Saturday, September 18, 2010

Aussiecon 4

From Melbourne - Aussie con
Though it was weeks ago and I have recently, in fact THAT weekend, told Kevin I was going to take a hiatus from this blog, I thought I might scribble down some impressions from MY first World Con.

World Con = World Science Fiction (Speculative Fiction??) Convention. I learned that "new" S-word translation of/from the acronym SF while there. I'm not sure if it has "usurped" Science when used in naming the convention. Let's face it, the first thing that should be said is

"I don't know much."

My first World Con SHOULD have been 30 years ago when that was all I read and I read a lot of it. Then I would have known the writers, at least. But, graduate school and John (oh dear! I have forgotten those 2 middle initials!) Staddon* got in the way. John was my first advisor at Duke and I think it was at my admission interview where he asked me what I read and was INCREDULOUS that I didn't read any non-fiction. I guess I internalized something of a message there: grown ups with graduate degrees were more broadly read. So, I stumbled into general fiction, mystery, thrillers... but couldn't grow enough hair on my chest to read non-fiction.

Since I knew so little, other than the 5 or 6 short stories that were nominated for HUGO awards, I was pretty ill prepared to select "panels" to attend. Therefore, I set a goal to create a reading list - to find a few new (oops, 'bout wrote science) speculative fiction authors or books that I might read to put myself back "in touch" with my roots. That took me to panels titled things like "The Best Books You've Never Heard Of". (What is most amazing about that panel was that I had actually READ one of those books: Jasper Fforde's "The Eyre Affair". Thumb's up.)

When there were no appropriately themed panels (a panel being a collection of 2 or 3 or 4 people who sit at a long table facing a room a chairs, have microphones and a room title but often no real agenda, outline, purpose, or preparation) I floated. The first day this resulted in bitter disappointment. (You probably already picked up on that by the definition of panel provided above.) UGHHHHHHHHH. I wanted to run screaming from rooms as I listened to people have conversations about topics I knew nothing about and as a consequence never wanted to hear about again. Even a topic I thought I'd love - Ghost Stories Across Cultures - was a painful exercise in filling time with 4 voices. It was obvious that the panelists did not communicate before the panel about making an outline, establishing a theme, identifying relevant or important topics, ANYTHING. My rambling here is a taste of what I experienced. (Sorry.)

After the first day, I got smarter. I established my goal - see above - and when there was nothing I was pretty confident I'd enjoy, I decided to listen to people read - read out loud, I mean. And, in this way, I enjoyed the rest of the days. (Thanks, also, to enjoying the company of friends: Eric, Iain, Llyn, Aaron, Yasmine (who I must thank for the group photo).)

I guess this is the place to note that by far the MOST interesting events were scheduled for the kids' room. I'd drift by and peer in looking for other taller, older people building models, getting face paint... In particular, I really, really, really, really wanted to hear how they handled the discussion on Sunday, "Surviving the zombie apocalypse". (How did they handle the tricky questions like what to do about the dog - or baby?!! I can't maintain an objective viewpoint when Kevin and I discuss this - how do you tell a child that they need to dump the barking dog so as not to lead the zombies to the family hiding place??) I'm not totally sure they followed through with the scheduled discussion. All I saw happening was lego building. (Note: the discussion was scheduled to follow the 10 AM zombie make-up session. Not sure what side of the zombie apocalypse these folks are supporting.)
From Melbourne - Aussie con

Saturday night - Costume Competition. We RUSHED through dinner to get to the auditorium by 7 pm only to learn that the doors opened at 7 but the show didn't begin until 8. While I don't want to disparage any of the generous and talented folks who took the time and effort to create costumes, it was very disappointing that there was all this anticipation for a total of 10 costumers. Ten. OK. Maybe eight. I can only blame the lack of widespread Halloween celebrating in Australia.

Sunday night - The Hugo Awards. Fortunately, Australians have experience and understanding of award shows. They even have mastered the art of voting - with record setting numbers of votes being cast this year! This, I believe, is easily attributed to the practice of mandatory voting in Australia. (This is not to insult the Hugo nominees or winners - Maybe your entry was responsible for the increased voter turnout.)

Beyond the con- Other than making a special effort to see the casino "fire show" along the river, we only made one trip away from the convention. Sunday afternoon we strolled down to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) to see the Tim Burton exhibition. Very cool. No photography permitted. And, no time for Abba World. Sigh. (Note- link takes you to the MoMA Tim Burton site - the original location for this collection, I believe.)

From Melbourne - Aussie con

*Google confirmed the wispy memory floating forward - John E. R. Staddon.

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