kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I am so busy that I don't have time to tell you how busy I am. Also operating under a fairly serious sleep deficiency. But, very quickly:

  • Tobias Buckell has a post about the panel he was on that I found uncomfortable, Imagining Fantasy Lands: The Status Quo Does Not Need Worldbuilding.
  • User error ate my notes from the post-colonialism panel, which is too bad because at this point all I remember is the boggling bit (Brenda Clough unironically recommended Kim—yes, the one by Kipling, that one), and not any of the actual useful recommendations. Anyone else there who wants to chime in?
  • My fanfic & queer desires panel was fine after all—I'd been concerned beforehand because the moderator, though clearly well-intentioned and conscientious, was also entirely unfamiliar with the topic. But he set out broad questions that were clearly implied by the panel description and then got out of the panelists' way, which worked for this topic though I still disagree with that general philosophy of moderator assigning. The only thing I want to really highlight from that was the concept of anti-fandom: the universe doesn't consist of just fans and non-fans of X, there can be anti-fans of X, who engage in all the acts of fannishness than fans do, except from a position of loathing X (see: Twilight). Which I find fascinating.
  • Uh. Hello, wall, I have just hit you. I want to say more about the con overall, but: it was good. Thanks, everyone, for putting it on.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
It's late but I'm jazzed from good conversation and think I can quickly make this presentable before I go to bed.


Strictly speaking, there's no reason an artificial intelligence should express gender in human terms (or at all). Yet in much recent film and TV -- such as WALL-E, Her, Person of Interest, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Caprica -- gender and/or sexuality has been integral to the vision of AI. How have such portrayals affected what stories are told? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What would it mean to imagine a genderless AI -- or a queer AI?

Charlie Jane Anders, Abigail Nussbaum, Nic Clarke, Michael Morelli,Jed Hartman

Nic: reviewer, watched all the programs being discussed

Jed: former fiction editor for Strange Horizons, now consumes media; fascinated by gender for long time

Mike: Masters student, giving paper on sexuality in Banks tomorrow, feminist literary critic

Abigail: blogger & reviewer, Reviews editor at SH, writes lot about film & TV from feminist perspective

Charlie Jane: writer, blogger at io9, including AIs in some of work (including one forthcoming resolutely ungendered one)

notes, with no fail that I recognized! )

So this was fun! If I've mis-identified anything let me know.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
This was the panel immediately before the prior one and it was lovely, which is why I saved it for last.


Who is the narrator? Where and when is the story being told? These are just a few questions a reader may ask at the start of a new story. For many years, third-person has been genre's preferred narrative form, but lately it seems first-person narratives are having a resurgence. How do writers choose their viewpoint, and how does it affect the sorts of stories they can tell? Why is YA so often told in first-person, and epic fantasy generally (but not always!) third? To add another layer of complexity, the present tense also seems to be increasing in popularity -- Lauren Beukes' Zoo City and Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus are just two notable examples. How does the use of present tense change a reader's experience?

Kate Nepveu, Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss, Edward Cox, Maureen Kincaid Speller (m)

(I don't know how the order of names is generated on the program list.)

I think the con generally is having a lot of trouble with its available spaces, because this was in one of the smaller rooms and there were likely as many people waiting in line outside hoping to get in as where outside.

I was a little nervous about being on this panel, because look at those other names! But everyone was generous toward other panelists conversationally and it really was a conversation, it was so much fun. (You all know I could talk about point of view and narrators basically forever.)

Maureen had us introduce ourselves in our preferred POV. IIRC, Ed tried third and found it surprisingly difficult; Robin and Pat both used first; and I (who had the advantage of going last) started in first and then switched to third, and ended with "she may or may not be fascinated by unreliability in narration."

