World Con 2010 through the eyes of the Uninitiated

While attending Aussie Con 4, Leanne C Taylor took her lap top to each panel and made notes. She had kindly offered to share what she gleaned with us.

Take it away, Leanne.

When I first heard about the World Science Fiction Convention, I was thrilled.  I’m a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy related events, even if I don’t usually find my way to them.  My favourite part of Supanova is going to look at all the wonderful, inexplicable merchandise that is absolutely nowhere else in Brisbane.  Sure, you can order some of these things online, but if you have an experience as I did with my purchase of a Clalaclan figure via Play Asia, where what looked cute and demure in the pictures turns up with a rack that would make Jenna Jameson blush, you quickly learn to admire from afar, until you can examine up close.

So it was, with dreams of capitalistic glory and a heavy wallet, that a ventured to Melbourne, to attend my first ever WorldCon.  We eventually found where we were supposed to be, gathered our wits to determine which room our first panel was in, and decided that half an hour spent perusing the dealer’s room would be a half-hour well-spent.  I entered, and took a cruise-by of the stalls on offer.  I made it to the end of the row, and turned the corner, expecting I had entered the wrong door, and sure that eclectic consumerist joys awaited me.  Past the Borders stall, around the divider and…  What?  Coffee?
So the dealer’s room was a little smaller than I imagined.  I left for my first panel, slightly disgruntled and with a severe case of nerves.  Maybe they hadn’t told anyone.  Maybe no one knew.  I ascended the stage in the all-but-empty room, unable to find my fellow participants, with a cold lump of dread settling into my stomach.  What if no one turned up?  What if they got bored and left?  What if – like the survivors of some unforeseen apocalypse – we were doomed to spend our days, wandering the empty halls?
What followed were some of the best days of my writing career.  My first two panels got off to a great start, and I spent the next 4 days flitting from lecture to panel to lunch and back again.  I listened, enraptured, as people whose books I’d seen on store shelves spoke frankly, wittily, and with a heart-warming familiarity.  I took page after page of notes, as you’ll see, and retired each day, exhausted and happy.  I really feel that attending WorldCon has made me a better writer, and has helped put my priorities in order.  It’s something of a shift, to see that there are these wonderful, passionate people, doing what they love, and happy to discuss their passion with you, stranger though you may be.  There’s a sense of community, of togetherness, which I haven’t felt for a long time, not in my professional career.  I can only hope that next time AussieCon rolls around, I’ll be in a position to attend once again, and maybe slip in a couple of visits to the US WorldCons between now and then.
So, was I disappointed?  Momentarily, yes.  But the materialistic side of my psyche soon lost out to my desire to learn.  And learn I did.  I hope my notes provide some small idea of what it was like to attend each of the particular panels.  I hope they’re as useful to you as they are to me.  And I hope, next time, I’ll see you there.
Leanne would like to stress that these notes were taken in real-time, while the panel was happening. I would like to thank her for generously sharing with us. (Also something weird is going on with the formatting when I upload the post, sorry about this).
“Are there taboos in dark fantasy? At what point does the fantasy stop and the psychosis begin? “
Deborah Biancotti, Terry Dowling, Richard Harland, Jason Nahrung, Catherynne M Valente
“For some authors, the most important aspect of writing a story or novel is preparing a meticulously constructed plot. For others, the appeal of writing comes from developing the story on the fly, and allowing the plot to develop as they go. What are the benefits and drawbacks of each approach , and the best techniques for plotting in a chosen way?”
Stephen Dedman, John Scalzi, Melinda M. Snodgrass

“As new technologies arise, story tellers learn (sometimes tot heir embarrassment) which techniques can be adapted from old media, and discover new possibilities. Join our crew of passionate storytellers as we navigate from Stone Age campfires to the interactive multiplayer future.”

Chris Lawson, Grant Wartson, Peter Watts, Ben Chandler

Anachronistic Attitudes: Writing thought and belief in historical fiction

“Writers of historical (or historically inspired) fiction often pay close attention to accuracy, ensuring the technology and fashion surrounding their stories never fall prey to anachronism – but what about the way the characters behave? What responsibility does an author have to their characters’ thought processes, beliefs and understanding of the fictional world around them?”

