Saturday, August 08, 2009

WorldCon - Day 2

Slept late again - it's not because I'm getting a lot of sleep, rather
because I'm up waaaay too late at night calling home to talk with my
wife and then posting the day's highlights (which is also why I don't
go to parties).

Anyhow, I lunched on a succulent smoked meat sandwich at the world-
famous Schwartz's Deli. Everything you've heard about this place is
true... it's certainly the best pastrami I've ever had. A little
mustard and some serviceable bread and it was complete. Nice and
simple and allowing the focus to stay on the meat. I was a happy boy.

Back down to the convention centre. There were a couple of good
costumes out and about today: a Rebel ship crewman and a Stormtrooper;
a steampunk fan decked out in Victorian long coat, top hat and brass
goggles; and best of all, Miss Piggy from the Muppets' "Pigs iiiiiiin

For my first session of the day: Steampunk! During the discussion of
what makes this sub-genre appealing, there were the usual comments
about aesthetics and a sense of modern kinship with an bygone culture
grappling with technological & social upheaval. But most
interestingly, some of the panelists suggested that in our age where
our technology is small, sleek and prefabricated to the point where
owners can't tinker with the products they buy (like the iPhone I'm
typing this on) there's a growing interest in Victorian craftsmanship
(even manufactured items) that could be easily customized by an
individual at home. Then there was the other panelist sho summed it up
quite simply: novelty - Steampunk offers a story remarkably different
from the same-old-same-old science fiction and fantasy fare.

From there it was on to: Are We Conscious and Does It Matter?
Interesting discussion on par with university-level metaphysics
courses. What took away from my enjoyment of the panel was the twitchy
kid who came into the room half-way through the session and literally
within 2 minutes was waving his hand in the air virtually exploding
with the need to be acknowledged so he could abuse the soap box. How
the hell can someone have the gall to be hopping up and down itching
to weigh-in when he hadn't even heard enough of the discussion to have
enough perspective on the particular topic at hand to make a relevant
comment? Sure enough, when the moderator finally acknowledged Mr
Twitchy, he proceeded to babble for 5-10 minutes and it took a serious
effort to cut him off so that others - especially the panelists -
would have a chance to speak again. What's worse, what he thought was
so profound that he felt the need to inflict it on us was trivial and
boring. He then spent the rest of the session waving his arm
desperately trying to get acknowledged again. Luckily, the moderator
didn't make that mistake again.

When that was over, it was back to the hotel to get changed for the
Aurora Awards banquet. The registration desk for the event wasn't very
efficient, but once the banquet was underway, it went very smoothly
(except for one of the awards presenters making a crack about the
Battle of the Plains of Abraham - no so smart when more than a few
attendees are Francophone and the event's being held in Quebec).

After that, it was on to a session talking about the One Season
Wonders of SF TV. The panel was unremarkable, but some of the audience
members had notable things to say. One in particular pointed out that
a good show doesn't necessarily have to be around for multiple seasons
- short and punchy can be very effective. Sure we would have liked
Firefly to continue, but even though it was cancelled, it was smart
and had enough of an impact to inspire a very strong fan base which
provided impetus for a movie and comics.

Next was a session on the Vikings. I'll give the audience a lot of
credit: George RR Martin was supposed to be a panelist but withdrew,
and when this was announced at the beginning, everyone stayed. They
were there for the norsemen, not the author.

I wrapped things up with the Tales of Super Science session. You can't
go wrong with a gaggle of scientists sitting around swapping funny
stories about things going wrong in the lab & test field.

On the way out I stuck my head in the dance hall... Earlier in the
evening, there'd been a little over a dozen people tub-thumping to
Chumbawumba, but it was nearly deserted by 11.

I ended up walking back to the hotel with one of the panelists from
the Vikings session and had an interesting chat about cons in
different parts of the country, and about how the Canadian writers'
society keeps SF and children's literature firmly in the ghetto when
dealing with it's members.

Must sleep now to be able to get through tomorrow.

Sent from my iPhone

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