We talked about a million things. The limitations of first-person, and how they'd got around it by the frame story in the Kvothe books or the found documents in the first Assassin's trilogy. I talked about floating first and concrete first, where it's never explained how the words get on the page or where a specific mechanism is mentioned. Pat said that floating first will always get the author asked how the words are getting on the page, that someone will care; toward the end, we had a talk about the history of POV in novels that I can't reconstruct now, but that I think came down to the origin of first-person in face-to-face storytelling, was carried through in the frame story idea that was once obligatory and since has been dropped (I met a mysterious stranger who told me this story, I found this manuscript), and it's been recent enough that the obligatory frame story was dropped that people aren't quite accepting of "the words just get on the page somehow, darn it" as the price of admission to that work.

There was the obligatory shout-out to Peter S. Beagle's The Innkeeper's Song, which is multiple-first and brilliant; Pat said it was currently out of print but "I'm going to fix that."

We talked about multiple viewpoints; Pat blamed the sudden explosion of really-multiple-third on A Song of Ice and Fire, but Martin has been honing his craft for decades, new writers are allowed a maximum of three. Also, people try to go right to the action by shifting POVs but that can actually remove suspense. Robin choose POV for the best-situated character and then stayed pretty tight with them, but also employed an omniscient sometimes to show competing understandings of situations and so forth. I mentioned an unpublished friend who generally constructs their multiple-POV book on the theory of "who in this scene knows least," because that allows for dramatic irony and the reader making connections and so forth, and how I'd suggested that maybe at plot or action-heavy moments might be a time to step back from that principle. (But I don't know how they solved it yet because the W is still IP.)

(In terms of cutting to the action, I mentioned _Ancillary Justice_, of course (booklog discussion of POV.))

Uh, what else? We talked about omni with a present narrator and how fun that can be: Catherynne M. Valente's _Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland . . . _; _Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell_; Lemony Snicket. We talked briefly about sex: I observed that romance is generally in third, while "chick lit" is in first, and while I don't know about professionally-published erotica, I don't see a lot of first-person fanfic. I sort of thought this might be because for people who read with themselves in the place of the first-person narrator, there would be too much of a disjoint if a scene was very physical or physically-based emotional, but that was just a theory--which can't account for "chick lit." (Pat had previously said that he made a distinction between character-based stories and plot-based stories, and that the former got first-person and the latter got third, but that he's working on two things now that are in third and follow female characters from his trilogy, and he thought possibly that he instinctively went to third was because they were female.)

Someone in the audience asked about really rare POVs like second-person or future tense; no-one seemed particularly enthused by them, but as writing exercises to stretch your craft, sure.

There was a lot more, but I'm stumped now, and for some reason it's a million degrees where I'm writing this and I desperately need to hydrate before my next panel. If you were there, chime in, and if not, feel free to comment! (Seriously, could talk about this forever.)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
This was my last panel of the day, but I'm going to write it up before the other remaining one, because it had an upsetting thing at the end that I'd like to clear off my list of things to talk about.


On the one hand, initiatives like the SF Gateway are helping to ensure the SF backlist remains accessible to today's readers, and an increasing number of "classic" SF writers are receiving the establishment seal of approval in series like the Library of America (Philip K. Dick) and the Everyman Library (Isaac Asimov). On the other hand, the SF readership is increasingly diverse, with fewer readers who have come to the field via those "classics", and many who find little of value in them in any case. In other words the traditional SF canon is no longer tenable -- but the history is still out there. So what alternative models and narratives should we be using to understand the field's past? Should we be working to expand the canon, or to describe multiple overlapping histories -- or something else?

Kate Nepveu (m), Connie Willis, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Chris Beckett, Joe Monti

I saw criticisms of my moderation from a person on Twitter, who thought I talked too much. I will not apologize for one of those instances (or for believing that I have things to contribute to the panel beyond just setting discussion in motion), but there were some points where I could have been more concise, especially since this was another 50-minute panel.

I asked by asking why we want to convey genre history: is it different for readers and writers, or between fantasy & SF? I said that I thought it was genuinely useful for fantasy readers to read _LotR_--though less so than twenty years ago--but I wasn't sure the same was true for SF, since the commercial genre can't be traced back to a single book that way.

