I didn't spend that much time online the last couple of days--I got caught up in re-reading John's Ringo's Into the Looking Glass--so let's catch up on my Aussiecon 4 report. If I actually post all 5 days it will be the first time I've finished a con report in years!
I had a nice, relaxed morning and then headed off to the convention centre. I wanted to go to "Girl meets boy meets dragon: romance in fantasy" at 10am, but the next panel I was interested in was at 3pm, and I'm far enough from the convention centre that while I could have come back for a four hour break, it would still be a pain in the butt.
So instead I chilled at the hotel, and then got coffee and went to the convention centre an hour and a half early and sat at a table on the ground level and got some writing done. Not as much as I'd have liked, but some.
Then the panels I wanted to go to started up:
Who wants to live forever? Implications of immortality (Jim Benford (physicist), Sam Scheiner (biologist), Will McIntosh (social psychologist, writer), and Priscilla Olson attending): There was some really interesting discussion in this panel. They started off by taking a poll of the audience: how many of us wanted to live forever? I raised my hand (although my 'yes' is conditional on having (1) the option of suicide and (2) not being the only immortal out there), but less than half the audience was with me.
They also divided immortality into two aspects - invulnerability (inability to be hurt) and senescence (the process of growing old) and stated that we couldn't be invulnerable just by virtue of the fact that we are alive, but that there do seem to be things that don't senesce (sp?).
The discussion continued with the assumptions that we could still die through accidents and that we would be relatively healthy throughout the immortal life. A couple of audience members tried to derail the discussion (not maliciously, of course) by asking how long is forever, but the panelists were great at shutting that down and getting back to the interesting parts of the discussion. (I consider that question derailing because, seriously, defining terms makes for a boring panel. I've been in panels like that. A lot.)
Some interesting points:
* our brains are wired for mortality
- there are theories in social psych that say mortality is central to who we are
- we are driven by fear of death
- opposing theory says that we have to seize the day because they are limited
* we seek novelty, boredom is a real problem
* risk: would we get risk averse to preserve our immortal lives, or risk prone to fend off boredom?
* does most cultural change come with the young?
* "the terror of eternity is greater than the terror of nonexistence"
Finding the right voice: accents and speech patterns (Karen Miller, Jack Dann, Deborah Kalin, Kaaron Warren attending): This was an interesting panel with quite a bit of good advice. A lot of it was good advice that I'd heard before in other contexts, though. Stuff like, do your research, you just want to add a flavoring of what you've learned to the story (don't overdo it), read people who do it well, read your work aloud, etc. etc.
Here are a couple of bits that made me laugh or that I wanted to remember:
* a lot of characters develop their own voices as you write - "this is why you have this thing they call the second draft"
* Zounds = bastardization of "God's wounds", like Geez = "Jesus" (to avoid blasphemy)
* New advice: Read stageplays
* New advice: have someone read your work aloud to you
Comic to film adaptation (Ian Nichols, Peter Sims, Ben Chandler, Juan Sanmiguel): This panel was fun, but not so interesting that I took notes. I confess, I played Tetris throughout the whole thing, but I was also listening. They talked about the good ones and the bad ones, most of which I agreed with, and a few other things, like whether or not adaptations like these are easy or not, and what it takes to do a good one.
One thing I have learned (or just now realized) about myself and my convention interaction: I'm good for about three straight panels, and then I need a break. It doens't matter how interesting I find them, at the end of three I've lost the ability to enjoy the panel and it begins to be some Terrible Obligation. I suspect I'm not good for much more than four in a day, either. A good thing to know for future convention attendance planning.
Anyway, then it back to the hotel to read and crawl into bed. My bed time has been creeping later as the con goes on, but I was waking up early enough that this isn't a problem. And damn, it's felt good sleeping myself out.
Parker Strahn's Journal
- Aussiecon 4: Day Three (Saturday)