Daily Archives: June 12th, 2007

NatCon #2

One thing I had to decide was how many panels to attend. I knew that at least Alisa and Tansy weren’t planning on going to many, but I figured that since I had paid the money to be there – and it was my first con – I should try and get as much out of it as possible. Plus, I was still feeling a bit nervous about all the new people I had met and whether we would manage to keep being friendly for the whole weekend, so I figured I need somewhere to go for refuge, should it come down to it!

I went to one of the first panels of the day… on Second Life, of all things. People who… go on? play on? use? utilise? Second Life fascinate and bewilder me. I found out that people really do make money from it, and was fascinated that they had an in-world funeral for someone because – and these are the dude’s words – the avatar’s player died in the real world. Eventually, though, I got bored, so I left and went to the end of a panel discussion on cliche in fantasy – and wished I had been there for the whole of it, because it sounded like they were actually having a fun and intelligent conversation.

Rachel and I then went along to Richard Harland’s “HIstory of imaginative fiction for YA/children,” which was really more a history of childhood/changing perceptions thereof, rather than the books that have been part of it (someone actually asked him whether Gulliver’s Travels was meant to be for kids… hello!! Are you kidding?!). It would have been more interesting if I didn’t already know pretty much everything he was saying.

Rachel then left because she didn’t want to hear Isobelle Carmody talking about the next book in the Obernewtyn series. I stayed, because I’m a bit of a sucker. She was interesting enough – and she confessed that The Stone Key will, in fact, be the penultimate book, not the ultimate, because she couldn’t fit it all in… it’s meant to be out in November, and then the last should be out next year.

I will now take some time out to whinge about the programme of Convergence2. It was Convention Lite. I understand there were some problems with the guests of honour, but… the panels were not what I expected. I wasn’t interested in the ‘how to be a writer’ panels, but I understand why they were there and was happy for writers to get that forum for dicussing ideas. But there weren’t that many of them, and there weren’t many others either. I was expecting more like the panel I went to in the afternoon – “IS fantasy really all about good vs evil?” – which I was interested in and had to attend because Tansy was on the panel…. But surely this is the very place where these sorts of genre questions can be discussed? Like what makes things fantasy (which I know has been discussed previously), how science-y should scifi be, etc…? Maybe all of these things have been discussed at previous cons and everyone else is just jaded.

This has turned into a long post, and I am tired. I shall leave it here and continue anon (where anon = tomorrow, or any time after that).

NatCon #1

Yeh, so who did I think I was kidding? Me, start doing marking at 9.30 on a Tuesday night? When I’ve been out to dinner with a friend on a flying visit from Pasadena (UCLA, don’t you know… fluid mechanics, in fact), and J has managed to breathe enough to play trumpet (just) so I stayed and listened to Dry White Toast practise for a while (pacing around to get my steps up – that’s a whole other story – and reading), and then talking to cassiphone for ages.

Marking? Pft. They can wait.

So. NatCon. Convergence 2. My very first convention (and didn’t it show).

I was, to be honest, quite nervous. Meeting people in real life is a bit nerve-racking, when you’ve got on so well over email… and then there were the fears of the Real, Uber Geeks who might be there and who might either weird me out or make me feel inadequate.

Fortunately, I picked Alisa up from the airport on the Thursday night, and we talked pretty much the whole way back to the hotel, so at least I had a fairly good idea that we could, indeed, hold a real-time conversation as well as an email conversation.

On Friday, I rocked up to the hotel and met up again with Alisa, and met Ben, which was cool – and then off to meet Tansy, thus completing our quartet. Tansy’s partner Finchy and daughter Raeli were there too – she graciously allowed me to sit down, which was nice, and we played Giraffes Falling Off Chairs a bit. I also met Rachel then, and daughter Abby – starting something of a trend for the whole weekend, really, that group. Alisa, Rachel and I went off to look at buttons for a while (don’t get me either of them started! Abby was very funny – “I’ll have a handful of the red ones…”), then I ditched them when they also went to look at fabric. Went back to the hotel, got all officially rego’ed up, and had a look through my convention bag – always a good way to judge the quality of a conference, in my opinion. I got Aurealis #11, which doesn’t have a cover, which I thought was special until I heard someone had #1 (new idea of the weekend: round up back-issues of the major Aussie small press – I’m thinking ASIM, Aurealis, Borderlands… and read them, and then I can look like I’ve been in this scene for much, much longer than I actually have). Plus a bunch of other promo stuff that I still haven’t had a chance to look at.

Dinner was with a whole big bunch of people, because Cat just seems to gather people in her wake like a mini tornado. Have to admit, I was a bit scared by the horror writer group, until I discovered they are actually all lovely. Which was a relief. Fourteen of us went to the Shark Fin Inn, and it was all very jolly. I felt a bit out of it for a while, but eventually realised that was just me, not them, so I got over it.

So that was the first day.

Edit: I can’t believe I forgot the after-dinner entertainment! There was a Great Debate, about whether mass media is killing our beloved genre. Cat was on the against team, and her partner Rob Hood was on the affirmative. Jack Dann was the moderator, and as a Jack Dann newbie I thought he was pretty funny (I can imagine it would get old quickly). Apparently there was a deal of confusion between the teams about what the topic meant and who should be saying what, and the first speaker was way, way out in left field. I ended up agreeing with Cat’s team, because I already thought that anyway – mass media isn’t killing scifi and fantasy.

Then we went to the bar. People were getting drunk. Alisa managed to avoid people she wanted to avoid. It was good.