We had a fantastic line up of guests at TitanCon 2011 as this page will testify.
We were thrilled to have Belfast's very own Ian McDonald as our Guest of Honour at TitanCon 2011. Ian is a science-fiction novelist best known for his BSFA award winning and Hugo nominated novels River of Gods (2004) and Brasyl (2007). Ian won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Novelette for The Djinn's Wife (2006).
Ian McDonald was born in 1960, in Manchester, to a Scottish father and Irish mother, but moved to Belfast when he was five, and has lived there ever since. He therefore lived through the whole of the 'Troubles' (1968-99), and his sensibility has been permanently shaped by coming to understand Northern Ireland as a post-colonial (and so, in his view, de facto 'Third World') society imposed on an older culture. He became a fan of SF from childhood TV, began writing when he was 9, sold his first story to a local Belfast magazine when he was 22, and in 1987 became a full-time writer.
Major themes of Ian's work include nanotechnology, postcyberpunk settings, and the impact of rapid social and technological change on non-Western societies. His 1990s Chaga Saga is particularly notable for its analysis of the AIDS crisis in Africa. River of Gods and it's companion novel of short stories Cyberabad Days (2009) is set in mid-21st-century India, and Brasyl is set in the 18th and 21st centuries in Lusophone South America.
The Dervish House (2010) took us to Istanbul, Turkey in the year 2025 and centred on the families that live in and around its titular house, it is at once a rich mosaic of Islamic life in the new century and a telling novel of future possibilities. Ian has just finished work on Planesrunner, the first book of a young reader's series to be published by Pyr later this year.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Ian on winning Best Novel for The Dervish House at the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards at EasterCon in Birmingham on Saturday 23 April 2011.
Elliot Grove is the founder of the Raindance Film Festival and one of the most knowledgeable filmmakers in the UK having produced over 150 short films and 5 feature films. Elliot regularly holds a crash course seminar on indie film making in London called the 99 Minute Film School which always has a sell out attendance and would usually cost you £15 to enjoy. But at TitanCon 2011, thanks to the power of Skype, we were able to offer this outstanding introduction to the world of independent film making as an inclusive part of the TitanCon membership costing just £10.
Of course it is impossible to explain filmmaking in 99 minutes! Or is it?
During the 99 Minute Film School Elliot Grove attempts to do just that, running through the basic essentials you need to create a film, how to create a viable plan to launch your career and dozens of filmmaking tips in just 99 minutes. This course is for writers, directors, producers, actors, filmmakers, cinema lovers, anyone with an interest in how movies are made and who seek a basic introduction to the filmmaking process.
Elliot Grove has worked intensively with writers and filmmakers at Raindance since 1992. He explains the tricks of the trade from practical experience and reveals some of the latest paradigms through lecture, exercises and video clips.
Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007. Open University awarded Elliot an Honourary Doctorate for services to film education in 2009.
Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers Lab 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008), Raindance Producers Lab (Focal Press 2004) and 130 Projects to get you into Filmmaking (Barrons 2009). Elliot's first novel The Bandit Queen based on his childhood experiences living in the Ogaden Desert in Ethiopia is scheduled for publication in late 2011.
We were absolutely thrilled to have the creators of Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame hold their official Northern Ireland launch event at TitanCon 2011.
Game designers Leonard Boyd and David Brashaw hosted game demonstrations, answered questions and after a full twenty years in development got to finally sell their board game based on the books of Sir Terry Pratchett.
Leonard and David both hail from County Down. Leonard has two children and a very understanding wife. David also has two children and a very understanding wife. They're also both huge Discworld fans. In fact the only way to tell them apart is that they look completely different. David points out he is small, stubborn with a baldy patch while Leonard is older, wiser and has more imagination.
Leonard is a graphic designer and first had the idea for this game way back in 1991. After a few years of playtesting with David and their friends Leonard got the chance in May 1995 to show the game to Sir Terry who described it as one of the better ones he had seen. However he advised them that they needed to secure the backing of a major games company before he could grant them a licence.
After an extremely long and torturous process of trying to find a publisher, involving at least five redesigns of the entire game and more hours of playtesting than any sane person can possibly imagine, they finally secured a deal with Z-Man Games in 2010. Then in November they successfully signed prolific Discworld artist Stephen Player to create the character illustrations for their game and on 27 November 2010 Sir Terry Pratchett granted Leonard and David a licence to put the game into production.
