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WorldCon, Day 2

Space/Jupiter
Hello again from beautiful Montreal!

I have another update to share.
First, I was interviewed this morning about WorldCon for StarShipSofa, and you can download or listen to the podcast here. My interview comprises the entire podcast.

After that, I enjoyed another excellent day of programming. Of the panels, the highlight definitely was the panel on New Media. The panelists included (left to right, see below) rock musician and multimedia artist Melissa Auf der Maur (formerly of the band Hole, which I quite liked, as a matter of fact) and authors Neil Gaiman, Ellen Kushner, Tobias Buckell, Steven R. Boyett, and Cory Doctorow. It was a very fast-paced and dynamic hour and a half, but the main consensus that seemed to emerge was that all of the artists are extremely optimistic about the opportunities that new media presents, and although they recognize that industries such as publishing must transition, the end result will be worth the growing pains. In particular, they lauded the opportunities for imaginative collaboration and immediate feedback (which, in turn, may affect process and/or content) that new media provides, and offered a number of concrete examples of this. Although change is happening very quickly in the publishing world now just as it did in the music industry, still the panelists imagined innovations for which they are impatient (such as, in the case of Steven R. Boyett, the opportunity to publish a novel as something like a wiki, so that readers could, quite literally, remake/remix a novel to respond to the canonical text, write out a character if they wish, etc. – an organic and ongoing form of fan fiction, if you will). Another of the repeated themes was that new media changes and opens access, and lowers the cost of experimentation, and yet the fundamentals of storytelling, even in this new 21st-century reality, are still the same as they have been since the first storytellers hunched around a campfire.

One particularly interesting (and, to my mind, heartening) tidbit was Cory Doctorow's news about his forthcoming audiobooks. As you may know, Doctorow disagrees with the way in which Audible, for example, imposes its digital rights management system on those who purchase its wares. When Little Brother came out, he attempted to negotiate with Audible so that the company would offer a download without DRM, but Audible refused, and so Doctorow's Little Brother is not available through its site, which is the largest seller of audiobooks in the world. But due to the success of Little Brother, Audible now has agreed to sell his next two audiobooks without DRM, which will be the very first time Audible has ever sold any such files.

I also appreciated Gaiman's point that, only a few years ago, when he was writing American Gods, he'd been forced to drive across the U.S.A. rather than fly simply because of the sheer bulk of the many books he needed with him for research. Now, a short time later, in the age of the Kindle (and its soon-to-come successors), he said, "We now live in a time in which information has no weight."

Perhaps the funniest exchange (funny to me, anyway) came after Doctorow explained a new code he had written to save encrypted drafts of his work at fifteen-minute intervals along with a remarkable amount of data (the last several songs to which he'd listened, the current weather, etc.), so that later he could mine the data and learn more about his own writing habits, as well as compare revisions at every stage in his process and look for patterns. After an excruciatingly involved explanation of Doctorow's plans for high-tech self-analysis, Gaiman replied that he wrote his first drafts in a notebook by hand. "In cuneiform?" Doctorow asked. Proudly, Gaiman gestured as if writing in the air. "In joined-up writing," he answered.

The New Media Panel at WorldCon 2009.


This afternoon I took the opportunity to meet some of the other attending authors. You can see all of my photos here. I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to say hello to Guy Gavriel Kay, who not only is a wonderful author (of works such as The Fionavar Tapestry and Ysabel, among others), but also assisted Christopher Tolkien in preparing his father's Silmarillion for publication. I was touched when a young Canadian boy, who was also waiting to meet him, books clutched to his chest, commented that Kay was "a national treasure." I think perhaps that's one of the reasons I enjoy conventions so much; there's something very powerful to me about having the opportunity to see genre authors venerated and appreciated like rock stars by readers whose lives have been changed by books. Kay was every bit the gracious gentleman I expected him to be.

Award-winning author Guy Gavriel Kay at WorldCon 2009.


And speaking of Canada's national treasures, I was also very happy to have the chance to meet Nalo Hopkinson, a truly classy individual as well as a very powerful writer.

Author Nalo Hopkinson at WorldCon 2009.


