Frequently Asked Questions
Most members of Satellite 7 will have been to previous Satellite conventions. However, for others, this may be your first Satellite convention, or even your first science fiction convention. Congratulations and welcome! This section is mainly aimed at you. You will find information here that will help you to get orientated and find your feet quickly, so as to get on with the important business of enjoying the Con. We also include some information that may be of interest to more seasoned con-goers.
An SF Con ("Con" = convention) is a meeting of people interested in SF, usually with an emphasis on literary aspects, although topics such as media SF (TV and movies) and space science often play an important part. The formal part of the convention consists of a programme of events. Smaller conventions may have just one stream of programming but larger ones will have several streams running in parallel.
In addition, there will often be an art show and auction; a dealers’ room where you can buy books, jewellery, and other items with an SF or fantasy theme; and a games room. There will be one or more bars, often featuring real ale, and ample room for fans to sit around and renew old acquaintances or make new friends.
SF conventions are traditionally run on a not-for-profit basis by committees of fan volunteers, who will give up literally hundreds of hours of their own time to make the event as enjoyable as possible. Any profits generated are usually donated to charity, or used as ‘seed’ funding for future conventions. This is in contrast to the large professional conventions such as Collectormania etc which are run for profit and generally have an emphasis on actors rather than writers.
Many different kinds of item will be included in a typical convention programme. There will be talks where an individual — who may be a guest or a fan — gives a lecture presentation on a particular theme. We have panels where four or five people discuss an issue, overseen by a Moderator, who will normally invite the audience to contribute to the debate at some point. Workshops are generally ‘hands-on’ and allow fans to try out something new - perhaps something energetic, like Scottish Country Dancing, or ‘crafty’, like mask-making. Quizzes come in different guises, including ‘Pub Quiz’ style and variants on popular TV and radio formats. There may also be tasting sessions, and ‘kaffeklatches’ with the Guests of Honour (usually with limited spaces available — so you have to sign up in advance).
Evening events include set-pieces such as a Masquerade, Cabaret or Costume Ball. Sometimes fans will perform a specially written play with an SF theme (either a comic parody or a serious piece). There will typically also be a ceilidh and disco. The final evening of the convention sees the Dead Dog Party. This is a tradition were those still standing get together to talk about the weekend’s events over a drink. It’s also fertile ground for ideas for future conventions: many a convention has been born at a previous con’s Dead Dog Party!