And now finally the game has gone on sale in their home country and TitanCon members were not only able to be first in line but could buy Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame at a special discounted price.
George Clarke is the founder of independent film company, Yellow Fever Productions, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His dutes in the film world are plentiful and his usual roles on his productions involve; writer, producer, director, action choreographer, DOP, editor, and some times, even actor. He created the Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival in 2008 and with his projects, has gained critical acclaim from industry professionals around the globe.
George Clarke first appeared on the radar in Fall of 2007 with his critically acclaimed, award winning feature film Battle of the Bone. With no formal film experience or education, George took a chance when he got funded privately for his first venture and decided to aim high with such a project. BOTB quickly became (and still is) the most talked about and media covered film ever to come out of Northern Ireland.
During the filming of BOTB George found a young team of wanna-be stuntmen who were keen to do more on film. He also found that while on set, if they were not kept under control, the guys would spread out and destroy things (much like bacteria do) hence the name - Team Bacteria. Among the team, one young man stood out and George instantly recognised his potential, Peter Meehan stars as The Kid in a series of five action packed kung fu short films that were made for no money and distributed online via Yellow Fever's Youtube channel. Next up was Lidl Red Riding Hoody (2008) and this short was followed by full length feature The Knackery (2009).
2011 is set to be Yellow Fever's biggest yet with their fourth feature The Last Light a violently haunting tale of one man's night in an old mansion, and also disturbing clown horror The Circus and action packed flicks The Expendable Eight and The Knackery 2. The fifth feature is a departure from the normal George Clarke project, but one he feels very strongly about. Billy, A Reasonable Request is the (true) story of one mother's true love and battle to keep her son alive when he was denied the right to live by the health service of Northern Ireland.
In September 2007 Peadar Ó Guilín published his first novel, The Inferior, which the Times Educational Supplement called "a stark, dark tale, written with great energy and confidence and some arresting reflections on human nature." It tells the story of Stopmouth and his family who must battle for survival in a world of tribal societies. To live they must hunt rival species or negotiate flesh-trade with those who crave meat of the freshest human kind. There is but one law: Eat or be Eaten.
The second book in the series The Deserter was published 5 May 2011 and continues Stopmouth's journey as he attempts to understand The Roof and find the mysterious woman he loves who fell from it.
Peadar has been writing curious stories for as long as he can remember. One of his school reports claimed that he had "a talent for communication, which he abuse[d]." Since then he has written plays, published short stories and performed as a stand-up comedian. He has taken part in a project to translate the Linux operating system into Irish and is fluent in French and Italian. Peadar lives in Dublin where he toils night and day for a giant computer corporation.
As a fan of George RR Martin Peadar has been posting on the Westeros forum for years and in 2009 travelled to Worldcon in Montreal where the Brotherhood Without Banners took him firmly into the fold and made him one of their own. While signing copies of The Inferior for some of the BWB Peadar wrote a dedication that could not quite be read, it was supposed to say "...you are so awesome" but it looked like "...you are so enslaved". Within a few hours there were t-shirts and badges saying "Enslaved by Peadar Ó Guilín". I remain convinced that Peadar's fan club needs to be called The Enslaved and he really should try and work something about enslavement into his next novel.
Peadar is now a regular at Irish conventions including Octocon in Dublin and is always an interesting, enlightening and entertaining panelist. When asked if he wanted to be a guest of TitanCon he thought it was a trick question, a horde of zombified wild horses could not keep him away!
We invite you to come be enslaved by Peadar Ó Guilín.
In October 2006 Gerard Brennan was selected to partake in the Belfast Creative Writers Network's Mentoring Programme, and was lucky enough to work with our Guest of Honour Ian McDonald. Ian read a collection of Gerard's short stories and helped him improve each one over a series of one-to-one sessions.
Between 2007 and 2010, Gerard received awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland three times to assist him in completing three novels, Wee Rockets, Shot and Final Score. Gerard also received funding from Northern Ireland Screen through the Script Development scheme for his screenplay, The Point.
Morrigan Books commissioned Gerard to co-edit a short story anthology. Requiems For The Departed (2010), a collection of crime fiction stories based on Irish Myths which included a short story by fellow TitanCon guest T.A. Moore.
