Tag Archives: natcon

NatCon/Conflux 9

mms_img-254898437This photo pretty much sums up my Nat Con experience: blowing bubbles, with a friend, at the Ditmars ceremony, onto another friend’s head… and his rather nice shiny suit…


I also attended Sean Williams’ presentation on his PhD work – about MT/demat/”beam me up Scotty” technology and how it’s been presented in SF literature for the last 140 or so years, and that was awesome, even though it meant sitting on the floor behind Sean because the room was so full (and getting a hand up from Scott Westerfeld, and I didn’t know it was him because he wasn’t wearing a name badge NO FAIR). And I went to the Ditmars ceremony which was awesome because Deb Biancotti ran it like a drill sergeant, and because I got to applaud a lot of friends getting very nice shiny awards.

And there was also a rather large amount of talking.

Galactic Suburbia 62

In which Alisa and Alex bravely confront the realities of podcasting without Tansy, and come up rather short… (ha!). You can find us on iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia

Convention Highlights
Alex’s blog & con report roundup
Embiggen Podcast (hang around after we stop talking to hear it!)

Chronos, Ditmar, etc: the Aussie winners

Locus Awards: more winners

Women in SF & Fantasy in Australian media – check out the article quoting several Australian spec fic writers & editors

What Culture Have we Consumed?
Alex: Prometheus; Ishtar (Kaaron Warren, Deb Biancotti, Cat Sparks).

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

[Photo Credit: Cat Sparx – Kirstyn and Mondy enjoying the convention!]


In collaboration with Writer and the Critic, we are delighted to present a special podcast dedicated to the critically acclaimed Twelve Planets series of short story collections and recorded live at the beautiful Embiggen Books in Melbourne.

The Great NatCon Blog Post Round-Up

Because reading one blog post about a NatCon weekend is just not enough. The official website, with info about Ditmar and other award winners, is here. (Also, the opening ceremony video is online, too.)

Tansy has several posts about different aspects of the con: first there was discussion of the craft and the programme; then there was all that food (cocktails, cupcakes, trifle oh my!); and then the Night of the Squeaking Octopus (aka awards night).

Ben has a great post about being inspired about writing and about how awesome he found the fan community to be in general (awww).

DarkMatter Fanzine has a good round-up of the awards night, including some of the Kirstyn&Mondy banter that really set the mood.

Alisa also succumbed to the con-report-in-parts bug, beginning by smugly showing off the books she bought but also exclaiming over how social and fun the con was as a whole (this is a theme…). In part 2 she goes into great detail about the preparation for Twelfth Planet Press hour, which saw mountains of cupcakes consumed (a few even managed to be photographed), while the third post is mostly devoted to the podcast undertaken by nine of the Twelve Planets authors at Embiggen Books, as well as some crafty things (and annoying news about Kaaron Warren’s Through Splintered Walls). Kirstyn has posted said podcast over here, for your listening pleasure. (Other podcasts recorded at Continuum is episode 309 of Boxcutters, a debate that All SF TV is rubbish; Galactic Suburbia 61; and a Writer and the Critic ep that I’m sure will be up sometime soon…)

Terri, the whiz behind the cupcake extravaganza, has a short post about her experience at the Con wherein she coins the acronym WWTD (What Would Tehani Do?) to describe her method of how to sell Twelfth Planet Press books…  and then goes into even more detail about the creation of those cupcakes (the photo on the left, c/o Cat Sparks, is too good not to feature again). What an effort!

Mark, a NatCon newbie, blogged basically on a daily basis: Day 1 (panels! lots of panels!); Day 2 (more panels! including Galactic Suburbia!); awards (a list, and recounting the less than sterling start to the evening for Mondy…); Day 3 (more panels, and some time at the bar); and Day 4 (more panels, and generally being happy with the con). If you want a good feel for the programming at this con – which I thought was very good – this is a really good wrap of one person’s attendance.

Sean the Bookonaut, another NatCon newbie and one that many took great pleasure in meeting (not that we didn’t enjoy meeting Mark, too!), had quite the experience in getting home, but starts off with recounting Thursday… and then Friday, complete with discussion of panels and nude cyclists. ETA: And Saturday, now, too: panels, and Embiggen Books, and being a one-man audience to various people.

