I love to fly. The best thing about flying is the acceleration. If I could get paid to go through that sensation or the one astronauts’ experience at the beginning of a shuttle launch, I’d probably die of joy. But, then again, I find turbulence an excellent aid in falling asleep, often to the horror of my traveling companions. I really like to fly and I always want the flight to last as long as possible. (Yes, my flight to Australia was awesome!)
Today, however, a two-hour flight seemed to take forever! I couldn’t get an earlier flight and I felt I was missing half the convention. Once I got off the plain, I found the bus stop quickly enough but not the bus itself. It seems to be turning into a theme this year – me getting to conventions a bit later than I’d like.
So, Eastercon? It feels very different from all the other cons I’ve been to. I can’t say it feels cold, because it’s not. A bit distant? Maybe. It will take me a while to pinpoint the reason – maybe it’s just the space which feels very decentralized and narrow? I am a spoiled Croatian, used to large, open spaces that house stands of all varieties to entice me into buying things while I’m trying to get to a program item. Here, one has to go into a room to even see the stands. Perfect for me when low on funds – the chance of impulsive book buying cut down to zero!
I managed to attend exactly one talk and one panel, catch up with the Irish and the Finns and find two other Croatians at the con – one, a young con-runner from Rikon, my favorite Croatian con after SFeraKon and one working at the hotel.
The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Human Spaceflight by SpaceKate was witty and fun, and I learned a lot I did not know about shuttles, shuttle launches and even more about shuttle delays. It was all about space and explorations and, of course, space toilets. I see a pattern emerging – it always comes back to bodily functions in space! Story Musgrave shared a space toilet story at Chicon 7 and SpaceKate shared a story of a not entirely functioning toilet on one of the first space flights. I have to remember to ask the Croatians attending this year’s Eurocon in St. Petersburg where the Russian Guest of Honour is the kozmonaut Pavel Vinogradov if he had anything to say on the topic.
The one item I most wanted to see on Friday was the Ultimate Urban Fantasy panel. I figured this time I might get lucky, as the last time it I went to one with that title I came away surprised. It was Denvention in 2008 and I had gone in expecting to hear fans discuss Tim Powers and discover other fantasy books in urban settings. Instead I was introduced to the works of Laurell K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison. (Blessing or curse, have not decided yet!
With Charlie Stross and CE Murphy and Jim Butcher and Mike Carey on this panel, I figured it would turn out to be quite interesting. I honestly never thought of The Laundry as urban fantasy. Yes, it would have fit my understanding of the term prior to Denvention but not the one I now figured was prevalent – first person, female main character, mystery plot, romantic subplot, etc.
It was entertaining to hear how The Dresden Files came about and how all the panelists saw urban fantasy in relation to their own work. Unfortunately, the panel veered too much into the writing. For a while it seemed as if no answer may come unaccompanied by examples from the author’s own books!
I get that this is both good marketing and something fans do want to hear but it’s the kind of thing I would expect to hear at a GoH interview session. On this particular panel, I would have much preferred to find out what they all thought of the subgenre itself, in more depth. At the end of the panel, I discovered (yet another reason) is why enjoy Charlie Stross taking part in panels. He closed with a thought about urban fantasy that I would have been delighted to hear much more on from the other panelists:
We’re living in a really complex century and I’ve noticed there’s not that much extrapolative near future science fiction published (…). We live in a world which is functionally profused (?) by magic. We all carry around these magic mirrors that give us access to the sum total of human knowledge in our pockets although we mostly use them to take selfies and watch cat videos. The devices around us all run on magic smoke… without the magic smoke, they stop working. We have rituals that make the gadgets do things. And there are these strange shadowy entities that have influence on our lives. We call them corporations but we might as well call them artificial intelligences or gods. We are surrounded by these strange influence(r)s and it seems to me that in some ways urban fantasy is a more useful vehicle than extrapolative science fiction for exploring how we live in the world. *
The We Live in the Golden Age of Television panel proved waaay too British for me; too many mentions of details from shows I had never seen as they aired ages ago on British TV. It was definitely aimed at the right audience as a lively discussion developed almost immediately.
I exchanged listening about TV for conversations about fandom and cons with a range of awesome people and learned how the word for “friend” in Irish pronounced sounds like one in Croatian you do not say in polite society, that Norwegian libraries, just like Australian ones, do not have subscriptions, that there is no convention in Norway this year and that there are at least 12 gaming cons in Ireland during a “slow” year. Don’t think I missed half a con after all.