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This Eastercon was an interesting experience for me, I spent a lot more time socialising than going to panels this year, which is pretty opposite to what I normally do. I also did my very first panel \o/ That was pretty exciting, if also slightly terrifying. As with all things, it wasn't quite perfect, and I'm gonna speak a little bit about that later on.

I unfortunately had to start Friday by doing an essay, but I got it completed! It was probably one of my better ones, in fact.

Only uh, the deadline for it was the day before. Thank god my tutor is the sweetest person in the world and accepted it anyway (I didn't find this out till Tuesday though)!

Once the blind despair of wrecking yet another academic career had passed, I meandered my way to Radisson Non-Euclidean. After searching out my parents, I attended a few things.

The highlights:

  • Talk On Cassini and Saturn: this was a really fun talk, I understood a lot of it! Which is really unusual when it comes to talks on anything. It was interesting to hear all that's been found out (there's geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus! Titan's been probed!), and the person speaking made it a very fun presentation.
  • Archery in fantasy TV and film: I reeeally like archery anyway (arrows! they're really cool!) but it was great to hear the differences between bows, and that catastrophic de-laminating of bows due to non-waterproof glue could kill your friends. And arrows shattering could kill your friends. And standing where the elves were standing in the siege of wherever could kill your friends kill you and your friends. And you didn't say fire in arrow-y times, since that's an instruction for fire-arms (genuinely filled with glee at that bit, because I am really simple to please), but maybe loose, or something. I was very entertained during this talk, perhaps you could tell.
  • I then spent a moment talking to two very well dressed persons who assured me that my super amazing silver DMs will break in soon! (6 weeks is apparently soon, apparently. I weep as I contemplate that length of agony)
  • There's a hole in my plot!: This was one I didn't expect to enjoy as it was billed as recognising and correcting plot holes in your writing (I don't write, haha), but the panellists were all really entertaining, so it was fun just to listen to them banter. The room was also exceedingly full, so me and [ profile] chairman_wow sat on the floor.
  • Tales from the typographical ocean: this panel was looking at various fanzines from different decades, and seeing how they'd changed. It was really quite interesting, I enjoyed learning how things change and how they've remained the same.

    After those, I went to the pub quiz and another panel, but neither were particularly spectacular (but we did get more than half points on the pub quiz!). I also got to spend a nice amount of time just chatting, which is always fun. I managed to miss the late night film, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, which I regret, even now! Alas.

    I'm not sure what I did for much of Saturday morning - I think it involved a lot of sleeping and a visit to Tescos. Natch.

    I really didn't do a great deal on Saturday, aside from a couple of panels and a visit around the dealers room.

    Still, there were highlights:

  • Who likes reboots?: Any panel that spawns the line, "I really like Star Wars, so I'd like to see it done well." has to go on a highlight list, haha. There was a lot of fun discussion around what actually makes a reboot, what were good ones, what were bad ones, and overall it was a fun panel to listen to.
  • My brother and sister-in-law came! I won't mention the ridiculousness that happened trying to get my sister-in-law in, despite how frustrating it was.
  • A really fun talk about comics with Matthew and [ profile] mokatiki. I love talking about comics anyway, but especially with people who enjoy them as much as I do.
  • We went to The Pheasant, a pub/restaurant near the hotel, for dinner. It was good food with great service, but the portions were so ridiculously huge we couldn't manage dessert. It was still a lovely meal though, and if ever Eastercon is back at the Radisson, I think we'll end up going back. Afterwards, I insisted on going back in to the con, because I really wanted to go to...
  • No country for old men: this panel was discussing some of the experiences of female fans and how safe they feel in fandom. It was very interesting, especially some of the ideas raised about the ways in which fandom can be made a safer space, for everyone but especially for women. I do hope some of the ideas - especially, a code of conduct and someone available 24 hours should you need help or to report an incident, will be enacted at later Eastercons.
  • Whilst I was in that panel, Mum was in the disco, dancing with a Klingon. That picture is probably the highlight of the night, if not the whole con and possibly also my life.
  • I also really liked getting to tell Tartovski that my Mum likes his tweets, especially the one about him walking into a party and recognising a girl he'd slept with on a first date. It helps that he's a really nice person and finds it as funny as I do.

