We already have some great events lined up, but not everything has been
finalised (well, nothing at a convention is ever finalised until three days
after the con ends). More details will appear shortly...
We have many, many panels in the planning stage. The following list is probably
pretty close to the final programme, though there will almost certainly be a
few changes. [Note: All arguments will be decided by two
falls, two submissions or a knockout to determine the winner. Failing that,
we'll just have everyone play Twister.]
- Is "Is SF Dead?" Dead?
In which the panelists look back fondly on what was once probably the most clich‚d panel at any convention (not counting "Religion in Science Fiction", of course).
- Spoiling the Story
Why do publishers insist on revealing the plot on the back of the book? What was Warner Video thinking when they decided on the front cover photo and back cover blurb for Babylon 5 tape 21? And what about the cover of Deep Space Nine tape 5.7? Then there's those movie trailers that show the end of the film, reviewers who insist on revealing plot twists...
- The Mechanics of Writing
Surely there's more to characterisation than giving the hero a lisp, a limp and a book on trainspotting? And beginning each sentence with the word 'and' and ending with a question mark can't help, can it? Advice from experienced authors.
- Flesh for Fantasy
AKA "Gore is good". That's gore as in evisceration, decapitation, ad hoc chainsaw-surgery, etc., not Gore as in Al. You can't have a proper horror movie without a few dismemberments and the odd disembowelling, can you? I mean, it wouldn't be a horror movie.
- Getting Published with No Talent
Our panelists throw credibility to the winds and explain cunning ways of bypassing editorial control and getting those awful manuscripts into print. I predict that the word "Internet" will feature heavily in this panel.
- &%$* it! The Error from Beyond Space!
A discussion of classic SF blunders. And we're not just talking about Star Trek: The Next Generation and Fermat's Last Theorem...
- Extreme Close-up
What's the difference between writing books and writing screenplays? Several seasoned book writers who have made the transition discuss this point.
- With a Mighty Bound
Simply put, the credibility of magic in fantasy novels, as discussed by the very people who created that magic.
- The Hyperspace Conduit Not Taken
Alternative worlds in Fantasy, SF and Horror. The hows, whys and wherefores, presented by some of our guests who have quite a bit of experience in this sub-genre.
- Beyond the Trilogy
What's the attraction of multi-book series? And more important, what's the driving force? The writer, the publisher or the reader? Or is it the characters themselves?
- Non-western Influences
SF and Fantasy novels based on Norse, Chinese, Russian and other cultures.
- Using Someone Else's Characters
What's it like writing a movie novelisation, or using characters created by another author? Is it easier, because there is less inventing to do, or harder, because there is less inventing to do?
- Return of the Living Undead
What's involved in bringing one of the classic horror novels back to life? Several experts discuss the merits and morality of reviving Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, and others.
- The Editor's Job
So, what does an editor actually do? I mean, really, what does he or she do? Several seasoned editors explain what it's all about.
- The Only True Form of SF is the Short Story
Once upon a time, short stories were pretty much the only form of Science Fiction. Now, they're all but extinct. The End.
- Using Real Historical Characters
Fantasy novels based on people who once existed... Reworking ancient myths and legends into coherent Fantasy novels is probably one of the most difficult tasks a writer can attempt.
- The Miu-Ayga Principle
Or, "Detailed Research and How to Fake It." Miu-Ayga, of course, was the legendary philosopher that I've just invented whose name stands for Making It Up As You Go Along.
- Tarot Workshop
Our resident expert brings some of the secrets and techniques of the trade to the masses.
- Introducing Kids to SF
So your nephew is just starting to read... Do you give him books on football - like his father does - or a bunch of great SF works?
- B5: Our Last, Best Hope for TV SF?
Babylon 5 is the best thing to happen to television SF ever. Discuss. And no fighting from you people in the Star Fleet uniforms at the back.
- Keeping Track of Imaginary Worlds
So, how does an author manage to keep it all going and tie up those loose ends so neatly?
- 3 SF Books You'd Give to Non-SF fans
Suppose you knew someone who was Anti-SF... Which three books would you press upon them to persuade them that the genre should be taken seriously?
- The Business of Writing
This is the nitty-gritty... Making and losing money by writing. How much can you expect to earn? Should you give up the day job?
- Darwin versus Von Daniken
Was God an Astronaut? Or was He a Cosmonaut? Or are we all here just by a sort of "settling into place" of the ecosystem? Or what?
- The Science & Art of Translation
There can't be many things stranger than seeing a book you didn't write with your own name on the cover. So, how does that come about, then? Writers and translators discuss the process, and all the inherent problems. For example, imagine trying to translate 2001: A Space Odyssey... For a start, the acronym "HAL" would be a lot different.
- Ghostwriters' Workshop
As a companion panel to The Science & Art of Translation, imagine seeing a book that you did write with someone else's name on the cover...
The way of the future... Tiny robots that work on a scale smaller than most of us can imagine. A fine example of science fiction on the verge of becoming reality.
