When one of the country’s biggest science fiction conventions arrives in Bradford it will pay tribute to one of the city’s most famous sons by naming writer JB Priestley not the event’s guest of honour – but the “ghost of honour”!
Whether the Manningham-born John Boynton Priestley – author of numerous novels and plays including The Good Companions and An Inspector Calls and who died in 1984 – will make a paranormal entrance at Eastercon when it is held over the Bank Holiday weekend at the Cedar Court Hotel remains to be seen.
But he’ll be there in spirit thanks to a team-up between Eastercon’s organisers and the Priestley Society.
Eastercon is a gathering of science fiction, fantasy and horror fans that attracts people from across the globe.
It is held in different cities every year and the committee behind this, the 64th event (dubbed Eightsquared), won the right to hold it in Bradford after a successful convention in the city in 2009.
There will be flesh and blood guests of honour – including American author Walter Jon Williams and British writer Freda Warrington – as well as a slew of writers, film-makers, industry figures and fans, but this is the first time a convention has appointed a “ghost of honour”.
Juliet McKenna, an author and chairman of the committee, said: “Once we knew we would be holding Eastercon in Bradford, we wanted to honour a local SF writer. One of our local members, Colin Fine, promptly suggested JB Priestley. Who could be better?
"Most of the committee recall studying one or other of his plays at school while a good few of the convention’s teenagers enjoyed ‘An Inspector Calls’ as a GCSE set text just last year.”
The chairman of The Priestley Society, Lee Hanson, will be appearing and holding talks about his work.
He said: “My aim at Eastercon will be to give an introduction and overview to Priestley’s life and work and then focus on his friendship with HG Wells (he gave the address at Wells’ funeral), his interest in time theories; his inclusion of new technologies in his fiction; and his own works of speculative fiction/ science fiction.”
Eightsquared is from Friday, March 29, to Monday, April 1, at the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford. For details on the programme, guests and admission costs, log on to: eightsquaredcon.org.