Jason managed to keep his con report to just one post, talking about launching his novella Salvage, going to the podcast and Embiggen Books, and the Ditmar/Chronos Awards as well.

Alan too kept his report to one post. He discusses panels he was on, including one on religion in world-building, and the experience of launching Felicity Dowker’s Bread and Circuses, among other things.

Ian, redoubtable awards-night co-MC, has a post that mostly focusses on his probably-not-food-poisoning experience pre-awards, and the glory of winning both a Chronos and a Ditmar (and well deserved too).

Russell discusses some highlights, which included doing a reading from his own fairy-tale retelling, and attending/being on various panels.

Sue mentions an orange scarf she started courtesy of the free yarn strewn around, as well as attending the launch of ASIM 56 and Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear, among other things.

Kathleen used the con as an opportunity for one of her awesome Dalek pictures – Lady Churchill’s Dalek Wristlet – as well as other snippets of drawing and crocheted octopi. Plus winning two awards.

Admittedly Flinthart’s post focusses primarily on the disaster that was his departure from Melbourne, and some food… but he looms large wherever he goes, so I think it counts.

Deb provides a reading list as a follow-up to a panel she was on (with Gillian Pollack, Trudi Canavan and Louise Cusack) called Writing Diverse Genders, Sexualities and Cultures. (She is also mentioned regarding the launch of Ishtar, a set of three novellas – one of which she wrote – which happened at Continuum.)

And, yes, I too wrote two posts about my experiences: one that was really all about my time on panels etc here, and another a bit more generally on the programming and craft and awards etc here.

ETA: Jo writes about her experience over here, complete with winning a Ditmar and talking about books so much her voice packed it in afterwards. Also, Gillian Polack-with-one-l has posted numerous thoughts: here, talking about racism and suchlike; on stereotypes; on being a critic.

**I’m sure there are other posts out there that I haven’t linked to – please feel free to comment with the links!

Galactic Suburbia in Melbourne

In which we report live and punchy (not enough sleep to be sassy) from Day 2 of Continuum 8: Craftonomicon, Natcon 2012 in Melbourne Australia. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

The Con so far: panels, parties, yarn and cupcakes…

What Culture Have we Consumed?
Alisa: Deadline by Mira Grant
Alex: Game of Thrones s1; Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency; The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood (YES ALRIGHT AT LAST)
Tansy: Timeless by Gail Carriger, Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

[Photo credit: Cat Sparks]

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.

Continuum 8


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.

Galactic Suburbia 30

Sorry, let me rephrase that: DITMAR-WINNING Galactic Suburbia, episode 30  ( 🙂 ) recorded live at Swacon36|Natcon50

In which we talk convention gossip, awards, go through piles and piles of reading for Tansy and Alex, while Alisa patiently explains her position on ebooks. We can de downloaded from iTunes, or downloaded/streamed from Galactic Suburbia.Recorded Live from Swancon!

Shirley Jackson nominees

PK Dick awards

BSFA awards

SF Hall of Fame inductees

What Culture Have we Consumed?
Alex: Kraken, China Mieville; Doomsday Book, Connie Willis; Mappa Mundi, Justina Robson; Brasyl, Ian McDonald; Nightsiders, Sue Isle

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!

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Reflections on Natcon50

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.

Galactic Suburbia 29!

In which we rant about feminist issues and gender disparity (are you shocked?), Alisa proclaims the death of bookstores and publishing, we look at branding and internet dramah, plus a million zillion award shortlists, TANSY BEING A TIPTREE JUDGE, a Swancon preview, and… um.  It’s a bit long. But full of crunchy Galactic Suburbian goodness. We can be downloaded from Galactic Suburbia or from iTunes.

Diana Wynne Jones passed away.
Shaun Tan wins the Astrid Lindgren Award: 5 million Swedish kroners, approx $750K Australian.
Carol Emshwiller’s 90th birthday celebrations.
25 Angus&Robertson franchises in Australia go indie.
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).
Our very own Tansy becomes a Tiptree judge!! (and had a book released)
… and the Aussie awards that we nearly forgot to talk about:

Livejournal not so live this week.

Feedback and Competition winners!

Swancon Preview

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Aussie Spec Fic Carnival

Much of it is other people (and yours truly!) commenting on NatCon, but hey – it’s always fun to compare reports.

So here it is.

And there’s a plug or three for New Ceres, so it’s definitely a good thing!