Sorry, let me rephrase that: DITMAR-WINNING Galactic Suburbia, episode 30 ( ) recorded live at Swacon36|Natcon50
Shirley Jackson nominees
PK Dick awards
SF Hall of Fame inductees
Tansy: The Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare, The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke, Fun Home & Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel, Tales of the Tower: the Wilful Eye edited by Isobelle Carmody & Nan McNab, especially “Catastrophic Disruption of the Head” by Margo Lanagan, Nightsiders (twelve planets 1) by Sue Isle.
Pet Subject: Indie Press: Alisa talks Ebooks!
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Well, it was brilliant, basically.
I went over on Wednesday, to get a head start on the fun. Tehani picked me up, which was lovely of her, and then I got to spend the afternoon with Kathryn. We had dinner with Alisa and Justina Robson, one of the Guests of Honour, which was a great privilege! I managed to get a good night’s sleep, which was a good thing… Thursday involved chasing down Kathryn’s artwork, which was cool, and then we had lunch with Justina and the other Guests of Honour – Ellen Datlow and Sean Williams – and a bunch of other Swanconners. Which was awesome. Then to the hotel, and starting the real business of the weekend: catching up with lots of people. Also hanging around the Twelfth Planet Press table. Thursday night was free; there was the Opening Ceremony, which I attended and it was good, and panels, which I didn’t attend and that was fine too. The con bag was awesome – four free books!
The con proper involved a number of panels that I was both on, and attended, including a megapodcast recording where we got to tell people what books they MUST read, and films watch, and I got to shock people by saying Lord of the Rings and The Fifth Element; and a recording of Galactic Suburbia too. I presented at the Edustream, which was good, and on a panel about religion in fantasy too. I attended a number of interesting ones: Grant’s presentation on Disney films was utterly enchanting, and the “Vikings are awesome” panel was far more informed than I expected! The best, though, was probably the panel that in theory was meant to be on “the crisis of the midlist, and the rise of the celebrity author.” It featured Justina and Ellen, and two Aussie contributors. It turned into a broader discussion, at least partly about how we figure out what to read – the place of podcasts, reviewers, etc, and how to know who to trust in those arenas. It was fun, becoming quite interactive towards the end.I also thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Strahan interviewing guest Sean Williams. They have known each other for a very long time, and rather than the conversation being full of in-jokes it meant that Jonathan knew exactly the right questions to ask for it to become an interesting discussion for the audience. Also, Sean’s concertina-pack of his books’ covers was awesome.
Most of the time, though, was spent with people. The foyer of the hotel had a large cafe/bar with lovely couches and chairs and I spent a large amount of time sitting, chatting… generally doing the things that make cons brilliant. I made a few new friends, but really it was about catching up with existing friends. It’s hard having friends all over the country that you don’t get to see very often. Twitter and blogs and Skype make it feasible to actually call them friends… but spending physical time together really shows just how much those things are not really a substitute. I had breakfast, lunch, and what passed for dinner with friends all weekend, and spent many hours into the night with them too.
The evenings were, of course, very entertaining! Friday night had a celebration of the Twelve Planets, and I was particularly thrilled to see that Tansy’s Love and Romanpunk had come back from the printer… and, even more than that, it is dedicated to meeeee! I was gobsmacked and overwhelmed to discover this. (Also, Jonathan Strahan’s Year’s Best Fantasy and SF vol 5 is dedicated to me, Alisa, and Tansy, as the Coode St Feminist Advisory Council – which is very flattering indeed.) The evening also involved a cake made by the awesome Terri, surrounded by pink cupcakes to make it look like the Twelfth Planet Press logo. Saturday night was the masquerade, which I went along to for a little while to see the costumes and then retired to a room party to continue various conversations.
Sunday night… well, that saw the presentation of the WA awards, the Tin Ducks; and the national fan-voted awards, the Ditmars. It was preceded by a cocktail party thanks to Orbit and Gollancz, which was very pleasant indeed. I am an awards junkie, so it was a lot of fun to actually attend one with friends. Um, especially when many of the awards were won by said friends. I was so very pleased that Tansy won for Power and Majesty, and backing it up with the William Atheling for her Modern Women’s Guide to Dr Who was brilliant! Alisa’s Sprawl won best collection, which was well deserved, and Cat and Kirstyn sharing Best Short Story was great. I was really, really happy for Thoraiya Dyer winning Best New Talent and Best Novella. And, yes, Galactic Suburbia won the Tin Duck for best Fan Production and the Ditmar for Best Fan Production. And Kathryn, Alisa, Rachel, Tehani, Tansy and I won Best Achievement for Snapshot2010, which feels like it was a very long time ago but was heaps of fun! And… I won for Best Fan Writer, for my reviews, which I am still utterly and totally overwhelmed by. The perceptive among the audience will notice that all of those names are female. There was one male winner: Shaun Tan, for The Lost Thing for Best Artwork… and given that short film won an Oscar, we figure that’s fair enough. So the awards ceremony was one big barrel of awesome, and we retired to the bar to toast our celebrations. And try to ignore the fact it was our collective last night together.
