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8th December 2010

slovobooks11:57am: Al Darragh RIP
The death occurred on the night of Saturday 4th December 2010 of Alistair Darragh, known to all as Al. Al was a well-known and enthusiastic attendee at science fiction and gaming conventions in Belfast and further afield, at events like Mecon, Octocon, and Q-Con. He was a founder member of Dragonslayers, the Queens University Belfast Gaming and Anime Society.

Al died suddenly of a heart attack following an infected wound in his foot which was complicated by his suffering from diabetes. He was in his mid-forties.

A Book of Condolences is being held in the house. Anyone unable to attend in person can e-mail lannie@kimphieland.fsworld.co.uk who will include it on your behalf. Details of the funeral will be posted as soon as they have been finalised

A wake will be held at the house at 30 Bendigo Street, Belfast, from 5:00pm on Wednesday the 8th of December. The funeral is the following day, Thursday the 9th of December. There will then be a short service at the house starting at 1:30pm followed by the burial at Roselawn cemetery at 2:30pm.

Al Darragh’s wife Joanne has requested that no flowers be given but instead donations may be given to Diabetes UK through the funeral directors James Brown and Son, 300 Newtownards Road, Belfast.

On behalf of everyone in Irish SF fandom south of the border, I offer our condolences to his family, and particularly to his wife Joanne. He will be missed.

4th October 2009

slovobooks1:43pm: George RR Martin in Befast & Dublin
George RR Martin (grrm), author of the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, as well as much else, is going to be visiting Ireland, both north and south, in November 2009. He's visiting the set of HBO's pilot of A Game Of Thrones, which is being filmed in Northern Ireland, and while he's over he'll be doing a signing in Eason's in Belfast on Tuesday 3rd November at 1.00pm, and will be be signing in Eason's in O'Connell Street, Dublin, on Thursday 5th November at 5.00pm.

There are plans to have a 'moot' or general get-together after both signings, although plans have not been completely finalised as to time and place. However, there is an ongoing discussion about the proposed Belfast Moot here, and about the proposed Dublin Moot here.

I imagine that myself and some of my colleagues from A.N. Other Dublin bookshop will no doubt make our way along to the Dublin Moot, so will see you there, if you're there!

9th March 2009

chaptersevents10:09am: Mass Signing at Chapters 27 March 2009
On Friday 27th March, in association with P-Con, the Irish Literary SF Convention, we'll have Oisín McGann, Juliet E McKenna, Ken MacLeod, CE Murphy, and Charles Stross doing a mass signing in the shop from 5.00pm to 6.30pm, after which we'll all be going over to the Central Hotel for the convention's opening ceremony.

For more information go to the Event's Facebook page.

If you think anyone you know would be interested in this, please feel free to forward it on!

Best wishes,
Pádraig Ó Méalóid
Chapters Bookstore Events Co-ordinator

24th January 2009

slovobooks9:17am: Neil Gaiman in Chapters, Dublin, February 17th
For those of you who read Neil Gaiman's blog, his most recent post has this sentence tucked away in it:

Which reminds me: Jameson Dublin Film Festival. I'll be there on February the 15th, when they will be screening Coraline. And, for anyone in Dublin -- or indeed, in Ireland -- who missed the signing last year, I will be doing a reading and signing in Chapters in Parnell Street on Feb the 17th at 5pm. Perhaps with an as-yet-unnamed Special Musical Guest.

Yes, this is the bookshop where I work, and, yes, I am feeling very pleased with myself. Oh yes, I also know who the as-yet-unnamed Special Musical Guest is, but my lips are sealed!

One of the tags on the bottom of Neil's post is, "Yes you could use the internet to figure out who I'm appearing with in Ireland but really now wouldn't that be cheating?"

