Something that might be fun to try for next year would be to have some sort of "common text" -- a book that everyone tries to read or reread for the con. That way, everyone has at least ONE common book that can be used for references in panels, etc. Heck, there could even be a panel centered around the book. Since the overall "feel" of the con is small, it would be a nice way to have everyone share a bit of a common language.
Near the end of the sex panel someone suggested a book named Shadow Play (I think it has a trans main character), and I didn't catch the author's name. It turns out there are several books with that name. Who wrote this one?
After several commendable years as head of programming for our little shindig, Alec Austin decided to hang up his spurs in 2014, and the task of building a program has been in my lap since then.
I've been collecting, refining, sifting, and mutating panel possibilities for a few months now, using the suggestions from last year's white board as a starting point. I also wrote out grids of the 2013 and 2014 panels and their participants, to make sure we weren't repeating ourselves too soon and to try and come up with stuff that might build off of previous discussions.
I've been aided, counseled, and double-checked at various points by Marissa Lingen, Fade Manley, Steve Brust, Alec Austin, and Ctein, and am grateful for all the help.
Our con this year will follow the same programming format as usual, a single track of 10 panels followed by "But That's Another Panel..." on Sunday, the contents and participants of which are chosen more or less in the same way a Pope is.
Please note: These titles are not necessarily final, the descriptions are definitely not final, and these panels are not listed in the order in which they will be taking place.
A couple of these panel descriptions have additional explanatory notes from me.
Without further ado-- here's what I think are the ten strongest contenders in the big pack of possibilities:
• The Phantasmagorical Cross-Cultural Sexual Cogitation Panel Treatments of sex in fantasy with comparative notes from the real world. What we’ve done right, what we’ve ignored, and most importantly, what we might never have seen before.
• Crossing the Genre Streams The challenges, structural concerns, and tricks of crossing two or more established genres in one book. How the beats fall differently, how to manage different sets of expectations, etc.
• How Do You Play the Cards You Ain’t Been Dealt? We’ve often talked about the concept that each author gets some cards from the skill-set deck ("dialog,” “voice,” “plot,” “cooking scenes,” etc.) but sadly nobody gets them all. So how do you work with (or around) the cards you're missing?
• Surviving Yourself: Self-Care for Creative Types Sometimes it seems like the drive for artistic satisfaction is a race to sprain joints, bend spines, wreck eyes, and seal ourselves off from the rest of the human race. So we’ll discuss, in as non-strident and non-prescriptive a fashion as possible, assorted tricks and life hacks that can be used to ease the physical, mental, and social strain of just being our usual selves.
• The Romance of the Breakdown What’s up with our perpetual fascination with breaking society and dramatizing the apocalypse as well as the post-apocalypse... how do our cultural myths and societal images intersect with this phenomenon and fuel it (the manor house cozy catastrophe of British fiction, the American narrative of rugged survivalists gunning their way across the ungoverned wastes, etc.)? We've seen that national powers can remain in control and national identities remain concrete even when bombs are literally falling from the sky. So why do we seem so convinced that if our society hits the rocks we'll never get it off again?
• Hoisting the Lightning Rod Twice Once in every generation, the reboot shall fall among them. The X-Files is scheduled to return some 20+ years after it began, Mad Max rides again, Tad Williams is taking readers back to Osten Ard after a quarter-century, and not that long ago John Scalzi wrote what was essentially a literary cover version of H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy. It seems an apt time to talk about what happens when once-formative pop culture returns to the very landscape that it helped to change. What keeps this sort of endeavor truly alive and elevates it above wading in the nostalgia pool? (Hopefully also featuring some discussion about ongoing resonance between Shadow Unit and its real-world ancestor). *SL Note: Don’t worry, we’re not turning into Convergence… I think we have to discuss certain televisual items as touchstones for the discussion of literature, but guiding us toward the latter will be an important part of structuring this panel.
• Does the Arc of Fantasy Bend Toward Justice? Recent years have given us a spate of fairly high-profile SF/F novels deeply concerned with ethics and the balance of power between the state and the individual. The Goblin Emperor, Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and The Just City are a few obvious examples. Is the deconstruction of empire here to stay, or is it just another passing current in the river of our dreams? How did we get here from a seemingly interminable preoccupation with concepts such as right-of-arms and divine right? Are we evolving or merely reacting?
• Misdirection, Dirty Tricks, and False Fumbles The use of shock, upset, disorientation, and fake-out, all in the service of eventually delivering some manner of the goods the reader more or less expects. The conundrum of keeping things fresh and seemingly risky while staying thematically and atmospherically tied to existing work. How to secure and maintain reader tolerance for deviation from expectations… how long does a writer have before a deliberate twist is mistaken for a meta-fictional mistake, and vice versa?
• Lento, Allegro, Chapter Break: Understanding Plot and Pacing Through Music Talking about the structures of our stories using the elements of musical composition, and vice versa. How and when is this sort of artistic cross-mapping beneficial as opposed to merely interestingly coincidental? *SL Note: Given how many musicians we have in the audience, I thought a panel explicitly bridging the disciplines of making words and making sounds would be a cool experiment.
• The Consequences of Communication SF/F has offered many visions of new and improved communications over the years, but hasn’t always fully explored the second-order effects and the social consequences of these developments. Let’s dig deep and explore the realistic side-effects and possible societal changes of what we can see headed our way, extrapolating from the very real changes that have washed over us like waves in our own lifetimes. “Future radio will go farther and sound better” ain’t enough… let’s talk about what these developments do to us.
