We’ve just finished five days at Aussiecon 4, the World Science Fiction convention, which was held here in Melbourne. I want to get some thoughts down here now, although more detail will have to wait – I am suffering from either allergies or connitis, complete with fever and snot. My friend today, when I could feel this coming on, was a bottle of hand sanitizer so I wouldn’t feel rude about stalking people – at least I wasn’t sharing germs with them!
I was a bit nervous before the con, as I don’t really read a huge amount of science fiction, and also because I had a perception that the audience for these events is a fairly closed group of people who all know each other and have Strange Ways.
I was also nervous because we had pulled the girls out of school for the Thursday, Friday and Monday of the con. School had coded this as “absent on other educational programs” which I thought was pretty cool. I was more worried about how to keep them, especially Otto, entertained.
(note for any new readers since the con: yes, my children do have real names, and you probably met them under those names. I just prefer to keep them off the Internet if possible.)
The kid thing was mostly a success, although I felt it sometimes when there were sessions I really really wanted to attend that clashed with sessions that Fraser really REALLY wanted to attend. Especially as I’m not 100% certain that our measurement system were calibrated the same way. I did, however, see and hear a great deal more than I would have if I’d stayed at home.
What struck me first was that this was really three conventions sort of rolled together and squished into one.
There was the fan stream, for, well, fans. This was for conversations about books and genres, for squeeing about all kinds of things and even, for some, for costumes. Also for stalking celebrity writers, getting stuff signed and – as I know from among cons – for catching up with old friends. Of which more anon.
Next up was the academic stream. This is for academics working in the world of speculative fiction, of fandom and of writing.
The last stream, which came as more of a surprise to me, and which was well-mixed with the rest of the con, was a sort of writers conference. With such a plethora of writers and editors, it should not have surprised me that the talks and panels were not all one-way – there were trade conversations happening all over the place and we, the public, were able to observe and learn from many of these.
As for me, well, I like to read. My fandom is boardgaming, my reading genres more crime and fantasy than science fiction. I have a couple of game designs, one of which my playtesters seem to think has legs, and like pretty much anyone I think about one day writing a novel. It’s never going to happen, though, unless it becomes a really consuming desire rather than an occasional tickle at the back of my brain. I still like to hear about the writing process, though – I spend large amounts of time writing stuff, even though it’s not fiction, and many of the discussions will transfer well to my day job.
Also, they were entertaining.
More detail will follow but here is a con highlight
1. Bigster and the Interaction with Writers.
Going into the con, we warned the girls that they were to stay with us At All Times etc etc etc. This lasted until about the second session, when we decided that given the layout of the building it would be OK for her to go to sessions on her own, especially as one of us would need to stick with Otto. She immediately laid her plans to stalk Paul Cornell, writer of many things Dr Who as well as many things not Dr Who that she didn’t care about. When she finally tracked him down after a panel, and got him to sign her con program, she was ecstatic. I tweeted a photo of the two of them together, which Paul graciously retweeted. Her moment in the sun!
Meanwhile, she had met the lovely George Ivanoff, a local YA writer who generously volunteered himself for a couple of sessions in the kids’ room. Not only did she buy his book, she also signed up for a Kaffeeklatsch round-table discussion with him and made sure to finish the book before it!
The third author interaction derives special mention, because it was so unexpected. George Ivanoff and Ian Moss were running a YA panel in the kids’ room, notable because the number of participants matched the number of panelists, when discussion turned to Dr Who. Ian made a phone call and, a few minutes later, in walked Rob Shearman, author of many many screenplays and also of the Dr Who episode Dalek.
Rob was an absolute delight. Warm, approachable and willing to be hit up for autographs, he came across as a genuinely nice guy. We wish we could have taken him out for dinner just to get more chat time in.