18th September 2008

wyvernfriend12:53am: One City One Book for next April is Dracula, so it would be a good time if you're looking to do any talks etc on the topic to contact people in Dublin City Public Libraries (I can give you contacts if you want)

29th July 2008

captainlucy6:00pm: Accommodation at MeCon 11
Just a reminder to everyone that there are still rooms available in the Queen's Elms for attendees going to MeCon 11. The rooms are single en-suite, and cost £30 per person per night. We need to be giving a full list of attendees to the Elms so they can allocate rooms no later than next Friday (8th August), so if you would like to book a room please let us know before then.

MeCon 11: 29th - 31st August 2008, Queen's Student's Union, University Road, Belfast. Guest of Honour: Charles Stross. www.mecon.org.uk
Current Mood: busy

2nd July 2008

slovobooks10:29am: Frank Darcy RIP
I have just received email from Michael Carroll:

Bad news: Christine Darcy just phoned to say that Frank (xnamkrad) died this morning at around 6:30 in Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross. She said that it was very peaceful and he just slipped away.

No details yet on the arrangements, but later today Frank's body will be laid out in the hospice's mortuary. Friday seems likely for the funeral but it's not yet confirmed - I'll e-mail again when I know more.

I don't have contact detail for that many of Frank's friends, so please pass on the news as appropriate.

Even though we knew it was coming I still can't get a handle on this. He was a great friend and no one will ever replace him.

I'm deeply saddened by the news of Frank's death. Irish cons will not be the same without him.

12th May 2008

xnamkrad2:12pm: P-Con Update: 12th May 2008

OK - some updates re P-Con VI.

Be well all.


Current Mood: busy

29th April 2008

xnamkrad4:40pm: What a busy day

From reading LiveJournals today I found the following snippets re guests for P-Con VI.

I'll start with Maura McHugh aka splinister, a well known person at Irish cons, always bubbly and charming, and it's an honour to be the first to invite her as a guest to a convention, who had this to say.

Following this was an item from Chaz Brenchley aka desperance

Last and by no means least, this news from C.E. Murphy aka mizkit

Those of you who have met her will know that Catie always looks charming and delightful.

On a separate note, I know that some of you have great artistic talents, so here is a small challenge to you. Would you like to design a poster for P-Con VI? I've put a deadline of May 31st on this, so send in your design, and we'll use the best.

Finally, I think I asked this before. I know a lot of photos were taken over the P-Con weekend, and I'd love to see them. So please if you have any could you email them to me? I'd love to have a con gallery page.

27th April 2008

xnamkrad9:38pm: NISFA May Meeting
In other news, the next meeting of NISFA is on Tuesday 13th May, and the guest speaker is that well known raconteur, narrator, storyteller, conversationalist, bullshi......, I mean good friend and author Michael Carroll, one half of the successful double act on the recent auction. He is always a pleasure to listen to, and I can well recommend being there at the White Horse Inn, 8pm, Tuesday 13th May. 

22nd April 2008

slovobooks4:43pm: Win Tickets for Iron Man Preview Screening!
This is actually taken from this entry on Irish Sci-Fi News, but I though I should post it here too.

Thanks to the lovely people over at Movies.ie, we have two pairs of tickets for the preview screening of Iron Man movie to give away. The screening will be held at Cineworld Cinemas, Parnell Street, Dublin 1 on Wednesday the 30th of April, so this is going to be a very fast competition!

So, to be in with a chance to win tickets, just tell us in which year did the character of Iron Man first appear in comics: was it 1953, 1963, or 1973? Send answers, along with your land address, marked Iron Man Competition, to pomealoid[at]yahoo[dot]com, and the first two answers out of the hat on the evening of Thursday 24th April will get tickets sent to them, courtesy of Movies.ie. That’s in two days, so get to it!

You can also enter another competition to win tickets on the Movies.ie website, here. All you have to do is sign up to the site.

11th April 2008

captainlucy7:22pm: Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting:
MeCon XI - Unicon XXII

29-31 August 2008
Queen's University Belfast, Students Union, Belfast

Charles Stross


Michael Carroll
Paul Cornell
Paul J Holden
John McCrea
Ian McDonald 
John Vaughan

(Please note - all guest appearances are subject to availability and work commitment.)


