Gollancz Festival 2016

What is it?

The Gollancz Festival (GollanczFest) is a weekend-long event that this year was held on 17th-18th September at Foyles Charing Cross Road in London. The event consisted of three bookshop panel sessions, two writers’ sessions and a party. The bookshop panels and the writers’ program ran concurrently, so I chose to go to the panels, which were discussions between Gollancz writers. There were also signings at the end of each session, and 10th anniversary editions of The Lies of Locke Lamora, The Blade Itself, The Final Empire and The Stormcaller available to buy, as well as a Gollancz notebook and festival poster. You can check #GollanczFest16 on Twitter to see what everyone got up to!

Who was there?

Pretty much the entire Gollancz team as far as I could tell, as well as twenty-five or so of their authors, including Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, Joanne Harris, Christopher Priest, Pat Canigan and Joe Abercrombie. I didn’t know anyone who was going, but I did get chatting to a few people while I was there which was great!

Did you enjoy it?

Absolutely! Most of the fantasy I’ve read I’ve come at from a YA direction, so a lot of these (really impressive!) authors were completely unknown to me. I ended up buying waaaay too many books and having to lug them all home after the party on Saturday evening! I enjoyed seeing Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, Joanne Harris, Antonia Honeywell, Pat Canigan and Ed Cox particularly. Turns out a lot of fantasy authors are actual sweethearts in real life!

I’ve missed one panel somewhere in these photos, but this is an idea of the different authors who attended, who all write such a variety of works, despite the fact that they all come under SFF. It was really interested to hear people’s different ideas and theories about their work and the genre as a wider community, and it makes me even more sad that I can’t go to FantasyCon this coming weekend (curse my brother’s move to uni for the first time!), because it’s a similar thing but on a larger scale. Next year, I swear it!

And, of course, the swag!

Included in the ticket to every session was a Gollancz tote bag, stuffed with goodies like samplers, bookmarks, and The Ultimate Sci-Fi Quiz Book (fourth image). I bought all four 10th anniversary editions in the third image (I am out of control with my book-buying rn someone help), as well as the four paperbacks in the first image – all of these but The Final Empire are signed.

Another really awesome thing Gollancz did for this weekend was to put 40-odd of their ebooks on sale at 99p, so that even the people who couldn’t attend could benefit from the event! I bought The Falconer by Elizabeth May, Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu, Obelisk by Stephen Baxter and The Relic Guild by Edward Cox (seriously someone take my card away from me).

AND THEN I couldn’t even leave the shop without picking up some more books on the way out (this is a real problem I am a concern)! All three books in the second image were already on my TBR – The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce. I started the Alanna books YEARS ago but never actually read the last book (idiot). Also time-travelling pirates and Firefly with real aliens and POC – how could I say no??

I had an amazing time this weekend (though I was shattered to go back to work on Monday!), and I feel like I have a much firmer grasp on what Gollancz stand for, as well as the context of SFF – since a lot happened in the genre before I was born! I have a lot of reading to get done, but I hope I’ll emerge the other side with a fuller understanding of sci-fi/fantasy, which will help me in both my writing and in my job. It would have been nice to see more women, and definitely more POC, but this isn’t an issue that’s specific to Gollancz, and during the event they did commit to doing better in future. Pat Canigan turned a panel about ‘world-changing stories’ specifically into a discussion on diversity, which I thought was really needed and was one of my highlights of the weekend.

Bring on GollanczFest17!

-Rachel

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