the Little Red Reviewer

EpicConfusion post the second: the Panels.

Posted on: January 23, 2012

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This is part Two of my EpicConFusion posts. Click accordingly to read parts ONE, THREE and FOUR

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Ahh, the panels.

This was where I needed one of those time spinner things Hermione has, because at times I had to choose between three different panels that I wanted to go to.  There were that many, and there was that many hours straight of good programming.  I have this undiagnosed blood sugar issue thingy, and it means I shouldn’t go hours upon hours without eating.  When given the choice between going to yet another panel and eating, I chose wisely: I went to the panel (and then started shaking).  They were scheduled to be 50 minutes long, which included  Q&A time, so everyone would have 10 minutes to eat and potty break inbetween. The way it really worked was most panels went over, the next group would have to kick the previous group out, and people were late to their next panel.  Surprisingly, that turned into a win-win for nearly everyone.  I have no idea when the authors got to eat or go to the bathroom.

Highlights of the panels I attended include (and sorry for the horribly blurry photos):
Worldbuilding 101, moderated by Cat Rambo, with Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V. Brett and Brent Weeks – there was discussion of how to introduce the reader to your world, and how much information to give and when. Infodumping is the classic no-no, and the authors seemed to agree that it was best to give the reader less that you think they need to know. . . so they are interested in always wanting to learn more instead of feeling like they are getting inundated with information.  Building the world through characterization, because if you’ve got good characters, you can overcome just about anything.

Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks, Peter Brett and Cat Rambo

Trilogy, the base unit of Fantasy?  moderated by Joe Abercrombie, with Brad Beauliea, Saladin Ahmed, Michelle Sagara West and Jay Lake – Everyone seems to be writing trilogies these days, but why?  It was brought up that most of use grew up with either Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or both, so our mind is already attuned to trilogy = greatness.  Publishers seems to like trilogies, it allows them to “test” out an author, yet give that person more than one book.  But large bookstores seem to shy away from carrying anything beyond book 2 in a series, so it carries challenges too.  Even more, what happens if you write your three books, but the character’s stories aren’t done yet? Ongoing episode series were also discussed a little.

Saladin Ahmed, Michele Sagara West, Joe Abercrombie, Jay Lake and Brad Beaulieu

Non-Western Fantasy, moderated by Peter V Brett, with Saladin Ahmed, Kameron Hurley, Christian Klaver and Howard Andrew Jones –  Finally, authors are starting to move away from Mideval european settings, and many writers, it seems, are moving into “the desert”. It came up, is this a reaction to current politics, and although some people thought it was, I realized no one makes a big deal out of fantasies that take place in Egypt or Greece or The mediterranean, but once you move into a desert culture, suddenly it’s a big deal. There was some discussion about “pasty white guys” writing outside their experience, and Saladin Ahmed’s response was that he’s a guy from Detroit, who in a sense, is also writing outside his experience.  Hurley said she’d gotten mail from readers asking why she was pushing a certain religion, or even atheism (she’s not pushing either, as anyone who has actually read her books would know). The concensus seemed to be to do as much research as you can, and place your story wherever the hell you feel like it.

Saladin Ahmed, Christian Klaver, Peter V Brett, Kameron Hurley and Howard Andrew Jones

Women in Combat, moderated by Carrie Harris, with Jim C. Hines, Scott Lynch, Kristine Smith, and Kameron Hurley (this was when I started following Myke Cole to his panel, and ended up following Scott Lynch). Opening with some jokes about if we were going to get any demonstrations (specifically Jim Hines vs Scott Lynch), this quickly turned out to be one of the more interesting panels I went to, and probably the only one where the audience was split about 50/50 male/female.  The topic was not only how should female characters be written in dangerous scenes, but why do authors insist on having their female characters do these things, and how are readers reacting?  Hines put it wonderfully, saying he wrote his Princess series (about fairytale princesses who kick major ass) for his daughter.  Hurley said when she was doing her Masters Degree in South Africa that she was so inspired by the ANC who recruited 20% women and allowed them to be in very dangerous situation. Everyone agreed that there is no reason women shouldn’t be able to do all the things men do.  Lynch said something about fantasy being wish fulfillment, and why shouldn’t women have that too? He said he’d gotten near hate mail about there being too many women in “male” roles in Red Seas Under Red Skies. Kristine Smith said when told her father about her developing military SF series that featured a woman, his question to her was “where is the guy who saves her?”  the audience was speechless.  The conversation flowed into not just women characters in traditional male roles, but any character who didn’t fit the default description of male, white and heterosexual. One of the best panels I went to.

Carrie Harris, Kameron Hurley, Jim Hines, Scott Lynch and Kristine Smith

by the way, Jim Hines isn’t as short at he looks in this photo. He’s leaning way back, and Kameron Hurley and Scott Lynch are leaning way forward.  and Lynch is a fairly tall guy.  I heard him referred to as “the Viking” more than once.

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11 Responses to "EpicConfusion post the second: the Panels."

Aaahhh yes the panels, My wife and I have had this problem, trying to be 3 places at once. Sometimes we split up and if one of us has an hour free where’s there 2 panels on that the other wants to see at once, the one whose free goes to one of the panels and reports back. I found at Worldcon 2010 that without even realising it I was stalking Cat Valente. Seriously, nearly every panel I attended there she was! The great thing about that was it introduced me to her as an author and she is flat out brilliant.

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I wish I could have gotten my other half to go to some panels for me, but I couldn’t have dragged him out of the gaming room for anything.

Cat Valente is beyond incredible. She’s one of the few authors whose books I buy the day they come out, in hardback. I would love, love, love to see her at a convention!

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I’m so jelous! You really hit a jackpot of wonderful authors!

…and Kristine Smith!

SOOPER SIGH of wistfulness +4

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She was really really cool, and everyone kind of deferred to her because she was obviously the most experienced writer on that panel.

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The ConFusion panels are always good, but this year was even better than usual. We had a huge number of authors, and the staff did a wonderful job of programming.

(And next year, we’re going to have Mary Robinette Kowal, and I’ll only miss one of her panels through major illness or death.)

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Major props to the staff! The organization of this monster was incredible! So I’ve been spoiled forever?

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You’ll just have to keep coming back to find out!

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Aw, I’m blushing Dave. Okay, not really, but the Programming Staff that did most of the work for me should be blushing right now, especially Dave K.

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I love your final picture – it’s like Lord of the Rings – Jim Hines is the dwarf and Scott Lynch is the Viking – LOL! I can’t believe Scott Lynch received hate mail because of his female characters though – so rude!
Lynn :D

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Yeah, it was an accidentally hilarious picture.

Lynch was laughing about that. Not only does he have random female minor characters (and major ones) all over the place, but *gasp* a “dark skinned” pirate captain who has *omg!* bi-racial children! He said he had gotten a few e-mails asking why his books were so “female dominated”, and when on to say that there have been scientific studies that show once a population reaches about 40% female, it will be seen as “female dominated”. . . even tho we are still in the minority!

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That was my reaction–“wait, WHAT?” This must be related to why male genre authors still have better lifetime sales than women much of the time.

Now that I think about it, this is one of my favorite things about Scott Lynch. He doesn’t write women who make me want to cringe–he writes ones that make me want to cheer out loud.

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