Kaaron Warren, Rowena Cory Daniells, Juliet Marillier, Ginjer Buchanan

Writing your First Novel

“Suggestions, tips, advice, ideas, opportunities to help all those who would like to write. “
Juliet Marillier, Richard Harland, Leanne Hall, Carol Ryles (chair)
“Editing a 5000 word short story is one thing – how do you edit a 100 000 word novel? A panel of professional editors discuss their own experience in editing the novel – how to keep a work that long consistent, how to maintain energy and enthusiasm, how to liaise with the author over the long haul, and how to decide how long or short a novel should ultimately be.”
Simon Spanton, Zoe Walton, Jean Johnson, Ginjer Buchanan
“Clarke’s Law famously states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. When writing about the distant future, where do we draw this distinction? Can we? And, perhaps more importantly, should we?”
Rani Graff, Bob Kuhn, Alistair Reynolds
“Science fiction used to be a means of extrapolating today’s technology and society, and predicting the future. More and more often, however, our ideas of the future simply aren’t turning true. What happens when the real world starts advancing faster than the imaginations of science fiction writers?”
Kim Stanley Robinson, John Scalzi, Mike Scott, Norman Cates
“Submitting a story to a journal, anthology or magazine might seem as simple as attaching a  Word document to an e-mail and firing it off, but is it? How do you know the appropriate market for your fiction? How much is enough money to be paid for your work? How should you approach an editor? What are the dos and don’ts of getting published in the speculative short fiction marketplace?”
Cory Doctorow, Robert Silverberg, David D. Levine, Angela Slatter
“The mutual admiration of Virginia Woolf and Olaf Stapledon for each other’s novels will serve as a start for a comparison of the very different treatments of time in their books, which will then lead to a discussion of the many ways novelists can portray the passage of time, often in ways unavailable to the other arts. The impact of these formal methods on the reader’s senses of pace and meaning, therefore crucial questions of readerly pleasure, will be explored by way of example of Joyce, Proust, Golding, Garcia Marquez, and other great fantasists.”
Kim Stanley Robinson
“At the crossroads between science fiction and horror there is a familiar formula at work: a group of humans trapped in a claustrophobic environment – a spaceship, a space station, a distant colony – being hunted down one by one by some inhuman and utterly terrifying monster. From Alien and The Thing to Even Horizon, Resident Evil and most recently Cargo and Pandrorum (both screening at the convention), we investigate the origins of this popular sub-genre of cinema, why it works and which films of its type work the best.
Bob Eggleton, Christian Sauve, Foz Meadows
“To be a ‘Philistine’ has entered our language to mean uncouth or barbaric, a perception deeply situated in Biblical thought. Just as the Greeks described non-Greek neighbours as ‘Barbarians,’ so too did the Biblical writers describe people settled along the southern coast of the Levant in derogatory terms. This talk will discuss the Aegean and Cypriot origin of the Philistines,  who were reputed to be among the Sea People wreaking havoc in the Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age (ca. 1180 BC). I will present recent results from the archaeological excavations at the Philistine site at Tell es-Safi/Gath (Israel), the city associated with Goliath in the Bible. The archaeological remains of the Philistines reveal them to be a socially and economically advanced, technologically innovative (iron production), artistically sophisticated (decorated Mycenaean-Greek style pottery), and cosmopolitan culture that positively influenced surrounding region.”
Dr. Louise Hitchock
“What keeps the pages turning on a good speculative fiction novel? A panel of authors reveal the tricks and tools they have used – and others they have seen as readers – to keep the momentum of a good story going, and to ensure the reader’s attention. What makes the difference between a tedious bore and an un-put-downable narrative rollercoaster?”
Peter V. Brett, Carrie Vaughn, Howard Tayler, Jay Lake
“The writers of fantastical horror face some very particular challenges. Our panelists discuss defying the prefixes.”
Shane Jiraya Cummings, China Mieville, Carrie Vaughn
Once again, my thanks go to Leanne.

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