    And with a brief and manic dash to find Mum's bus pass, we finished Saturday!

    So, as you might suspect, Sunday swiftly followed Saturday and with it came the excitement of being on a panel! For the very first time! In front of actual people! Gad.

    Instead of sleeping in till noon, Sunday began nice and early, so that Mum, Dad and I could attend [ profile] dougs's Sunday service! It was great! The only not great thing was how little sleep I had, since I was up late on Saturday being social. Ugh. Talking. With friends. How terrible.

    Sunday's highlights:

  • Sunday morning service: if only all services were as lovely as this, I might end up in church more often! [ profile] dougs always manages to create a wonderfully friendly atmosphere, and even if I only ever see these people once a year, in the service we always feel like a proper community. [ profile] dougs's sermon this year (handily split up into three mini-sermons for easy digestion!) felt very apt, defining the three ways in which Christian communities should interact - with God, with each other and with the wider community. I really felt the message this year was an important one. Oh, and we also had a real organist! She was fabulous, and it was fun singing to actual music and not a .midi file!
  • The fantasy of William Shakespeare: this is another panel I attended not expecting to be particularly interested in, as I am not a Shakespeare scholar and I'm only familiar with The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet. But! It was filled with really interesting facts, like a lot of the Church's income came from brothels! And people used to bring pigs to the theatre! And actors didn't stand still to declaim and then have a swordfight, oh no, they fought and spoke at the same time! And a ghost (I don't remember which one) might have been perceived as a demon! It was all really, really neat, and I came away feeling like I've really got to get to a theatre sometime soon.
  • Comics outside the mainstream: Man, I really love non-mainstream comics but I am super bad at finding them, and this was filled with a bunch of recs, so that was great.
  • The New 52: The panel I was on! \o/ OMG though, you guys, I was so nervous. I had a really fun talk with [ profile] mokatiki about DC and the reboot, so I knew we would have stuff to talk about, but I was still soooo afraid of being in front of real! live! actual! people. But I think it went pretty well! The moderator, Saxon is a really nice guy, and led the discussion well. [ profile] mokatiki is also really excellent, and there are many things about the reboot which we agree upon, so that made talking about it easier. And [ profile] jamesb is someone who I know and who I've also seen on plenty of comic panels, so having him on the panel as well was comforting since if I'd forgotten every single thing I knew about the reboot (not, alas, unlikely), I still knew there'd be someone else with intelligent comments to make! As it was, I felt like me and Anna gave a lot of opinions, and James brought all the facts, which struck a pretty cool balance. So I think my first panel went pretty well~ Or at least there weren't too many disasters (except for one person who wanted me to explain why I still buy Red Hood, to which I could only bleat "Because I love Jason" and not give the 30 minute actual answer).
  • Minority representation in fandom: this was a panel which spoke about experiences of non-white fans and the ways in which Eastercon could reach out to a more diverse audience. There was yet more wonderful discussion, it was pointed out that Eastercon can be pretty insular and seem quite exclusive, and also that it involves a pretty big chunk of change - there is no way to do it on the cheap. I also pointed out that it's pretty poorly advertised - how would anyone who doesn't know about it, find out about it? Overall, I feel like there were a lot of points to take away from this panel and I wish it had been better attended.

    And again, after more socialising, Sunday drew to an end!

    Clearly, Monday happened.

    Apparently I didn't do anything but visit the dealer's room and chat until 1pm on Monday. That seems unlikely, but according to my notebook (yes I make notes about what I do at cons. I have a terrible memory), that's what happened!

    So, highlights!

