ezekielsdaughter: (VacationPhoto)
2013-09-08 11:33 am

Worldcon 2013 - Where do we go from here?

  • Can Traditional SF Communities Survive Multimedia Conventions

I left this topic to handle a bunch of issues.

Events were held at the Marriott RiverView, the Marriott RiverCenter, and of course, the convention center.  The two Marriotts were right next door to each other and it was two days before I realized that they were two different buildings and not two nicknames for the same building.  Apparently, one used to be a Fairmont hotel.  The Hugos and the Masquerade was in the RiverCenter.  The Kaffekatsch were in the RiverView (these were a chance to sit with a author and just have coffee and talk.)  My hotel was across the street from the Convention Center.  I thought that was close until I had to walk and walk to get to the proper entrance was on the opposite side of my hotel.

I got to registration only to find that “someone had already picked up your badge”.  I was sent to the Solutions desk (a good idea).  They had the badge saying that I lost it on the bus last night.  Well, no, I said.  I just got in town a few hours ago.   A mystery.  The convention center seemed to be under renovation or improvement.  Most panel were in the B building.  The B building actually was two separate building separated by the San Antonio river.  By the 4th day, I finally realized that I could not get to the second B building (rooms 6 - 8) by going downstairs at the rear of the building--which was closest to the bridge over the river.  The escalator going down was under maintenance.  The elevator only went up and not down (despite having a down button).  Thus a long walk back to the front of the building, go outside and either down an elevator in another part of building or down the steps.  Then walk the length of the building until you get to the bridge.  There were buttons on the glass doors so that people in wheelchairs could open the doors.  The buttons did not all work and the door opening would crash into the person operating the button.  We were spread out quite a lot and I am certain that the Latino conference was bemused by all of these strangers walking through their allotted rooms in order to get to another set of rooms which unreachable on the other side.

All of this to mention the panel listed about.  I wrote notes because much of what was said apply to many gathering.  The “issue” is that Dragoncon is held the same weekend as Worldcon and now pulls many more people.  According to Google, the attendance of ComicCon was 130,000 in 2010.  The attendance of Dragoncon was 52,000.  The attendance of Worldcon was around 4,000.  Where does Worldcon go from here?

Kevin Roche said that his two major suggestions are (a) Worldcon should stop moving from city to city.  (b) Worldcon should be Worldcon in name -- not Lonestar (the 71st Worldcon in subtitles).

Oh -- personally, I don’t have a problem with the second.  However, I would hate to see Worldcon nailed to one city, since Worldcon gives me a chance to treat the convention as a vacation also.  Also, since most of the writers are in New York and L.A., one of those cities would be chosen.  Both expensive cities for a convention.

Another suggestion, is that Worldcon should advertise.  I don’t know if they advertised in the city, but I listened to a conversation in Macy’s where someone related the experience of telling a book buyer that her favorite author was just across the street at a convention.  I agree--they just advertise outside the fan community.

One happy innovation at conventions was the creation of event/display lounges.  At an earlier Worldcon, the hotel did not want people lounging in the hotel lobby so the convention created an lounge area at the convention.  Circular tables so that people would talk to each other.  Micro-progamming events: like the mechanical bull ride that I did on Thursday and the live Angry Birds game that others did on Saturday.  There was a stage where events occurred without announcement.  Displays like convention bids, videos, costumes, prior Hugo award designs.  This area was open even after the dealers room closed.   Kevin Roche believes that the speciality of Worldcon is conversation.  People go to Comiccon to get stuff, he thinks.  People at Worldcon like to sit around and talk.

I would say that there were not enough places to sit around and talk at this convention.  There were not enough chairs and sofas in the halls of the convention center.  People did sit in the hotel lobbies and talk.

He thought that having gaming being in the convention center was a good idea.  He disliked seeing it in a dark room that was a mystery to other convention attendees.

