Sunday was the biggest day for me in terms of panels I wanted to attend – and because it ended with the Hugos ceremony.
It began with a panel on far future sf, and was framed by Clarke’s so-called law, that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. There were some completely different points of view on the panel, which was awesome (although it was made just a little less awesome by the fact that all five were men, and made me wonder: who are the women writing space opera/far future sf? I’m reading Marianne de Pierres’ Sentients of Orion series, and I know there are some women in New Space Opera 1&2, but… I must find more). There was discussion over whether the quote was a sociological comment, whether it becomes a false premise as soon as a culture has a notion of technology, and whether it’s a concept that just keeps getting pushed further and further out by the word ‘sufficiently’. Reading list: Matt Hughes, GD Nordley, Gene Wolf, Robert Reed. (Yes yes, Alastair Reynolds was on this panel; he said great things.)
From this panel there was rushing to a packed seminar room for a panel entitled The Case for a Female Dr Who. One bloke, four women; one anti, four in favour. Paul Cornell is totally up for it, and seemed particularly taken with the idea of Julia Sawalha. Me, I’d like Helen Mirren, or Judi Dench; I am less convinced than everyone else seemed to be by the idea of Emma Thompson. It essentially turned into a discussion of how rather than the why, because most people seemed very comfortable with the basic premise. I do think an older woman would be more interesting, in a whole range of ways, than a younger woman. Reading list: Chicks Dig Timelords. Also: serious Doctor Who Fans are just a tiny bit terrifying. But I didn’t learn my lesson, and also ended up at a panel reviewing the latest season. The panellists discussed what they liked, or didn’t; attitudes towards Matt Smith as the Doctor, and Amy, and River; whether the show is/should be for kids, adults, or ‘family’; and how annoying it is when the sonic screwdriver becomes a magic wand to get the script writer out of any tight spot….
I next attended a panel on the history of Australian women in sf, both in writing and fandom. Lucy Sussex talked a bit about the nineteenth century, then Helen Merrick skipped to the 50s and 60s, then Alisa talked about what she’s found about the last decade or two. Gina Goddard talked about the last thirty years in fandom, and it was a little depressing to hear that while some things have changed – there were kids at almost every panel I went to, and no one seemed to have a problem with that – still some things have not changed. Reading list: Helen Merrick and Tess Williams’ Women of other Worlds; Lucy Sussex generally, plus her edited She’s Fantastic (bought the next day!); Sylvia Kelso; Tess Williams. Also at this panel Tansy and I were inspired to get to Wiscon together sometime in the next 5-10 years, dragging Alisa with us….
The next bit of the afternoon was, if anything, more hectic. I’d been expecting to go off and have dinner by myself and come back for the Hugos, because most of the others had invites to various exclusive parties. But Tehani ended up not going to the Orbit party, so she told me to go in her stead, for which I was humbly grateful although sad for her! So I ducked off to the loos and frocked up (gotta take every opportunity); ditched stuff in the dealers’ room rather than carrying it around, then hared off to a panel on Big Dumb Objects in sf (um, yes, another Alastair Reynolds panel…). This is the sort of sf I really enjoy, tied as it so often is with space opera, and I was really pleased to hear the panellists talking about the character options that are available and interesting to explore when you use a BDO. Reading list: Niven; David Brin?; Ringworld; Riverworld?; Robert Reed, stories about the Great Ship; Pohl; Farmer, World of Tiers; Ken McLeod; Charles Sheffield; Chalker; Larry Gibbon?; Cordwainer Smith; The Wanderer. Again, all of these are male, which makes me even more determined to find the women writing similar sorts of things.
The evening’s entertainment started with a party sponsored by Orbit, which involved Hugo nominees and others swanning around, dolled up, drinking when they could reach the bar and eating a small quantity of food. Again, I got to meet some people, and had other famous people pointed out to me. But really, this was all in anticipation of the main event: the Hugos ceremony.
Terri, Alisa, and I got a good spot from which to watch the ceremony, and Alisa tweeted the entire thing – which led to her missing the cover of Horn flashing up as part of the 2009 wrap up (link), all of which was hugely exciting. Before that, though, the woman in front of us – listening to us gasbag excitedly – turned around and announced she recognised our voices from Galactic Suburbia! Hilarious. Anyway, Garth Nix was a great MC; the ceremony went smoothly, most of the acceptance speeches were short and made the winner look good; most of the winners were ones of which I approved (which is important, obviously). Highlights: Cheryl Morgan liveblogging as she walked up to the podium to accept the Hugo for Clarkesworld’s semiprozine win; Frederick Pohl winning, at 90, a Hugo for Best Fan Writer for his blog (to match Hugos for writing and editing, and his grandson’s Hugo too); Peter Watts accusing the audience of costing him $20 because he lost a bet by winning.
After the Hugos, we brought the party back to Tehani, who had balanced the books while following Alisa’s tweets; we sat around eating junk food for a few hours, just chewing the fat. It was, again, wonderful.