My Con Experience, by Alex, aged… quite enough thanks.
It was Craftonomicon, the 51st National Australian Science Fiction Convention, this weekend, and the first weird bit about it was that I got there by taxi, and not by plane.
My con started properly on Friday afternoon with a panel on space opera with m1k3y and Jonathan Strahan that went remarkably well, not least because the former was an admirable moderator. I got to gush about a few books and discuss why I like it and what makes something space opera; Tansy thinks I am very harsh because I said generally it has to move outside of the solar system. I say: if it doesn’t, it’s hard to be grand enough to count.
Next I helped Terri and Alisa move a mountain of cupcakes in preparation for Twelfth Planet Press Hour, in honour of two new Twelve Planets books and Jason Nahrung’s Salvage, and TPP in general. The cupcakes were wolfed in minutes, although it is fair to say that people did usually stop for a moment to admire the artwork that Terri had made of them out of frosting and sugar. So very much sugar.
I think Friday ended with dinner, and… I forget. It was a while ago now. There was a great deal of talking. Actually that was kinda the theme of the whole con. The official theme was craft, and I got a number of inches completed on my scarf; the unofficial theme was Talk As Much As You Can. Me and my peeps managed this quite well :D .
Saturday I sat in on a panel called “Masters of Podcasting,” which has to be said in an echo chamber to get the full effect, featuring Alisa and Jonathan and Kirstyn and Terry. Tansy and I were very restrained and did not heckle. They said some quite interesting things, like podcasts being the lazy person’s fanzine to create (that’s Kirstyn’s view), which SO resonated. Then I was on a panel called Fans and Faith, with three Christians and a Jew; we made the Jewish boy, Mondy moderate, and a very fine job he did by asking provocative questions and pointing out that while we might not like the representations of Christians we find, at least there are a few – not so much with Jews, especially of the Orthodox persuasion, nor Muslims (Kameron Hurley makes a start in addressing this). It was a good discussion in all and only derailed towards the end by someone basically asserting that you can’t have faith and accept the scientific method, which he believes is essential to SF…
In the afternoon we did a Galactic Suburbia that lasted just ONE HOUR – show notes to come when the Silent Producer has recovered from the con. After that I travelled with Alisa and nine of her Planets (and a few other audience members) to Embiggen Books, which oh my it might have been better for me not to find. What a BEAUTIFUL bookshop! With a door hidden as a shelf and everything!! Mondy hosted the podcast that involved all nine Planet authors and Alisa talking about the project and their individual approaches to it, and it was a lot of fun to sit in the audience and listen to such a diverse range of women talk about their approaches to writing and to the project. Drinks and dinner followed, and I got home… later than Friday.
Sunday I made it in to the con in time to see half of the “Elizabethans are awesome” panel, and then wandered around and helped restock the Twelfth Planet table and generally mooched and chatted. My last panel to contribute to was one on book blogging and reviewing, which went ok. I scurried from that to the live recording of The Writer and the Critic, which was entertaining of course even though they did not especially like Crystal Singer, by Anne McCaffrey, which I adored in my teens.
The evening was taken up with dinner, trying to find out when power might be restored in Perth, and then frocking up because it was Awards Night! And I love awards. It was the Chronos (Victorian state) and Ditmar (national) awards night, with a couple of others thrown in – mostly lifetime achievement type things, plus the Norma K Hemming, for a book which addresses gender/class/disability issues. I won’t go into all of the winners – that would be a Galactic Suburbia job! – but I will proudly mention that I won two! I got the Best Fan Written Work for Tiptree, and a collection of her short stories, which thrilled me immensely. And then… then, they announced that Tehani and I won the William Atheling award for criticism for our conversational review series of the Miles Vorkosigan novels. This thrilled me absolutely to bits, and if there hadn’t been lots of people there I may even have had a tear in my eye. The rest of the night involved much talking and laughing and a midnight run for ice cream….
Monday was hard to get to, mostly because it was a public holiday and my tram never showed, so I ended up driving in so that I could catch Alisa, Terri and Jonathan before they winged their way back to Perth. I managed it, and then I went to a panel that was officially meant to be about whether women are equal to men in sf and fantasy, but ended up ranging over a variety of mostly interesting topics. After a spot of chatting and lunch I concluded my con with a panel on “The Awards Debacle”, which was sadly lacking in any controversy because the panelists all agreed with each other.
Now, I am tired, but not as tired as those who had to actually travel to get home; I am anticipating an early night before returning to the so-called real world. But this con has been a seriously awesome experience: lots of talking, lots of knitting, lots of talking. I met a couple of people I only know via the ether, which was great, and it was really wonderful to spend face to face time with the people I talk to so often but so rarely get to experience with body language! We all had ‘the con voice’ by Monday morning – dropping about an octave – partly from aircon, partly from late nights, partly from talking too much but only just enough.
And that’s my con-going for the year.