I have been in touch with a great many people so far, and will be in contact with a great many more today and tomorrow. For some of you, I have an ideal place visualized, but that vision in my head must absolutely bend to your own availability and interest. So please feel free to contact me immediately (firstname.lastname@example.org, or here, or on Twitter) if one or more of these panel descriptions strikes you as something you'd like to sit on.
Don't hesitate to do so, either, if you have powerful objections to anything you see here and/or a last-minute idea that you just can't keep under your hat. Anything can still happen at this point.
As June 26 fast approaches new bits and pieces are being finalized that you might want to know about:
~ Our cup runneth over! All standard rooms at the DoubleTree for June 26-28 have been reserved. They have made a few executive level rooms for an additional $20 more per night and a few suites at $40 more per night available to us.
~ Once again the charming and generous Jon Singer and Ctein will be hosting a Tea Party at noon Saturday with the sponsorship of TeaSource.
In a process similar to our Library Exchange, needle workers are invited to participate in our Yarn Swap Friday night after panels. Bring you orphans, your never-gonna-get around-to-this skeins, and your isn’t this neat special finds to share and trade.
~ Last year’s meeting of Intermediate Writers was so popular we’ve planned to do it again this year. [If it’s done once at 4th Street, isn’t it a tradition....] On Friday night, there will be an Intermediate Writer's Gathering. If you consider yourself an intermediate writer, or think you might be, or want to figure out if you are, come and hang out with like-minded folks. What are your best tips, resources, war stories, or plans? What's the next step forward for intermediate writers?
~ Another Brust amongst us? As this year’s Music Coordinator, Toni Brust is inviting some fantastic local and in-town-for-con musicians to start things off Friday night after panels. And we’ll go from there….
~ If you will be on site Thursday afternoon, one-ish, and have a back to offer, your help would be much appreciated for unloading the huge ConSuite grocery list. Many hands make light—and quick—work of such an endeavor. Please let Janet know so she can coordinate things. Thanks. email@example.com
1. There seems to have been some confusion over whether or not I was keeping a book list this year. I was, but when I heard about the list on the white-board I also got confused and didn't arrange for coverage for panels I had to miss.
2. I was providing child-car for my daughter during two of the panels ("Originality and Micro-genre" and "Influence, Tropes, and Prior Art.") If you happened to note any books mentioned during those panels, or if you have a picture of the whiteboard please let me know about them and I'll happily add them to the list.
3. There were 8 books that showed up on the board in between panels and I'm not 100% sure where they belong. If you know for sure let me know so I can file them correctly. Mystery Solved!
4. There were a couple of books that I either couldn't decipher fully from my notes, or couldn't find the right book. Please help me fill in the blanks! ( Collapse )
5. I want to try something different this year. I have a section on the page called "Books that should have been mentioned but weren't." Were you sitting there trying to remember the title/author during a panel but couldn't quite bring it to mind? Did you only think of the perfect book on the plane home? Let me know and I'll add it to the list.
I was talking to some folks last year, and around the 'net betimes, and we agreed that there's a dearth of resources and support for intermediate-level writers. There's a ton of resources out there aimed at beginners, and the established pros generally have their own things going, but that gap in the middle is... well, a gap. And since I fall in that gap myself, I naturally want to do something about it.
And what better way to start than by having an Intermediate Writers gathering at 4th Street? Janet has kindly agreed to squeeze us in on Friday night after dinner. If you consider yourself an intermediate writer, come and hang out with people who're in the same boat as you, or at least floating on the same water and wondering where all the paddles have gone. Network with other intermediate writers. Meet potential critique partners. Share resources and tips. Have fun. Have snacks.
So what, you may ask, is an intermediate writer? Well, if...
...you've finished a novel (or the short-story equivalent)
...you're frustrated with the beginner-level discussion on most writing forums
...you've given up on events that are filled with wannabes and info you could find in fifteen minutes with Google, but you still want resources and friendly folks you can learn from
...you're querying, you're submitting, but you don't yet have the street-cred of publication
...then you might be an intermediate writer.
Interested? If this is what you've been waiting for all your life, or even something you'd like to stop by and check out, please comment here or drop a line to me at dm6psn9b7q AUTON snkmail DALEK com (replace the obvious alien invaders with the appropriate punctuation), just so we can get a rough head-count for planning purposes. Any questions or observations, ditto.
Fourth Street is a few months away now, and as is our habit, we wanted to run the panel ideas we've been kicking around past y'all.
As ever, the only guaranteed panel topic is...
Another Panel - Have you ever had a moderator close down a tangent that seemed as interesting as the panel at hand with "That's another panel"? Well, Another Panel is where we follow up on those tangents and side conversations.
We usually only have schedule space for 9-10 panels, plus Another Panel, so we're definitely interested in hearing which of these topics you would most like to see.
Anxiety and its Influences - How our fears and worries affect our work and what we can do about it.
Crafting the Paragraph - either as a supplement or addition to the "Crafting the Sentence" panel.
Strength, Competence, and Weakness - What factors feed into how we depict characters' strengths and weaknesses? How do the lines around competence and its lack get drawn? By genre? By reader?
Gesticulation - Gesture conveys meaning and cultural difference as much as the spoken word, but often we don't see more than nods, shrugs, and the occasional eyebrow. When we do read gesture, what do we like, what do we hate, and what is physiologically impossible?
Becoming the Establishment - There's a tendency in fantasy for pros to imagine they're young turks long after they cease to be. For those of us who were neo-pros in the '00s and have become more established, how did that transition go? What are some things hungry young writers should know about that transition, and how things have changed generally?
Let us know what you think, and if you have any suggestions of your own.