For the Love of Sci-Fi isn’t just an explanation of why my brother and I spent five months of our youth in homemade tinfoil Robocop costumes. It is also the name of the Manchester convention celebrating the wonders of science and imagination in TV and film.
So you can imagine I was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of revelling in a weekend of geekdom and Sci-Fi.
Saturday morning started off wet, grey, miserable, muddy and smelling like 12 pence hotdogs. A press pass afforded me the luck of avoiding the 3-hour long queue full of pissed off looking children, parents, cosplayers, Jedi’s and muffled. I’m not going to lie; that’s me starting off with the best parts of the day.
The first area of the convention was where all the sellers were peddling their wares.
At 9.30am the area was already busy, by 12 pm it was positively heaving. It was impossible to stand by a table without getting elbowed in the boob or a pram running over my foot.
The main area was 10 times worse and by the time it had got to midday I was already past decorum and pushing through people like I was in Assassins Creed.
We made it through to the safe haven of a gamers haven ran by The Nights of Gaming the sudden hush and familiar smell of … Air!
We had to take a moment to reflect and examine what was happening.
No staff (asked someone who was in a high-vis vest where the toilets were and he looked at me like I had asked if I could pee in his wallet). Disorderly queues everywhere, no marked signs, no room to move and to add insult to injury …the ebb of people didn’t stop.
The final straw was the food, only two viable places and the queue (For The Love of Queueing) was another hour wait. Lè Tragic!! So we quit.
We quit and escaped to Costco for pizza, clean toilets and sanity and it took the will of Obi-wan to convince me to go back in. I was literally debating going Asda to complete my weekly shop and chores but alas for the love of Sci-Fi (see what I did there folks?) we went back and that’s when we fell down the rabbit hole and ended up in Arkham Asylum.
*sigh* okay so for this next part we have several options
- A) I accidentally inhaled some serious hallucinogenic,
- B) The smell of all those warm clammy bodies in costumes dazed me
Or C) all of the following happened.
Boogie Storm (winners of BGT) were twerking, supermanning and Gangnam styling to a strange compilation of terrible hip-hop music ((Now that’s what I call Vine Music 98).
Star Wars Panel with awkward audience questions and terrible audio.
After that travesty, we spiralled further down into the drunken tales of David Hasselhoff. In-between breaking into random song and awkward anecdotes of The Weinstein’s (too soon brokski, too soon) we were rewarded with tales of dubious factuality.
If you want a fun drinking game, take a shot every time The Hoff says ‘Knightrider’!!
We decided to get on of The Hoffs level of inebriation in the Cantina.
There we sat shell-shocked, baffled and listening to the complaints of the other con-goers. After 28 minutes of silence and waiting for the Blue Harvest to setup- no amount of geeky named cocktails could fix the taste of bitter disappointment. Saturday complete.
Comparing the Saturday to the Sunday is like comparing Ben Affleck’s Daredevil to Netflix’s Daredevil.
Yes they are of the same name but one makes you want to gouge out your nostril with a rusty spoon and the other makes you want to wear your cosplay to work and use Matt Murdock quotes to fix financial problems.
I don’t even know what that means- I just know that Saturday was Trump and Sunday was Obama. I started to believe again.
I woke up to read furious rantings on the FLOSF Facebook page echoing the discontent that we felt. In one night their team clearly worked effortlessly to address a lot of those problems.
Sunday was full of amazing costumes and space… lots and lots of space, orderly queues and announcements throughout the hall.
No queue to get in, the food queue was still dire but this wasn’t my first rodeo loves (okay, it was my second) I knew to manage my expectations about that.
We spoke to the stall owners and the feedback was way more positive than Saturday. The vibe was completely different.
The stalls covered everything from purses and bags to fudge and light sabres.
The main hall had clearly been reorganised through the evening and had clear signs and queues for guest signatures and pictures. In addition to an area that you could appreciate the beautiful sounds of the orchestra that had previously been strangled by the tons of people the day before.
The highlight of the day was definitely William Shatner – his passion, knowledge of Sci-Fi and engagement with the audience had people laughing, chuckling and at one point crying. A young man fulfilled his late father’s bucket list wish to meet ‘Bill’ and that cemented the positive vibes of Sunday.
Personally, I feel that the organisers did not realise the amount of interest the event would garner. It is a testament to the potential of the growth but the lack of forward planning and contingencies in place could have led to serious injury to some people.
I think the big names and promotion drew a lot more attention and they just did not facilitate for that.
However, a place that is home to something where our imaginations can thrive should be supported to grow and to improve.
“…spinning those ideas in your mind brings you to the point where you dream in science fiction” William Shatner.
By Cassandra Marcus-Hughes
You don’t like sci-fi? Tell us why. We care.