I came home having had more sleep than I expected but less than was necessary; 4kg of books, only a few of which I bought – most are review copies or were freebies!; 4 awards (one physical trophy, since we split the others); a reading list a mile long, and instructions that I must watch Blake’s 7; and, most importantly of course, renewed friendships. Also immense respect for and gratitude to Alisa and the rest of her committee for running a brilliant con. The hotel choice was excellent – it was a lovely venue, and the fact that the hotel didn’t believe we’d all be there to eat and drink and therefore didn’t staff the bar well enough on the Friday was certainly not their responsibility! The programme was diverse and interesting and well organised, the guests seemed like they were good choices, and although I know some people had hitches of various sorts I, at least, had a completely trouble-free con.
And now I am home.
Diana Wynne Jones passed away.
Strange Horizons: dealing with the low numbers of female reviewers.
The Age on the poor numbers of women’s work being reviewed (in the literary “mainstream”), and coverage of a panel on the gender disparity, again in the mainstream.
Prometheus Awards nominees, from the Libertarian Futurist Society.
Authors, editors, and controversy: Running Press, Tricia Telep and Jessica Verday (links not necessarily linked to individuals).
Yeh, overloading on the old blog, ain’t I?
Sunday I did not run. I was tired, and wanted to give my knees a rest – having a room on the first floor, and being terrified of the lifts after hearing about them breaking down all the way back at last year’s natcon, gave the knees quite a workout!
I went to another academic panel, On the Historiographic in the Fantastic. It was primarily about the engagement between history and fantasy. The presenter – whose name I’ve forgotten – made an interesting point to begin with: for a genre proud of transgression, it’s also obsessed with its own categories and delineation. Very true. Anyway – she said fantasy is always engaged with history: using ‘real’ historical stuff, and/or making up its own history. Post-Enlightenment, history came to be posited as rationalist, scientific, positivist, etc – in contradistinction to ‘romance’, myth-making, and so on, which is where fantasy is situated (or has been situated). I wrote down a lot more, but won’t put it here because at least some of it doesn’t make sense to me anymore! – suffice to say all this got me thinking about Geoffrey of Monmouth, and those other ‘historians’ whose works we read today as fantasy. Big crossover there.
After the panel I went to City Church of Christ, which was awesome – a very diverse group of people; the minister preached the gospel loud and clear! It was embarrassing to be from an Anglican church, though; there are some vocal Perth Anglicans who don’t believe in the physical resurrection of Christ which is just, like, stupid (if you’re a Christian).
Got back in time to go to Mark Bould’s talk, which I think I will blog separately because it was so damned cool. Anyway – then lunch with , and onto one of the highlights of the con: Rob Shearman and Ian Mond doing a live commentary on the Dr Who episode Dalek! We got front row seats, and it was fantastic. Had a drink with some friends – went to dinner with Kathryn, “MacDog,” and Matt… sorry we stooged you with the bill for a while there, guys!!
Then… oh then, it was Ditmar time. I won two of them! – well, the Snapshot team and my cohorts and I won one. You can see a full list of winners here. My row was the place to be. And didn’t we just love it!
Then, finally, the mother of all room parties. I don’t know how many people there were over the night – lots – probably 20 or 30 at any one time. Sean provided some mighty fine tunes, and someone else provided The A-Team theme. I kicked everyone out, finally, at about 2am. People keep making a big thing of me doing that, so I’m left wondering: do room parties never get moved on by the room’s inhabitants? Or did I do it in a particularly memorable way?
So after Dedman came Helen Merrick, who was also fascinating, talking about the science in women’s SF – which is something I’m enthralled by, having been a science-y type at school (I struggled all through year 12 over whether to do science or history at uni… no one told me it was possible to do both!). Anyway, to start with she looked at why women write SF in the first place: that many grew up reading it, and also have a background of science. It also allows women to engage with science, and critique it. There’s apparently been very little research done into the science in female-authored SF. Her take, though, is that the science can be liberating for women; it can be critiqued for social/ethical consequences, as well as critiquing the institution, methodology and hierarchy; and show ways of ‘doing science’ differently. In essence, the talk was Cool, and gave me a list of reading I should do….