In October 2010 Gerard performed a short one man show at the Black Box in Belfast. The play was based on his short story An Irish Possession which was adapted for the stage by director Conor Maguire.
Among numerous short story publications his most prestigious to date is a place in The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime edited by Maxim Jakubowski (Constable and Robinson), released in April 2011.
Down These Green Streets (2011) edited by Declan Burke features Gerard's article on Northern Irish Crime fiction. This collection of essays, interviews and short fiction regarding Irish crime writing in the 21st century.
Gerard has recently signed with Pulp Press to publish his novella The Point based on his aforementioned screenplay of the same name. It is set for release in October 2011.
Award-winning author T.A Moore is the creator of the Even Stone series and has a numerous short stories published in various anthologies. When not creating dystopian urban fairy tales for love and (some) money she is an arts journalist for CultureNorthernIreland and enjoys long walks, strong coffee and laughing at bad things. People generally agree she'll come to a bad idea. The most common reaction to her writing is, 'But you seem so nice.'
In the Even - a city built in the intersection between the real and the not-ruled by the iron whim of the demon Yekum where treachery brewed amidst the ever-changing streets. Ancients dwell in the city who have out-lived their purpose and grown jaded with their immortality. They want only to die and they will take the whole world with them if they have to: suicide by Apocalypse. Only Faceless Lenith, goddess, cynic and gambler, stands in their way. The fate of the world rests on her shoulders and mankind did not conceive her to be wise.
Wonderfully twisted and dark, The Even will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman. The illustrations by Stephanie Law throughout add richness and style unusual in modern fantasy. It is wise advice to not judge a book by it's cover, but with cover art as beautiful as this who can resist?
Patrick Brown lives in Belfast and has been creating and self-publishing comics since the mid-1990s. He is currently working on The Cattle Raid of Cooley, a graphic novel adapting the ancient Irish epic, drawn in red ink in an improvisational style, which has been serialised on the web since 2008 and is probably about halfway done. Print editions are also available.
Patrick is the chief writer, editor and researcher on the Irish Comics Wiki, an online encyclopedia with over 1,000 articles on comics, comic creators and the cartoonist's art in Ireland since the 16th century. He organises a monthly pub meet for comics creators in Belfast, and, together with Andy Luke, runs a stall selling locally-published comics at Belfast arts markets.
Andy Luke is a local writer who draws. Over the last ten years he's produced a mass of self-published comics including Bob's, Revenge of The Cantina, Optimus and Me and Absence - a comic about epilepsy. Andy has taken part in the 24 hour comic challenge with Don't get Lost (2010) and Gran (2007). Drawn as part of the grieving process, the author tells of his relationship with his grandmother Eileen Lucas, and relays his thoughts on life and the afterlife.
Andy has also contributed to websites including Silver Bullet Comics, Comics Village and Alltern8, and, together with Patrick Brown, runs a stall selling locally-published comics at Belfast arts markets. Which is enough validation, and includes next to no advice on favoured soups.
Picking up signals from the ether, TitanCon 2011 tuned into ghostly transmissions from the past with Wireless Mystery Theatre.
Wireless Mystery Theatre recreate the in-studio excitement of the night, transporting the audience back to the Golden Age of radio, to be AWED! and AMAZED! as they present radio plays live on stage. You are offered a peek through the studio's perspex glass to watch the live music, the hand-cranked sound effects, the 'radio personalities', and the old-time commercials, all live before your very ears.
Originally broadcast in 1941, this archive programme contained two of H.P. Lovecraft's most unsettling stories, The Dunwich Horror and The Music of Erich Zann.
This special performance by Wireless Mystery Theatre was absolutely brilliant, the entire audience was blown away by the masterful performance. Awesome stuff.
Perhaps the most unusual workshop on our programme was the Zombie Make-up Workshop in which make-up artist Joeleen Balance demonstrated and explained the tools and techniques she uses as she worked to make up her friend who volunteered to become a zombie for the day.
I know Joeleen was kind of nervous about doing the panel beforehand but everyone who attended said it was really interesting and the finished zombie looked incredible.
Joeleen has worked as lead make-up artist on several locally shot short films including The Filing Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Mime Don't Pay and 2p.
Please see our Game of Thrones guests page for details of the cast and crew members that attended TitanCon 2011.