Science Fiction Comes to the National Space Centre

Science Fiction Comes to the National Space Centre
Saturday February 9th 2013

By Peter Ray Allison

The Leicester-based National Space Centre is no stranger to science-fiction
conventions. In fact, many would claim it is the ideal location, especially those who
have attended the Space Centre’s previous Movie Mania Weekends, Brit Sci Fi
events, or the Aliens Anniversary.

Hence, it was only a matter of time before the Space Centre considered hosting
a sci-fi/fantasy literature event. The first of which was Space Fiction, held one
Saturday afternoon in snowy February. Headlining the event were special guests
BSFA chairman, Newcon Press owner, sci-fi writer and all-round good-guy Ian
Whates; diesel-punk dystopian-rock chic author Kim Lakin-Smith, and Ack-Ack
Macaque author Mr. Dead-pan himself, Gareth L. Powell.

The event opened with a brief introduction from each of the authors, explaining
their career paths within the realm of science-fiction, before taking a short break
for a series of readings (subtly edited in Gareth L. Powell’s case for pre-watershed
listening of the more tender ears). After the readings and a second small break,
the intrepid authors reconvened for a Q&A session presided by Del Lakin-Smith,
quizzing the authors on science-fiction topics, before opening the floor for questions
from the audience (preferably none about what the authors would do if giant robots
attacked). The afternoon concluded with a signing session by the authors, where I
was fortunate enough to pick up a signed copy of Ian Whates’ The Noise Within, and
was sorely tempted by Gareth L. Powell’s Ack Ack Macaque after his poop-laden

Space Fiction was unlike any of the alternative-genre literature conventions I had
previously attended, as the event was held in a more open and informal manner.
Barring the initial entry fee to the Space Centre (which you can transform into an
annual pass free-of-charge if you gift-aid your ticket), Space Fiction was free to
attend, and was held in a section of the Space Centre where members of the public
could wander in, as and when they wished. This openness of the event was reflected
in the willingness by the authors to happily answer questions from young and old

Whilst small in both size and scale, Space Fiction remained an eminently friendly
event filled with informal debate. Some may question the validity of Space Fiction’s
informal openness, and debate its validity as a serious literature event. I would claim
that informal events such as this have as much validity as the more focussed events
such as Alt.Fiction and Edge-Lit. Space Fiction’s openness introduces the realms of
science-fiction literature in a far less overwhelming manner than the latter events,
and thus acts as a conduit for future generations to continue exploring the realms of

Personally, I hope that Space Fiction will be the first of many genre-literature
conventions held at the National Space Centre and, needless to say, I’ll be there…

BSFA London Meeting, 30th January

13.01.30 2

BSFA London Meeting, 30th January

Dave Hutchinson interviewed by Ian Whates

Photograph courtesy of Chad Dixon


Despite the last minute rescheduling from the original date a week prior, this meeting was pleasingly well attended, with some 30-odd in the audience.  Dave Hutchinson spoke openly of his experiences as a writer and recovering editor, including how he came to have his first short story collection published at the age of eighteen.  A journalist of some twenty-five years standing, Dave also had some interesting opinions on the recent phone-hacking scandal and the state of journalism today.  This sparked a discussion involving the audience which could have gone on long into the night had time allowed.  Our thanks to everyone who came along.


Ian Whates

January BSFA London Meeting: Dave Hutchinson interviewed by Ian Whates

n512216661_1491017_330nnnLocation: The Cellar Bar, The Argyle Public House, 1 Greville Street (off Leather Lane), London EC1N 8PQ

On Wednesday 30th January 2013, Dave Hutchinson (writer, editor and journalist; author of The Villages, 2001, and The Push, 2009) will be interviewed by Ian Whates (chair of the BSFA).

Please note the change of date – this meeting is taking place on the fifth Wednesday.

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central Line).

27th February 2013Elizabeth Hand, interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn
20th March 2013* – BSFA Awards discussion
24th April 2013Lavie Tidhar; interviewer TBC

* Note that due to the proximity of Easter to the fourth Wednesday of the month, this meeting will be held on the third Wednesday.