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It's the End of WorldCon (And I Feel Fine)

It's my last post from Montreal, folks! Thanks so much for reading. This experiment in con reporting has been great fun. All of my WorldCon photos are together in a set here.

First and foremost, it's official: the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) will be in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA in 2010. *celebratory fist pump* Will you be attending? I hope so! Be sure to check out the very clever FAQ here.

Today began with a lovely breakfast with some of the terrific people related to the Prometheus Awards. Unfortunately, author Cory Doctorow was unable to attend as planned, because his panel schedule was switched in the eleventh hour to accommodate other last-minute changes, but we still had a good time.

Then I was on the Hard Science Fiction: Is It What You Do Or How You Do It? panel with editor Gabrielle Harbowy and author/editor Joël Champetier. Harbowy did an able job as moderator in involving the audience from the very start, so it became a very inclusive and dynamic discussion about how we should define and delineate the subgenres within science fiction. My concern was that some definitions of "hard" and "soft" SF are based on assumptions about what exactly are sciences, and do not take into account the way the idea of "science" in science fiction has expanded to include such disciplines as linguistics, anthropology, sociology, political theory, etc., and we discussed this for a time.

I found several comments in particular to be helpful to my thinking. One author in the audience described science as a separate character in her novels, and she considered "hard SF" to be those stories in which science is a reliable character, and "soft SF" to be those in which the character is unreliable. Another commented that the role of the hard SF author is the same as that of the writer of historical fiction: know the facts. I was struck by one attendee's comments on the contract with the reader that is "negotiated" on the dustjacket of a book: once the reader's expectations of the "playing rules" of a given universe are set, when if ever should a writer break them?

Large sign at WorldCon 2009.

I wrapped up my delightful WorldCon experience with the Dealing with Disasters panel in the science and space programming track with medical and military specialists such as Perianne Lurie, Dave O'Neill, and James MacDonald. I won't go into too much detail about this fascinating discussion, as it left me wanting to stockpile bottled water and hand sanitizer (ha!), but I found it interesting to hear specific examples of how culture and politics shape reactions to disaster, how cycles of sensationalism and rumination add to potential panic and retard efforts to move past traumatic events, and how the human mind and body are hardwired to react in certain predictable ways to unexpected emergency situations. Underneath the various issues ran an undercurrent of disagreement among the panelists: in the worst possible scenarios the experts can imagine, is it more likely that your neighbor will be your ally or your enemy? Much of what was said related back to Saturday's panel on disaster film, as well as Sunday's on apocalypse and dystopia, and so this was an appropriate and satisfying way to end the con.

Now for a few hours of unconsciousness before catching an obscenely early flight back home. Goodbye, WorldCon. *waves* It’s been real! It's been fun! It's been real fun!

World Science Fiction Society Banner at WorldCon 2009.

I'll be catching up with my replies and emails soon! Thanks so much for reading.

"Hello. My name is Darth Vader. I am your father. Prepare to die."
-- button seen at WorldCon



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 11th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
I bet there were all kinds of great buttons at the WorldCon!

So glad you had so much fun! Thanks for the reports!
Aug. 13th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
There were tons and tons of clever buttons. And t-shirts. And bumper stickers. :)

Thank you so much for reading my reports! I really appreciate it.
Aug. 11th, 2009 08:20 am (UTC)
Thanks Amy, for all of your reports on the Con. I so wish I could have been there, but the way you describe the panels etc. gave me a wonderful taste of what it might have been like. I also loved your interviews on the Sofanauts, it was fun to hear the scoop!

(BTW - I'm not sure I ever let you know that I did indeed receive the Simak you sent to my mom's - Thank you VERY much!)
Aug. 13th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Diane, for your kind words, and for checking out my report posts/pictures/podcasts. I did have a great time, and I hope that came through in what I shared! I'm so glad to hear that the Simak arrived safe and sound, as well. It sounds like you packed a lot into your US trip, and had a great time! I'm so glad!
Aug. 11th, 2009 10:52 am (UTC)
I normally find that returning to RL after a con or a Tolkien Society event is like returning to an alien civilisation, or maybe picking up a heavy bag I had put down for a few days. Pretending to be normal is such hard work...
Aug. 13th, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC)
Pretending to be normal is such hard work...

Ha! Indeed.

Then again, I'm not sure how well I ever was at pretending. I think most people know the startling truth about the depths of my geekiness. ;)

I hope you're recovering well from all of the fun. I'm especially lagged this time; I discovered in the eleventh hour that my flights had been cancelled and my schedule rearranged by the airline, which meant I grabbed about two hours of sleep before taking off for the airport at a time in which most of the place was still shut down for the evening. Talk about confusing my inner clock!

But all's well that ends well, and I'm so pleased we got to meet in person. Do you know if you'll be doing WorldCon or NASFiC next year?
Aug. 13th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
I hope we will get to Worldcon - we have a friend who lives in Melbourne and it would be good for *us* to visit *her* for once.
Sep. 19th, 2009 07:15 am (UTC)
Generic Pictures
It must be a characteristic of the blogosphere. People find image-bites they post on their websites or in their blogs, and they treat it as clip-art, with no thought to who created it.

In this case, the comical young lady drawn above was done by Marc Schirmeister for me, as it depicts a fictional character of mine named Saara Mar.

I've found art of mine that has also been used this way in Anticipation reports. I don't mind the use. What I do mind is that nobody credits me! If I'm not going to be credited for the work, why should I bother doing it? (It's not like I'm paid.)

Any chance you could credit the illustration above, then? As I said, Marc is the *artist*, though it is a copyrighted characer of mine. Credit both of us.

-- Taral Wayne
Sep. 19th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Generic Pictures
I'm very glad you posted and gave me your name. I took this picture myself at WorldCon; I looked for credit to give (as I gave in my other pictures from WorldCon), but I could find no identification of the piece or its artist anywhere near or next to the picture. Now that I have it, I will update my Flickr page and my blog with the proper attribution. Thanks!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )