Aussiecon 4: Day 5

aussiecon4_logo_web Today was the fifth and final day of Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention.

I am tired, brain-stuffed, geeked-out, hugely inspired, and incredibly happy.

This despite the fact that there was so much more I wanted to do but simply wasn’t able to get to. Oh well…next  time :)


It is now one of my life’s goals to attend every single Worldcon and win at least one Hugo award.

Sessions Attended on Day 5

Today’s program changed quite a bit – I think the Hugo winners were doing interviews while the Hugo nominees were sleeping in! – so I attended the following sessions:

High stakes: the television world of Joss Whedon

  • There are lots of good things about Joss Whedon’s shows: great writing; smart dialogue; excellent humour (i.e. the show doesn’t take itself too seriously); a sense of family; good, strong characters (particularly women); complex characters; damaged characters are fabulous; great character growth (e.g. Wesley, Fred/Illyria, Drusilla, Topher, etc.); a consistent and well developed world; great stories (some of which may make you uncomfortable); brilliant story arcs; letting the actors inform their characters; and the show doesn’t fall apart when a character’s love interest is realized (and later falls apart catastrophically!)
  • There are plenty of bad things, too: some of the fight scenes (particularly early Buffy ones) could have been better; the cast is too racially white; and some issues are handled naively (e.g. Inara as a Companion and the implications of her profession and position in society)

Losing the plot: plotting in advance vs writing as you go

  • When approaching the plot for a story, writers range from gardeners (they see how things grow as they write their story) to architects (they plan everything in advance)
  • Television writing is very architect-oriented while book writing appears to be more gardener-oriented
  • Most authors seem to have a general beginning, middle, and end in mind when they start to write their story
  • The ‘middle’ often consists of milestones or tent pole events in the plot
  • Plot outlines can be useful, particularly in complicated stories
  • Plot outlines can help you write faster and more efficiently

Reading: Charles Stross

This was a great reading. Stross read from his upcoming book, ‘Rule 34’, that’s due out in July 2011.

Hand-waving, rule-breaking and other dirty tricks of hard sf

  • Unless they belong to the mundane SF movement, most hard SF authors are okay with bending the rules if the science gets in the way of their story (e.g. faster-than-light travel)
  • They will, however, take pains to be internally consistent with the changes that they have made – even if they don’t actually address how the new science/knowledge works (e.g. they won’t explain the workings of an FTL engine in a space ship in the same way you wouldn’t explain the workings of an internal combustion engine every time you talked about a car)
  • Remember Clarke’s Three Laws 
  • Hard SF stories that use current knowledge that is later found to be incorrect do get dated but this doesn’t mean those stories will no longer be read (take, for example, H.G. Wells and all his stories that were based on the science knowledge and theories of his time)

Fantasy fiction and the Bechdel Test

  • The ‘Whores and virgins: finding roles for women in fantasy fiction’ session was cancelled so I went to this session, instead
  • As it happened, because of all the schedule changes that took place today, the panelists for this session didn’t turn up (they’d either left or didn’t know they were on this panel)
  • Fortunately, the thirty of us who did turn up made a circle of chairs and did the session ourselves :)
  • The Bechdel Test, which was created for movies & television, can also be applied to fantasy fiction books, comics, anime, and video games
  • Most early books don’t pass this test while many newer ones do
  • The test is, of course, an awareness-raising tool so it has its limitations and can’t be applied universally
  • It is useful in pointing out blind spots to authors, though

Closing Ceremony

  • Aussiecon 4 was awesome – thanks to everyone (organizers, guests, and attendees alike) for making it so much fun

What Next?

renovation-banner-follow-greenWhen one Worldcon ends, another one begins. Aussiecon 4 is dead. Long live Renovation!

The 69th World Science Fiction Convention, called Renovation, will be held in Reno, Nevada, USA from 17-21 August 2011.

I will do my best to be there.

Concluding Thoughts

John Scalzi, Charles Stross, Gail Carriger & Melinda Snodgrass are awesome.

I have craploads of books to read. I have lots of stuff to write. I have many magazines to subscribe to. I have a bunch of fan clubs to join.

I have autographs from Gail Carriger & Charles Stross. I also have photos of them (from their readings) and with them.

Here’s Carriger:

Gail Carriger at her reading at Aussiecon 4

Here’s Stross:

Charles Stross at his reading at Aussiecon 4

And here’s me with Stross (somebody asked if I was his stunt double!):

Me and Charles Stross

All in all, it’s been a fabulous five days.

Now back to the real world…