Levitation: Eastercon 2024 Con Report

Back 42 hours now and decompressed (somewhat) from Levitation: The 75th UK National Eastercon. Whilst involved in it (as member of staff responsible for signage), I do think it was a roaring success. A lot of people had concerns about it being in a new venue – as did I in one aspect – but I think the convention itself well and truly put those to bed.

Telford: a new town renewing

Telford advertises itself as able to be got to in 3 hours for 95% of the population: that definitely doesn’t include Scotland and even for those 95% it’s a bit of a pain in the neck. Driving seems long, and it’s out on a branch line so there’s connections to be made on the train. A land slip turning trains into replacement buses didn’t help much, either.

Once there, it’s clear the council have spent a lot of money renewing the town centre. Some of this is good to see: good new public realm, a shopping centre that’s not a ghost town and includes many local indepdendent shops, and new hotels. Dining wise your choices are the midrange chains: they know their demographic. But they are conveniently walking distance from the convention centre and many other Eastercons have had much less convenient non–hotel food than that.

A Con in a Convention Centre??

Yes indeed. A new idea, and one that I’m very grateful for Farah and the convention committee to have settled upon. It was light, airy with plenty of space and easy to navigate. Rooms were large, in the main high-ceilinged, and flexible. Art Show and Dealers were well laid-out and uncramped. The single small lift between the two floors was a concern that thankfully didn’t turn into an issue. I’m told the Telford International Centre have planning permission to add another, but not enough money. Not an uncommon situation these days.

Convention food was, I think, the best I ever had. A wee bit hotlamped, but freshly and well–made: not the all–too–common reduction to the bare minimum in search of profit. It really set a new standard, and one that future convention venues should aim to live up to.

Of course, we drunk the bar dry of real ale. They were told.


Pretty much 5 streams of programme was a lot to see. And I was very impressed by both the breadth and the quality. As ever, there were some panels that didn’t land well, but not the ones I saw. I’m never sure that 45 minutes on 60 slots are quite enough for some panel items to reach a natural conclusion; and overrunning cuts into precious tech time to reset for the next item. Personally I’d aim at 60 on 75 or even 60 on 90 – which gives a lot of room to breathe for something going well. You don’t have to fill it for something that’s coming to a natural conclusion earlier.

Being close to Ironbridge, one of the places that can state it was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, led to some interesting theming and items. In total, 157 items including everything from Steam Trains, Radical Kindness, particle Physics and whether or not Barbie is a SF movie1, and as a comment in a different panel, whether it is a horror movie.2

The guests, Jackie Burns, Genevieve Cogman, Michelle Sagara / Michelle West and Tade Thompson were all wonderful. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the two virtual guests Elsa Sjunneson or Dr. Srinarahari. There is only so much time.

Online, Virtual and Catch-up

I engaged a bit with Virtual this year in that I spent time gassing on Discord. Discord really isn’t my favourite way of text engagement as I think its user interface, especially colour scheme, is awful: I find it not easy to see where / if a channel has been updated. But I’m an inveterate light mode user and I appreciate that’s a bit unusual these days.

RingCentral as video and catchup platform seems to work very well. Levitation were using this as a proof–of–concept before Glasgow 2024 - A Worldcon for our Futures later this year. I have watched a couple panels and it’s great. This is of course thanks to JT and the whole Tech crew: without whom all recent conventions would have been a pale shadow of what they actually were.

In terms of website and online functions from registration to an new–this–year3 members’ portal, the web offering has been fantastic. Good–looking, and the members’ portal has really broken the barrier between in-person and virtual convention–going.

But what could have been better?

To be honest, I can’t think of much. Not being in a hotel meant a bit of a shuffle at convention centre closing time. The hotel with the late night bar could have been an ass about buying drinks, but thankfully was not. Telford could have avoided re-surfacing or re-routing the route from the train station, the TIC could have avoided planing some of its car park just before we arrived. They could have allowed magic whiteboard on the walls. Frankly though, all of this is niggling. There have been fundamental structural problems with Eastercon venues in the past — remember 2 hour long queues to check in, anyone? — and there was nothing like that, this time.

I suspect we’ll be back.

And on to the future!

Next year, Reconnect: Eastercon 2025, will be in a conference centre too — in Belfast this time. Very much looking forward to that one.

But what about that signage?

Yeah, sorry, Games Room in the Holiday Inn: I completely forgot you existed. Apart from that it was an interesting and learning experience doing digital signage. It could have been better (I really wanted to do “Now/Next” on the programme rooms – all the bits were there but it was too difficult to debug remotely) but it ultimately it served its purpose. And looked kinda good too I think.

I’ve offered to do signage next year.

Wasn’t there something about you doing something else?

Mmph. Yes. More later.

  1. Yes. 

  2. Also yes. 

  3. I think? [Edit: yes – all credit to Andrew January]