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On Saturday the Imperial College Sci-Fi society held their annual convention known as Picocon. As has been the case for a few years now, a small(ish) horde from IFIS arranged to travel in to the big smoke to attend and generally have lots of fun.

Aside from the rain, cold and engineering works, the journey in was uneventful and we arrived at roughly when we thought we would, with plenty of time to get signed in and stuff before the first event. The first author up to bat was Keri Sperring. I don't really have much of an impression of her much as we were too far towards the back and she was very quiet. I do remember there being talk of her vast collection of skirts and her impression that cats were secretly the rulers of the world (or at least aspired to be).

Next up was Paul McAuley who spoke much more loudly, so we could hear his very interesting talk about the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and how he came up with the stories that he'd set on such places. There were pictures too. It was a bit like being in an astronomy lesson...or a Alaister Reynolds talk ;)

Expecting there to be a break before the Destruction of Dodgy Merchandise started, we hoofed it off to the local sandwich shop to get nomnoms, only to find that they'd started them pretty much straight away. The DoDM is an charity event where they auction off the chance to dip some truly dire piece of sci-fi tat in liquid nitrogen and then repeatedly pound it into the ground with a lump hammer. The weather was still pretty grim when we got back and with my short stumpy legs, I couldn't get a clear vantage point whilst eating my food so I headed inside to the warm to see what else was happening. This meant that I missed Paul Cornell in a superman t-shirt smashing some Hulk toy. Bah.

Myself and our lovely librarian had a look at the book stall(s), but there was far more limited stock than there had been in past years. We managed to get a handful of books though, but I guess we'll have to find a 2nd hand bookstore and go on a rampage at a later date.

The last author to do a solo talk was Juliet McKenna, who was the only name I'd recognised on the line up, but I hadn't read anything of hers either. Her talk included a reading from a story set up in scotland somewhere about vampires. Which sounded pretty good. Then there was a panel on Steampunk in which they'd rounded up a few of the (unsuspecting) authors who'd just shown up for the fun of it and all manner of interesting, funny or bizzare comments were made. Paul McAuley possibly stole the show with his comment that Steampunk "was like Wind in the Willows".

Following that was one of my favourite parts of the day - the Turkey Entertainments. This is another charity event where they read part of/show some scenes from truly awful books/movies. We the victims of this torture can then bid money to stop the pain and then others can if they are masochistic enough, counterbid to have it continue. Counterbits to stop/continue then keep going until some kind of "winner" is determined, money collected and if we're unlucky the reading/showing continues. I think by far the best was the first book, if only because the young lady reading it had such a perfect voice for it. The book was some smut-fest called (I think) Voyager to Bondage and she read it with an appropriately filthy voice that her poor housemate was practically selling his kidneys in order to get her to stop. Personally I think we should add this to the library, but I suspect I'm in the minority.

We skipped out on the silly games to head to the bar at that point. It gave us a good chance to badger someone into taking part in the next event - the Harmless Fun. Suffice to say, that the Harmless Fun did not involve 2 grown men hitting each other with fish in a duel-like format. Nor did our fish wielding champion defeat both his opponents to emerge victorious from the field of battle and covered in fish gut. Luckily they provided gloves and shirt so he didn't stink of fish for the rest of the evening.

The last event was the quiz. This was our 4th attempt at the quiz and so far we'd came first once and both other times...well we've never come last, but it's been very close. As per usual, the questions were fiendishly difficult and required us to know things that mere mortals would not have remembered. They had one from Terminator - the date of Judgement day - which I thought I'd remembered, but our Secretary said it couldn't be that cos it was so close to his birthday so he'd remember that. Boy did he look foolish when it was in fact the day after his birthday. Despite other such foolishness, we scored a whopping 33 out of 119 points. This meant that we came 2nd (out of 5) within the room we were in (they had to split the quiz into two rooms cos there were too many people). We unfortunately left too early to find out how well we'd done, but it turns out the team that had beaten us by 5 points had won overall, so I think we probably actually ranked quite highly.

After a quick burger & fries at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, we wearily headed home and in my case collapsed in to bed almost as soon as I got in. But I think I can speak for all who atteneded and say that we all had a lot of fun.