£15/€22 Full Weekend
£10/€15 Concession

Supporting membership is a mere £5 (€8)
Current Mood: creative

1st April 2008


Well what can I say? It strikes me as being a bit narcissistic to write a review of a convention that I’ve run. And of course, I was unable to attend the panels, so I can’t really comment on them. If those of you who were there would like to pass on comments re the panels, please feel free to do so.

Current Mood: content

31st March 2008

xnamkrad1:36am: They think its all over....
it is now

A full report will be online soon, but I'm more than delighted with the weekend. Thanks to all - I'm off to sleep for a day or three.

But now the planning for P-Con VI is underway.

So see you next year?
Current Mood: accomplished

25th March 2008

wyvernfriend7:48pm: Folks, I asked for ephemerea from Irish Cons for Dublin Library and Archive and I will be at P-Con this weekend (barring all accidents) and this would be a good time to pass these on. I will as usual be wearing a Wyvernfriend Badge.

21st March 2008

xnamkrad1:42am: That's a good idea
I was going to set up a way for people at P-Con to make donations for the Match It For Pratchett fund, but mizkit made a very generous offer.
We'll give a ticket for every 2 Euro donation, and at the end of the weekend we'll draw one ticket and the owner will recieve from mizkit a signed copy of the complete Walker Papers series (so far) to the winner, or possibly books 1 and 2 of the Negotiator and will send 3 along when it comes out, if the winner prefers that.

Now normally I do feel one charity per con is the only way to be. However, under the circumstances and Terry being such a shining light in the genre, this is a very good idea. Thanks to mizkit for her generosity in this.

19th March 2008

captainlucy6:32am: 1917 - 2008

Arthur C Clarke, father of the Communication Satellite, Sci-Fi novelist, visionary and explorer of the mysteries of the Human world, is dead. Though I never had the honour of meeting the bloke, he was a constant presence in my life, whether through his Sci-Fi, his Mysterious World series and books, or his science - as many people will doubtless feel, almost like a surrogate grandfather; the one who imparted a lifetime's worth of wisdom and made it sound cool. As with Carl Sagan, the world is a lesser place without him.

Current Mood: sad

17th March 2008

captainlucy5:58am: Can't block the signal

Because the word cannot be spread around too much

13th March 2008

slovobooks10:13pm: Match it for Pratchett
fastfwd has suggested, on anonymousclaire, that, as Terry Pratchett has donated half a million pounds to Alzheimer's Research, perhaps assembled fandom could try to match that figure. Half a million fans at £1 each should do it! All you need to know is here: Alzheimer's Research.

11th March 2008

xnamkrad5:44am: P-Con schedules
OK, this is the proposed schedule for P-Con. As always with a live event, items are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.
Current Mood: busy

9th March 2008

xnamkrad8:58pm: P-Con: The Panels
Schedules for P-Con will be published shortly. Of course it must be kept in mind that panels may be changed or dropped at any stage, due to unforeseen circumstances.
Some of the items on the schedule (such as the book launches, auction, guest of honour interview, workshop etc) don't need much explanation. However the other panels do, and this is a list of the proposed panels with a short description of each item.


A good read

The panellist talk about their favourite books and authors, and what book recommendations they would make.


Apocalypse Rising

Apocalyptic themes in movies, television, books, and music.....even prophecy, theology, and mythology.


Boondoggles we knew and loved

Let's look back at things that "seemed like a good idea at the time" but flopped, fizzled or just plain never got off the ground. Controlled nuclear fusion has been 30 years away for the past 50 years. Plans to build personal helicopters and auto-planes date back to the 1930s and 1940s. This panel will look back, chuckle, and discuss what went wrong.


City Building

From Ankh-Morpork to Ambergris, well-crafted cities are central to the genre's most successful SF worlds. What goes into creating a believable city and its culture? What aspects of the urban experience are universal? How can a city affect the surrounding suburban areas, national politics and identity, scientific and artistic development, and everyday life? The panelists may collaborate with the audience on sketching out plans for a new city, time permitting.


