Black Library Weekender: An Idiot Aboard part 2

The next morning I got an early start. I knew that I was only interested in the final panel of the day so I could sit back and relax for the morning and enjoy being lazy. With all of the travelling I had put myself through I was starting to stink like Danny Dyer’s career, so it was time to cleanse myself. Here I found myself truly shaken. The hotel bath blew my mind. I have never seen a bath fill so quickly probably less than two minutes and sufficiently hot enough, shit had gotten real. I sat enjoying my bath realising I could create a vacuum with my back to the inside. I was essentially a man-child in his element. I wandered round my hotel room naked hoping one of the cleaners would come in and be horrified by me whilst I inhaled the last of my flapjacks. The cup of tea I made was shit though so that went down the sink, I had a quick scan through my emails, checked out and got myself away.

Back at the event the day was moving along at a relaxed pace, with people strolling around and chatting about the previous day, what they had enjoyed and so on. Many of those who had bought Macragge’s Honour had read it by now, so I had a quick compare with a few other people too. Seeing as though I didn’t have the mental fortitude to battle against sleep deprivation the night before, I asked what the evening entertainment was like. There were two events that night “Pitch Factor” and “Universally Challenged”. The general consensus was that the former was a great idea, having an X Factor style set up with a panel of three editors judging whilst a contestant put forward their 1000 word story pitch. As great as this idea was, apparently there were some really terrible and cringe-worthy ideas with under-developed stories which roughly amounted to “this guy gets shot”. I’m glad I gave that a miss. However I was told that the “Universally Challenged” was really good. I’m told it comprised of two panels made up of 40k and Fantasy authors going head to head and answering trivia, including questions on their own books, which some fared dismally at! Apparently it was a pretty good laugh so I was rather gutted that I never made it along to that. Hopefully they’ll do something like this again.

After lounging around chatting and getting over my dismay of paying the hotel rate of 3.80 for a small can of Red Bull (I should of learnt my lesson the day before but I figured “It’s only a can of red bull”) it was time to get ready for The Horus Heresy: Mega Panel. This was the final event of the weekend and the one we knew it had all been building toward. Taking the panel was Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, James Swallow, Chris Wright, Nick Kyme, John French and Neil Roberts. If you ever wanted a chance to ask anything about The Heresy, tis was it. Unsurprisingly the room was heaving. The questions naturally came in thick and fast and were greeted by great response from the panel. There was alot of talk of direction here and how the different authors fitted their pieces of the overreaching narrative together. Leaving off at Unremembered Empire which is fairly pivotal in the series there was a lot of talk about the importance of the upcoming Vengeful Spirit, by all accounts it seems like it’s going to be another excellent book!! There was mention of carrying on the tale of the Iron Hands post Manus in the Heresy and also all the authors expressed interest in continuing the timeline of the Heresy post Golden Throne Emperor dealing with the fallout of The Heresy, The Scouring and the Second Founding. There was a mention of an interest to possibly turn the events of Prospero into a graphic novel. Finally the panel rounded up by showing us the cover of Vengeful Spirit (It was projected on the wall but I wasn’t at the right angle to get a good photo), an epic battle scene with Horus in the thick of it. It was really cool to see Horus back directly into the fray of battle and showing us why he was such a potent threat. The event was wrapped up with a final thanks to all the authors, staff, hotel and organisers. As soon as this was done I dived to the front to ask all the authors to get a photo with everyone. Indulge me a fanboy moment, it never really happens. After getting the world’s most terrifyingly awkward photo I had to shoot off. After picking up my extravagant weekend purchase from the merch stall (old hardcore habits die hard) it was time to leave the event.

Strength in numbers.

Strength in numbers.

So getting to the train station by taxi left me enough time to kick my heels before jumping on my first train. After boarding I was searching for my seat on my ticket. I finally found my seat and and I got that sinking feeling,  realising that this was going to be an issue. I was sat next to some small girl with her crayons with her mother sat opposite. Her mum looked at me like I had the sex offenders register hanging from my neck. I said this was my seat and even for some stupid reason apologised. The woman said nothing but just glowered at me. Just after I sat down I had a moment of salvation as I saw someone else carrying the free Black Library bag we were given at the event, I jumped at the chance of saying, “Do you mind if I sit with you?” He said no of course not, I think here the mutual camaraderie saved us from more awful social situations. Geeks uniting against the grain. Cool man. We got chatting about the weekend and black metal before I had to jump off in Sheff for my change. Two more changes, a taxi and I was home. After still not really eating it was time to get some real food down me. Only a takeaway could resolve the culinary injustice I had put myself through. So 40 mins later I had my falafel starter and mixed shawarmah wrap and chips. It never tasted so good.

So in conclusion what did I make of the weekend? Well the first thing that struck me was just how friendly everyone was. Walking about everybody was there for the same thing, everyone said hello and smiled to each other. It was so easy to just walk up to any table of people and after a quick hi you’d be welcomed, genuinely, into the conversation. In addition to this it was the commitment to their passion that impressed. The amount of different accents I heard, national and international surprised me. Along with overhearing just how far some people had travelled and in a none-pissing contest manner it showed that people really wanted to be there. The staff of Games Workshop get some stick, particularly in store, (admittedly by myself on occasionan), for pushing the sale and pretty much reading from a script. They have to do this I get it. I didn’t once have that feeling from The Black Library staff. They asked how our weekend was going, casually chatted, had a joke with us and talked about what they were up to, how they felt and what they were looking forward to. What really shined through is that everyone was there for the experience together and was enjoying themselves. I never had the feeling of customer/vendor. I never felt like I was having anything pushed on me at any point. It’s hard to iterate enough how refreshing that is and how it contributes to you feeling relaxed and further as a result enjoying spending time there chilled out. None of the authors were divas, they just casually walked around chatted, joked and sat down for drinks with everyone who was there. Everyone was really happy to help with anything you had to ask. It became somewhat of a laughing point in who was going to be “that guy” to ask about the lost legions or to ask “if you could swap one loyal and one traitor . . .” I only felt like the hotel itself was taking the piss with prices but that’s their prerogative I guess. I really felt like the Black Library staff looked after us all. So back to my original question to myself, was it worth it? Should I take the time off work and spend all the money I knew I would? Yes. Emphatically yes! Every penny I spent was worth it. Would I go to another one? Absolutely. I couldn’t recommend this enough to anyone who is a fan of fluff.

"Great Success"

“Great Success”

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About Nathan Bean

Tyrant/ Editor Nathan is a 'former member of...' numerous mediocre punk bands and internet gobshite and has been involved in the United Kingdom hardcore scene since the mid 90's. Now retired from active duty he spends his time writing about gaming, movies, music and comics, shouting at the television and threatening to start another band.