Pleasantly brain dead
After all my boasting that I was probably the only person at Aussiecon 4 who was in better health at the end of the festivities than at the start, on Tuesday the adrenalin stopped pumping and I felt exhausted all day. But it was a nice kind of brain-dead tired, ya know?
I had an excellent time, and Monday was a hoot. I’m a raging extrovert (as those who’ve met me will attest) and I like to talk! So being on panels is a thing of joy rather than fear for me. Even when I haven’t had time to prepare properly. Hell, making it up as I go along is kind of what I do for a living, right?
One of the things I found most stimulating and delightful about the panels I attended and appeared on was the capacity for the panellists, and the audience, to shift from having fun to having insights. The panel on “25 Things I Learned from SF” began as pointing out all the silly tropes that appear in such fiction to concluding that readers of SF are sometimes better prepared for the changes in the real world than people who, for example, had not already spent 20 years reading about the possible social, ethical and moral repercussions of cloning.
Even stranger, the deliberately schlocky “Vampire VS Zombie Smackdown”, ripe with comedic potential, turned at one point to a brief discussion of depression and the fear of loss of self, and concluded in a very adult compromise that vampires may be more stylish, and zombies may win the actual war, but they are both really cool monsters. I was also thrilled to be on a panel with George RR Martin, who created one of my favourite tv series of the 80s, Beauty and the Beast, and that I got a chance to tell him so.
I met some wonderful people over those five days. I had fun, I hugged Rob Shearman, I spoke to writers and publishers, I got some great advice and some excellent tips, I hugged Rob Shearman again, I bought books, I spent some quality time with Sally, I got the blues and Terry hugged me better, and people I either didn’t know well or didn’t know at all came to tell me they liked my book, which also made me feel better.
My book stash includes Peter M Ball‘s Bleed (sequel to his amazing book Horn), books by Alison Croggan, Rob Shearman, Marianne De Pierres, Heather Brewer, Karen Chance and Sean McMullen, and an anthology edited by Gillian Pollack.
Among my favourite things this convention? Getting to know Tansy Rayner Roberts a little better; hugging Robert Shearman who is a delightfully naughty and funny man; getting writers I like to sign their books for me; snagging Kim Stanley Robinson to sign The Years of Rice and Salt; Kirstyn McDermott giving The Opposite of Life a shout-out on her panel “Has Hollywood Sucked the Vampire Dry”; spending hours with Sally, who is excellent company; and seeing the look on John Richard’s face when people squeed at him OMG YOU’RE JOHN RICHARDS FROM BOXCUTTERS!! and seeing that same look on Josh Kinal’s face when they were both there to interview Rob Shearman and Paul Cornell on a panel for their show. (Check out iTunes or boxcutters.net for this brilliant podcast about all things TV). I swear, the two of them were almost glancing behind them to see the *other* John Richards and Josh Kinal, who were surely the ones that people meant.
Actually, Peter M Ball articulated the evident truth that Australian writers (and podcast presenters, obviously) are always surprised when people come up to say they like their work. American writers seem to go “Well, thank you kindly. Why, yes, I’d be happy to sign your book. How do I spell your name?”. Approach an Australian author with “I really liked your book” and they tend to look slightly startled and say “Really? Are you sure?” and look around to see if you actually meant *them*.
Aussiecon 4 was inspiring, validating, educational and most of all fun. I feel a little like I’ve been run over by an extremely friendly stampede of widely read wildebeests. Not a bad way to go, all things considered.
These huge events, run from conception to final ceremony by volunteers in the SF community, will always have challenges. The committee by now are exhausted – actually, they were probably exhausted about two months before the con – and some of them may have checked into Rest Homes for the Bewildered for a little while. I want to thank them all for their hard work, especially as it is unpaid work that has been going on, for some of them, for several years. No con is ever flawless, but I had a pretty perfect time, and anything I regret is down to my feeling too under the weather to attend all the items I had on my “must see” list. I had a fun, convivial time among like minded folks. And that, my friends, is always something to be treasured.