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Category Archives: Fandom

The Eternal Border, a discussion on taboos at the 2010 WorldCon

An AussieCon4 panel including Deborah Biancotti, Richard Harland, Jason Nahrung and Catherynne Valente took a starting point that dark fantasy can push at boundaries and examine various taboos.

Deborah Biancotti

Deborah Biancotti

Deb is a Sydney-based writer, psychology graduate and a dark fantasist who likes “playing with” the taboo of death. She also notices the differences within cultures and how there are many alternatives to a Christian or “western” approach.

Catherynne Valente

Catherynne Valente

Cat has written over a dozen novels and won many awards for her challenging work. She cites Lolita as an example of a work that is so powerful because it is so beautifully written. The skill of Nabokov’s story can be seen as shocking because it implicates the reader. Writing about subjects a particular culture is afraid of can lead to some backlash. Cat mentioned that Americans and Italians, particularly, are not happy if Christian teachings are treated in stories as mythology rather than fact.

Richard’s prolific output includes Steampunk and he mentioned stories with a macabre emphasis, for example involving body parts and also torture, can now be accepted by librarians.

Richard Harland

Richard Harland

Of note was the thought that there are no longer any taboos in comedy or horror, and perhaps speculative fiction and fantasy have reached similar acceptance when dealing with many taboos.

Cat found, however, that what appeared to be autobiographical content distressed a small but nonetheless significant percentage of her audience. Polysexual themes are “accepted in spec fic” however, she said, and suggested that is why there are many poly people in that community.

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Posted by on September 10, 2010 in Fandom, Publishing, Social Media, Writing

 

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Artists’ Paradox of “a knock at the door” at AussieCon4

Cat Sparks, Nick Stathopoulos and Shaun Tan spoke to an enthusiastic audience at one WorldCon 2010 panel, with Kyla Ward acting as moderator.

Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan

Shaun explained a key feature of art, for him, is that it must be interesting, which doesn’t mean overloaded. His own work is often edited and pruned back to the essence of what he wants to express. Shaun also said he prefers indirect rather than literal. All the panel used examples of their own work to explain their approach, with commentary by each other on particular works.

Cat Sparks

Cat Sparks

Cat said she is a graphic designer and not an artist and so was embarrassed to be on panel with “real artists” as she mainly works in collage. Cat has an artist father and she learned from a young age the mechanics of collage. Nick and Shaun believed Cat was being too modest and said many great artists used the collage medium, and that they did also when it suited a project.

Nick Stathopoulos

Nick Stathopoulos

Nick works primarily as an artist although added that for his book cover commissions he will sometimes use digital constructions in PhotoShop. The projects can start as paintings and he may use tools and effects to create a particular result. He doesn’t see this as an issue, merely a new approach for an artist to use when it suits.

A key part of the discussion centred on the way a phrase can be a starting point, yet the result can be extraordinary. The example of how an opening line like “there was a knock at the door” could lead to many interpretations of what type of door, so a starting point of “the knock” being from the inside of a microwave door can lead to interesting and captivating art.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2010 in Art, Fandom, Social Media

 

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AussieCon4 – a ‘science’ failure

AussieCon4 was held at the Melbourne Convention & Entertainment Centre (MCEC) from 2nd-6th Sept 2010, in theory the premier event for science fiction fans around the world. New fans and old were presented with a rich choice of panels and activities over the five days of the Con.

AussieCon4 the world science fiction convention 2010

The world science fiction convention 2010

The facilities were excellent apart from one huge waste. Thousands of people from around the world were gathered in one place at enormous carbon expense. But the enormously rich content from the minds of the collected leading lights of literature and fandom was wasted to an extravagant extent.

The 10 hours approx each day of panel talks, presentations and discussions were allowed to live briefly before they faded into the ether, the first minute evaporating before the second was delivered. This didn’t occur just once each day but at up to FIFTEEN times each hour at the contemporaneous panels.

So around 150 hours of fabulous content was created and crafted each day, then mindlessly allowed to trickle through the enormous gaps of readily available but shockingly unused technology.

This was the 68th year of a SCIENCE fiction convention! The con was held AWAY from 99.99% of the population of the planet! Yet EVERY word spoken and even every image used could have been captured for, at the LEAST, a podcast! WTF fandom! Why this diabolical WASTE!

Even the most perverse dystopia wouldn’t countenance such short-sightedness being perpetrated by assembled geekdom!

MCEC intelligent lectern

MCEC intelligent lectern

This stupendous lack was irritating at the MICRO level as it prevented interested and committed fans – some having travelled thousand of miles – from accessing content from two or three or even four panel discussions, often in ADJOINING rooms on a single floor of a supposedly high-tech venue!

At the MACRO level the 2 or 3 or up to 6 panelists presented around 1,000 hours of rich, mostly unique and definitely VALUABLE thought which was allowed to decay instantly apart from within the minds of just 20 to 50 to 100 attendees! WTF fandom!

SCIENCE fiction? SPECULATIVE fiction? MIND fiction? Sorry fandom but this was MINDLESS waste! Either the technology was there and ignored, or it should have been adapted to provide, at the minimum, a capture of all panel content to use in podcasts and/or streaming.

Steampunk, even, would be able to capture and provide universal access to these lost treasures of thought! The new millennium of fandom, post-2001, has no Odyssey journal to speak of and not even a SINGLE collection of thought – on paper or audio or video – from the live events! WTF FANDOM!

Who? Where? When? What? No-one will ever know!

Who? Where? When? What? No-one will ever know!

The sparkling diamonds of thought from fantasy authors, agents and fans (AAFs) are lost, needlessly wasted alongside the depth of knowledge and commentary that was delivered.

The sharp, finely-honed discussions from science and/or speculative fiction AAFs vanished faster than the speed of light.

The new generation, aka the talented and challenging YA spec fic AAFs, came and delivered and must have watched in amazement as their golden words suffered a half-life of nano seconds. YA expertise at the convention came from many, including Bec Kavanagh, Zoe Walton, Kate Forsyth and Helen Merrick.

Meanwhile, in another room, not that you’ll be able to see or hear, assembled fan luminaries are angry at the LACK OF ACCESS to older print-based fanzines and other types of documentation and memorabilia from decades past!

Even at the celeb level there must have been some frustration that a person sitting on a panel would be unable to hear a transcript of another panel, in many cases with valuable content delivered by their peers or even colleagues.

W T F   F A N D O M !

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2010 in Fandom, Publishing, Social Media, Writing, YA

 

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