seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
Philcon was a pretty excellent time.

Logistics worked out this year much better than in past years. Room booked well in advance, low floor requested on account of stairs on Shabbat, and for the first time, request actually accommodated! That was a huge difference in being able to head back to the room on breaks to eat or just chill out. Also, requested a fridge, and acquired food that requires a fridge and that also made a difference in logistical success. Ate much better this year than at past cons. Oh man, the fiasco at Worldcon where they didn't have enough refrigerators and I used the tiny icebox to hold a turkey sandwich that ended up waterlogged despite being sealed in various plastic bags. :( I shared a room with my brother, plus [personal profile] freeradical42, [profile] teal_dear, and Jon who doesn't have an LJ/DW. It was great to hang out with all of them.

In general, the panels were not too great. One of the best panels I will not talk about because Yuletide spoilers, but the best panel of all was the First Annual Philcon Imaginary Word Spelling Bee, which was amazing. Contestants were quizzed on words from Nyarlathotep to Mxyzptlk, and I just barely missed out on winning the bee. I was a little annoyed that I had to miss the SF trivia contest for it, but it was so ridiculous and fun and I'm hoping it will continue to be a part of the con.

There was also a well done panel on Dangerous Visions, which took a broad and skeptical look at the place of the collection in SF history and ultimately I think did a very fair job of apportioning credit to Harlan where it was due without buying into the hype machine surrounding the anthology. Dangerous Visions is an amazing collection of stories, everyone agreed, and it did some things to give legitimacy to the genre as a source of thoughtful literary ideas, but it was also of a time and place where that was happening elsewhere. One panelist emphasized the role it had in bringing new female voices to peoples' attention, and another highlighted the way it helped bring sex and liberal politics into SF. But some people in the audience wondered if by partially legitimizing SF, Dangerous Visions had in some sense prolonged the ghetto and kept it from folding into the literary mainstream earlier, and this led to a nicely broad conversation about how these 'revolutionary anthologies' - not just Dangerous Visions, but also Mirrorshades and Dark Matter and others- changed the conversation around genre fic in significant ways without really fundamentally changing the nature of 'genre fiction'.

Hmm... what else was cool? Went to two performances involving the musical guest of honor, Heather Dale, which were both great. The former was the opening ceremony concert, a nice high energy filk set that highlighted Dale's beautiful vocals- the latter was the first solo show of her guitarist Ben Deschamps, which was a really fun set of filky instrumental folk, highlighted by instrumentals about zombies and dinosaurs and a poem setting of an SJ Tucker poem, recited by Tucker. I also went to a few other filk concerts that I enjoyed- the Denebian Slime Devils, Marc Grossman, and Sarah Pinsker. And there was a Sunday morning filk panel on ridiculous filk that saw a filk of Meercat Manor to the tune of Mozart's "La Ci Darem" and the most aggressive, hardcore filk I've ever heard about a dishwasher.

Saturday evening I signed up for a Ravaged Earth game- a high energy 1930s pulp rpg setting for Savage Worlds. [profile] teal_dear played a sentient robot butler, I played Captain Lightning, a superhero, and the other two players played a martial arts master and a mad scientist as we scampered around the naked city on a series of wild adventures. The setting was great fun and well matched to the system, and we all had a blast. The high water mark for me was flying down onto the hood of the cultists' automobile, punching through the windshield, and grabbing the driver by the throat. And then striking a heroic pose, to demonstrate to the American Public of This Fine Land that standing up for What Is Right is always worth it. In the game room I also played SET with an eight year old and tried out the new Guilds expansion for Dominion. I lost at Dominion, of course. I always lose at Dominion. I absolutely do not have the head for that game.

And then I suppose I should share what happened at the fanfic panel. If you were told that it wouldn't be a panel of profic writers trashing fanfic, it was exactly what you would expect the Philcon fanfic panel to be. It was a bunch of writers who had mostly gotten their start in 1970s K/S and had mostly transitioned to being profic writers. When they were sharing fandom stories from back in the day, the panel was great. When they were talking about their approach to fanfic and its relationship to canon, TPTB, profic, and tie-ins, they were so far on the other side of a cultural and to some degree generational divide from me that it wasn't even worth the time and effort to argue with them.

They believed that the reason they could write Trekfic was because Paramount let them/turned a blind eye, and they believed that when Paramount started recruiting fic writers to write tie-in novels, that amounted to Paramount finally paying attention to the fandom. I don't think they could have possibly understood the relationship I have with TPTB in my fandoms, that I don't care whether or not they want me to be writing the fic, that I often write fic that would be read as deliberately confrontational toward TPTB, except that I don't give a shit whether they read it because I'm writing in conversation with other fans, not in conversation with the creators. They can't comprehend how I approach contemporary copyright law as a thing to ignore when one is not politically inspired and to campaign against when one is.

