Taster Panel 2: Thursday 1st October 2020

Our second taster panel is happening in a week’s time! It will be streamed live on our Twitch channel (octoconirl) for free. You can watch without registering, but if you want to be able to comment or ask questions for the panel Q&A, you will need to register a Twitch account.

Thursday 1st October 2020, 8pm (GMT+1)

Cataloguing the Disposable

Much of what fandom cherishes was inconsequential and ephemeral for its creators. Pulp and children’s entertainment was seen as disposable, with no one expecting any lasting impact. From banned books to deleted episodes of favourite TV, fans have done the important work of archiving our culture. In this panel, the raiders of the dustbin of history share the secrets of preserving the treasures of yesterday for future fans.

Panelists: Robert JE Simpson (moderator), Michael Carroll, Rebecca O’Neill, Jack Fennell

Octo and their collections
Octo has some collections of their own

Brave New Words Award comes to Octocon

The Brave New Words award is presented annually by Starburst Magazine, and goes to an individual rather than a specific work, with the magazine’s team actively seeking out examples published in 2019 that most defined a creator’s output, including blog posts, comic books, short stories, screenplays, poetry, anthologies and novels. 

This year, the Brave New Words award – and the inaugural Starburst Hero award – will be presented as part of Octocon on Friday 9th October 2020:

  • 8pm Irish time (GMT+1): Awards Brave and New
    A panel of experts discuss award ceremonies and their place in the genre literature community. Starburst Magazine has its own award for genre literature, The Brave New Words Award, as well as The Starburst Hero Award for Literature, and the winners of both these awards will be announced tonight at Octocon. Join the judges of this award as they discuss the process: urban fantasy author Russell A Smith, media expert Rebecca Derrick, book podcaster Jane Hanmer, book blogger Matt Cavanagh, and narrative expert Professor Esther MacCallum-Stewart.
  • 8:45pm: Brave New Words Award
    Join award-winning comedian and author John Robertson as he announces the winners of both The Brave New Words Award and The Starburst Hero Award for Literature. John is best known for his world-renowned comedy show The Dark Room and his dark fantasy novel for children, The Little Town of Marrowville.

Watch the pre-recorded panel and awards announcement on our Twitch channel, octoconirl.

Brave New Words award 2019

Taster Panel 1: Saturday 19th September 2020

Since Octocon 2020 has gone online, we’ve decided to run a couple of taster panels in the weeks leading up to the convention!

They’ll be streamed live on our Twitch channel (octoconirl) for free. You can watch without registering, but if you want to be able to comment or ask questions for the panel Q&A, you will need to register a Twitch account.

Saturday 19th September 2020, 7pm (GMT+1)

People Who Suck: a Brief History of Vampires

From their origins in folk beliefs around the world, vampires have colonised our imagination through books, films, television and games. Along the way, they have changed and mutated, from the foul monsters of folklore and early fiction to the dangerous but sexy figures of paranormal romance. This panel will trace the vampire’s history and examine its enduring appeal.

Panelists: MaryBrigid Turner (moderator), Kim Newman, Gareth Hanrahan, Kat Dodd

Our 2020 charity partner: Jigsaw

Octocon is delighted to announce that the charity we are supporting this year is Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health.

Jigsaw is an Irish charity which exists to make sure that every young person’s mental health is valued and supported – much-needed work, especially in these challenging times, and a cause we hope all our attendees and friends can get behind.

Octo holding a placard that says JIGSAW Young people's health in mind

Octocon Book Club – double the delight!

Octocon has picked not one but two books for this year’s book club, which will take place via Discord text & video chat on the weekend of Octocon.

Don’t worry, they’re short ones…

In a Glass Darkly – Sheridan Le Fanu

Cover of In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu

This collection of stories by one of Ireland’s most famous Gothic writers includes the classic vampire tale Carmilla – if you don’t have time for any of the other stories, definitely read this one!

You can get the ebook for free at Project Gutenberg.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Becky Chambers

Cover of To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

A stand-alone novella rather than part of her Hugo-winning Wayfarers series, this 2020 Hugo finalist details the adventures of explorers sent out into space to find planets that humans could potentially colonise. As well as describing fascinating worlds (and the conditions which created them), it’s a story about what it means to be human when your body can be changed to fit its environment and when you carry the hope of your home on your shoulders.

You can buy this at any good book shop (including Hodges Figgis) or as an ebook from your usual retailer.

Volunteers needed

Running Octocon as a virtual convention means that we need more volunteers than ever in order to make the convention as successful as possible.

If you have a few hours spare on the weekend of the 9th – 11th October (and beforehand for training), especially if you’re familiar with technologies such as Twitch, Zoom and Discord, please volunteer!

Fill in the volunteer form

Octo with screen, tablet, laptop and phone

Octocon goes Virtual!

Octocon is going virtual! (Octo surrounded by different screens)

We have exciting news: Octocon is going Virtual!

This will be a first for the National Scifi Convention and was something only dreamed of as possible at the first Octocon 30 years ago. 

We plan to bring you a range of panels, interviews and fan chats online for free on Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th of October. We are currently investigating which platforms will suit best and hope you will join us via the screen of your choice. 

If you have suggestions for panels or would like to take part please complete the appropriate forms.

We will also need people to help out over the Virtual Convention. If you would like to do so please contact Volunteers@Octocon.com 

As Octocon is going Virtual this means we can have attendees from all over the world.

So make sure you tell your fandom family they can join us, for free, on the 10th and 11th of October.

More updates as we have them!

A message from our chair about Octocon 2020

As you all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of changes to the world. The committee and I have been tirelessly working these past few months to make sure that Octocon happens safely and responsibly in 2020. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic is not going away soon and our venue has informed us that they will not be able to safely accommodate the number of members we expect to attend Octocon, due to the social distancing measures that they will need to put in place. 

So with a heavy heart, I have to inform you that there will not be a physical convention in 2020. 

Sad Octo wearing a mask and clutching soap

It’s not all bad news! We are currently looking at alternative ways to run Octocon in 2020, making use of your suggestions for panels and the work that’s already been done by our programming team. We will have more news for you soon. 

Octo with tape measure and toolbox

Exciting plans for next year’s convention are already underway and your membership for 2020 will automatically be rolled over to our next planned physical convention in 2021. If you are getting this email you were a member of Octocon 2020 and are now a member of Octocon 2021.

If you would rather avail of a refund for this year, we will gladly accommodate your request – please contact members@octocon.com. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you at our next in-person event in October 2021.

Octo with programme book and badge

Thank you for your continued support of Octocon! 

Raissa, Octocon chair

Octocon at 30: get involved!

Octocon is 30 years old this year! We really really really want to celebrate our festival of Irish SFF fandom in as many ways as possible – and we need your help!

How can you help?

Email anniversary@octocon.com if you can help with any of the following…

  • We’re looking for one or two more people to join the team putting together our celebrations.
    We need people who can write blog posts and/or edit image and audio and video, and if you have any particular organisational skills that would be great! If you know lots about Octocon’s history that’s also good, but not essential.
  • If you have any photos or printed material that you can share with us, please get in touch! We will be using these on this website and also hopefully in exhibits and booklets at Octocon itself.
  • We would also very much like to collect your memories of Octocon, in text, audio or video. Again, we will use these on our website and at the convention.
Octocon at 30 logo including Guest of Honour names
All our Guests of Honour are listed in this image – how many do you recognise?