Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Weekend of SciFi and Fantasy

This weekend I'm attending Orycon30 in Portland, Washington. I even talked my son into attending this year. He loves reading scifi and fantasy and he enjoys writing. Having attended last year for the first time, I'm pleased to say I didn't take any wrong turns in arriving at the Waterfront Marriott Hotel. But that's because I cheated and attended last year at the same hotel.

The theme at this year's Orycon is "Days of Futures Past. The Writer Guest of Honor this year is Harry Turtledove, who is particularly recognized for his works in alternate history. He has been credited for bringing the alternate history genre into the mainstream.

I enjoy attending scifi and fantasy conventions in one respect because it is outside my usual realm of writing, which is romance, and more particularly erotic romance. The panels will often provide me with a fresh perspective and viewpoints from authors who do not write within my specific genre. I am particularly interested because I touch on these areas within the genre of romance and I want to be as true to the mix of genres as I can be.

Some good stuff at Orycon30 this year. I started out with "Spaceships, Colonists, and Castaways: How Small Communities Function. The panelists included Bart Kemper, G. David Nordley, Tom Whitmore, and Harold Gross.

Of interest were chains of command and accidental grouping. The right leader of a starship might in some cases not be the correct leader on that downed starship on a planet. And also the differences in command from castaways to colonists, from a small town to a military base. An interesting discussion.

My next panel, and one I was very interested in attending because it bears directly on several stories I'm plotting right now, was "Bashing Your Way Through Fights. This panel included Jayel Gibson, Barb Hendee, Bart Kemper, J.C. Kendee, Mike Shepherd-Moscoe, and Rory Miller.

Quite interesting on the differences of male and female fighting techniques. What I particularly liked about this panel were that on some points the panelists did not agree, offering some differing perspectives. One of the great things about panels. Should the battle itself be quick, written in short sentences, short paragraphs, or should the scene be varied, depending on the weight of the conflict to the plot. They discussed the problems of stereotyping, archtypes, and genderizing. And the need for individuation. The differences between dual vs. a bar fight vs. small combat v s. full-blown battle. What does a fiction reader from the conflict when they read good fiction. Weight of drama and entertainment and story to the reality of violence. It was noted that the average confrontation takes less than fifteen seconds.

Other panels I attended on Friday were "Twisting History" and "Mythic Imagery in Speculative Fiction. Defining mything can always be an interesting topic.

A couple of books that I've added to my list are:

Writing the Other by Cynthia Ward and Nisi Shawl. Dealing writing cultural and ethnic differences which sounds like an interesting book.

Space Magic By David Levine, including the short story co-written with Sara Mueller, Falling Off the Unicorn.

So, as I'm writing this blog this morning, I'm holding my grandson in one arm and typing with the other. He's more awake with this visit and we're discussing alternate history, unicorns, and myths. Getting ready soon for Day 2.


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