I attended several delightful readings, as well, two of which – by 2009 Hugo nominee James Alan Gardner and Peadar Ó Guilín – were from new, unpublished manuscripts.

I wrapped up the day by attending the ceremony for the Prometheus Awards. This year, the Hall of Fame award went to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and Pat Reynolds, the archivist for The Tolkien Society, accepted the award on The Professor's behalf. She read the passage from the Prologue of The Lord of the Rings about the Mathom-house in Michel Delving, and compared the sense of memory and identity it contained to the purpose of the Hall of Fame Award. The 2009 novel award winner was Cory Doctorow's Little Brother (I was two for two this year! Go me!), and Doctorow followed his acceptance with stirring remarks about how science fiction as a genre has the power to be "telling the story that drives the narrative that becomes our politics," to challenge readers to imagine better. The ceremony was a small and intimate affair, which was lovely, as it gave us all a chance to talk afterwards. Oh, and points go to Doctorow for responding to the standard "How are you?" with "I am slathered in awesome sauce."

The Prometheus Awards at WorldCon 2009.


Tomorrow begins with another interview, and then continues with lots of programming, including my autograph session and the first of my three panels. You can see all of my photos from WorldCon here.Thanks for reading my report! I'll post more soon.



"At no time had Hobbits of any kind been warlike, and they had never fought among themselves.... Nonetheless, ease and peace had left this people still curiously tough. They were, if it came to it, difficult to daunt or to kill; and they were, perhaps, so unwearyingly fond of good things not least because they could, when put to it, do without them, and could survive rough handling by grief, foe, or weather in a way that astonished those who did not know them well and looked no further than their bellies and their well-fed faces."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Comments

( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
wild_patience
Aug. 8th, 2009 04:03 am (UTC)
Guy Kay was Mythcon GOH in 1989. (It was held in Vancouver, B.C.) He was a delightful GOH, as you might imagine.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 8th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
I bet he was a fantastic GoH! I was taken with how kind and humble he was with his fans.
gloriana
Aug. 8th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)
Haven't managed to be at any of Guy's panels yet, but I remember the first I ever saw him on, at the Worldcon in Brighton when the only thing he'd published was Fionnavar. You might have thought he'd take the opportunity to plug his own work (he had an hour-long talk to himself); but instead he spent the time speaking, with great emotion, about what it was like to meet Tolkien, and to co-edit 'The Silmarillion' and get to work with Tolkien's papers. One of the best author talks I've ever been to.

Have also had the opportunity to meet (for a brief moment) Geoff Ryman, who is to my mind one of the best sf/fantasy writers currently working. I always forget how tremendously tall he is - I felt like a little hobbit squeeing at an ent's feet :)
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 8th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
I wish I'd been at that talk at Brighton! It sounds marvelous. Having met him now, I can imagine it (although, of course, that's not as good as having been there).

I always forget how tremendously tall he is - I felt like a little hobbit squeeing at an ent's feet :)

LOL! Great image!
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 13th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
PS. It was so lovely to meet you in person! I hope you had a good trip home and you're well on your way to post-con recuperation. :)
gloriana
Aug. 15th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
Heh - just crawling out from under on the post-con recuperation front :) It was great to see you - I feel as if I didn't socialise half as much as I should have in general, there was so much to do! Not at all a relaxacon, this one. Loved your paper on YA distopias - thought all three were very interesting, but I think you grabbed the audience imagination the most. Those figures on the growth of books in the category especially, and how they might link through to the way teenagers view themselves at the moment: absolutely fascinating. I'd have loved to catch up with you again after the talk, but you looked busy :)
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 19th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
I feel as if I didn't socialise half as much as I should have in general, there was so much to do!

I know exactly what you mean! I kept running around and then, all of a sudden, it was over! I can't fault the con for such great programming, but I do hope sometime we can catch up in person in a more leisurely way. That said, it was lovely to meet you. My goodness, you have a gorgeous accent and voice! I could listen to you read the back of cereal boxes and enjoy it. :)

And thank you so much for coming to my presentation and for your very helpful and kind comments. I'm thrilled to hear you think the possible links between this Ya dystopia phenomenon and current attitudes are interesting. I'm getting ready to give a longer version of this talk at the University of Louisville, but it's to a general audience that's not especially SF-savvy, so I think I'll spend part of the time giving more details about some of the key texts, as illustrations of the trends I described. I'm not comfortable making any stronger argument than I suggested (these things may be linked), but I hope that just raising the questions of what this means and how it will affect the genre and reading patterns, etc., is enough to create interest and get people thinking/talking. If you have any suggestions, I'd welcome them!

