A few weeks ago I was talking about ConZealand, the World Science Fiction Convention 2020. It was online, the first Worldcon to be completely digital. I enjoyed it very much, bought far too many books and saw four catch-up panels just before they were taken down. They were on subjects that interested me -
Urban fantasy in the 21st century, Writing Alternative Universe, Golden Age of SF Movies and TV In Space. It’s probably a bit late to be writing about them now, but they were all enjoyable.
I wrote a post with the shortlist for the New Zealand awards, the Sir Julius Vogels, and mentioned that we had not received them in time to vote. However, since then we have been sent a SJV packet just so we could have them. So, another pile of goodies to read! I did buy three books before I knew we were being sent these, but still plenty of freebies, and hopefully I will have time and energy to review some.
Since then, other conventions have moved on line. I have joined the World Fantasy Convention, which I believe is more of a professional development for authors than just another con, but that’s fine - I’m a writer, and it’s always good to learn something new. This one will be about 16 hours behind Australia, possibly 17 hours behind, as we will be on Daylight Saving Time by then, the end of October. I paid by PayPal, where I had nearly half the fee already, due to having been paid for my story in Oz Is Burning. Nice!
If you are interested in joining this convention, here is the link.
http://www.worldfantasy.org/ - do check it out, even if you aren’t a writer. Anyone can join.
This weekend I am “attending” another con, NASFIC, which is being held in Columbus, Ohio, but run online. The organisers have very generously decided to make it free, due to having to do it all online, though you can still make a donation. I might just do that before it’s over, but there is no requirement to donate. Here is a link for you https://columbus2020nasfic.org/how-to-attend.html.
Columbus, Ohio, is 14 hours behind Melbourne, so last night I set my alarm for 2.00 a.m and “attended”(curled up in bed) a panel on the subject of using history in fiction. It was good fun and featured my friend historian and novelist Gillian Polack.
There was very little, if any, talk about historical fantasy or SF, just historical fiction, but it was well worth waking up in the middle of the night to watch. There were some very good points made in the discussion. For example, Regency romance writer Georgette Heyer vs Jane Austen. One of the panellists described Heyer’s work as basically Jane Austen fanfic, which is true, but suggested that Jane Austen would not be happy with it(the actual word used was “horrified”), because she never portrayed aristocrats sympathetically, whereas Heyer - and, for that matter, other authors of Regency romance - did. Think about that for a moment. Okay, Darcy of Pride And Prejudice is related to the aristocracy, in the form of Lady Catherine DeBurgh, but until late in the book he is very snobbish, though never truly awful. Think about his first proposal to Elizabeth!
In Regency romance, the hero is usually a Duke of this or a Lady Whoever. Austen’s heroines might be rich, like Emma, but are not usually Duchesses.
There were discussions of missing cultures in Regency fiction - as Gillian commented, there were no Jews in Heyer , except as moneylenders. There was a mention of Moors/Muslims in Robin Hood stories - yes, there was a Saracen Merrie in Robin Of Sherwood and another in Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves, plus a Saracen female Merrie in the BBC Robin Hood. That’s true. And all of them were there for a reason. The Assassin Nasir(Robin Of Sherwood) had come to England with a returning Crusader. The one in Prince Of Thieves had returned with Robin, when both had escaped from a prison in Jerusalem. Djaq, the Saracen woman, had been brought to England as a slave, with a bunch of others, and joined the band, warning them she was “rubbish at cooking”, so Much the Miller’s Son kept having to do it.
That was all fine, but when someone on the panel said that they had been in the original stories, as opposed to film and TV, I said, “Huh?” I read a whole collection of mediaeval Robin Hood ballads and can’t recall any. It was a long time ago, of course, I may have forgotten. There were, yes, Muslim knights in the Arthurian legends(they end up converting to Christianity if they are the good guys, and they never get the girl! Not if there is a good Christian knight available, anyway.). But that is not Robin Hood.
There was a mention of Zen Cho, who has written some delightful Regency romance fantasy with Malaysian characters. I read the first one and enjoyed it, some months ago.
After this panel, I slept a few hours lest I find myself watching panels all night when I had to be up early to make breakfast and warm the kitchen.
Waking up, I managed to see a panel on urban fantasy and COVID, and that was also very interesting. Much of it was, should we be writing COVID stuff right now, while people are still affected by it, and really don’t want to have to deal with it in fiction as well? Someone gave as an example the post-9/11 US. Fiction written at the time was often set ten years later.
But a lot of the panel was fun speculation on how, say, werewolves and vampires were going to deal with it. Werewolves have bodies that can heal, so would a werewolf have to keep changing to deal with the nasty side effects of COVID? What about vampires? How do you bite your victim while social distancing? Would it affect you anyway? Someone reminded us that, in Love At First Bite, Dracula got drunk from biting a homeless drunk! Would vampires have to get jobs delivering pizza, with everyone locked down? But they would also have to deal with being invited in.
There are so many ideas floating in my head from this discussion, though my only urban fantasy so far is an as-yet unpublished novella with a couple of werewolves doing detective work to catch up with vampires who have been sneaking into Australia via teenagers using paranormal romance web sites. It’s hard to sell a novella these days, but I could use the same characters again...
Anyway, I will enjoy the con again from bed late tonight!
If you’re interested in doing the same, check the web site. It’s very simple to join, so check it out.