Sunday, June 11, 2017

Continuum 2017

I had myself the loveliest little nerdy writerly day today. I went to Continuum 13, the Australian speculative fiction conference.

The con runs over the Queen's Birthday long weekend each June, and I have wanted to go for literally *years*. But the kids were too little to leave for a while ... then I was too sick for a couple of years ... then it collided with OzComicCon, at which I have standing duties helping out at a friend's merch stall.

This year, the stars finally aligned and I was able to get in for a full day today. Truth be told, I could've gone for two days if I had wanted to, but I felt bad about leaving my family for too much of the long weekend, and I have found in the past that two days of a con often exhausts me. So, after perusing the program, I picked today to go, and I had just the best time.

Writer / reader cons like this are such a different beast to the pop culture nerdcons like ComicCon and Supanova, with their teeming thousands. This was a small, intimate con - panel audiences ranged from maybe 25 to 80 in size, and there was ample opportunity to talk to panellists both within sessions and afterwards. People were chatty, and the atmosphere was friendly. Blessedly, it was not crowded at any time - that was a huge plus for me.

The con's guest of honour was prolific urban fantasy, horror and sci fi writer Seanan McGuire (who also writes as Mira Grant). I have read, and liked, several of McGuire's books, and really enjoyed her Newsflesh canon as Mira Grant (it has the distinction of being literally the only zombie series I have EVER enjoyed, or indeed finished). I was perhaps not as huge a fan as some of my friends, although after her highly engaging, entertaining and insightful (not to mention funny) keynote, I am now! I'd heard she was a good speaker but the reports failed to do her justice - she was excellent. Her session was my biggest highlight of a day that wasn't short on good moments.

I also went to panels on:

- Fairytales and fairytale retellings: This was terrific, and has inspired me to go back to my Month of Poetry poems from this year.

- White-washing in speculative fiction: This was interesting, if a little diffuse.

- Journey to the West: This was a great session on the Chinese classic novel that has been adapted multiple times for multiple media - the best-known version to Western viewers being the Monkey TV series.

- Cli-Fi: This panel, about climate change fiction, was probably really good, but as I couldn't hear most of it, I wouldn't know. The room it was in had no soundproofing and was directly adjacent to the very noisy dealers' area.

- Women in Star Wars: This was just pure fun. One of my friends was a panellist, and I could've listened to the 5 panellists talk for a LOT longer.

- Cityscapes: I almost didn't hang around for the last session but I am so glad I did - this was fantastic, probably the most thinky panel of the day, and I am still musing on it.

Overall, it was a day exceedingly well spent in terms of enjoyment, inspiration for my own writing, and connection. I will 100% be back next year!

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