Hello all members, new and old! An absolutely MASSIVE congratulations to all the Freshers who got their A-Level results today and got into Royal Holloway. I know how much hard work it must've taken to get to this position, and each and every one of you thoroughly deserve to enjoy today, and the next few years at Royal Holloway.
So as a way of saying congratulations, here is a sneak peak at some of the awesome things IFIS, the science fiction & fantasy society, has to offer next year:
For those of you who braved the trip off campus to Picocon, you might be curious in exploring other conventions too? Well there are a lot of them happening all across the country throughout the year and I could write many pages just covering the ones I'm aware of. Instead I thought I'd focus on the ones that are "local".
Possibly the most important convention coming up this year, is Worldcon 2014. If you couldn't get guess from the name, it's the world science fiction and fantasy convention and this year we're lucky enough to have it right on our doorsteps in London. It's actually called Loncon 3 - a lot of conventions change name each year but fall under a common name (eg Eastercon). The last time the UK hosted a Worldcon was back in '65 so there is a lot of eager anticipation to go to it just in case we don't get another one for another 50 years.
The weekend before is a relative newcomer to the con-scene is Nine Worlds which styles itself as a geekfest. It's located at a hotel in Heathrow so is pretty easy to get to from campus. This year is it's second outing but based on their first go last year, it should be pretty good.
You may or may not have heard that this society has a library. It's not a library in the strictest sense, in that it isn't a room filled with book covered shelves that you could lose yourself in whilst browsing for something to read. Instead we have a number of large metal cupboards where our sizeable collection of books, comics and graphic novels are stored. This does make it some what tricky to browse the books, which is why there is a searchable catalogue on the website.
The selection on offer is pretty varied. There are all the staples of classic science fiction - Isaac Asimov, Jerry Pournelle and John Wyndham to name just a tiny few. Classic fantasy is also represented by such greats as Marion Zimmer Bradley, Terry Brooks and David Eddings. But we have a lot of modern authors too like Iain M. Banks, Terry Pratchett and J. K. Rowling. We usually spend part of our yearly budget on new books, so if there's something you think should be bought, let the committee know.
The online catalogue can actually do a lot more than let you search for things. If you're looking for something new to try it can make recommendations. It can either suggest books that are similar or authors. This is based on how people have tagged books they've liked, so it's really helpful if you could tag books you like too.
Recently I tweeted a list of free digital comics to my followers and was surprised with the interest it got. That got me thinking ..... how much other science fiction stuff can you get for free off the Internet?
We'll start with the comics. The main provider for digital comics is Comixology at http://www.comixology.com/ They've got an app for Apple and Google devices that it's worth having. Their business model involves you buying digital comics which are accredited to your account and you can look at through the web or the app on your mobile device. I was a long time hesitater on digital comics but their "700 Marvel Number 1s for free" promotion got my attention. And filled my app up :-) But that got me exploring and I discovered that most of the major publishers give away free stuff. There's two places to look: The first is on the web at http://www.comixology.com/Free-Comics/comics-collection/1158 which shows highlighted freebies. The second is by visiting each publisher's section on the app where there's a link to all the free stuff they're currently giving away. DC have lots of stuff and IDW are great with free issues from their Doctor Who, Star Trek and Transformers titles. But by far the best is Marvel who every Tuesday night/Wednesday morning put up three new free issues to read. There's a lot of recent first issues but also usually one classic issue each week. In recent week's we've seen Uncanny X-Men 129 (First Kitty Pryde) & 137 (Death of Phoenix), Iron Man 55 (First Thanos) and Fantastic Four 347 (with some gorgeous Art Adams artwork). I'll try to tweet a list of each week's new freebies which you can then find through the web if you don't have an app so follow me @philip_ayres
The other method of comics distribution is less well used because it's easier to distribute: as a cbz (or cbr) file, which is essentially a renamed zip file containing a number of images. Rebellion sells it's comics like this but they're cheaper bought through www.clickwheel.net though! They require a separate viewer - I use comical on my PC and **** on my iPad. But there is free material here if you know where to look! Visit the main clickwheel page at https://www.clickwheel.net/dashboard for some already CBR'd freebies or http://www.2000ad.org/?zone=thrill&page=thrillindex on the 2000 AD website for a whole load of images you can save and collate into CBRs yourself.