Suggestions: a twenty-three year old in the back objected to that.  He thought that the gaming area felt thrown together.  No one was running the area; making suggestions, helping people.  He made some suggestions that people in his age group would want to see.  Several people came up to him later and asked to talk to him further.  I don’t know a thing about gaming, but I can say that there were no intro panels for people like me.   There were intro panels for costuming and I did attend one of those.

Someone suggested that there needs to be a maker space that adults felt comfortable in.  The kids area created games, costumes, etc and some adults mentioned that they would have liked to be able to do that.

What do I think?

As I said, I have no problem with Worldcon merely becoming “Worldcon”.  It is different every year and some years are better than others because it is fan-run.  Each year, a different corporation runs the con, a corporation that exists only due the time needed to make the bid and disperse final funds at the end.   Comic-con is not at all attractive to me because it is (a) media oriented, and (b) not fan-run.  I don’t know anything about Dragoncon other than the legal issues going on as they try to oust a board member.  If you look at various web sites, you would get the impression that they are more interested in movies, TV, and comics than literary works.  People in the audience said no --Dragoncon now includes a literary track also.  So, I don’t know.  It seems too large to be much fun.  After all, there were panels during this week that I wanted to attend but could not.  Worldcon is nice in that I get a concentration on books but I can dip into other areas and find out why people find them so fascinating.  (Another reason that gaming needed an intro panel.)  2014 is a year where the North American worldcon (NASFIC) will be a  different time than Dragoncon.  It would be possible to check both out.
How international is Dragoncon?  That is one great thing about Worldcon.  At few other cons can I sit down with someone from Canada, Finland, Dubai, Mexico.

ezekielsdaughter: (VacationPhoto)
2013-09-08 11:31 am
Entry tags:

Worldcon 2013 - Writers and Writing

  • How to Sell to Ellen Datlow

  • Gender in SF

  • Fiction about Real Politics and How Writers Get it Wrong

  • Jim Gunn’s Teaching

  • How to write a novel

  • How Arab SF could Dream a Better Future

  • Latino Characters by Mainstream Authors: Diversity or Cultural Appropriation?

The last two presenters speak better for themselves.



The last gave me a chance to ask what term is better (in a story) --Mexican, Chicano, Latino--because I was criticized by using the word Mexican.  Not surprisingly, Rudy Ch. Garcia said it depends on the era.  He was raised Chicano.  As evidenced by a conference that started a couple of days after our own, many people are not comfortable with Latino.   (I sent some time wondering about what that convention was all about.  An angel stopped me on Saturday and told me that it was a Latino version of the Essence Festival.  There were musical acts at night and during the day, there was panels, speeches, booths just like those set up at the convention center.  This was Target’s third year sponsoring it.)

I was impressed that Yasser Bahjatt's company has committed to publishing in both English and native Arabian dialects in order to get exposure for the writers

Real Politics:

writers were encouraged to remember that even in a totalitarian society, the members of the society receive something in return.  To not indicate that in a story would be unrealistic.  The trains have to run on time.  The bridges have to be built.  The roads must be paved.  That’s why many people remain complacent.

The writers on the panel also mentioned that they books annoying that have missing levels of bureaucracy.  People are able to get into the office of whatever management level they need immediately. 

Ultimately, they ask:  What is the author trying to do. How well was it done?  Was it worth doing?  What does the story have to say about being human?

How to write a novel

Some obvious stuff but it bears restating.

What is at stake?  What does the character want?  What can go wrong? What is the purpose of this scene? 

If you are have problems finishing a novel -- take a moment to write down what you fear.  What is keeping you from finishing the novel? (That one was new to me)

For inexperienced beta readers: Ask them to tell you what they think that the story was about.  Ask them what they think of the character.  Ask them how a particular scene left them feeling.

ezekielsdaughter: (VacationPhoto)
2013-09-08 11:29 am
Entry tags:

Worldcon 2013 - Outside my usual bounds

I have been trying to group the panels that I attended.  That is difficult at times because I attended some panels merely because I had never attended a panel in that area before. 