Thanks again. :)
gloriana
Aug. 20th, 2009 05:37 am (UTC)
I know exactly what you mean! I kept running around and then, all of a sudden, it was over!

And just as well, otherwise I would have died of exhaustion or starvation, in whichever order :) Seriously, though, that rivals Boston for the best Worldcon I've ever been to (I think I've done 7 now); and given that it was a smaller con, they did marvels.

I can't fault the con for such great programming, but I do hope sometime we can catch up in person in a more leisurely way.

You doing World Fantasy Con this October? We live just up the road from San Jose, and we're seriously thinking about doing it this year - it's been so well-recommended. I'd love to catch up with you, if you are :)

My goodness, you have a gorgeous accent and voice! I could listen to you read the back of cereal boxes and enjoy it. :).

You have no idea how much I trade on that accent! It's wonderful being a Brit in California :) :) (Well, except when people think we're Australian. We get a bit shirty about that.) I can do a proper Jamaican patois, too - that normally drops a few jaws :)

I'm not comfortable making any stronger argument than I suggested (these things may be linked), but I hope that just raising the questions of what this means and how it will affect the genre and reading patterns, etc., is enough to create interest and get people thinking/talking.

I thought the point about how it might affect the genre was really fascinating, by the way; especially the idea that earlier YA sf carried a message of optimism that the current trend of YA books does not.

Yet even in the older generations, those of us who imprinted as much on Tolkien as we did on sf were imprinting on a story of sacrifice, loss and irreparable change. (I've never accepted the contention that LotR was 'consolatory' fiction.) And HP, although it has an apocalyptic edge to it, is essentially triumphant. But what's odd is how dominant your figures show dystopias/apocalypses to be. It's the sort of result I would have expected in the 1950s, but not now especially. Perhaps it's the amorphous nature of the threats we face. Should I come up with any thoughts, I shall be happy to pass them on to you, but I think thoughts would require intelligence, which in my case is sadly dwindling.




Edited at 2009-08-20 05:38 am (UTC)
Abbie [wordpress.com]
Aug. 8th, 2009 06:15 am (UTC)
I'll bet the New Media panel was quite interesting.

I didn't get the joke during the "funniest exchange." :(
I only say this because I love jokes, you know this. But it is okay. I will go listen to your interview in place of laughing. Maybe you'll say something funny that I'll get. Or I'll just laugh at Tony's accent. :)

Anyway, I'm glad to hear stuff is going well. Thanks for the updates, and have a good day tomorrow!

(Some authors are totally rock stars...)
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 8th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
(Some authors are totally rock stars...)

Yes indeed! I know the joke is that most of the authors I love most are dead (and have been for years!), but when I've had the great pleasure of meeting and speaking to some of the fantastic current authors whose works I love best (Lois McMaster Bujold, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling), I felt like one of those teenaged girls who saw live the first US appearance of The Beatles. :)

It's entirely possible that it's just my own odd sense of humor that found those comments to be funny. It's just that Gaiman's lauded as being such a cutting-edge figure in new media, and yet he was horrifically fascinated by Doctorow's high-tech approach to composition, as his is so simple and straightforward. When Doctorow jokingly suggested he was an antique throwback (writing in cuneiform) because of this, Gaiman took the banter a step further, saying it wasn't cuneiform but cursive ("grown up" writing, as it were). That struck me as a witty exchange, but you know, I also interpret It's a Wonderful Life as dark satire, so you never know. ;)

Thanks so much for reading my reports! It's been fascinating thus far. I'm a bit daunted at the prospect of shifting out of audience mode, now that my own panels are coming up. (I'm still going to take notes, though! Ha.)