I think the general consensus was that it was more important for writers. Connie said that when she teaches Clarion she hands out a 50-book list, because her least favorite critique is "this is a really good story that Bradbury did in 1952." Generally people agreed that writers should know the most famous plot twists/types; something of the genre conventions (insert here the thing about genre being distinguished, if not defined, by way information is conveyed to reader); and something about the major works in your topic area, otherwise you get mainstream writers thinking that they're saying something profound about robots etc. when genre readers are like, "done that back in 19-whatever."

(But tropes are different; just because someone's done "Adam & Eve in space" before, as one of the panelists, I think Chris?, had done, doesn't mean you can't. It's the gimmicks that only work once because of surprise, and even then if they're not well-known now . . . )

Somewhere pretty early people said that readers shouldn't read the canon because it's (medicine/work/homework--I forget the exact phrasing). They should read the canon because it's good (or the good bits of the canon).

I mentioned the rare works specifically in explicit dialogue with an identifiable thing: Peter Watts' "Things" (the movie _The Thing_); Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald"—which I embarrassingly called "A Study in Scarlet" until the audience corrected me, thank you, audience—the latter of which doesn't work at all if you don't know Sherlock Holmes canon. But besides those, which are pretty easy to spot, what benefit can there be for readers to know genre history?

Connie said that every work is in some way in dialogue with others, because that's what storytelling is, all the way back to its origins. When she started writing her time travel stories, she made a list of all the things she disliked about existing time travel stories. Possibly here, Joe said that Ann Leckie hadn't read _The Left Hand of Darkness_ before writing _Ancillary Justice_, which both do things with pronouns and gender, but she was aware that _Left Hand_ existed and what it did, which he found surprising, but maybe it was hard to say what reading it would have added.

In response to a question, the panelists were generally not in favor of authors making that kind of inspiration/works-being-referenced explicit to the reader, in afterwords or suchlike, because it's so much fun for readers to make those connections themselves, and if they don't, the works ought to stand on their own anyway. It's to enrich the understanding not to create it. (Somewhere prior to this I'd said that I was of the view that The Author Is Dead, and though I heard some objection to that from the authors on the panel =>, at this point I believe at least one person said okay, maybe The Author Is Dead after all, at least somewhat.)

I'm fairly sure about this point we were running very low on time, so I said, here are the other things I was hoping we'd talk about, let me rattle them off in case they spark questions from the audience. (This is the bit I won't apologize for talking.) They were: what multiple overlapping histories (mentioned in the description) might consist of: subgenres, groups of authors working together, publishers . . . ?; other ways these genre histories might get conveyed: reviews, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia of SF?

I learned a lesson about myself as a mod here: because the panel was on the same level as the room, I stood up to see people and point at five people to ask questions in order. But when it was time for the next person I should have stood back up, because it turns out I rely on physical locations of people and I couldn't remember who was next, which was awkward.

Unfortunately the only question I actually remember at this point was the thing that was upsetting, a.k.a., In which Connie Willis and I disagree whether the historical formation of the canon excluded women and minorities )

Until that point I had been enjoying the panel quite a bit, and I do think there was fodder there for more discussion. So further thoughts would be welcome, from anyone. However, I am going to screen anon comments out of an abundance of caution: if you're new here, please review my commenting policy. I will unscreen comments as soon as possible.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
This is going to be a not-report for reasons I will get to.


Fandom has a rich heritage of exploring gender roles, sexism, misogyny and patriarchy. In current fandoms there are repeated discussions of the problems associated with fandoms includingDoctor Who, Supernatural, Harry Potter, X-Menand Game of Thrones. Fans write detailed meta incorporating popular terms such as fridging and the Bechdel test as well as more complex cultural theory. Yet, at the same time, there is a common trait in fandom, especially media fandom, where sexually active female characters are slut-shamed, women who are perceived to interfere with the popular relationships on a show (whether canonical or not) are vilified, and fan works recreate heterosexism. Sometimes actresses playing characters receive online hatred and bullying while fans who criticise the sexism of an object of affection are rejected by fellow fans. In this session we explore ways in which (largely) female fans engage with feminism and misogyny within their own communities.