Comic Books Go to the Movies

Comic books and graphic novels are showing up on the big screen, and television. Why so many recently? Are they just easier to adapt? How important is accuracy in the conversion? Is this good or bad for comics?


Eye of newt and toe of frog

Do you prefer your magic fiddly and detailed or sweeping and woolly? The panel discusses how to make magic believable, and the best way to turn you into a pig.


Ghosts and Vampires and Werewolves, Oh My!

An exploration of current trends in paranormal romance. The panel discusses which trends they like, which trends they hate, and which trends might be the next big thing. What are the best reads currently available?


How much does SF need science?

How hard should authors strive for plausible science? When does the science behind the plot, or an obvious lack of it, start to get in the way of the story?


How to Write with a Full Time Job

They love to write, but the bills need to be paid, so how do they juggle and balance the two.


Life As The Partner Of A Full Time Author

What it is like to live with an Author? The partners of some of our guests discuss issues such as does it affect your social life? Do you have to tip toe around them? Or maybe a chance to dish the dirt on them.


Military SF

Is MilSF just today's space opera? Is there room for real SF in among the ranks and exploding spaceships, or is it doomed just to be Hornblower with rockets and does that matter if we enjoy it anyway? Is all MilSF fans just right wing fascist propaganda?


Myth and Folklore in Fantasy

How do writers use myth in their stories? What are the most common myth cycles drawn from? Has traditional folklore been run out of town by urban legends? Why is the appeal of these stories so strong after millennia?


Possible and Impossible in Physics

What could an advanced civilization accomplish, given the laws of physics as we understand them today, but no engineering constraints? FTL? Time travel? Immortality? Arbitrarily fast computation?


Real and Fake Religion in SF/Fantasy

People who couldn't tell Adam from Absalom can give you detailed analyses of the beliefs of Hobbits or Bajorans. Real world religions might pop in "The Dybbuk" or "The Exorcist" but often writers have trouble acknowledging religion at all. How is religion depicted in SF/fantasy books?


Research 101

Writers must know what they are writing about or must they? How much research is enough? How can you research a non existent world?


Science Fiction is a Girl thing too!

Is Science Fiction only aimed at boys? The panelists offer their opinions and suggestions, for girls and boys, too.


The lion, the witch and the bookshelf

What ingredients make up the classic children's books? When you re-read your childhood favourites do you smile or cringe? The panel recommends books to grab the imagination of the next generation.


The Tech Savvy Criminal

What tools, techniques and technologies would be required today for someone to break the law and evade detection or capture? What will CSI Mons Olympus need to keep up? This panel is for discussion purpose only, and is not intended to be a handy dandy guide to our criminal elements...


The Universal Library

Imagine if all the information of the world was available via the web; all the books, magazine, videos, TV shows and crossword puzzles ever produced. What would be the effect be on the world? How would it come about, and would it change the world?



How important is it to ’see’ what you write? How real is your internal vision?


World domination a project management approach

This training session seeks to address the demonstrable lack of project management expertise among those seeking to take over the world. Learn how some simple, valuable tools and skills can ensure your plan succeeds.


Writers' Workshops & Critique Groups

Participating in a writers' workshop or critique group can be like navigating a minefield. How can you tell whether a group will provide useful feedback on your work? What are the best types of groups to join? What are the danger signs of groups to avoid? How can you keep your group on track? What are the advantages of the different types of groups--local, genre, Internet, college, and residential?



Current Mood: busy

7th March 2008

slovobooks3:09pm: 2D, The Northern Ireland Comics Festival
From David Campbell:

2D, The Northern Ireland Comics Festival, will return this year and will take place from the 5th - 7th June in the Verbal Arts Centre and other locations here in Derry, Northern Ireland. The festival is organised by the Verbal Arts Centre, an educational charity, and is a celebration of comic book culture. It will feature an exhibition, workshops, signings, sketching, panel discussions and portfolio review sessions. The workshops will be held mainly on Thursday and Friday in the Verbal Arts Centre; panels will be held in a local bar on Friday and Saturday evenings and the festival will culminate on the Saturday with the Open Day. There will be a closing party on Saturday night to round things off.

