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)
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.
Since Octocon is online again for a second year, we’re taking advantage of being able to have programme participants who haven’t been able to make it to an Octocon before – from all over the world, too, from Scotland to Australia, and Brazil by way of Italy!
We sincerely hope we’ll be able to welcome them all to a future in-person Octocon too…
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.
Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She has won three Nebula Awards, a Locus Award, a British Fantasy Award and four British Science Fiction Association Awards. She was a double Hugo finalist for 2019 (Best Series and Best Novella). Her most recent book is Fireheart Tiger (Tor.com), a sapphic romantic fantasy inspired by pre colonial Vietnam, where a diplomat princess must decide the fate of her country, and her own. She also wrote Seven of Infinities (Subterranean Press), a space opera where a sentient spaceship and an upright scholar join forces to investigate a murder, and find themselves falling for each other. Other books include Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, (JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.), a fantasy of manners and murders set in an alternate 19th Century Vietnamese court. Her space opera books include The Tea Master and the Detective (2018 Nebula Award winner, 2018 British Fantasy Award winner, 2019 Hugo Award finalist). Her short story collection Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is out from Subterranean Press.
Amie Kaufman is a New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy. Her multi-award winning work has been translated into nearly thirty languages, and has been described as “a game-changer” (Shelf Awareness), “stylistically mesmerising” (Publishers Weekly) and “out-of-this-world awesome” (Kirkus). Several of her series are currently in development for film and TV. Raised in Australia and occasionally Ireland, Amie has degrees in history, literature, law and conflict resolution, and is currently undertaking a PhD in Creative Writing. She is the host of the podcast Amie Kaufman on Writing. Amie lives by the sea in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, daughter, and rescue dog, and an extremely large personal library.
Originally from sunny California, Laura Lam now lives in cloudy Scotland. Lam is a Sunday Times Bestselling author whose work includes the near-future space thriller, Goldilocks, feminist space opera Seven Devils (co-written with Elizabeth May), BBC Radio 2 Book Club section False Hearts, the companion novel Shattered Minds, and the award-winning Micah Grey series: Pantomime, Shadowplay, and Masquerade. Lam’s short fiction and essays have appeared in anthologies such as Nasty Women, Solaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History, Scotland in Space, and more. Lam’s romance alter ego is Laura Ambrose. Lam lectures part-time at Edinburgh Napier University on the Creative Writing MA.
Fabio Fernandes is a Brazilian writer currently based in Italy. He has published several books, among which the novels Os Dias da Peste and Back in the USSR (in Portuguese) and the collection L’Imitatore (in Italian). Also a translator, he is responsible for the translation to Brazilian Portuguese of several SF novels, including Neuromancer and A Clockwork Orange. His short stories have been published online in Brazil, Portugal, Romania, the UK, New Zealand, and USA, and also in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, The Apex Book of World SF, Vol 2, Stories for Chip. Co-edited (with Djibril al-Ayad) the postcon anthology We See a Different Frontier, and, with Francesco Verso, the anthology Solarpunk – Come ho imparato ad amare il futuro (How I learned to love the future). Graduate of Clarion West, class of 2013. Formerly slush reader for Hugo Award-winner Clarkesworld Magazine. His first book in English, the collection Love. An Archaeology, was published in March by Luna Press Publishing. A steampunk novella, Under Pressure, will be published by NewCon Press later this year, and a weird SF novel, Love Will Tear Us Apart (in Portuguese) will be published by Uboro Lopes Editora in 2022.