  • Pattern Basics (How to use a pattern to make a costume)

  • Art Docent Tour

I’ve worn a costume at a Worldcon only once and I think it was a Worldcon in San Antonio.  I went to this because it sounded like fun.  And the presenters did offer some basic information.  They also noted two websites that I have to look up.



The Art Docent tour was led by someone knowledgable but had never led a tour before.  After 15 minutes (out of an hour), someone spoke up and reminded the artist that we only had an hour to see all of the art.  He sped up somewhat.  By the end, our group of ten or twelve had dwindled down to three.  I loved the quilted painting, some as detailed as a mosaic.  And staying to the end, gave the three of us a chance to meet the person who created the base of the 2013 Hugo awards.  We works in cast iron and he brought a mini-foundry to do a casting demo in San Antonio.

ezekielsdaughter: (VacationPhoto)
2013-09-08 11:28 am
Entry tags:

Worldcon 2013 - science and education

Science Panels

  • Bloopers and Blunders of Science

  • Where There’s a Will There’s Way: Reproductive Technology, Medical Ethics and the Law

  • Scientific Literacy vs. Human Knowledge

The first was kind of a bust for me.  Again, it was an early panel. Some of the same panelists were much better in latter panels.  The panels centered on ideas in science that were later repudiated.

In the second one, the panelists chose the issues that they saw as ethical issues. They churned through those and they went back and forth with prompting by the audience.

Described ethical issues:

  • The ability to choose a genome

    • Since cost is involved, one panelist quipped that this may be the one time that the 1% are used as Guinea pigs.

  • Outsourcing to Asia

    • I didn’t understand this at first.  But the audience helped to clarify.  In Germany, single women are not allowed to use sperm donor medical facilities.  So, they tend to go to a country that allows that.  The panelist then noted that there are also women who go to Asia to hire a surrogate mother.  The child might then be raised in a Denmark/Sweden/Norway -- someplace with a better child rearing policy.  So it is possible to have a child with a borrowed egg, borrowed sperm, surrogate mother, and raised in a yet another country because of its childcare policy.  Whose child is it? (And where should their loyalty lie?)

  • Parents who are looked down because they carried a child to term that they knew had a birth defect

    • Who is responsible if parents decide to have a child that they can not afford to support medically?

    • One of the panelists taught ethics in his country and he was participating on several panels.  He stressed that the society needs to decide on its basic philosophy to answer this.

  • End of Life issues. Ethics change due to technology.  Until the possibility of breathing tubes and feeding tubes existed, those were not ethical dilemmas.  Technology will continue to bring new end of life issues.

  • Why do we favor parental choice over governmental choice?

    • Example -- we recoil at China’s one child policy.  Is that governmental choice worse than the ones that the parents then made -- to abort female embryos?

  • One from the audience: What should society do about medical care staff (doctors, pharmacists, nurses) who refuse care to women who may terminate their pregnancies?

  • Another panelists mention that there are always blockages.  We may learn to clones organs, but you still need transplant surgeons.

  • Ultimately, one panelists said that we need to ask ourselves “why should I get what I want?”

Some of the issues continued to the third panel because of one the participants was the same--Torie Hoie (of Norway, I think).  He spoke with appreciation of the science training in Finland.  After deciding that teaching to the test was not working, they decided in 1968 that all teachers --at every level--would get 5 years of training.  I am wondering if he means that they pay for your education if you go into teaching because he continued to say that teaching is now the most popular course of study.  They now have to turn away 90% of the applicants.

A person in the audience how they solved the problems of

  1. teachers uncomfortable with science

  2. teachers unwilling to accept correction when the textbook is out of date

He said that the training helps to solve the first problem.  Also, in Finland, the teachers create the curriculum.   Other panelists had similar teaching experiences on the college level.  They sometimes have to retrain students to understand the scientific process of coming up with a theorem and testing that theorem.   Students are never presented with a rote answer even though he admitted that some students resist going through the process.  They just want to know “the answer”. Torie Hoie believes that all students should get a class in philosophy along with any class in science.