I hope you're having a terrific day!
Abbie [wordpress.com]
Aug. 8th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
Ahhh hahaha! I get it now. Thanks...
sally_maria
Aug. 8th, 2009 08:00 am (UTC)
Ah, small world syndrome.

That's a lovely photo of Pat - has she asked you for a copy for the archives? :-)

And it's good to hear Guy Gavriel Kay is such a nice guy - I re-read Fionnavar earlier this year, and it was every bit as powerful as I remembered.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 8th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
Yes indeed, it is a small world!

I believe the Tolkien Society has already linked to my photos. :) It's not only a small world - it's a fast and efficient one, as well! LOL.

Kay is a genuinely lovely and humble man. It was a joy seeing him interact with his fans.
thrihyrne
Aug. 8th, 2009 08:05 am (UTC)
Ellen Kushner!! I suspect she's not as well known, especially at a con, but if I could have her sign my books and let her know how much I love Swordspoint, that would be fabulous.

Thank you for the report!! It sounds as though you're having a wonderful time.

(and thank you for your postcard from your last event. I hope that you have either a house-elf or Elvish personal assistant to keep your calendar with as many events as you have to attend and/or present to during any given year. ;) )
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 8th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
Hi there! Ellen Kushner is much loved here; in fact, she was in charge of this panel, and she brought in her work with The Interstitial Arts Foundation as a very relevant example in the New Media discussion. I didn't realize you were a fan of her Swordspoint! *headdesk* If I make it to any of her other talks/panels, I'll be sure to let you know.

This is a wonderful event. Thanks for reading my report. It sounds like you had a fantastic trip yourself, by the way! :) I'm so glad! *hugs*
thrihyrne
Aug. 9th, 2009 07:39 am (UTC)
You have so much going on, I'd be a bit (lot?!) surprised if you were up to date on all of my fannish pursuits. But yes, I was turned on to Swordspoint by a couple of Tolkien people, actually, and all of my books in the series were given to me by Tolkien fannish women I got to meet in real life. I've written both Swordspoint and Fall of the Kings fanfic, but mostly very short pieces. I have Ms. Kushner as a friend on LJ, and knew what she looked like, hence my fangirl squee from your posted picture.

I'm so glad you're enjoying yourself in Montreal! And yes, I had a wonderful time visiting my guys up in Ohio. Hard to come back, although I'm so grateful for the more 'open' mindset out here in Portland.

I'll be writing you a long letter soon; much going on, and I know you'll resonate with a lot of it. (((hugs)))
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 9th, 2009 12:41 pm (UTC)
That was totally my bad, as I didn't link the texts with the author (I'm sorry), so I didn't make the connection. BTW, I was thrilled to read you'd found a new angle on your revisions. I'm so excited for you! All best wishes!!!
alitalf
Aug. 8th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for putting up a photograph so soon. I linked to this page from www.tolkiensociety.org.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 8th, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! I'm so glad it's useful. I have another one here, FYI.
sittingduck1313
Aug. 8th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
While I'm not familiar with the nature of Mr. Gaiman's research, it was probably to his benefit to have driven rather than flown. America is more properly experienced on the road.
adelheid_p
Aug. 8th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
In the case of American Gods, the book for which he was doing the research, I agree. I think his driving to places enhanced the writing and descriptions in the book. But, I think it would still be preferable to have a Kindle-sized device to carry than a backpack or several bags of books whether one is in a plane or a car.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 13th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
But, I think it would still be preferable to have a Kindle-sized device to carry than a backpack or several bags of books whether one is in a plane or a car.

Very true - convenient is convenient, regardless of your method of transport!
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 13th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
Good point!
coppervale
Aug. 8th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to say I ADORE your blog header. Adore it.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 8th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! It's a variation on the theme of my official website's header, both of which were designed by Melissa K. Slouber, using one of my favorite images, an illustration by J.J. Grandville from Un Autre Monde (1844). I appreciate your kind words!
coppervale
Aug. 9th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
If you don't mind, the serendipity of this just got you a mention in the acknowledgments of an upcoming book. That image fits perfectly into a theme I was developing.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 10th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
Fantastic! I'm so glad it's of use to you. And thanks! :)

You can see the original illustration here.
thunderchikin
Aug. 8th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
The cuneiform bit is hilarious.
whswhs
Aug. 9th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Years ago my girlfriend, chorale, mentioned to her long time friend amedia, a philosopher and classicist, that she had seen a news piece about the use of Macintosh software to clean up the images of ancient Mesopotamian tablets. She came back with the great filk line "They love a Mac in cuneiform. . . ."
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 13th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
"They love a Mac in cuneiform. . . ."