Francesco Verso is a multiple-award Science Fiction writer and editor. He has published: Antidoti umani, e-Doll, Nexhuman, Bloodbusters and I camminatori (made of The Pulldogs and No/Mad/Land). Nexhuman and Bloodbusters – translated in English by Sally McCorry – have been published in the US by Apex Books, in the UK by Luna press and in China by Bofeng. He also works as editor of Future Fiction, a multicultural project, dedicated to scouting and publishing the best SF in translation from the World, from more than 30 countries and 11 languages with authors like Ian McDonald, Ken Liu, Liu Cixin, Vandana Singh, Xia Jia, Carme Torras, Olivier Paquet and others.& From 2019 he’s the Honorary Director of the Fishing Fortress SF Academy of Chongqing (China). In 2020 he co-organized the FutureCon, an online convention with more than 65 guests coming from 20 different countries.
Octo has been hard at work on social media, announcing some of the wonderful writers, artists and creatives who will be appearing at Octocon this year!
We’re particularly delighted to welcome back some of our previous Guests of Honour.
Kim Newman (GoH 1995)
Kim Newman is a movie critic, author and broadcaster. He is a contributing editor to Sight & Sound and Empire magazines. His books about film include Nightmare Movies, Millennium Movies, Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon and BFI Classics studies of Cat People, Doctor Who and Quatermass and the Pit. His fiction includes the Anno Dracula series, Life’s Lottery, Professor Moriarty:The Hound of the D’Urbervilles, An English Ghost Story, The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School and Angels of Music. His comics include Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland and Anno Dracula Seven Days in Mayhem. As ‘Jack Yeovil’, he wrote the Vampire Genevieve and Dark Future novels for Games Workshop. His next novel is Something More Than Night (Titan Books). He has written for television (Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema), radio (Afternoon Theatre: Cry-Babies) and the theatre (The Hallowe’en Sessions), and directed a tiny film (Missing Girl).
Maura McHugh lives in Galway and has written three collections: Twisted Fairy Tales and Twisted Myths – published in the USA – and The Boughs Withered (When I Told Them My Dreams) from NewCon Press in England (which was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection). Her science fiction rom-com radio play, The Love of Small Appliances, broadcast in June 2019, is available online. She’s written comic books for Dark Horse, IDW, and 2000 AD, and her monograph about David Lynch’s iconic film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Non Fiction. She walks and dreams in the woods often.
Dan Abnett is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning comic book writer. He has written over fifty novels, including the acclaimed Gaunt’s Ghosts series, the Inquisitor Eisenhorn Cycle, and volumes of the million-selling Horus Heresy series. His many other novels include The Silent Stars Go By (Doctor Who), Rocket Raccoon and Groot: Steal the Galaxy, Triumff, and Embedded. In comics, his 2008 run on The Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel formed the inspiration for the blockbuster movies. He is also noted for significant work on DC’s Legion of Superheroes and Aquaman and, for the Vertigo imprint, The New Deadwardians. A regular contributor to the UK’s long-running 2000AD, he is the creator of series including Brink, Grey Area, Feral and Foe, Lawless, Kingdom and the classic Sinister Dexter. He has also written extensively for the games industry, including Shadow of Mordor and Alien:Isolation. Dan lives and works in Maidstone, Kent, in the UK.
Nik Vincent-Abnett (GoH 2017)
Nik Vincent-Abnett began working as a freelance editor, but has published work in a number of mediums, including advertising, training manuals, comics and short stories. She has worked as a ghost writer, and has collaborated with her partner, Dan Abnett, writing novels, and in the games industry. Nik’s latest solo, independent novel, The Wipe, was published by NewCon Press in the spring. She lives and works in Maidstone, Kent, where she cooks and decorates, and throws pots.
Michael Carroll (GoH 2020 & 2022)
Michael Carroll is the author of over forty books, including the award-winning New Heroes series of Young Adult superhero novels and the #1 Amazon best-selling cult graphic novel Judge Dredd: Every Empire Falls. He currently writes Judge Dredd, Proteus Vex, Mayflies and Dreadnoughts for 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine. Other works include Jennifer Blood for Dynamite Entertainment, Razorjack for Titan Books (co-written with artist John Higgins), and the Rico Dredd trilogy for Abaddon Books, for whom he has also created the acclaimed Judges series.