Con #2: the slightly less self-indulgent version
I forgot to mention in my last post that I also went to a panel called Crafts in Space, at which Tansy, Trudi Canavan and Lyn McConchie led a discussion about what sort of crafts might be done in space/while exploring and settling new planets; how they might be done and why and all that sort of stuff. The discussion itself was fascinating, with Lyn explaining that you can use a thing called a beehive to keep your yarn in one place while knitting and therefore it won’t go everywhere in zero G, and Trudi explaining that you could use a loom in zero G. Tansy raised the question of whether you would craft if you could only do it on the holodeck and therefore not actually produce something tangible – although I suggested you could have a gallery on the holodeck where you could at least see it – and we ran through the possible scenarios of what sort of native stuff might be used to craft with. There was a lot of lusting over 3D printers or fabricators: the idea of endless stash, a la the endless ammunition in The Matrix, had several people go glassy-eyed. Along with the discussion was the atmosphere. Lyn was doing this amazing shell-patterned crocheted rug, and she explained that she uses yarn from thrifted ‘jerseys’ (heh, she is a Kiwi) and she knits these rugs for various emergency services in her hometown; she also admitted that on one long-haul flight, she ended up teaching several people how to crochet because they were dazzled by her fingers as she sat watching TV. This led to some speculation about what would happen if spaceships ended up with craft specialities, and the outcome of a meeting between the yarn-dying ship and the sock-knitting ship… Then there was Trudi with this amazing i-cord device, which turned out to be an automatic French knitter which reaaally took me back to childhood; Tansy was sewing together Dr Who hexagonals for her quilt; and half the rest of us were knitting, crocheting, or doing other crafty things. It led Tansy to the inspired idea of Crafty Klatsches for the next con… only to discover that last year’s Continuum already had that idea. Our final conclusion seemed to be that when they’re filling the colony ships, the administrators ought not just look for people of reproductive age: they also need grandmas, or the colony will be screwed.
The con itself was well run, and I think the programming was generally very good. I was a bit sad that the launch of Ishtar clashed with our recording Galactic Suburbia, but I understand that there are time restraints. Also, I got my copy of Ishtar, and I got all three authors to sign it! So stoked! I’ve just started reading it so watch out for some Assyrian loving coming on soon. Anyway, the panels that I attended were generally nicely balanced in terms of the people on it – like the book blogging one had two professional bloggers (they get paid to blog at least part of the time), two personal bloggers (me and Sean, whom I finally got to meet), and our moderator seemed to fall kinda in the middle. I mentioned this to Julia, the head programmer, and she said it was more luck than design but I don’t think that entirely works; so I’ll say GO JULIA for good programming. I didn’t always want to go to the panels that were on, and I actually think that means it was well designed: a con that entirely suits me is going to be dead dull for Tansy, for a start! The hotel was ok… I didn’t stay there so I have nothing to say on that side of things; people were disappointed about the bar closing at 11pm but presumably they had a restricted license that meant they had to.
I spent very little time with the guests, but they certainly seemed involved in the programming and con-life in general. Kelly Link hosted a session of Mafia today! – and I had an incidental chat with her about Game of Thrones, which was delightful.
Also, I said I wasn’t going to say much about the awards, but I do want to mention that The Writer and the Critic took out both the Chronos AND the Ditmar for Best Fan Production, and I was immensely pleased for them (I was sitting with the rest of Galactic Suburbia, and we gave them a standing ovation, but they didn’t notice). It was very well deserved indeed, and Mondy especially looked so stoked! Which was great because they were also hosting the awards ceremony, which may have been the greatest decision of the entire con. They have such great repartee – and this from a Mondy with food poisoning – that the entire thing ran smoothly and was as much entertainment as anything else. So, it was a highlight of the entire weekend. Also, The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood won Best Novel. I love you, fandom.
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 😀 .
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.