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(Wow, FList, I'm sorry I haven't updated since December! I promise to do a post soon about what I've been up to! [spoilers: one other convention, one new OU course, work])


So this past weekend I have been in Bradford attending EightSquaredCon, the 2013 Eastercon. In short, I have had great fun, I've learnt a little bit and managed to sustain myself on a diet that only included one piece of fruit over four days.

On Friday, Dad, Aaron and I travelled down to Bradford, found the Travelodge, registered at the con and attended a couple of panels! As we only got to the con hotel just before 6pm, there wasn't a chance to go to many, but the ones I did go to were:

  • The Magical British Countryside: This was an interesting panel, with lots of discussion around how certain people connect to certain places. Some did so on a personal level, which created meaning in the place for them and in so doing made it a spiritual/magical place. Some felt that there is an innate magic in the landscape, and that is what they try to capture in the various forms of art. Obviously connecting on an emotional level and believing the land to have an innate magical spirit of its own go hand in hand, so in many cases the feelings lap over each other. As an American on the panel pointed out, for white Americans there aren't really aspects of the landscape which are embedded into their cultural history and seen as magical (fr ex, the Grand Canyon is spectacular, but Stonehenge is magical/spiritual and holds a different significance to an awe-inspiring piece of the land) so coming to somewhere like Britain, or Europe, offers them that historic connection. As Mike Shevdon pointed out, cities often inspire emotional/spiritual connections, but is that because the land draws people to it with its own innate magic or is it because humans inhabit it and so build and grow the spirit of a place by their interaction with it (fr ex, London, the Underground)? This was all, obviously, fascinating to someone who has trouble believing a place to be innately magical, and which only gains values that we ascribe to it - not lessening the place's significance, but suggesting it is mostly human influence and our desire to connect to one another by connecting to a place we all view as special. Very interesting!

  • Crossover Fanfic: This was pretty much a fun and light-hearted discussion about crossovers - what were the weirdest ones you've written, weirdest you've read, what works particularly well and a little bit of discussion on what actually counts as a crossover and what is an AU? Is it enough to have characters from two canons meeting, somehow (what I would call a crossover)? Can characters from one canon be placed in the setting of another and is that an AU or a crossover (I would call it an AU, myself)? What about crossing over more than two sets of canon? I suppose the conclusions drawn in this panel were: so long as you can think it, you can write it, and if you're a good writer, you'll make almost anything you create worth reading.

    As an aside to that panel, I know they were discussing fanfic, but it would have been interesting to hear a little bit about the Tumblr habit of making crossover graphics/gifs and putting a tiny drabble/fic underneath, buuuut there is only ever so much time for a panel to talk about something!

  • Graphic Novel Selections: This was a good panel, with lots of recs given out by members of the panel and audience, and since I wrote them down, here they all are (just as much for my personal use as anyone else reading this!):
    Sam & Max (complete) - by Steve Purcell - Apparently out of print, wiki here and webcomic starts here
    Multiple Warheads (on going) - from Oni Press
    Sweet Tooth (complete) - by Jeff Lemire - from Vertigo, wiki here
    Nocturnals (complete) - by Dan Bereton - seemingly out of print, wiki here
    Sleeper (complete) - by Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker - out of print, I think? available on Amazon, wiki here
    Courtney Crumrin (on going) - by Ted Naifeh - from Oni Press
    Lenore (on going) - by Roman Dirge - from Slave Labor Graphics Titan Comics, wiki here and I add a personal recommendation to this - I used to LOVE Lenore. Also it seems appropriate to point out, Roman Dirge was in a car accident, and his family are asking for donations
    The Amazing Screw-On Head (complete) - by Mike Mignola - from Dark Horse Maverick, available in a collected edition with other stories, the panellist rec'ing this hadn't actually read the comic, but seen the short animation based on it. As I have read it, I can thoroughly rec it, it's zany but wonderful!
    Chew (on going) - by Jon Layman and Rob Guillory - from Image Comics (Read some of it, and fuck yeah it’s awesome!)
    Digger (complete) - Ursula Vernon - from Seawolf Press, official website here
    Rachel Rising (on going) - Terry Moore - published by the creator
    Thieves and Kings (on going, I think?) - Mark Oakley - website here
    And I think that was everything! Or at least, everything I wrote down! I think maybe someone mentioned Bryan Talbot and Grandville, and if they did, good, because that shit's awesome.
    There was also a bit of talk about how one gets into comics - from the sounds of it, luck.

    My Friday evening ended up with throwing up, so that wasn't so great =/ But all was well by Saturday! No more stomach bug!

    And so, on to Saturday!

  • The Stories in Games: I found this a really interesting panel, especially as I am not, myself, a gamer, but I do watch quite a few of the games my brother plays, so I am interested in the stories involved in them. Anyway, the panel touched on many interesting subjects, such as when did a story aspect actually enter games? How does the setting of a game influence the plot? Is it any fun when a games company/GM railroads you into the story THEY want to tell rather than the one you want to play? Are all players actually interested in the story aspect of a game? And how do multi-strand plots such as Mass Effect influence the plot and outcome, and is it worth doing a multi-strand plot when the climax is the same no matter what you do?
    As a note on the lack of choice in the plot you undertake, it was interesting to hear games described in that case as an interactive film, which I'd agree with.

