Jun. 12th, 2017

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The last two days I have attended Continuum 13, the annual Melbourne convention, which was also the Natcon this year. Unfortunately, I had to miss about half of it due to family commitments, but at least I can say I have been to all of them.

Interestingly, there was one panel with a friend whom I haven't seen at a convention in quite some time, because he is strictly a media fan and objects to the other kind of cons because they don't have actors as guests. I tell him till I'm blue in the face that actors cost money, much more money than the average con committee can raise nowadays. They used to manage, years ago, but it was a different world then. Let's face it, the actors now go to events like Supanova and the expo that used to be called Armageddon, where the entrance fee is in the double digits, not the triple, as is the average fan-run convention. The fannish cons simply can't compete. As it is, they have to raise the money to pay for the air fares, accommodation and entertainment of a writer, without also having to pay an appearance fee. (I should add, I don't blame the actors for their appearance fees; it's the way they make a living, it's just another gig, and if they accept your invitation to a convention, they can't accept another gig, like a film or a TV show. It's just that we can't afford them).

So I was very surprised to see him there. I must ask him for details when we next meet on Thursday, at a mutual friend's retirement celebration. I did go to his panel, which was "Queering science fiction", about the obvious. I didn't really enjoy it - there was rather too much complaint about not being represented, which would be fair enough, except it was from people who had just told us that there have been queers in space opera since the beginning. And there was the person(gender-fluid) who complained because poor Ivan, in Lois McMaster Bujold's A Civil Campaign didn't throw himself into the arms of the now-male Lord Dono(formerly Lady Donna) on his return from Beta Colony after a sex change. Well, why would he? Number 1, he's totally hetero; the woman he had an affair with is no longer available, but after his initial shock he helps Dono with his campaign to become Count, something he couldn't have done as a woman. Number 2, Lord Dono is not upset; he thinks it's hilarious, and Number 3, doesn't actually WANT Ivan to continue the relationship. He has other plans. Being a woman on the male-dominated Barrayar is no fun, and by the time Lady Donna left it, she was fed up with dealing with men. She became one without regret, though. Of course, then the panellist might have complained because Lord Dono is now a hetero male, but that would be another matter. The way it was decribed was, "Someone he(Ivan) had lusted after and..." Wrong. He had had an affair with her; she had been his sexual mentor. There's a difference.

There was a mention of the Trill from Star Trek and the assumption made that they take over the bodies of their hosts and squash the personalities. In fact, in Deep Space Nine, it was explained that far from being parasites, they were symbionts, who more or less had to beat off applicants with a stick.The successful ones got access to the memories and skills of all the previous hosts, as I recall, in return for the use of their bodies. In one episode, Jadzia was challenged by an unsuccessful applicant, who got her symbiont off her, and she was not at all happy!

My friend said afterwards that the panel hadn't turned out quite the way he had in mind.

Likewise, there was a lot of whingeing from a panel called "The Forgotten Mothers Of Science Fiction". Thing is, many of the women mentioned, such as Diana Wynne Jones and Andre Norton, are far from forgotten - and their works are still in print. I had read nearly all of the women whose works are supposedly forgotten. It may be because I'm older.

I did see the point about Grania Davis, whose work needs hunting up, and who is only remembered as the wife of Avram Davidson. And I did enjoy the panel despite the complaining about something that really isn't true, IMO. The subject matter, about women in SF, was interesting to me. Mind you, I was surprised that an urban fantasy writer like Seanan McGuire mentioned YA fantasy without mentioning Melissa Marr, whose urban fantasy stories with fairies(or, rather Faeries), the Wicked Lovely series, were based on a lot of research and traditional stories, by a PhD university academic - they were very popular in my library at one stage. But I guess she can't read everything. None of us can.

I was disappointed with the panel on fan fiction, which was run by four young things who were probably not born before the Internet and certainly would never have seen a printed media fanzine. I should have gone to the panel on "Humans are special." But I had such fond memories of fan fiction back in the days when I was writing it - I wrote about 150 fan stories!

My favourite panels for the con were "Kid Stuff" (on books that had inspired some authors on the panel, including the delightful Michael Pryor) and the one on filking, plus I thought Seanan McGuire's GoH speech was delightful. Also, the one on fairy tales and the Dr Who panel, the only one that had a chance for audience to interact - no, the filking one did too, now I think of it.

Anyway, I had a good time in general and met up with some friends I hadn't seen in some time.


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September 2017


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