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Currently Reading: The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Aussiecon4 (Worldcon) Report - Day Three

I enjoyed a sleep-in (it was Saturday after all) before struggling over to the Con. I snuck in for the end of Kim Stanley Robinson’s presentation titled ‘Time and the novel.’ Sadly I don’t remember much of what was said, and I didn’t write anything down, but I think that’s a reflection on the big day that followed rather than the quality of Stan’s insights.
Me and George.
Sometimes you have to squee.

As I implied in earlier posts, the Con was never an overwhelming press of humanity, not even in the Dealer’s Room immediately after the Opening Ceremony when there was literally nothing else to do. With the exception of kaffeeklatsches, George R. R. Martin’s reading (prologue of A Dance with Dragons) was the only full house I experienced (and there was still reasonable standing room if people were desperate). I felt very privileged to be there. Although the content has apparently been released on the internet to hear such a visceral passage read by a master story-teller was inspiring. Not that I had time to dwell on the experience, because I had to race everyone else in that room to George’s signing.

George sure pulls a crowd.
A promise from George,
in writing!
Unsurprisingly this was the biggest signing event of the Con. The line wrapped around the hall and out the door. I was by no means first, but I was at the right end. However, the organisers did enforce the two book limit for George (which was fair enough) so I got to join some fellow fans back at the end. Recognising that the hour was going to expire, and after they announced a second signing time, I decided to go and meet Jennifer Fallon and Jay Lake (after sneaking into the Dealer’s Room to buy one of Jay’s books). Jennifer was lovely and Jay was inspirational. I’m not familiar with his work, but given the way the speculative fiction community operates I knew that Jay was a fellow cancer sufferer and was in a pretty dark place health-wise (I can happily report now that he is a fellow remission enjoyer) so I wanted to give him what encouragement I could. Plus he showed such a great sense of humour and fun on the previous day’s panel that I figured I have to enjoy his writing. 

Guest of Honour Kim Stanley
Robinson. Far away from me.
I was similarly inspired by the optimism and enthusiasm of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Guest of Honour speech (link to ABC News article), which, this time, I remeber in detail. He questioned why dystopian themes dominate our fiction and challenged the community to try to produce definitive and positive utopian works. It was personal and open, and I was glad to be able to thank him personally at his signing later that day.

You too can use the internet!

Stan was followed by a panel which I enjoyed probably more for the people it brought together than the actual content (‘The writer and the audience: online interaction and public personae’). The lovely Mur Lafferty moderated for creative commons crusader Cory Doctorow (alliteration is for winners), Howard Tayler, Peter V. Brett and agent John Berlyne. What I took away – like, use Twitter and stuff, but remember weird dudes are out there (and by weird, Cory Doctorow means ‘pathological’).

Just A Minute.
After snaring two more signatures from George I headed downstairs for the single funnest hour of the Con. It wasn’t a panel in the traditional sense. Hosted by Paul Cornell, numerous speculative fiction luminaries including China Miéville, Ellen Kushner, John Scalzi and editor extraordinaire Patrick Nielsen Hayden played a game based on BBC quiz show Just A Minute. It was off the cuff hilarity. It was also organised at the last minute, which saw about two hundred people waiting for a venue (and gave me another chance to chat to Mur Lafferty and Peter V. Brett). No harm done!

George and barrell girl Peter V. Brett.
The Masquerade was always going to struggle to top that afternoon, and it didn’t. I have no basis for comparison but it seemed a little small and weak. Not that I kitted up, so I can’t complain. Luckily the night was saved by the Brothers without Banners (the George R. R. Martin fan club who do, ironically, have an emblem) and their party over at Crown. George himself was in attendance, as was Peter V. Brett. I met some fellow fans and failed spectacularly to buy Peter a drink, since he was just getting one for Gail Carriger and didn't want me taking his shout apparently. He's welcome in Australia any time. I also came up empty handed in the raffle, but you can’t win them all.

Convention Day 1
Convention Day 2
Continue to Day 4
Lessons from the Convention

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