The festival is completely free of charge and aimed at offering an accessible and exciting resource for anyone to tap into. Have a look at our old website and photos from last year's event by going to at www.2dfestival.com. While you are there you can also visit our forum and keep up to date with festival news, make suggestions for the content of the festival, post your own work and generally have a chat about anything from comics to TV to Just Where Did That Cloverfield Monster Come From?

We are determined to improve the festival this year in terms of variety and quality and make it even better than last year, which was a great success. While we encourage everyone to come along to as much of the festival as possible, the main opportunity for exhibitors will be on the Saturday, for which we are offering free table space. We have a limited amount of table space but will do our best to accommodate as many creators, dealers and exhibitors as possible. If you would be interested in attending and would like to find out about booking a table please get in touch. If you would like to enquire about anything else regarding the festival, need help with travel and accommodation information, or have any suggestions please feel free to email us.

David Campbell.

David Campbell
Artist in Residence
Verbal Arts Centre
Stable Lane and Mall Wall
Bishop Street Within
N. Ireland BT48 6PU

29th February 2008

xnamkrad9:43pm: Holy Frak P-Con is a month away
Well 28 days to be exact.
The first draft of the schedule has been done, and is now undergoing initial revision.
On the Friday night there will be a performance of selected readings from Edgar Allan Poe, specifically "The Black Cat" and "The Cask Of Amontillado", which sit nicely with the preceding launch of Brian J Showers book "The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories", and I'm sure we can persuade Brian to do a reading as well.
On the Saturday night, following C.E. Murphy launch of "House Of Cards" (which by co-incidence is a casino) there will be a casino, with Roulette, Blackjack, Poker and various other games.
Now if you have friends, family, etc who may be interested in one or other of these, but not interested in attending the convention in general, they can come along and pay the nominal fee of €5 for each event. Of course for those attending the convention admission to these is already covered.
Another addition to the weekend is a Writing Workshop with the talented Juliet E McKenna. While there is no extra cost for this workshop, this is for convention members only. As numbers are limited for this, and on a first come basis, please let me know if you wish to attend this.
We have more items for the auction including Buffy Seasons 1,2,3 and 5, X-File and Star Trek special sets.
Thats all for now. you can expect more updates in the next few days.
Be well
More details on the website.
Current Mood: busy

19th February 2008

xnamkrad10:08am: P-Con Newsletter 19th Feb 2008

 P-Con newsletter

With just under six weeks to go, I thought it was a time to give an update. Actually I meant to do so last Friday, but I figured it might be better to type this while not high on painkillers.

First off, John W Sexton sends his regrets but he found that he was double booked for the weekend of P-Con, and despite his best efforts, he is unable to attend this time around. This is a pity, as those of you who know John know that he is a great guest.

On a better note Charlie Stross was awarded the Skylark award from NESFA (not to be confused with our own NISFA).

Speaking of NIFSA, Catie Murphy was the guest speaker last week, and a very good guest she was too.

Back to P-Con now.

It is a tradition of the weekend cons that although they start on the Saturday, many get together on the Friday night for an informal start. Given the busy schedule, we decided to make this a more formal arrangement. So for the night of Friday 28th March, we will have the opening at 20:00 (8 pm) where we will greet you all. This will be followed by John Reppion introducing Brian J Showers who will launch his latest work “The Bleeding Horse And Other Ghost Stories”. This will then be followed by a selection of Edgar Allen Poe tales, presented by the Moonlight Theatre Company. This is, I’m sure you will agree, a unique start to a packed weekend. We may have another event or two that night as well.