  • On Twitter, Everyone Can Hear You Scream: I had gone into this panel expecting something a little light and fun, touching on the very public nature of Twitter and the fact that it can be archived, unlike a face-to-face conversation. HA. No, this was a very in-depth discussion on the nature of data-gathering by companies/governments, the area specific censorship enacted by Twitter, the fact that people on Twitter forget they aren't just speaking to their mates and so say really awful things that they wouldn't have otherwise.
    I think it was Daisee Chain who pointed out that Twitter can have a very lynch-mob like feel if someone popular gets a bee in their bonnet and sets off their friends, although another panellist said they experienced that more on LJ than on Twitter. I actually agree with Daisee on this, not least because LJ is frequently like a ghost ship and you couldn't get together a good lynch mob without months of advance notice. Twitter has a lot of immediacy about it which encourages the group-mentality but does NOT leave you much time to investigate and think about who you're attacking lest the issue be done and over with by the time you've read the relevant blog posts.
    So yes, not what I expected, a lot more technical and in-depth, but nonetheless a very good panel.

  • Motherhood in SF and Fantasy: Or, as it could have been called, where have all the mothers gone? This panel touched upon the fact that in Western SF, mothers and mother-child relationships rarely figure largely in plots. There are exceptions, like Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, but for the most part, mothers are absent. It could be because SF/F stories are at heart, adventure stories, which relates back to a person's need to break away from family, etc etc. It could be because a whole swathe of writers have bad relationships with their mothers and don't want to write about it. It could be because motherhood isn't sexy (although presumably a mother had to at some point have been sexy enough to sleep with someone so they could reproduce??). It could be because we're all giant children and Mummy has never been and never will be ANYONE BUT MUMMY and all Mummy does is look after ME and absolutely NOT steal starships and fight genocidal robots, GOSH.
    Also, apparently a lot of non-Western SF includes mothers in their stories, so perhaps a Western attitude to the family/mothers, influences whether or not they appear in prominent roles in our fiction.
    An interesting point was briefly made, that in the case of romance (a genre more aimed at women and mothers), mothers are frequently the protagonists of their stories, so perhaps it's also an issue of marketing and what editors/publishers/writers see as their intended audience?
    I think this panel did have an issue though, and that is that one of the panellists has never written a mother character, is not a parent, and didn't really have much to contribute to the discussion? I'm not really sure why he was chosen or why he accepted, although he did bring up the interesting question of, are there many stories of mothers who kill their children? I wanted to jump up and yell MEDEA but I restrained myself. She did kill her kids though. And not even because they're evil! She just REALLY HATED her husband and the situation her life had ended up in. I will say it's super interesting that rather than being punished for murdering her husband's new wife, killing his sons and ending his family line, she just flew off in a chariot. Like a boss.

  • The Best Books of 2012 (Not the Not-The-Clarke-Awards): My notes for this panel literally just say: "Recs galore, wrote some, not all, down" And yes, I wrote a few down on my tablet, but aside from Boneland by Alan Garner and Blue Remembered Earth by Alistair Reynolds, it's mostly xxxx ?????! Because I didn't catch the title or author, hahaha. I'm sure someone will provide the list somewhere!

    After that, I took Dad and Aaron back to the Travelodge and intended to go back.

    I went to sleep instead... v..v;;;

    And so! Sunday came along, and [livejournal.com profile] dougs had asked me to do a reading at the Easter service, so, naturally, I did.


  • Easter Worship: This is always one of my favourite things about Eastercon, partly because I love how weird it is! There's lots of science talk, lots of good and rational thinking going on at a sci-fi convention, and then there's a room full of people singing and chanting their thanks to an invisible being who sent his son down to die because that makes all the believers not spend an eternity in agony and torture because they were a bit bad for their comparatively short life! I love that contrast.
    Anyway, the service itself was absolutely lovely, I realised I had no idea how one introduces or ends a reading, and the entire room were very helpful in letting me know I could pretty much do what I liked! I think the reading went well (I chose 1 Corinthians 15:12-26 over the other option because it includes some amusingly circular logic and all the talk of the dead rising makes me think of zombies, which is neat), and the singing this year seemed particularly loud, and there was a person really hitting the descant hard, which was awesome!
    Doug also gave a very nice sermon, pointing out that actually, the way that God, and indeed Christians, act can be perceived as being fannish (TOTALLY LOVING what you've created, totally loving what someone else created and talking about it and telling others about it and being totally amazed that we have this wonderful thing!). Doug also pointed out that the very best way we can be Christians in a wider community is to try our best to spread love, joy and justice! (like a religious mix of chocolate and Batman!), which is, after all, what Jesus has done for us.
    Deborah is our usual organist and was on top form this year! I'm so glad we're all lucky enough to have an organist now, especially such a lovely one ♥!!

