Friday, 9 March 2012

Black Library Live Review (for realz!)

I had a great time there.  This is truly an excellent even to attend if you’re into the fiction (from all aspects of BL, not just Heresy or 40K).  It was loud, crowded and busy, but I’ll give a brief rundown of various things I saw/attended/harassed while I was there.

On the Friday, my friend Alex and I headed to Warhammer World at about 6 and I have the fun task of showing him round the place.  He’d never been before, so it was nice to be able to see the place through fresh eyes.  Spent far too much time in the Miniatures Hall which, although small, does have a tonne of beautiful stuff crammed into it.  After that, we went to Bugman's for some light drinking.  Doing so, we fell in with a couple of other guys (Nate and Steve) by teaching them how to play the Bugman’s board game.  We spent about three hours just drinking, playing and chatting bollocks.  That’s one of the great things about this hobby.  It may (not) surprise you to learn that I am fairly shy amongst strangers, even to the point of being socially awkward.  It comes with the Aspergic territory.  However, having the framework of these games and stories that the hobby really helps me talk to people I don’t already know.  As it happens, it was a great few hours with those guys. (Yes, I won the game:  in your FACE, Alex!  You and your Elven Wine!)

A short time after we met up with Dagmire and went for a Chinese, so it was a pleasant evening.  The big deal was on the Saturday though.  The queue for book-buying was manic and definitely the kind of thing that would reward the patient purchaser.  I really should have waited until about 12 or so before picking up the books I wanted, because queuing at 9.30 with an armful of varying grades of literature almost made me late for the first seminar that I’d booked: Writing for Black Library.

Very interesting seminar this one, approaching the dos and don’ts of the BL writing trade (no squig POV novels, damn…), but had a bit of a disheartening air when they started laying statistics on us.  Their previous submissions window at 1,800 entries, out of which only 12 saw any kind of daylight.  That’s roughly two thirds of a percent success rate.  Well, balls.  I’m gonna try anyway.  Nothing to lose, eh?  They’re also accepting Gamebook submissions as well, which is certainly an interesting prospect, although far beyond my capabilities.  I’ve been trying to make a gamebook since I was 8 and well into my Fighting Fantasy.  Never managed it.  I can’t deal with the non-linear plotting.

Anyway, the next seminar I went to was about Black Library Audio, which has been generally very impressive over the past couple of years, so it was cool to hear about the behind-the-scenes stuff that have to happen to get one of the audio-dramas to print.  We also got to hear some extracts of forthcoming audiobooks/dramas, all of which I think were on sale at the event.  Convenient, eh?  Suffice to say, Butcher’s Nails sounded feckin’ awesome and I’m looking forward to giving Eye of Vengeance a spin as well.  Gotta love Telion.

The final big seminar was on Xenos writing, given by Rob Sanders (who wrote Atlas Infernal) and Andy Chambers (who wrote the sqeesome Path of the Renegade).  There was a lot of technical talk from both speakers referring to story structure and alien mindsets, albeit with a heavy Eldar/Dark Eldar focus.  I have to say that I’m now really curious about reading Atlas Infernal, as a lot of the ideas that Rob put forward were great food for though and I’m curious to see how he put them into practice.

Then there were the signings.  Being the 21st century denizen I am, I eschewed the passé signature-on-paper bullshit that so dogged our civilisation in aeons passed.  I got them to sign my Kindle instead.  I even bought some permanent markers especially.  I wound up with four signatures after the day was up, only two of which I had to queue for.  Just as well.  The queues for some of the authors were downright crippling.  One of the great things about the authors for BL and, well, BL in general is that they’re all enthusiasts.  The love the background that they help to craft and can talk about it happily for hours.  Which, in a book signing context, is mildly inconvenient to say the least.  The queue for Andy Chambers was nice and short, because it was for a book that either hadn’t been on general release yet or had only just hit, although quite a few of the guys wanted their old edition 40k rulebooks signed.  Wish I’d thought of that.  Or had my stuff in such a state that I would be able to actually find things.  The queue for Gav Thorpe was a different matter.  It was forty-five minutes of solid trudgery.  I’m glad I went for it near the beginning of the slot; otherwise I wouldn’t have got my Kindle defaced at all.  Perish the thought.

The other two signatories were Sarah Cawkwell (of course!) and Josh Reynolds, who I was surprised to learn, actually listens to the Overlords!  Presumably of his own volition.  I don’t normally read Warhammer Fantasy novels, having tried one or two of them and finding them to be too generic (with the notable exception of the Blood Bowl novels), but I think, with my new Beastmen army taking vague and fuzzy shape, I may have to get a bit more into the background and I have heard good things about Josh’s Knights of the Blazing Sun.

The rest of the evening was taken up by drinking, food and more Bugman’s gaming with Nate and Steve, who managed to earn my ire and jealousy by nabbed a couple of the posters I was really interested in.

The Sunday was a good and borderline relaxed affair, with a brief meet up with a couple of folks at Warhammer World before nearly missing my train home.  There was also an ill-advised trip to Forge World, but at least I’ve now got an Iron Hands force to assemble.  That’s actually one of the last impressions that the weekend left me with.  I’d forgotten just how much I like the Iron Hands as an army.  The Primarchs book had a neat Ferrus Manus story in it and the reprinting of the Iron Hands novel is an undeniably cool looking book, so I’ll be chewing my way through both of those in the forthcoming days.  In fact I’ve already finished the Manus story in the Primarchs.  It was cool, but doesn’t seem to affect the broader narrative, which was a shame.  Never mind, though, because I have the story of Gdolkin to get through, and that is definitely going to be fodder for the ol’ Codex!

Anyway.  Capsule review of the event: Awesome.  Would go again.

Roll on the weekender!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

only mentioned once. Pah!