Then, I ditched the academic programme, and went off to hear about The New Space Opera. Have I mentioned how much I love space opera? I love it. Anyway – this panel also gave me things I need to read, which is so totally fine. Despite not having any time for reading. Possibly my favourite quote of the entire con was Ken McLeod talking Ian Banks: apparently he said he wrote his Culture novels intending to “conquer the moral high ground for the left.” Yeeah! Anyway, a lot of the panel was more about the panelists talking about their own stuff and why/how it’s space opera, which was a bit of a pain when I hadn’t read any of it. Interestingly, you can make heaps more dough in writing fantasy that in scifi; didn’t know that. The panel did, though, pose an interesting question: can space opera survive modern technology and science? It started amidst the optimism about science of the 1920s and 1930s; can the pessimism of the 00s make us set space opera aside? I wonder whether we’ll keep reading it, but with a nostalgic rather than optimistic view.
Then.. oh my! It was our turn to do a panel! Me, Ben, Alisa, and Jonathan (with Tansy a noticeable absence), talking about that crazy Last Short Story thing. People were there! And asked questions! And seemed genuinely interested in the answers…. There were a few odd comments, but that’s ok. It was far more enjoyable than I had expected.
Another book launch that night… Alisa and Kathryn and I went out dinner after, and I had the hottest prawn and onion salad in the entire world. Followed by a reading from Rob Shearman’s new book Tiny Deaths, which I bought and made him write in and am happy to recommend to people having only heard the two stories that he read at the con. The kids roaming the room were a bit of a pain, though. This was followed by heading back to my room (notice a pattern?), and watching Claire McKenna’s movie Liminal, which I saw last year and wasn’t nearly as good on a computer screen sans speakers. Basically we talked over the whole thing, commentating, which was funny in its own way. Once again, I managed to kick people out at midnight.
… when I went running again, but this time only for 40 min or so because my back started hurting. Hopefully pilates will help with this.
I went to some of the academic panels, and by goodness they were great.
Robert Savage’s “Paleoanthropology of the Future” (which can mean at least two different things, as far as I can read) was awesome – about 2001, and how scifi looks at the development of Human. He made a link between the hero-journey (which I remember from doing classics) and the development of man: needing some sort of external shove, for instance, to get started, and how at the end the hero/man is the same but different. He posited that Moonwatcher, Floyd, and Bowman are all fundamentally the same character, but (I think) different aspects (I could be murdering his whole premise here, of course). Women, in this story and in the story of Man’s Development (in the classic model), are removed – and I hadn’t really noticed that: the three women in the story are a little girls and two stewardesses: they are there to provide comfort and that’s it. The bit I really liked was the idea of how 2001‘s narrative arc follows the arc suggested by paleoanthropology. The latter requires evolution or similar, which doesn’t really fit in with narrative requirements, so Clarke has the extraterrestrial influence, which fits in with the idea of “the donor” from the hero-journey arc. A couple of other interesting points: the development of Dave into the star-child // conception, when the pod goes into the sun (so the hero is the father of the child, and so is still recognisable). Also, that HAL // the leopard in the opening segment as an external motivating influence. And of course, the other possibly conclusion to the story is that HAL goes through the monolith, and comes out as… IBM? Â There’s also the parallel between HAL being shut down and Dave in the hotel room, at the end, regressing. So Dave and HAL are very similar, even (and this is my take) aspects of the same idea.
(Dr) Stephen Dedman’s talk on Captain America was quite fascinating, too – I know nothing about the superhero, so it was interesting to hear about his development and mutations over time. Especially as he was born out of a Congress request for publishers to put out stuff that was in line with the government’s policy on war! The (ab)use of comics would make a fascinating book, I think. The change from all-American hero fighting the dirty Hun, to whether he should be shown fighting the Vietnamese at all, to finally fighting Americans in thrall to an evil American general is quite some development.
It was great running on Good Friday morning: almost no traffic, and almost no people! I ran down to and along the Esplanade – they have a huge bloody river in Perth! And fountains… I don’t remember when there were working fountains in Melbourne. Oh – and that was after waking up at 5.30am Perth time, which my body was insisting was 7.30 for us, despite having gone to sleep at about 2am for us (midnight in Perth). Very confusing… fortunately my ability to doze off again seems to be reappearing.
Hung around with Alisa, Ben and Tehani for a bit of the morning – they were setting up their table to flog their wares (primarily 2012 and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine – Australia’s pulpiest magazine! (I adore it).
The first panels I went to were about the history of Dr Who – the pre-production stuff, like how Dr Who basically started because the BBC had an opening in their scheduling, and the fact that its producer was the first female producer and the youngest producer to boot, at the BBC. That’s cool. Interesting to hear that it seems like lots of people wanted Dr Who to fail, for a whole range of reasons! It also seems that TV people stuffing around with their programming has been going on for as long as TV has existed (and probably happened/happens in radio, too) – changing series lengths, etc. The soundstage they had to deal with makes it seem remarkable they managed to make anything, frankly, and seems a testament to the actors and the crew. And then – to top it all off, and to drive home what they’d been talking about – the panel did an overview of the first season of Dr Who, which was very cool. Those guys clearly know their Who trivia, which was fun…. It was fascinating to hear about the growth in viewers (up to 10 million for the episodes with the Daleks!), and about the interaction of the actors – and development of the characters, too.