So on the one hand I was profoundly relieved that it wasn't a wankfest about how fanfiction sucks compared to profic, but the cultural gap was significant enough that there was not much room for my fanfictional experience in the room.

The most fascinating bit of the conversation for me was when they all discussed the moment when they had moved from writing fanfiction that adhered as closely to canon as possible- deleted scenes, episode tags, casefic- to writing something that deviated. These were interesting stories- how one of them had created a fanzine represented as if it were an in-universe magazine, how one of them had introduced an OFC whose dialogue and approach to the world didn't match classic Trek dialogue- but what struck me was that that's how I was writing fanfic from my very first story. I never had that moment because I never had a phase of only writing episode tags and casefic and deleted scenes. Later in the con I was talking to [profile] teal_dear about how the transformative/affirmative fandom breakdown is interesting and somewhat descriptively powerful, but not always clean- the panelists seemed to me to be talking about making a transition between a sort of affirmational fanfiction and transformational fanfiction, as the hypothetical stepping stone toward origfic.

In any case, there were lots of other neat things, and I had a great time. Yay Philcon.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
This year there's a panel on fanfic at Philcon, which would be mildly shocking except for its title:

"Fan Fiction: Stepping Stone or Cul de Sac?"

Oh, Philcon, never change. ;-)

(The description is possibly better than the title makes it sound: "Many writers nowadays start off writing fan fiction. Some stay and some move on. Is this a helpful stepping stone to other forms of writing fiction? Is it possible that fan fiction may be seen as an art form in its own right?")
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
NYCC didn't suck this year like the last time.

This is for a few reasons but mostly because I spent all of thirty seconds on the main floor.

After NYCC I met up with [ profile] allandaros, who's briefly in town, and I was struggling to articulate my problem with the main floor. It's that it's loud, crowded, and obnoxious, but it's more than that. It's that I experience a sense of disorientation from the lack of curation... all around me, in every direction, were objects that were being implicitly or often explicitly labelled as belonging to 'nerd culture', but without any guiding principle other than commerce, I found the disorganized leaps from subculture to subculture to be communicating a diminishing sense of coherence, so that the more time I spent on the floor, the less welcome I felt as a nerd, even though I was surrounded by things that I do legitimately appreciate as part of my experience of nerd culture.

Instead, I spent a few hours in Artist Alley, whose incredible, exuberant diversity I found manageable because it had some sorts of unifying principle. And then when [personal profile] ghost_lingering showed up with her friends, we ended up at the main stage for panels on Chozen (with Bobby Moynihan and Method Man), Doctor Who audio dramas (with the Sixth Doctor and the voice of the Daleks) and the X-Files (with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson). It's not the convention as I would have experienced it on my own, I think, but we've already covered how badly that's gone in the past, so I am grateful to [personal profile] ghost_lingering for steering me in a different path where I had a lot more fun.

Method Man freestyling alone justified the cost of the con ticket for me, and the Duchovny/Anderson panel was unbelievably hilarious as Duchovny kept finding new ways to troll the audience and Anderson. They did a bit as Scully and Mulder attempting badly to have phone sex. Duchovny tried to make everything he said a 'shipper innuendo to rile up the fans. It was absolutely a unique experience.

I'm thinking that every other year seems a manageable level of NYCC exposure, but given this experience I'm probably not going to give up on the con altogether, as I would have if it had been as unpleasant as last time. Still, I am way more excited for Philcon.


Aug. 20th, 2013 04:57 pm
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
So, I will be going to some Cons.

I have a ticket for New York Comic Con on the Sunday, October 13th. It'll be my second NYCC, after 2011, and my expectations are not all that high. NYCC is one of those giant floor shows at the Javits Center where you wander around for hours amidst giant crowds getting little tiny tastes of things. I never really like those, even though I've been going to the Auto Show for years. So basically my hope is that I'll have a couple of interesting interactions.

I'll be going to Philcon for the full weekend, November 8-10th, and for that my expectations are higher. It's my home SF con and this'll be my third or fourth straight year going depending on whether you count a cameo four years ago where I showed up, blundered into a game of Dread, and then went home. Philcon is awesome. I'm looking forward to a place where in one weekend I'll be able to play board games and rpgs, sing filk, buy, read, and talk about SF fiction, argue about comic books, and dream about the future. Also, maybe this will be the year when the hotel doesn't put me higher than the tenth floor on Shabbat.

And in most exciting news of all, I bought a membership to the 2014 Worldcon in London. I have never been to London. I have never been to Europe. The whole thing is very, very exciting to me. Tell me what I should do when I'm in London besides be a giant nerd? Also, I anticipate the whole thing being quite expensive, so if you know other people who are going and who might to share a hotel room let me know.


seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)

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