Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh yeah, WorldCon

Nearly a week later, and I still haven't given any reaction to the convention. I apologize. It was good--I met a number of other writers and a few people who are in some sort of editing role for different venues, plus I got to sit in on some good writing-related panels.

Which panels? Let's see if I can remember... (OK, had to get the booklet to get the exact titles and participants correct)

Short Fiction: On it's way out or a way to break into the market? David Levine, Ellen Datlow, James Patrick Kelly, Lisa Mantchev, Sheila Williams

I wasn't sure about this one, as it seems a conversation that comes up so often online, and I didn't expect a lot of new insight from this, but I was interested in seeing some of the panelists in person. And I was right that it didn't really change my opinion, but it was interesting. There was some condescension toward Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld that I found silly (not from Lisa Mantchev, of course, who's been published in both and whom I met afterward briefly, but mostly from JP Kelly, if I remember correctly). There seemed a decent awareness of things like podcasting, more than the Big Three often get credit for at least. But, really nothing earth-shaking here. It was disappointing but to-be-expected that when they asked for hands both for how many in the room write (or hope to write) short fiction and how many read short fiction...there were more hands for the first than the second. How do you expect to write it if you never read it?

Creating a Mythos. Elaine Isaak, Julia Phillips, LE Modesitt, and David Zindell.

I was impressed with the well-thought-out observations and questions of Modesitt, whose books I haven't read yet. Basic question was about how do you convey the mythological underpinnings--not just religious, but the assumptions and patterns of thinking--of an invented society. One of the things Modesitt said is often the best way to convey that to a reader is to introduce a character who actively opposes or disbelieves what the majority holds as given. Elaine Isaak also had some good things to add, so I may be checking out some of her writing too.

Fandom and SF outside the English-speaking world. Alvaro Zinos Amaro, Christian Sauve, Rani Graff, Sarah Hoyt.

I really enjoyed this one, giving the perspectives of such places as Spain, Quebec, France, Israel, Portugal...and with the help of some audience members, Finland, Sweden, and Russia. Part of the discussion was about how fandom and cons are similar or different...which didn't especially interest me since I'm only just discovering that subculture here in the US so I don't have a lot to compare it to. But I was very interested to hear what they had to say about the types of stories being written by native speakers of the various countries. I'd love to read some of any of those countries (though Spain would be the only one where I could read the stories without translation).

Storytelling and the Oral Tradition. Bill Mayhew, James Nelson Lucas, Patrick Rothfuss, Randy Smith, Uncle River.

This panel had some interesting points about oral cultures and the nature of storytelling. It was dominated by bearded males (not the audience, though--clearly interest in storytelling extends beyond that demographic). It would have been interesting to have a bit more diversity within the panel to get other perspectives. With my background in the camp industry, I've come into contact with the storyteller subculture before, so not much was new here, but it was a good reminder of the importance and nature of stories.

Later we went to a variety of parties. The Viable Paradise party was a lot of fun, and I met a number of other writers there. I'd never even heard of VP, but they throw a good party. The official party floor of the con, though...all duds that night. I suspect some of the publisher parties on other nights might have been more interesting, but the Thursday parties were not. At all. Oh well, the rest of the day was very good. I have no idea when I'll get to go to another con (MileHi? I don't know yet), but I look forward to it.


Chad Aaron Sayban said...

Not quite the Superbowl for parties, huh? It sounds like it was pretty interesting, though.

Daniel Ausema said...

Yeah, not exactly... =)