Zara’s talk on “why we love children’s SF” was fantastic – a survey of 900 respondents, asking when they started reading scifi, what they liked as a kid, what they didn’t like, etc. I really must take the time to read The Inter-Galactic Playground. It sounds like a very cool project Zara has got herself involved in! – and gave me a list of books I really ought to chase up, too…
Anyway… then went and had a drink with a few people, then it was the launch of 2012 and Workers’ Paradise, both of which I can highly recommend. After that, another book launch! – Magic Dirt, a collection of Sean Williams’ stuff. Rob nearly choked on the little packets of magic dirt (actually gravel or something similar), and blamed me for it…. Eventually had a bit to eat at the Indian restaurant around the corner at about 9pm, then back to the hotel bar, then nearly went to a room party… but it was too loud and hot, so I bailed and went to bed. It was, after all, midnight.
I am still a bit dazed at the fact that I flew across the entire darned continent for a long weekend, to go to a nerdfest, where I knew two people (at the start) and had met maybe two others. That seems weird. Doesn’t it seem weird? Whenever people asked my husband where I was for the weekend, and he explained, their immediate reaction (apparently) was to ask: do people wear capes??
Anyway, it was bloody brilliant. I enjoyed myself immensely… especially once I realised that I could do whatever the heck I liked, that there was very little expected of me and that I didn’t have to wait for permission to go to panels or whatever. That’s a fairly obvious thing, but sometimes I still get caught up in trying to please others when that’s not necessary, or being scared to do something a bit different. Hello!! It’s a nerdfest!!
Anyway#2 – I took copious notes, as is my wont; partly for my own sake, partly for my husband, and partly so as not to fall asleep during panels after too many late nights. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on putting it all online…
I actually quite enjoyed my flight. The shuttle ride not to much – I was the last to be dropped off, and was getting quite impatient towards the end (why, I dunno; no one was expecting me!). The hotel had my name wrong, which led to a near-heart attack thinking I didn’t have a room (how would I host room parties?? was my first thought). It was very, very funny seeing the TARDIS in the foyer.
Went for a walk around Northbridge – scoped out potential places to run – it’s a lot like Richmond, I decided, with its proximity to the city (closer than Richmond, actually), and preponderance of Asian stores and restaurants.
Girliecon was in my room that night – Alisa’s scheme for getting all the best people in the one room at the same time. Of course, my room was tiny, but we still managed to fit about 30 people in there that night. With pink drinks and everything! A magnificent time was had – by me, anyway – got to meet Kathryn (finally!), and Dirk and Tehani; catch up with Ben and of course the inimitable Alisa… and a whole bunch of other people, too (sorry, all the parties are blurring together in my brain…). I think I even kicked out the Special Esteemed International Guest of Honour, Rob, when I made everyone leave at about 11pm because my body said it was 1am and wasn’t that time for sleep?
and sleep-deprived place that is Swancon. Wahey! What fun. So much to say… but not right now. Because right now, much to the amusement of my friends at said con, I am about to spend a day at another conference! This one is on Feasting in the (ancient) Aegean. And I doubt there will be room-parties – not like mine, anyway. (And I won’t know, because even if there were, I think my body would break if I asked it to do another late night.)
However, if you’re interested, I am doing an online forum thingy tomorrow night, on my experiences at the con, for a dear friend of mine: it will be happening on RedBubble. I have no idea who will bother tuning in to ask questions, but if you want to come and be provocative you’ll have to sign up to RedBubble first (which doesn’t cost, and doesn’t spam, if you’re interested).
So much more to come… just not right now.
to Swancon. I has them!
Cue the eye-rolls, the short laugh or muffled giggle, the slightly disbelieving frown on non-nerdy friends’ faces… but that’s ok. Because it’s going to be great. I really hope they get the academic stream up; Girlie Jones and Ben Payne are launching 2012, their print anthology that includes the like of Dirk Flinthart and Tansy Rayner Roberts, both of which make me very happy; numerous people I know will be there, and I’ll get to meet some of them for the first time… plus, it’s Perth! I’ve been there once, in 1996, for a conference, and didn’t see much but liked what I saw. And, my love is coming too! He’s going to go off gallivanting while I’m being all serious and nerdy (ha!), then we’ll have a few days over in the far reaches of the country together, since it’s school holidays at that time. Woohoo!