Torie Hoie spoke of the limitations of his method of teaching.  He wanted his students to write about one of Pzier’s drugs but the company had all sorts of roadblocks to the public getting comprehensive information on their products.

Questions left on the table: Who decides what a baseline knowledge of science is.  What does one measure against that baseline?


The second panel with its list of problems could make innumerable stories. Lots of possible moral conflicts.

I was blown away by the idea that teaching could become the favorite course of study. And the idea that even elementary school teachers would have training on how to teach science to elementary school children.  I still remember being in a delegation to my principal in junior high because we found out that our teacher had not taught science in 20 years and had only taught in an elementary school.  We were stuck with her--a wasted year.

ezekielsdaughter: (VacationPhoto)
2013-09-08 11:25 am

Worldcon 2013 - Poetry track

Two panels that I attended were poetry workshops.

  • The Poet as Activist: On Seeing and Saving the Natural World

  • Speculative Poetry Workshop

An early panel , the first was somewhat unfocused. However the presenters did note that while most literary poetry journals pay in copies, most SF magazines actually pay for poetry.  They gave the attendees the names of market lists.  Part of the problem was the focus on “the natural world”.   One participant asked about how to use poetry to reach mental patients and students in high school.  I immediately thought of Kalamu’s story circles.  The other note that I made in my little yellow tablet was the definition of “lune” poetry - a haiku styled poem with the 5-3-5 syllable count.

The Speculative Poetry workshop was interesting even though I got there a little late.  (It was murder trying to get from one wing of the convention center to another.)  I got there in time to be handed three words from three different canisters with the instruction to write a speculative poem using those 3 words.  I felt very happy with myself when I finished early, despite writing 3 drafts.  Someone in the front row was more productive.  She wrote  3 effective poems using her 3 words using her experience on a recent tour of San Antonio.

My three words were misty, interstellar medium, regent.  Go ahead. Try to write your own.

My poem

Read more... )

ezekielsdaughter: (VacationPhoto)
2013-09-05 10:57 pm

Worldcon 2013 - firstly, just a list

As Worldcon recedes, memories get all timey wimey.  That’s what reflection is.

I took notes, I journaled.  Among the choices, I tried to occasionally drop into a panel outside my immediate interests.  There were around 9 possible choices every hour.  Some were good; others disappointing.  I’ll be back to reminisce.

So a quick list of what I did attend.

  • Bloopers and Blunders of Science

  • Part of the Opening ceremonies--which I left and headed to lunch

  • The Poet as Activist: On Seeing and Saving the Natural World

  • Where There’s a Will There’s Way: Reproductive Technology, Medical Ethics and the Law

  • Tor Presents

  • Scientific Literacy vs. Human Knowledge

  • Latino Characters by Mainstream Authors: Diversity or Cultural Appropriation?

  • The History of Science and the Experience of Science Fiction

  • Pattern Basics (How to use a pattern to make a costume)

  • Reading: George R. R. Martin

  • How to Sell to Ellen Datlow

  • Kaffeeklatsch with Connie Willis

  • Gender in SF

  • Art Docent Tour

  • The Role of the (Doctor Who) Companions

  • 30 Great SFF films you almost certainly haven’t seen

  • How Arab SF could Dream a Better Future

  • Masquerade on Friday night

  • Speculative Poetry Workshop

  • Fiction about Real Politics and How Writers Get it Wrong

  • Reading -- was supposed to be Mary Anne Mohanraj but was not.

  • Jim Gunn’s Teaching

  • Philosophy and Science Fiction

  • a little of the nominated movie Brave

  • Writers, their Fans and Flame Wars, Oh My!

  • How to write a novel

  • reading by Jo Walton

  • Can Traditional SF Communities Survive Multimedia Convention

  • Hugos on Saturday night