*loud, theatrical groan* :-D
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 13th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
LOL! I thought so too. :)
mrwednesday7
Aug. 8th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
"In joined-up writing,"

Chuckles quietly.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 9th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
;-)
(Anonymous)
Aug. 8th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
thanks
thanks for posting this . . .
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 9th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Re: thanks
My pleasure!
notenoughwords.wordpress.com
Aug. 9th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
Doctrow vs Gaiman
I laughed out loud. Two very witty men.

It sounds like it has been a wonderful event I have never heard of Ellen Kushner, but I'll be googling her now :)
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 9th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Doctrow vs Gaiman
I agree - witty indeed.

It was a wonderful event. Enjoy Kushner-ing!
whswhs
Aug. 9th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Thanks for the Prometheus Awards photo! As the person who originally nominated The Lord of the Rings for the award, I'm very gratified to see it recognized, and to see a representative of the Tolkien Society accepting it in person. I also want to note that kalimac, of the Mythopoeic Society, gave me the contact information that eventually led us to Ms. Reynolds, and that lynn_maudlin pointed me at him. Fannish connectivity is a splendid thing. Many thanks to both of them!
wellinghall
Aug. 9th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
As the person who originally nominated The Lord of the Rings for the award

Well done!
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 9th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
You're most welcome! A couple more of my photos from the ceremony are available here.

As a member of the LFS, Tolkien Society, and Mythopoeic Society, I thank you three times for your nomination of The Lord of the Rings! :)
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 9th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
PS. And more cheers for Fannish connectedness!
whswhs
Aug. 10th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
I'm happy to see the photos of the John M. Ford memorial panel. I became acquainted with Ford in the days when he and I were both regular participants on the Steve Jackson Games discussion boards, where he is now greatly missed. Admittedly, what we knew him best for was his amazing ability to come up with a new and always witty .sig line for every one of his hundreds of posts, which is rather like remembering Gandalf for his fireworks; but then, Ford really did give us "the finest rockets ever seen." I'm glad to see him being honored elsewhere.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 13th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
The room was packed, as well. It's appropriate that you mention his .sig lines, because several of the panelists read short poems or comments he left in their blogs or on discussion boards, quick and thoughtful works of art that he generously shared and were never seen by those outside of that particular community. "Finest rockets ever seen" indeed. He'll definitely be remembered.
muuranker
Aug. 14th, 2009 07:06 am (UTC)
Thank you, whswhs, for the nomination, and also calimac and lynn_maudlin for being links in the chain. I'm so glad that ExMemSec and I were going to Worldcon this year, so it all worked out perfectly.

Love that photo, eldritchhobbit! I was just explaining to Cory how he had got me into trouble at work, having introduced me to The Onion Router. And nice to tie together the person I know in person (I _think_ we met at a Mythcon some years ago - Ann Arbour?) with someone who sometimes comments on my friends posts.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 19th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
I was so pleased that you were there and that we had a chance to visit!

You're quite right: I believe we did meet at the A.A. Mythcon a few years ago. Neil Gaiman was Guest of Honor there, too! I'm glad to have the chance to connect with you via LJ. I hope your post-WorldCon recuperation is going well.
theonethousand.blogspot.com
Aug. 9th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
Gaiman Link
You know, Neil Gaiman linked to this post from his blog. Very cool, Amy. That's some sort of status symbol right there.

-Matt
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 10th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Re: Gaiman Link
High fives! :)
ellen_kushner
Aug. 11th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
Thank you for the great photo & writeup! Lovely to know how it all looked from out there.
eldritchhobbit
Aug. 13th, 2009 03:43 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! Thank you for a great panel (and Hugos, etc.). I have posted additional pictures from the panel here including several with you, FYI.
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )

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