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Worldcon 8: In the Middle of it All

Friday, August 16, 2019 - 10:20

Let's see, where were we? Thursday was the first full day of the convention. I picked up my participant's packet and wandered around orienting myself to all the locations it would be useful to know about. (Since the numbering on the function rooms is cometimes ambiguous, this was not an idle task.) My first panel was "Dragons and Debutantes" on the topic of Regency fantasy (moderated by Mary Robinette Kowal, with me, Zen Cho, and Susan de Guardiola). The theory is that panel participants all meet up in the green room (actually just a part of the 5th floor lobby) to check in and confirm panel protocols. This is more often the exception than the rule, in my experience, but we all showed up then went off to the panel room together--where we had to get past a couple layers of staff trying to tell us that the panel was full and we couldn't go in. (It seems like Worldcons are more and more shifting into "queue for programming" mode. They're doing their best to organize and mitigate crowd control, but I know people find it disappointing when -- even on top of having to choose between competing program items -- they find they can't get into the ones they most wanted to see.) We had a lively discussion and only covered a fraction of the topics proposed for coverage. I need to takes some notes on unused topics for future suggestion.

I went to Kari Sperring's reading (having failed to do more than wave to her in passing at last year's Worldcon) and also signed up for her Kaffeeklatch today (Friday). Next up was the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) reception where I worked through my cocktail party anxiety by alternately buttonholing people about possible interviews on my podcast and identifying people who looked like they were having an even harder time socializing than me and chatting with them. Dinner arrangements were the opposite of anxiety-provoking since I'd been invited into a group going off to The Winding Stair, including people I already knew (e.g., Sarah Pinsker), and people who evidently knew me, and the rest people I now know. Always the best mix!

Dinner party

I finished off the evening with a small scotch tasting-and-conversation party with D. Libris, Mari Ness, and someone whose name is currently escaping me who has the most lovely azure hair.

Friday (today) started with Kari's Kaffeeklatch, nicely timed for a late breakfast. I've lost track of most of what we chatted about except for some bits of Arthurian fiction. Then I rushed over to the other con location (The Point) to participate in the first WSFS Business Meeting session. I've been trying to participate in the business meetings when I can, but I'm not going to be able to fit in the main business meeting tomorrow. Due to the distance, the offset scheduling, and the need to queue for programming, I decided to stay at The Point for the rest of the day and took in the art show as well as two panel discussions with the coincidentally intersecting theme of fiction based on European traditions. The first was on "Vikings" and the use of Norse traditions in fantasy. Lots of discussion of how popular perception is shaped by processed and second-hand versions of the source material, as well as issues of appropriation for political purposes (of various sorts) and Norse mythological roots as living traditions.

The second panel was "Refreshing European Epic Fantasy Tropes" which is a pretty broad topic. Discussion of the panelists' favorite and unfavorite tropes, how to inject novel themes into epic fantasy, why people gravitate to the same set of tropes time and again (both for historic reasons and psychological reasons).

And that brings me up to the present. I've been carrying around my little dictaphone recorder in hopes of getting up the nerve to see if I can get some "audio snapshots" from people for a Worldcon podcast, but it requires bumping into the right poeple in the right context (with the right acoustics) and so far it hasn't happened. I put out a tweet encouraging people to come to my signing and soliciting audio contributions there. It's possible that will be the best context, since presumably everyone who drops by will have opinions on relevant topics.

It's a little after 6pm and I don't have dinner plans lined up for tonight but I'm not stressing about it. I'm planning to draw up my moderator's notes for the panel I'm modding on Sunday (just so I have it done and out of the way) and then I'll figure out what to do.

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