Monday, November 1, 2010

My World Fantasy Con was Made of Awesome, How 'Bout Yours?

Fresh off the plane from WFC (I spent so much time Tweeting the con that I wanted to put #wfc right there). I wanted to get some thoughts down before they all fly out of my head.

For one, I'm once again reinvigorated about being part of this community and doing cool things in it. I'm pretty sure that this will be the week that I *finally* get that review written for SFSignal, get a blog post about Egan's first novel up here, and get caught up on some short fiction. Heck, look at me actually blogging about it in a reasonable time frame! It makes so much difference to get together in the same room with half a dozen people who *care* about this field intensely, and who range across a huge spectrum of background and experience. This WFC was only my second, but I can see it becoming one of my non-negotiable cons, like ICFA is. It also comes at a good time of the year for my work schedule, and that's not trivial.

So, how awesome was it? Well, I had several long talks that would have made it worth my while even without all the drinking and laughter. I had long talks with Liza Groen Trombi of Locus Magazine and Mark Kelly of Locus Online. Plots were hatched that will, with any luck, come to fruition in the next few months. I also talked to Ted Chiang about something interesting we might try to cobble together for the next ICFA meeting. I was able to hang out with John DeNardo, Patrick Hester and John Anelio who've become podcast buddies--meeting folks face-to-face after so long of only knowing them online is always a thrill. I spent some time working the Locus table and got to know Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press, in from Australia, and even sold one of her books!

I did get out to two panels, a reading, and was on a panel myself. My panel was titled "Critical Theory and its Discontents," with Gary K. Wolfe moderating. I was spectacularly unqualified to be on that panel, and none of us had much clue on how to focus it. Gary goaded me into mentioning the difference between scientific theories and literary theories in the arena of rigor, but no one wanted to get into much of a flamewar. Luckily we got a lot of help from the audience, especially Farah Mendlesohn and Kari Sperring. So it ended up being interesting enough and I got some good feedback from audience members afterwards. Still, the best description that I heard afterwards was: "The wheels were spinning, but they never really touched the ground, did they?"

The other panels that I went to included one on John W. Campbell's Unknown magazine, and one on Religion in Tolkein. In the Unknown panel, it was interesting to hear from people like David Drake, David Hartwell and Mike Resnick about publishing back in the 40's and 50's. They listed a bunch of good stories and authors, and emphasized the importance of payment structures to authors and what they chose to write and submit. The Religion and Tolkein panel was unfortunately on at 10pm on Saturday night, and I went to support Daryl Gregory who was on it. Eric Van and Ellen Denham came well prepared with scholarly information about Tolkein's views on religion and Middle Earth, and the audience was remarkably erudite for it being so late. The reading I got to was by Siobhan Carroll, writing as Von Carr, who read from "Sister Jasmine Brings the Pain." It's a perfect story for a reading--ninjas, vampires, androids, telepaths, robot dogs and more, fast paced and funny. I also got to have dinner with her and her fellow Clarion alum Beth Wasden.

After that it would all be name dropping. I was telling Caroline Ratajski (who writes as Morgan Dempsey) and Emily Jiang that if I had intentionally structured my life with the goal of being able to have lots of interesting conversations with interesting people, I couldn't have done much better than this. (Even though apparently that sometimes includes listening to rather famous people trading colonoscopy stories--they shall remain unnamed.) I had many fascinating conversations, learned a lot, and I'm still processing and integrating all of it. But it will show up in my reviews, slowly, over time, because it's all part of learning more about this wild and woolly field we're all in.

Pardon the cliches, I think that means it must be time to try to catch up on some sleep. Forgive inaccuracies or indiscretion, and hope to see you all in San Diego next October!


Adam said...

So so jealous. I can't wait until I have the time and resources to make it to World Fantasy. Very much looking forward to the future review too.

Karen Burnham said...

Thanks! Hope to see you there someday!

Moses Siregar III said...

I really wanted to catch the panel you were on, but stuff happened! WFC was great, though.

I'm uploading video of the Epic Fantasy panel as well as Stackpole's interview with Michael McKiernan, if you're interested in those. The beginning of the epic panel is here (it's pretty funny at times):

Karen Burnham said...

Moses-Thanks for doing those! Don't worry about missing my panel--I can't count how many panels I've *meant* to go to but... ;-)