As Octocon 2021 kicks off, we can finally talk about our plans for 2022 and the new venue we’ve secured to make our return to in-person conventions as best as can be! Our wonderful Chairperson Raissa revealed the news in the 2021 Opening Ceremony.
Octocon is going to Croke Park!
The home of Irish sports is the new home for Ireland’s National Science Fiction Convention. The next Octocon will take place on October 15-16, 2022 in Croke Park.
We love our mascot Octo so much that we wanted you to be able to make your own!
Kat Dodd and MaryBrigid Turner led a successful workshop on the Saturday of Octocon 2021, showing how to use Kat’s very forgiving crochet pattern – they describe it as being like the pirate code, guidelines not rules. And if your Octo ends up with too many legs, why then it’s just a cute eldritch horror!
We’re delighted to share the pattern (as a PDF) for anyone who wants to try and make their own Octo!
We do enjoy serious and complex discussions at Octocon, but sometimes we just want to be utterly silly too. Check out our selection of quiz shows and comedy panels, and join the watch party in the Twitch chat or our Discord server! (All times in Irish Summer Time / UTC+1.)
Found Family Fortunes
We’re back with another episode of our epic panel quiz, Found Family Fortunes, with your host James Brophy! This time the Titancon family will be taking on the Octocon family to see who knows our audience the best. Friday 1st October 22:00 – watch on Twitch Channel One
Orbital Tidy Towns Committee
Dear Mrs O’Hanrahan, Thank you for your kind letter, we do hope you were able to find replacements for the petals of your solar collector and that the compensation for the loss of your husband in the pebble dashing incident has come through in an acceptable time. The council still takes issue with the use of micrometeorites as a form of pebble dashing but we are willing to hear out the grievances of you and your neighbours in the upper middle lower orbit area community forum where we can engage with ideas small and large, solutions serious and silly to problems real and possibly in your own head to save and improve our orbital community. As always, Is mise le mass equals density times volume, Gobnait O’Lughnasa Saturday 2nd October 22:00 – watch on Twitch Channel One
In a world of our childhoods being sold back to us, is there no limit to what will be pulled out of the trash heap of history? Join us for pitches large and small that will seek to reawaken your fandom heart without stirring you up to a violent backlash, as judged by Michael Carroll. Sunday 3rd October 10:00 – watch on Twitch Channel Two
We’ve got an absolutely packed programme of panels, showing on not one but TWO Twitch channels simultaneously! (Thank you to all our Twitch streamers/producers – we couldn’t have put this programme together without you.) Here are some of the programme team’s favourites. (All times in Irish Summer Time / UTC+1.)
We’re in This Together Now: The Importance of Found Families
A gang of mismatched teens fighting supernatural horrors. A close-knit spaceship crew. Superheroes (and sometimes villains too) banding together against a common enemy. Whether they’re hurtling around the universe or crossing forests and mountains on a quest together, the bonds built between companions and crew can be tighter than those between blood relatives. What do the found families we enjoy say about the relationships we find ourselves in and the things we create together in fandom? Catherine Sharp (moderator), Dan Abnett, Nik Vincent-Abnett, Amie Kaufman Saturday 2nd October 11:00 – watch on Twitch Channel One
Grand Designs: The Big House and the Small Tombs of Gothic Fiction
The sinister castle or big house has been a staple of Gothic fiction since Horace Walpole launched the genre with The Castle of Otranto in 1764, continuing through the last two centuries, with abandoned spaceships playing a similar role in science fiction, the castles or castle-analogues almost becoming characters in the story. What do these once-grand but now decrepit mansions and their gardens signify? And what makes for a particularly memorable stay? Samuel Poots (moderator), Maura McHugh, Ruth Frances Long / Jessica Thorne, Clare Foley, Ian Moore Saturday 2nd October 12:00 – watch on Twitch Channel Two
African Science Fiction: Reclaiming Our Voices
When someone mentions Black science fiction, they are often thinking of Anglophone African-American and Black British writers. However, there has been an explosion of new writers from the African continent who are beginning to reclaim their voices and histories from colonial cultural damage. Our panel discusses the identities and traditions that contribute to the new wave of African science fiction Joseph Elliott-Coleman (moderator), Tobi Ogundiran, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, Dilman Dila Saturday 2nd October 18:00 – watch on Twitch Channel One
Crime Narratives in Other Worlds
Murder. Blackmail. Theft. Fraud. Even in far and future worlds, we can’t escape them or the institutions that police and punish them. Why are crime narratives central to so many science fiction and fantasy stories, and what makes them different to the crime tales set in the world we see around us? Jack Fennell (moderator), Aliette de Bodard, Michael Carroll, Christopher J Garcia Sunday 3rd October 12:00 – watch on Twitch Channel One
Howling Laughter: The Intersection of Comedy and Horror
Why is screaming so close to laughing, surprise so close to shock? Why does comedy so often fill the gaps in tales of horror? From ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’ through ‘Scream’ to ‘Happy Death Day’, these two great flavours of entertainment prove to be a winning combination time and time again. Are the audiences just here to see the juggling of the opposing forces of fear and joy, or is there a deeper truth to be found in how we deal with subjects too terrifying for the rational mind? Robert JE Simpson (moderator), RB Kelly, Kim Newman, Anthea West, Dilman Dila Sunday 3rd October 13:00 – watch on Twitch Channel Two
After the couple of years we’ve all had, Octocon has decided to look to the future and think about what a good one might look like for all of us. Join us for the following panels and fan chat. (All times in Irish Summer Time / UTC+1.)
