Thursday, 13 June 2013

Continuum Wrap-up

Last weekend hubby and I went to Continuum, an annual spec fic convention held in Melbourne most years.

It started Friday night with (for us) the Opening Ceremony. The opening video was set to this amusing song (but with appropriate spec ficcy visuals, of course). Then, after introducing the various guests, it was pretty quickly on to the Chronos Awards. (I live tweeted them and, as it happened, seem to have been the only person to do so.) The Chronos Awards celebrate the best (as voted by Continuum members) fiction and fan work produced by Victorians in the previous year. This year's winners and shortlists (winner in bold, nabbed from here):

Best Long Fiction

  • Bread and Circuses by Felicity Dowker (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Salvage by Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Walking Shadows by Narrelle M. Harris (Clan Destine Press)
  • Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2011, edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Dyson’s Drop by Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing)

Best Short Fiction

  • "Five Ways to Start a War" by Sue Bursztynski in Light Touch Paper Stand Clear, edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)
  • "The Mornington Ride" by Jason Nahrung in Epilogue, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
  • "Nematalien" by LynC in The Narratorium (website), edited by David Grigg
  • "Fireflies" by Steve Cameron in Epilogue (FableCroft Publishing)
  • "The Dd" by Adam Browne in Light Touch Paper Stand Clear, edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)

Best Fan Writer

  • Alexandra Pierce
  • Jason Nahrung
  • Nalini Haynes
  • Bruce Gillespie
  • Grant Watson
  • Steve Cameron

Best Fan Written Work

  • "Reviewing New Who" series by David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely

Best Fan Artist

  • Dick Jenssen

Best Fan Artwork

  • "The Entellechy" by Dick Jenssen, cover art for Interstellar Ramjet Scoop for ANZAPA 267 edited by Bill Wright

Best Fan Publication

Best Achievement

  • Continuum 8: Craftonomicon (51st Australian National SF Convention) Program by Julia Svaganovic, Emma Hespa Mann, and Caitlin Noble
  • "Snapshot 2012" by Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Ian Mond, Jason Nahrung, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright

We headed home straight after the awards because we were exhausted from jetlag.

On Saturday morning we rocked up in time to have a nice chat with some friends, both new and old, before guest of honour Nora (NK) Jemisin's speech. It was a great speech, which you can read in full here.

Then, after lunch, we went to two panels: The Heroines of YA and Fighting Like a Girl, both interesting and on similar topics. And we headed home early again because of another commitment.

Sunday started early with me giving a talk about astro a room full of interested folk. Then it was the nomadic Plot 101 panel, which was probably my favourite panel of those I wasn't participating in myself. It was nomadic because the original room it was scheduled in was too small for the number of people who showed up. So we moved to a temporarily empty room... then got kicked out shortly thereafter when the guest of honour speech in the following session... and ended up setting up shop in the foyer. Good thing the authors on the panel had interesting things to say!

After lunch we went to the Silence in the Library panel about Doctor Who non-fiction and then it was time for my first panel, The Devil in the Details. Which went quite well, with Pete Aldin moderating, Richard Harland and me talking about what details we think are important, me talking about how violations of basic physics make me angry, and everyone generally coming to the agreement that you can have one or two big impossibilities (FTL travel, teleportation, giant world-shaking machines, etc) but should try to be as accurate as possible with the other mundane stuff in your story. And if you don't know enough of <insert field you're writing about> yourself, then try to learn or ask someone. As someone in the audience said, high school physics/chem/bio textbooks are a good place to start. An enjoyable panel.

Then it was time for the We Do This Stuff So You Can Write About It, a not-really-panel where the idea was people could ask the participants about the interesting/unusual things they do or know about. I liked the idea of this, but I thought the room was a bit small (a recurring theme during the con) and I saw some people turn away when they saw how cramped it was, even after we spilled out into the corridor as well.

Then early dinner and off to the book launch of Caution: Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermott. Then it was time for my next panel, Spacetime and Spaceships which was probably my favourite participating-in panel. The four of us riffed on various spacey/astro-y topics. My favourite comment was from an audience member saying we were like the verbal equivalent of Wiki-drifting, lol. (Actually, he used a different phrase that escapes me now but it was along those lines.) It was a fun panel to be on and we probably could have gone for several more hours.

We were planning to go home not long after that panel, but instead ended up sitting in the bar talking for a few hours. Good times.

Monday was a bit of a haze of tiredness. It started early with us attending the Dark YA panel, in which the panellists decided that at least part of the reason darker things are finding their way into YA is because publishers like the marketing opportunities in YA more. And apparently, kids enjoy being depressed. As for how dark things are allowed to get, that's generally up to the publishers. Then we went to the Watching the New Who panel, which was, again, Doctor Who-y, as might be expected.

I have no recollection of what happened after that, except that it was followed by lunch. After lunch was my last panel Rise of the Dystopia, which had a lot of interesting discussion, but drifted off into who SF is generally bleaker now than it used to be. I was expecting it to be more about why YA dystopias are now so popular. Much more talk about 1984 (and Neuromancer) than I was expecting.

Then I went to the Adventures in Book Reviewing panel, in which many an amusing tale was told (and I sort of wished I was participating in it). And that was it. We skipped out before the Closing Ceremony due to exhaustion.

All in all, Continuum was a fun weekend. There was a nice atmosphere and everyone was very welcoming. The only low point was the venue, which wasn't terrible, but could definitely have been better. And of course, it was great to catch up with friends, old, new and from the internet (or combinations of the aforementioned).

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