Saturday, 23 August 2014

LonCon 3: Saturday Mostly

Left to right: Val Nolan, moderator, who lectures on literature and writing at National University of Ireland, Pawel Frelik who teaches in the Department of American Literature and Culture at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland, Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn lecturer in Film Studies and Contemporary American Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University, Erin Underwood editor for Underwords Press small press specializing in in YA SF anthologies, oh and me.
OK, the time-stream has been crossed, and the narrative will cut back and forwards in time until normality can be restored.

Cue Spooky Theme.

I forgot to mention that I was on Thursday afternoon called The Retrofuturism of JJ Abrams.  How remiss of me.

I felt that there was a certain bias in the choice of panelists, with three of them being academics, which coloured the tone of the panel.  I took a Devil's advocate position, by arguing that Hollywood is all about bums on seats, and that retro-futurism goes back way further than the work of J J Abrams.  Still it went well enough, despite car crash caused by me pointing out to Pawel that if one is going to quote a figure one really needs a reference.

Still I had several people come up to me to thank me for my contributions, and for coming down on the misuse of statistics to lend pseudo academic credence to what is being said.

One thing I took away from this panel was that reading out peoples bios is probably not the best way to introduce one's panelists.  On the other hand maybe I should have been thorough in listing my credentials, because I use to be a minion of science.  Part of my job involved interpreting statistics from the results of research trials, and using them to set up health services.  Just didn't think it was relevant at the time I volunteered to be a panelist.

Cue Reminder. Now to get back to Saturday.

Left to right: Iain Clark, Jacey Bedford, Saxon Bullock and Abigail Brady.
I had a great crew on the 2014 Hugos: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form panel.  It was my first time ever as a moderator, and they all worked with me to have an interesting discussion about the six short listed finalists.  The fact we were all wrong in thinking that The Day of the Doctor would win doesn't change the fun we had discussing the topic, and learning about new shows to keep a look out for.

I was also very pleased when John Medany came up afterward and told me I had done good.  He also told me I was shaking and that I shouldn't be nervous, to which I replied that wasn't nerves that was excitement.  Still think we was robbed when Game of Thrones won though.

I'll just say it again, all my panelists were fabulous.

Left to right: Rohan Shah, Joe Haldeman, Jean Johnson and Myke Cole.
I then had to rush off to get to my next panel, which was Military SF: Continuity and Change with Myke Cole as the moderator. I was totally stoked to have been able to be on this panel.  I mean Joe Haldeman.  How cool is that?  Cooler than a cool thing.

Myke Cole asked us some really interesting questions, which due to the fact I wasn't on the round robin email, I had to field cold.  Afterwards he said that was a good thing, for definitions of good that probably meant challenging.  I liked his attitude and he was an excellent moderator.  I reviewed his first novel here, and I will be buying the sequels soon.

Me pontificating about who knows what, and Myke frowning, so I was probably talking out my ass.
Besides hearing Joe Haldeman talk, it was also interesting listening to Jean Johnson describe the research she did for writing her novel, and I must check her work out soon.  Rohan Shah's economic perspective on the military provided another interesting viewpoint on the topic, and I thought the panel was entertaining to listen to.

I may be biased, but it's true.  Honest.

Gay & Joe Haldeman.
Even more awesome, for me, was that on Sunday Gay Haldeman, Joe's wife, came up with her huband, and told me how much they appreciated my input into the panel.  Joe and Gay Haldeman, how awesome is that?

Right to left: Ken MacLeod, Martin Poultier, Teresa Nielson Hayden, me and Russell Blackford.
After lunch, and coffee, I went to my next panel, What is I?  Ken laid out a very comprehensive agenda for the panel, which I fear we failed to achieve.  However, we had a very lively discussion with some fantastic questions coming from the audience at the end.

The hall was packed and again I received a lot of very positive feedback from members of the audience, and not just, who the heck are you?  On Sunday I was sitting in a room waiting for another panel to start, and I heard people discussing what sounded like a very interesting panel they had gone to.  I turned around and asked what it was, only to be told it was the one I had been on.

A bit of an embarrassing moment for me.

Left to right: Viktorya H, Michael Morelli, Justina Robson, JY Yang.
By the time I got to my last panel I was pretty cream crackered.  This was on The Knowable Other and recent changes to the representation of aliens in films and TV shows.

I had started the topic with how I understood why authors used aliens to represent issues like being a Black American in the 1950s.  I should of perhaps mentioned the Star Trek episode with the white/black ve black/white aliens, but I was tired, and my brain not fully firing on all cylinders.  This resulted in JY Yang making a rather pointed response.

Fortunately, the moderator opened up the discussion to the audience, and we were able to talk about the topic.

Exhausted we went to the Masquerade and watched the display of quality costuming.  Afterwards we went to the bar for a drink, meeting up with friends old and new.  Then it was time for the long walk back to the hotel.  Hoorah as Myke Cole might say, "Work those legs, further, harder faster."

To be continued...

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