  • Alan Garner: Although this was a panel item, it ended up mostly being Sue Mason ([livejournal.com profile] frostfox) expounding on the subject of Alan Garner, upon which she is something of an expert. It was a very interesting panel, and I did learn a lot about Alan Garner - mostly that his books are difficult, occasionally distressing but ultimately very satisfying. Alan Garner sounds like a very interesting man.

  • New Classics for Old Fans: Essentially a wonderful panel that did exactly what it said on the tin - a group of young fans rec'd things that they enjoyed, mostly YA titles. Look how many there are!

    (I know that it's blurry! But you can see how much I wrote down!)
    Anthony Horowitz – Power of Five
    Maureen Johnson – Name of the Star
    Phillip Reeve – Larklight and Mortal Engines series
    John Green – The Fault in Our Stars
    Gemma Malley – The Declaration
    Susanne Collins – The Hunger Games series
    Scott Westerfield – Uglies
    Peter F. Hamilton – Void trilogy
    Jan Mark – Plague 1999
    Michael Grant – Gone
    Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now
    Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson series and Heroes of Olympus series
    Seanan Mcguire
    Kate Thompson – The New Policeman
    Mira Grant – Newsflesh
    Sally Garnder – I, Coriander
    Sophie McKenzie – The Medusa Project series
    Robert Muchamore - Cherub series
    Gail Carriger – The Parasol Protectorate series (personal rec added here, these books are great!)
    George Orwell – Animal Farm
    Stephen Chbosky – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    Tamara Pierce – Song of the Lioness quartet
    S. F. Said – Varjak Paw
    Neal Shusterman – Unwind
    Daniel Marks – Velveteen
    And one from me: Holly Black – Valiant (second in a trilogy, but stands alone very well)
    This was a great panel, and lovely to see younger fans getting a chance to be on the program! They were great panellists :D

  • Superpowers Sold Cheap!: An interactive panel thing, basically someone stood up and the panel gave them superpowers, a name and a costume. I ended up being Wrench Wench, who wore skintight overalls and steel-toe cap boots, and had screwdriver fingers... Er. Well. I think this panel was ok, but also at times really cringeworthy? I think better organisation and a more decisive panel would have worked better. In fact, this is a panel I'd like to do again at next year’s Eastercon! Anyone else interested in doing it with me? Or I can have a dictatorship going on, just me yelling things at the audience. It could work!

  • The Red Queen's Race: Big Business In Superhero Comics: Firstly, ok, this is a really misleading title. I thought we were going to be talking about things like Wayne Corp and actual big business in comics, not the big business behind publishing comics, hahaha. Thankfully, it WAS about publishing comics! The panel were all very intelligent and had a lot of good things to say about things like endless events, crossovers and shock tactics as sale mechanisms not allowing for good stories or working as long term solutions to sales-dips. For example, the New 52 with DC happened 18 or so months ago, but we've had Death of the Family with the Bat line, the Superman crossovers happening now, Swamp Thing and Animal Man crossing over, Grifter and Stormwatch crossing over a bit, and now the Throne of Atlantis storyline with the JLA and Aquaman, and those are the things I know of. That is a lot of crossing over and inter-title character sharing, mostly done, I think, as a means of grabbing more money even AFTER the massive reboot.
    They also brought up the point that character development – true character development – has become quite rare, because a creator may have spent years building a character into a mature, rounded adult, and then suddenly! Through a means of deus ex machina, the character is back to some previous point, and the whole rigmarole starts again. This can be very frustrating, especially when it leads to things like the break-up of Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s marriage, or the total lack of Lois and Superman, or even things like Apollo and Midnighter in Stormwatch, because a solid relationship ages the character too much and a single person, or people working towards a relationship are more saleable??
    Interestingly on that, comics like Animal Man and Aquaman both include steady relationships, which I think adds a unique and welcome angle to the plots of both comics. Without Ellen and his children being major players in the comic, Animal Man would have totally lost the emotional urgency and horror that really made the comic work so well.
    I think this panel was one of my highlights from the weekend, even though I don’t feel stunning new realisations were reached, it was just nice to hear well-informed discussion on comics.

    It was also the last panel I attended on Sunday.

    So we come to Monday, unfortunately the last day of the con! =(

    And so my last day started with:
  • Selling Space:

    Oh my god you guys I am writing this in fucking AUGUST because I SUCK SO BAD and forgot to finish this. It was a very good panel, interesting discussion of science in schools, funding ACSHUAL SCIENCE and the inability of the press to do responsible science reporting (see: reporting results that don’t exist, giving definites when there are only strong probabilities).

    AS FAR AS I RECALL I only did one other panel

  • What’s On Webcomics:
    I don’t even know. I remember interesting discussion and NONE OF THE RECS because I’m awful and don’t even know which notebook I used. /o\



    AUGH JEEZ THIS IS SO LATE. I don’t even know if I did anything on the trip back. =/
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