Meeting: 8th April

First of all I’d like to offer a delayed welcome to Terence who actually joined us for the first time last month and submitted his first piece of writing to this month’s meeting. It was great to read your work and we’re looking forward to reading more of the same in the future.

Our venue, MadLab, is certainly looking very different after a recent facelift. Still a lot of work to do but it’s a huge improvement. Please feel free to keep your donations dropping into our group’s PayPal account (the button over there on the right) and thanks again to those people who have contributed in the last few weeks. Once we have enough funds we will make another donation to MadLab.

Meeting: 8th April

Before I get started with the critiques a quick announcement — and thanks to Eliza for the initial heads-up on this — Eastercon is coming to Manchester next year! Eastercon is the UK’s #1 science fiction writing event of the year so it’s obviously fantastic news that it’s going to land on our doorstep. Eastercon usually runs from Thursday through to Sunday which would make it the 24th to 27th March 2016. Get those dates pencilled into your diaries right now!

Each year Eastercon is given a different name so next year it’s going to be ‘Mancunicon’. It’s early days at the moment but you can keep up with all the latest news on the Mancunicon Facebook community and Twitter feed. They will also have a website up and running at some point.

I’ve already been in touch with a couple of the committee members and they’re very interested in members from our writing group helping out, whether that’s just a case of spreading the word via social media or lending a pair of hands on one (or all) of the convention days. This represents a great opportunity to meet other members of the SF writing community and perhaps even a few well-known names.

During last night’s meeting we also wondered about asking Mancunicon if we could run a Manchester Spec Fic group activity. Perhaps a critiquing circle? The T-Party have run similar such successful activities at other Eastercons and whilst we wouldn’t want to tread on their toes (if they’re thinking of doing the same again) we could perhaps do something similar. Have a think and let’s chat on our Facebook group. The committee are interested in specific numbers of people who might be able to help out. Let me know.

Whether you’re interested in attending or helping out I would also strongly recommend that you register your interest at the following page:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1s0Xc6jMCn5GKys8i7hs9WqApyLeyoMq15RnCduvxqe8/viewform

Do this right now! Don’t even think about it. I’m planning on helping out as much as possible, every day if possible, though James made the excellent point that the more you help out the less you might see of the convention panel events.

Anyway, on with the critiques!

  • James presented the second chapter from his novel Children of the Evolution. Plenty of compliments for the continued world-building in this piece. Several people thought that this chapter was an improvement on the first with a couple of members wondering whether this might work better as the opening chapter for the novel. There was some confusion about the mechanics behind the re-enactment though I think everyone applauded the unique concept itself. Great dialogue between the brothers. Comparisons made with Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovac novels.
  • Terence presented the first three chapters from his novel Gourmet to the Stars. Several members enjoyed the playful tone in this piece with a couple of people comparing it to Pratchett’s sci-fi books Strata and Dark Side of the Sun. A few people were concerned about the info-dumping, the lack of plot development after three chapters and the lack of descriptions for the world and aliens. Drop the bold/underline formatting. Dial up the comic elements.
  • Luke presented the start of a short story called Forever Becoming. Several people mentioned that this piece echoed a Lovecraftian theme. Some people wondered whether the initial section was a prologue that could be dropped — perhaps move straight to the bookshop or even the book itself. A couple of people thought that the setting and protagonist came across as British rather than American — shift the setting to the UK? The language in places came across as either old-fashioned or the protagonist was educated well beyond his humble situation in life. Great scene setting: the guy on the front desk at the motel, the taxi driver, and especially the strange naked woman in the motel room.
  • Chris presented a flash fiction / short story called He Used to be a Fun Guy. Plenty of people enjoyed this piece especially the twist at the end. The fungus idea seemed unique. There was some mild eye-rolling over the mushroom-inspired title (author seemed pleased about that). Some confusion as to whether the fungus made a bad guy good or the other way around. Good dialogue. Some mixed opinions over characterisation. I think most people enjoyed the characters and found them to be believable — a tough trick to pull off in a flash-fic piece — but there were a few calls to make this a longer piece to allow the characters to develop even further.
  • Rob presented the second chapter from his novel In Service to Dangerous Men. Further compliments paid for the quality of the writing and the dialogue. The scene setting was good though a few people wanted a little more to match that of previous chapters/prologues. The main complaint from various members is Eska’s lack of ability as a leader. I think most people really like Eska as a character but we want to see her taking charge and acting with a greater degree of competency. She has great potential.

After the meeting we headed over to Common which has also seen a major facelift. We talked about films quite a bit.

Next meeting: Wednesday 13th May

See you there!

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