  • Dystopian YA: yet again, not something I was sure I'd love a lot, since I really like my YA happy and hopeful. And yet! It was really interesting, and everyone on the panel had a lot of recs and good insight. One panellist commented that some of the appeal in dystopia might be to do with the experience of being a teen - every choice you make seems to determine your entire life and if you make the wrong one you're doomed and you will be unhappy, and probably stupid and underpaid and stuck wondering where the hell all that potential your teachers insisted you had went. I uh, might be able to relate. Just a little. (See: constant breakdowns over the total wreck that is my life because I made ALL the mistakes at school). At any rate, I really enjoyed it, especially the point about there not really being 'girl' books and 'boy' books, but just poor marketing (because boys fall in love too! and might like to read about it! and girls like guns too! and are actually expected to read about it anyway, since a man's interests are totally valid whereas a girl's are totally shameful so she should probably be glad she gets the opportunity to educate herself on what she should be interested in, not those icky things like feelings and lipstick and such, and wow, another point with which I might over-relate!).
  • Social media in SF: I love social media! So hearing a discussion about how current SF represents it (generally poorly!), how past SF represented it (how can you imagine a totally alien planet but not imagine communication evolved past a call box!) and how it might be represented in future was of course really interesting to me. I tweeted that this was probably my favourite panel of the con, and this is due to a combination of interesting subject, engaging panellists and lots of super interesting points raised. In retrospect, it's hard to say whether this actually was my favourite panel, but it was certainly a brilliant one to end the con on!

    And then, after more time spent chatting in the bar (this time to strangers! who weren't so strange after we'd spoken for a bit!), it was finally the end, and we all left the Radisson for the last time. It might have been a more poignant moment had the rain not been utterly pissing it down.

    So that was pretty much my highlights! Now for some general observations, I guess.

  • To me, this con was certainly fun, but a surprising amount of the programme items didn't interest me. Luckily, there are more than enough fabulous people there to talk to in the bar that this didn't feel like a genuine problem. Additionally, plenty of con reports and tweets assert that people had a wonderful time and found the programme items a lot more engaging than I did, so I think it's fair to say that this Eastercon really did have something for nearly everyone!
  • Apparently, I've gained enough social skills in the past year to actually manage to chat and talk to people! I was pretty surprised by this, since most of the time I spend a lot of con time trying to figure out how the hell to even say hello to someone interesting, even if I've met that person before (does anyone else feel like they're instantly forgettable? I know my hair is a bright colour, but other than that I'm pretty sure I don't leave much of an impression because I'm really boring). So it was really neat that time not spent in panels could be spent talking to aforementioned interesting people.
  • There was a lot of talk about panel parity this year. Partly this is great - because yes, we do need to have fewer male voices and more non-male voices heard. Partly this was a little disturbing - it's so binarist, and I don't know if anyone's addressed this? I'm pretty sure I don't need to go over how exclusionary a policy of equal male to female participants inherently is, and I hope this is something that's considered in the future. Also, there are some cases where one gender's voice should be heard without giving equal weight to another's - if I want to hear about how female writers feel in a male dominated field, I actually don't want to hear a male's opinions, because it wouldn't be about them. In general though, I am in favour of it, and overall I feel Eastercon did well in trying to ensure non-male voices were on panels.
  • Eastercon is still a really white, mostly middle-class or above space. This is not necessarily a criticism - it's not anyone's fault that lots of white people turn up, but it would be nice to see future Eastercons with more diversity - perhaps by reaching out to Uni's and widening their advertising pool (I don't know if that could be reasonable considering the cost of advertising though).
  • God damn but there are a shit ton of iPads in the hands of Eastercon goers.

    I feel like this post was really text heavy, so here's a picture of Mum and me taken over the weekend:

    In summary: Good Eastercon! I'm really looking forward to next year's!

    It is actually nearly 6am and I think I've been writing this since 6pm, so I am going to stop here, even though I can think of about a thousand more things to say.

    *Is Jesus actually a zombie if we eat His flesh and he doesn't crave ours?
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