Not Your Grimdark Dystopia: Optimism in Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Can we use our optimism and empathy to make our world better and learn to fight for what we believe in as well as against social and environmental injustice and inequality? Hopepunk and solarpunk look at how things can go right rather than just how they can go wrong. Our panellists discuss the kinds of ideas and futures explored in these subgenres. Paul Carroll (moderator), Kalin Nenov, Francesco Verso, Fabio Fernandes, S.L. Dove Cooper Friday 1st October 21:00 – watch on Twitch Channel One
Global Optimistic Futures
We all come from different places, but we’re united by one human trait: hope. But what are we actually hoping for? What are the building blocks of a better future and how are they shaped by their local environment? And what does science fiction across the world have to say about them? Vanessa MacLaren-Wray (moderator), Oisín McGann, Janet O’Sullivan, Francesco Verso, Fabio Fernandes Saturday 2nd October 20:00 – watch on Twitch Channel Two
A Solar Panel: Building a Hopeful Future
We all want to live in a future where massive solar panels in space use microwaves to beam down free sustainable power to our luxurious floating cities. Our panellists discuss the science and activism that can help move us on from our gas-guzzling oil-extracting unsustainable past and present. Máire Brophy (moderator), Oisín McGann, Noelle Jenda, Harun Šiljak, Vanessa MacLaren-Wray Sunday 3rd October 17:00 – watch on Twitch Channel One
Fan Chat: Where Can We Start to Help Our Environment?
What can one person do to stand against a tidal wave? If all we can control in a chaotic environmental situation are our own responses, where are our efforts best spent to organise for a better future for each other and our environment? Come share your stories of local initiatives and personal changes in our discussion of how we can fight the fear of not knowing what to do. Host: Jane Routley Saturday 2nd October 12:00 – register for Octocon to get the link (via our Discord server)
We’re running several game sessions for you this year, all taking place on our Discord server. Sign-ups are required – links were sent to registered members a couple of days ago, and we’ll be sending them out again soon. Or you can find the sign-up on our Discord server once it’s open.
The Conrunners and the Chairperson’s Pints – Saturday morning, 10am (3 hours) Run by Gaelcon. A game for up to six hassled con runners (13+). Disaster has struck the Con, several disasters really, and you as the con committee are the ones to fix it. Your Con Chair has had to step in and run a event, and without their guiding hand the event is starting to break down.
Splattermania – Saturday afternoon, 2pm (2 hours) Brought to you by Fingal Libraries. Splattermania is an all-ages, sensory friendly DnD royal rumble. Experienced players only, 13+. No death saves, no monsters, and no end of level bad guy. Twenty level 1 characters enter the ring one at a time and battle to the death separately or in teams. Last player standing wins.
SALVAGE – Sunday afternoon, 2pm (3 hours) Run by Gaelcon. A cinematic horror game using the Alien RPG System, for four to five players (16+). The focus is on telling a fun and interesting story in the style of the Alien films, so it’s likely to be highly lethal. CW for horror, general dread, body-horror and gory violence.
You need to register for Octocon (for free!) and accept our code of conduct if you want to access our Discord server and any of the Zoom meetings for programme items, or join our social spaces.
Registered members will receive a link to our Discord by email. An email will also be sent with sign-up links for workshops, games and guest chats.
Panels and interviews (50 minutes): Streamed live to Twitch Channel One and Channel Two – no Octocon registration required. If you want to submit questions during the panel or interview, you will need a Twitch account.
