I wanted to arrive on time for the first session, at 9.30 a.m, but I was a bit late anyway, and missed the beginning of "Forgotten Mothers Of SF." Well, the women mentioned weren't so forgotten, as I'd heard of pretty much all of them and read most, but then, I'm old enough to have read them in the 1980s. Maybe most are now out of print? I don't think so, but you never know. I think that there has been rather too much self pity in the panels I have heard at this convention - "Poor us, we've been unfairly treated! Whine, whinge, unfair, mutter, mutter!" And very few stops for questions or comments from the audience in any of them.
Still, it was an interesting panel and I did enjoy the discussion of what the name of the new YA Hugo should be. It was pointed out that most YA spec fic was written by women, so it should be named after a woman. Everyone on the panel had her own favourite. One suggested it should be named for Diana Wynne Jones, not a bad idea, though it was decided in the end that "The Jones" just didn't sound too exciting. Well, pardon her for having a common name! Someone else liked the Nesbit, after E.Nesbit. The discussion will be held at the Worldcon business meeting in Helsinki this year, so anyone at the con who wants to make a suggestion can go. I won't be there, alas! I agree it should be named for a woman, preferably the author of classic fiction, such as E.Nesbit or Dianna Wynne Jones or Andre Norton, whose writing pulled a lot of kids into SF.
I would have liked to have an invitation to the audience to make suggestions.
My bet is that it will be named for an American, whether male or female.
I went to the food in fantasy panel, which included my friend Gillian Polack, and enjoyed that, I even sampled someone's kangaroo jerky, though I don't usually eat unkosher meat, because he has created his own universe with kangaroos in it, as "hoppers", and has devised his own recipes. Sorry, but it tasted to me like beef. Now I know. Maybe it was his marinade.
Gillian offered to analyse any writer's attitude to food, and did mine. She was quite right to say that food in my fiction was there only to support the plot. She intended it to be critical, but it was true, and I wasn't offended. There is very little food in my mediaeval fiction, because it's mostly not needed and because my knowledge is not good enough to support it, so I prefer to be vague. Unlike Gillian the food historian, who is willing and able to experiment with cooking the food, I just can't. What I should do next time is email her for advice. She was very helpful in that story I submitted (unsuccessfully, mutter, grumble!) to Cranky Ladies Of History. I hadn't realised, for example, that you had to take your own food on a voyage in the 19th century. Gillian told me that.
Next, I went to the Dr Who panel. It was a fun discussion of New Who. We all agreed we loved the current series, and this one was open to audience interaction. My friend George Ivanoff was on it, which doesn't surprise me in the least. George is a passionate media fan, and that includes bizarre shows thAt gave long been forgotten by everyone else - so nice to hear him discuss something we had all heard of. This was my favourite panel of the day.
I should have attended the "Humans Are Special" panel as my last for the day, but made the mistake of going to the one on fan fiction. I love fan fiction, I used to write it, many years ago, so it sounded like it would be fun. It wasn't. The panel consisted of four young things who probably think fan fiction was invented on the Internet, and who wrote the sort of stuff that used to come in plain brown wrappers when I was buying fanzines. One admitted cheerfully to being a sadist in the technical sense and told us that she writes sadist porn. Now, that is not my cup of tea, but if it's in your own universe, well, that is between you and your readers. Using it to write in someone else's universe is another matter. She made me just a bit angry. So did the others, but especially her.
That's on top of feeing old. These days, fan fiction is HUGE, and it's because it's all on line. You can't filter it through an editor and if you're a copyright owner you can't really stop it. I suppose sooner or later Paramount will try to close down the delightful 1001 Trek Tales web site, but the thing is, they could only do it in Australia, during the print era, because we don't have the same loophole as other countries, so other countries kept publishing it quite legally. Now they would have their work cut out to close down, say, Fanfiction Net, which has hundreds of universes, including those of games, and there are definitely R rated stories which require a statement that you're over 18. My students all know about this site and some write their own fan fiction, though never in universes familiar to me.
I miss the times when I bought a fanzine at a con and curled up in bed with it. They did say, at this panel, that people shouldn't be charging for their fan fiction, which of course, they shouldn't, but when I was writing and publishing, the editor did have to charge at least for print and postage. The contributors would get a free copy, and that was all. I recall a club in Queensland that had a policy of never handing out contributor copies, which asked me if they could reprint one of my longer stories. I said sure, as long as I got a free copy. They whined that they couldn't afford it(though they intended to sell it)and I told them that I wasn't a charity, though if they had been fundraising for charity, that would have been another matter. It was never reprinted. So be it.
I loved my print zines, not only because I could curl up in bed with them, but because they were filtered by editors. I grant you that some fanzines were pretty dreadful, but you soon worked out which ones they were, and in general you knew they would be okay. You can't know now.
Anyway, that was the final panel and was followed by the closing ceremony. I went home in the tram with Gillian, who has family in my part of Melbourne, and a friend of hers who also lives here.
My plan was to get home about 3.30 tops and do a load of wash, but no such luck. Gillian is popular, and spent at least 20 minutes on her farewells! Oh, well. It will just have to wait.
So, anyone got a suggestion for a name for the YA Hugo?