And how many cons have you been to where tea and coffee is available all day for free! I hope everyone who picked up a goody bag on the Saturday were pleased with their free copy of Murky Depths and a big thank you to everyone who purchased a signed copy of my new short story collection Probably Maybe Perhaps.
Will The House of Murky Depths be at next year’s Bristolcon? We’ll have to wait and see what next year brings. Cons are beginning to be a liability as far as finances are concerned – maybe they always have been – although some are still a good earner. There will always be traders willing to take up tables so organisers rarely feel any obligation to dealers who have supported them from the off (Bristolcon’s an exception there too), but if more organisers don’t help us out with deals then you won’t be seeing The House of Murky Depths at so many cons in future. Shame, but that’s the way it is.