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Category Archives: YA

We’re All Connected, All The Time – blogs and social networking in the world of YA spec fic

This was my favourite panel discussion of AussieCon4. There were plenty of other interesting and worthy ones, but Bec Kavanagh, Lili Wlkinson, Megan Burke and Mif Farquharson brought enthusiasm and, in some senses, hope to the book publishing industry.

Lili Wilkinson

Lili Wilkinson

Lili explained that the participatory opportunities of social media are being well used by the Young Adult audience, whether readers, writers or publishers. One example was the inky awards with a judging panel of 2 adults and 4 teens (details here http://bit.ly/9tT2GR) and a short list that included 5 Australian alongside 5 international works.

The way reading had become both creative and participatory impressed Lili and she noticed this was a growing trend.

Bec Kavanagh

Bec Kavanagh

Bec added that reading now has the option to be a community activity, with readers able to contact each other and also authors. This “real time” access via Twitter and Skype, etc, was seen as valuable for YA teen readers and also as an instant feedback mechanism for writers and publishers.

There is now a growing “virtual community” for genres, authors and reading clubs, and Bec mentioned the use of Q&A sessions with remote authors via Skype, plus the use of competitions to add numbers and engagement in a direct and friendly way.

Megan Burke

Megan Burke

Megan said online networks have helped create many strong and growing book-focussed and author-focussed communities.

SF fandom and fanzines were capable of similar roles in the “print era” but they lacked the attractions of almost-instant opportunities to discuss and ask questions in real time, right when a teen reader wanted to engage.

The panel mentioned a number of authors and active fans of the YA genre, including the example of Neil Gaiman who writes across many genres and is also very active with blogs and other social media.

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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Fandom, Publishing, Social Media, YA

 

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Fantastic Females – writers discuss feminism at WorldCon

Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger

It is perhaps no surprise to hear some excellent points of view when a panel includes Gail Carriger, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Glenda Larke, Delia Sherman, Catherynne Valente and Alaya Johnson. AussieCon4 was a great event and it is a shame panel discussions like this one did not receive wider distribution.

Alaya Johnson

Alaya Johnson

Many on the panel write and also read and review a wide range of fantasy and speculative fiction, including Young Adult (YA). Tansy summed up the frustration of noticing a lack of feminist content in many fantasy and spec fic books. Alaya had a strong interest in a female buddy theme but, more particularly, “one that worked”.

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Gail‘s approach is to use Victorian settings, and the bias of that age, alongside Isis myths as she prefers not to artificially include feminism before its time. Cat wanted to write positive but noticed it could be easier to describe sexist situations and to include sexist characters rather than create something “honest” that reflects a bisexual modern woman.

Cat summed up the views of many of the panel and the audience comments when she said she has no interest in female antagonism but wants realistic characters. Cat was concerned, also, that our culture as a whole is still at 101 while female speculative fiction and YA writers are at 501 already.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2010 in Fandom, Social Media, Writing, YA

 

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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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YA Speculative Fiction continues to gain readers and importance

One of the most interesting streams of discussion during AussieCon4, the 68th world science fiction convention, related to Young Adult and, more particularly, YA speculative fiction.

Bec Kavanagh

Bec Kavanagh

Providing commentary and discussion points on a panel devoted to YA, Bec Kavanagh, Zoe Walton, Kate Forsyth and Helen Merrick brought dozens of years of experience with the genre and, between them, professional expertise relating to dozens of published works.

Kate believes the “explosion of interest and sales in YA” comes from the strength of storylines and that kids love to be entranced with adventure and wonder. Bec added that since speculative fioction expanded from the “constraints of sf and fantasy” we now have a genre that can include Kate and Cory Doctorow, for example.

Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth

Bec said the “what if” zone is especially appealing to kids, and a recent poll showed both kids and adults favoured the genre with 48 of 100 titles having strong spec fic elements, a sure indication of the power and importance of the books.

Spec fic can transcend normal boundaries according to Kate, who is read in 13 countries and by men as much as women plus from an age range of 8 to 80 – the universal themes are not specific to geography or time period, allowing people of all cultures to immerse themselves in the stories.

Zoe Walton

Zoe Walton

The panel also believe YA has a richness of story in most cases, and see this in contrast to the “cleverness” of what we read in adult literary fiction.

Some panel members suggested High Fantasy may replace the dominance of Urban Fantasy over the next couple of years. YA is female dominated to a great degree, perhaps as a balance to the cowboy hero memes and male buddies in so many other genres and in film.

Helen Merrick

Helen Merrick

Bec added YA fans are very loyal and avid readers, while Kate suggested one secret is the common inclusion of “telling details” in the genre, citing the allure of secret rooms and adjective-rich descriptions.

Reading stats in last two years for the YA genre beat all others and, most significantly, have doubled each year in past two years. One reason cited for this is teens have enormous expendable time available, which can average 11 hours a day. Teens also now have  large expendable incomes compared to just a few years ago, plus take a more active role in family decisions about which books to buy or borrow from libraries.

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

 

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