Workshops (50 or 80 minutes): Live on Zoom. Sign-up required. Check your email or Discord channel #schedule for details of how to sign up. Find out more.
Talks (50 minutes): Live on Zoom. Check Discord channel #schedule for the Zoom link.
Fan chats (50 minutes): Live on Zoom. Check Discord channel #schedule for the Zoom link.
Guest chats (50 minutes): Live on Zoom. Sign-up required. Check your email or Discord channel #schedule for details of how to sign up.
Readings (25 minutes): Live on Zoom. Check Discord channel #schedule for the Zoom link.
Games (2-3 hours): Live on our Discord server. Sign-up required. Check your email or Discord channel #schedule for details of how to sign up. Find out more.
Octocon loves to celebrate our home-grown Irish creators, and we have a very fantastic bunch to show off, many of them regular Octocon panellists and guests.
Ruth Frances Long / Jessica Thorne
Ruth Frances Long writes young adult fantasy, often about scary fairies. She works in a specialized library of rare & occasionally crazy books.
In 2015 she won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy for A Crack in Everything.
As Jessica Thorne she writes Fantasy, Space Opera and other fantastic tales, including The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall, The Queen’s Wing, Mageborn and Nightborn. The Stone’s Heart was nominated for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Fantasy novel of the year in 2020. Her latest novel, The Bookbinder’s Daughter will be available on the 20th September from Bookouture.
Irish writer Peadar Ó Guilín is the author of the YA novel, The Call, inspired by the beautiful northwest of Ireland where he grew up. The Invasion, a sequel to The Call and the end of the duology, was published in March 2018 and was a finallist for the 2019 Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, awarded at Dublin 2019, an Irish Worldcon. In September 2007, Peadar published his first novel, The Inferior, which the Times Educational Supplement called ‘a stark, dark tale, written with great energy and confidence and some arresting reflections on human nature.’ Foreign editors liked it too, and over the coming year it is to be translated into eight languages, including Japanese and Korean. His fantasy and SF short stories have appeared in numerous venues, including Black Gate magazine and an anthology celebrating the best of the iconic Weird Tales.
Oisín McGann was born in Dublin and spent his childhood there and in Drogheda, County Louth. He studied at Ballyfermot Senior College and Dun Laoghaire School of Art and Design, and went on to work in illustration, design and film animation, later moving to London to work as an art director and copy writer in advertising. He has since become one of Ireland’s most prolific and best-known writer-illustrators, and has produced dozens of books for all levels of reader, including twelve novels. He is the author of the Mad Grandad books, Headbomz: Wreckin’ Your Head (in association with the ISPCC), and novels such as Race the Atlantic Wind, The Gods and Their Machines and The Wildenstern Saga. His latest books are We Want Our Park Back, a picture book for Green-Schools, and A Short, Hopeful Guide to Climate Change, a non-fiction book in association with Friends of the Earth, released in May 2021. He is the illustrator of Jason Byrne’s Onion O’Brien series, the latest of which is The Secret Scientist. He is a winner of the European Science Fiction Society Award, CBI’s Children’s Choice Award and has been shortlisted for numerous other awards, including the Waterstones Childrens’ Book Prize in the UK, le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire in France and Locus Magazine’s Best First Novel Award in the US. He is married with three children, two dogs and a cat, and lives somewhere in the Irish countryside, where he won’t be heard shouting at his computer.
Jack Fennell is a writer, anthologist and editor from Limerick. He has published academic studies on Irish science fiction and horror fiction, and he is the editor of the science fiction anthology A Brilliant Void (2018) and the fantasy anthology It Rose Up (2021). He also publishes short fiction, as himself and also under the name Jack Deel. He teaches at the University of Limerick.
If you have questions for Darren, you can ask them during the interview via Twitch, or tweet them in advance @Octocon.
Darren Shan: Ringmaster of the Macabre
Global bestselling children’s author Darren Shan has terrified us with zombies, ghosts, vampires and exotic spiders as well as the outright horror of being a teenager. Come and listen as he spins us a tale and answers questions about his books, what really scares him, and what drew him to a career in horror.
About Darren Shan
Darren Shan was born in London but has spent most of his life in Limerick in Ireland, where he lives with his wife and children. He has published 57 books for both children and adults, and has sold over 30 million books worldwide, making bestseller charts in the USA, the UK, Ireland, Hungary, Dubai, Japan, Taiwan and elsewhere. He is currently writing the Archibald Lox fantasy series, of which six books have already been published, with the final three due to see print in 2022.