|Left to right: John Medaney, Paul Cornell and myself. I'm already looking like death warmed up and this was my first panel of the convention.|
About the only down side is that the 2014 London based SF&F Worldcon is running the week after, GeekFest and I'm not sure I'm up for two weekends on the trot, just because of how exhausting a full on weekend can be. Anyway, I went as a punter, but found myself on three panels after my friend John Medany asked for volunteers on his FB page.
The first panel I went to see on Friday was Cake or Death? Plot, Pacing & Character Death, with Cake. This had Paul Cornell, Zen Cho, Charlie Stross, Liz de Jager and Marcus Gipps who were all very entertaining. Can't remember who was moderator though, and it's not in the programme book. This was a light paced discussion on giving the readers what they want and then taking it away from them, before giving some back i.e. start a story in a happy place, throw bad stuff at the protagonist and make things go horribly wrong, before resolving the story with a reward, which may include dying to save the world (cake & death).
Straight after this I was on my first panel with the the rather more famous Paul Cornell, Roz Kaveney and Adam Christopher talking about Comic Book Heroes on the Small Screen with John Medany as moderator. I thought that this panel rollicked along and had a reasonable crowd considering it was held in the Radisson overflow hotel. My only real contribution here was to suggest that small screen was now outmoded as a descriptor, and perhaps serial story format might be a better term. I also made an observation that super heroes tend to more popular during depressions. We discussed en passant a lot of shows and it does seem like we are in for some treats in the near future. I'm so going to be buying the Arrow when it comes out on disc at the end of September.
After that it was time to eat and then chill with friends.
Saturday we were up bright and early, and I really don't do mornings. Mind you none of my friends do either, and certainly some panelists were also commenting on the whole mornings are overrated thing. I think we can all see the theme here. So the first item we went to see was The Future of Technology and Society with Charlie Stross, Cory Doctorow, Dr. Lilian Edwards and Helen Keene moderating. This was a very thought provoking panel and Lilian Edwards' contribution about law was especially so.
After that we went to The Publishing Panel Q&A with Editors and Agents with Marcus Gipps, Ian Drury, Anna Gregson, Juliet Mushens and Jared Shurin; I remember Ian Drury being on the panel, but he's not listed in the programme book. I assume this was a last minute change with Stefan Fergus, but I may have remembered this wrong. My partner found the comments quite depressing; as in the general pessimism in the industry about having the resources to bring new talent to the market.
After that we went to a debate on Is our Future Utopian or Dystopian? SF Authors Decide. Tricia Sullivan, Jaine Fenn, Cory Doctorow, Charlie Stross were the stalwart panelists, and I believe Tom Hunter was the moderator. Cory was about the only person on the panel who saw any light for the future and possible routes to a better society, while the rest of the panel were largely pessimistic with the caveat that they are authors and dystopia sell better, because there is more conflict. As Jaine said, "I blow things up." As an observer I would comment that the future is probably not going to be either, unless as Charlie said, "We get a collapse of civilisation and humanity can't rebuild because we've used all the easily accessible resources."
I then went off and did a bit of MIB stuff for Steve Jackson Games until it was time for me to go to the next panel I was on.
This was on Reunification: Star Trek versus Star Wars, which was about the effect of the Star Trek franchise now that J.J. Abrams is signed to direct the next Star Wars film. I was definitely the left field panelist on this item, which had John Medany as the moderator, James Swallow, David McIntee and Jenny, whose name like mine isn't in the programme book, but she was awesome. Everyone else had written for the franchise except me; my only qualification for being there was my background in game design, and being a player, which meant most of my comments were offside.
After that it was time to eat. Then we went to see Helen Keene do a stand up routine about the space race that illuminated the history from a whacky you can't make this stuff up perspective. She was a hoot.
On Sunday we dragged our weary corpses in for the ten o'clock panel that I had so foolishly volunteered to be on. This was called Howdy Partner: SF Westerns, which I thought I held my own on. Helped by my interest in Firefly and having seen Defiance recently. Ostensibly the panel was about do we want more SF Westerns, or more shiny starships, or gritty starships fleeing the oncoming apocalypse? I was on this with John Medany, who was again the moderator, while David & Lesley McIntee brought gravitas to the discussion as I cracked jokes at John's expense for my entourage consisting of Susan, Julie and Clive whom I had dragged along with me.
After this we went to Racefail 101, which was a talk about racial stereotypes in fiction. Zen Cho, Tade Thompson, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Stephanie Saulter with Anne Perry as the moderator (However I don't remember Stephanie Saulter being on the panel, but another woman who had just had her first novel published whose name I forget). After this I ended up dropping in on several other panels with Jilie until we settled on Kinda Gay: LGBT Representation in Genre TV, which just caught my interest from how the topic of gay characters are treated on TV. This had Roz Kaveney, Gary Russell. Alex Fitch and Cleo (only name given in the programme book) talking and answering questions from the audience. This had an interesting and lively discussion on stereotypes and lazy story telling.
After that we both decided that we were all conventioned out and went home. I'm still recovering; I've been fighting off con crud and now I'm coming down with a sore throat, which as I said makes me think that attending two convention in one week next year will be too much like hard work.