The timetable for Saturday is from 10:00 to 18:00 (10am to 6pm) with entertainment such as the casino from 20:30 (8:30 pm) onwards. Sunday will run from 10:00 to 18:00 (10am to 6pm) after which I will be retiring to the bar.

Work is proceeding on the structure and timing of the panels. Some of the panels (just to wet the appetite) are:
# - Alternate Futures
# - Apocalypse Rising
# - The lion, the witch and the bookshelf
# - Boondoggles we knew and loved
# - Comic Books Go to the Movies
# - Ghosts and Vampires and Werewolves, Oh My!
# - Life As The Partner Of A Full Time Author
# - Myth and Folklore in Fantasy
# - Real and Fake Religion in SF/Fantasy
# - Science Fiction is a Girl thing too!
# - The Universal Library
# - Visualisation
# - World domination a project management approach
# - Writers' Workshops & Critique Groups

Of course
a) there are other panels and events, such as the GOH interview, auction etc as well as others not listed here
b) panels are subject to review at very short notice.

We are expecting a large turnout this year, and because of that there will be a number of helpers (including first aid workers) at the con. They will be spotted as they will have badges with a green background (the committee will have badges with a blue background). Should you have any questions, or encounter any problems, you can ask any of these people. The guests will have badges with a black background, so you can easily tell who is who.

The charity supported by P-Con this year is the Christina Noble Childrens Foundation. For those who have not heard of her, Christina is a Dublin woman who had a very tough background – the type that many people would use as an excuse for being an ass or worse. Instead, Christina had a vision of helping orphans in Vietnam and now Mongolia as well. Known by the kids as Mama Tina, it has been said that government officials will run and hide rather than face her. She is one of the great ones of our time. And lets face it, it’s a Noble cause.

As has been done before, there is a code of conduct for the event. I have been asked why we feel one is required, as is this not insulting to those who cause no trouble. I know many of you attending the event personally, and many of you I consider as good friends. However, I still feel that a code of conduct is a very good idea, as it states clearly what is, and what is not, allowed. This will be printed in the program book as well.

1 First and foremost, have a good time. That’s the whole point of the convention!

2 Badges: This is how we know that you paid and are entitled to be admitted, and it must be visible at all times.

3 The committee reserves the right to revoke the membership of any member whose behaviour they feel is disruptive and is preventing others from enjoying the convention.

4 Children under 12 are only admitted to the convention if accompanied by an adult member who will be responsible for them at all times

5 No more ripping off Monty Python sketches in the code of conduct.

6 Remember, the convention guests are people too! While they will probably love to talk to you, they also need time off. And don’t forget that others may wish to talk to them as well. So be polite, otherwise rule 3 may be implemented.

7 Unless otherwise stated, still photography is permitted in general convention areas. For other recording (video, sound etc) you must get permission from the convention committee and the persons involved. Otherwise, use your common sense.

8 Reread rule 1

9 No live animals - with the exception of guide dogs, - may be brought into the convention.

10 Please turn mobile phones off during panels; see rule 3 above. If you must have the phone on, than have it on silent and answer it outside the panel rooms.

11 Can you still remember rule 1? If not, read it again.

12 Items bought at the auction must be paid for in full before they will be handed over.

13 The convention is not responsible for the views and opinions of the guests.

14 Some panels may be of a more mature nature, please do not attend such panels if you feel you may find them offensive.

One last thing, I’m looking for four volunteers to take part in a quiz over the weekend. This is a literature based quiz, and will pit you against the authors. So don’t be shy and step forward.

You can expect more newsletters between now and P-Con. It promises to be a great weekend, and I know that whoever is running P-Con VI will have a hard act to follow.

Speaking of P-Con VI, I am now stating that I will be running P-Con VI in March 2009, and (god help us all) will also be doing P-Con VII in March 2010. This is my why of giving the fates the finger, because they ain’t taking me that easily. We already have a number of guests lined up for P-Con VI.

Till next time, be well.


Current Mood: busy
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