- Science Fiction is the Same as Fantasy
See, if you look at it like this, both Science Fiction and Fantasy make up their own laws of physics and reality... So what's the difference?
- The Future of Medicine
The past fifty years have seen incredible leaps in surgery, medicine, diagnosis and treatment. But how far can this go?
- All You Need is Consistency
If you have one good rule that your characters must follow when performing magic, and you never deviate from that rule, then you have created a believeable system.
- UFOs: The New Religion?
Many people who have sighted a UFO are treated as pariahs, yet they believe with a fervour that goes beyond any physical proof. Sound familiar?
- Why Have 10 Million Americans Been Rectally Probed?
So, really, why do aliens always single out lonely farmers and people who live in trailer parks?
- Why Does Dracula Have to Fight Everybody?
The existence of the movie Billy the Kid versus Dracula says it all, really. Has the Count become an archetype? I mean, he's battled everyone from the X-Men to Sherlock Holmes...
- 100 Years of Dracula Adaptations
We're going to get lynched for this one, but... "This house believes that there has never been a worthy adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel."
Does the Internet signal the end of conventions? After all, a lot of people go to cons to meet up with like-minded persons (i.e., other fanatics), but with the Internet they can meet any time they like.
- Comics Aren't Just for Adults Anymore
No, really. Apparently, there are moves to make comics more accessible to younger readers.
- Did "Dark Knight" Make a Difference?
Ten years after The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were hailed as revolutionary, it's time to step back and see what, if anything, has changed in the comics world.
- That Difficult Fourth Season
Many SF / Fantasy TV series seem to get stuck after they've been on air a few years. Why is this? Maybe the creators are just coasting, or maybe they're afraid to mess with a successful formula.
- Hubble vs. Mars
Given a choice, would you spend the money on building the Hubble Telescope or making a manned trip to Mars?
- Why are Irish SF Writers More Famous Abroad?
Is it that the grass is always greener? Or that the readers abroad are greener (i.e., "greener" as in "naïve")? Or that the local readers are greener (i.e., "greener" as in "with jealousy")?
- Psychotherapy is the Death of Gaming
Now that therapists are saying that gaming is not an anti-social behaviour and is actually beneficial, does that mean that everyone is going to be put off?
- Millennium Fever
It was bad enough at the start of 1990, when every magazine, TV show and newspaper was looking back over the events the past decade, but imagine what it's going to be like at the start of 2000 (or 2001, take your pick).
There will be a giant charity signing at the con. Each participating guest
will collect per signing. All monies raised will be presented to a
representative of the national Diabetic Research unit. We're hoping that
this will be the largest charity signing ever to take place at a science
fiction convention. The signing is the brainchild of Harry Harrison.
Again, we're still working out the details, but we hope to have at least two
exclusive launches at the con. More details to come.
Disco & Masquerade
Always a popular event at any Octocon, you can expect the Disco to be
completely mad and full of lights and music and people with strange costumes.
Um... Our gaming expert is working hard on some very strange stuff.
Past Irish cons have had such delightful events as the Drazai War and Cluedo
(or Clue, to Americans) based on Deep Space Nine. Watch this space for
In addition to the main stream (I had to be careful to type that phrase
correctly), the con will feature a series of smaller tributaries...
[Please note that the above planned events are very much subject to
- Small Press Magazines
Many have appeared; many disappear after a single issue. But those that remain
continue to produce some of the finest science fiction available, providing
both the writer with a place where his work can be made known, and the reader
with some quality fiction from new writers.
In Ireland, the cause of small press fiction is championed by
magazine, and it is with that magazine's help that we are delighted to be
able to bring you this stream of programmes. One of the more successful
fiction magazines - certainly the best Irish magazine - Albedo One
recently published its thirteenth issue, and has proved to be a critical as
well as popular success.
As our Small-Press Guest of Honour we're delighted to welcome
Chris Reed to the convention. As well as editor of
BBR magazine, Chris is founder of the
New Science Fiction
Alliance, a sort of clearing house for small press zines that makes
available to all magazines from the world over.
If you publish a zine and/or would be interested in taking part in this
stream, drop us a line at the usual address. Or if you're so inclined, you
can talk to those lovely people at Albedo One; you'll find them at
2 Post Road, Lusk, Co. Dublin, Ireland or at
As mentioned above, there will be a series of panels based on that rather
famous book and its many successors.
One of the panels will be "100 Years of Dracula Adaptations,"
a deliberately inflamatory title for a panel in which Dracula experts get
defensive about various movie, TV and stage versions of Dublin-based Bram
Stoker's greatest work.
Another panel will discuss the many guest appearances that the noble Count has
made in books, television shows, movies and comics over the past century.
- The Science of Magic
For this stream we have lined up guest speaker Dr. Stephan Grundy to talk about Teutonic Runes, Druidism
and so on. We'll also be running a Tarot workshop for those interested, and
the stage magician (who's going to open the masquerade ball) will be presenting
a workshop on what really goes on behind the scenes...