Megan Waples (m), Katherine Jay, Kristina Knaving, Kate Keen, Kate Nepveu

Here is what I wrote yesterday:

This was a very wide-ranging panel, so much so that I kind of have no idea how to talk about it.

Uh, here are links to two things of mine that I mentioned at the panel: How to Discuss Race and Racism Without Acting Like a Complete Jerk, which has a good deal of applicability to discussions about all kinds of oppressions; and An Introduction to Mary Sue and Her Critical Uses and Abuses.

. . . my brain is not working right now. Um.

In no particular order!

Removing sexism and other oppressive attitudes from one's reflexes is hard. Everyone is at different points in journey.

cut for racism )

Anyway! After that I did not get back to these panel notes until now, which is mid-day Sunday. There was other stuff yesterday (more anon) and then I saw some criticisms of me on Twitter and I thought about going to another racism-related panel to be supportive and I wanted to cry at the thought of someone being an asshat again, so I went back to bed. (It's early in the con to be hitting the wall, and yesterday was objectively not that bad, but all the tourism before was catching up with me, I think.)

So. The panel started with Megan, as the mod, asking us to express / vent our rage in a really good yell, which was surprisingly easy to summon (at that point I wasn't actively angry about anything!) and very cathartic. Megan also shared a story of a woman she knows getting a fat-shaming Tweet from someone at the con about her outfit.

We acknowledged that gender is not a binary and that sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are all connected, but I'm not sure how good a job we did after talking in non-binary terms, for which I apologize.

My notes for the panel ahead of time, besides the links above:

* Intersectionality can be hard. Listen and be empathic but don't assume that one experience of oppression maps to another.

* Fanfic: if your reason for not writing female characters is that they're poorly characterized in canon, you should, and I mean this with love and support, sit down and think hard about that, because what fandom does is take underdeveloped characters and develop them (and give them fandom-eating pairings, in some cases *cough* Clint/Coulson *cough* ).

* Need for female-led/dominated spaces.

* Things to do:
** Call out sexism you see
** If you can't or can't yet (and it's hard, though it gets easier): support people who do by commenting, retweeting, reblogging, emailing, etc.; promote fests for underrepresented characters, leave comments or kudos on works that feature underrepresented characters, make the fanworks you'd like to see. Little bits really do matter.

Other panelists added teaching and supporting kids and young adults in your life (your children or the children around you). Sexism exists in fandom because fandom is part of society.

That's almost nothing to report on from a ninety-minute panel, so if you were there, or if you want to ask about if something was brought up, please do.

Loncon: Fan Activism

Saturday, August 16th, 2014 01:40 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Despite making it a four-panel day, I asked to be added to this because it specifically mentions Con or Bust and it sounded really interesting. And it was!


Fan Activism takes many forms: campaigning for wider representation for people of colour in media (racebending.com); performing charitable acts inspired by celebrities (Misha Collins's therandomact.org); pushing for films to be made (Dredd 2, Serenity 2, Xena: The Warrior Princess), organising charitable funds to enable fans to travel to conventions (TAFF, GUFF, Con or Bust), expressing political discontent (Anon/V for Vendetta, The Hunger Games salute in Thailand). The different kinds of fan activities and how the activism is undertaken varies depending upon the community and desired outcome. In this session people experienced in and knowledgeable about fan activism share their practices with anyone who is interested whether for curiosity's sake or because they wish to be an activist.

Crystal Huff, Eylul Dogruel, Kate Nepveu

Crystal does lots of con-running stuff, including chairing Readercon during this and working on Helsinki's bid for the 2017 WorldCon. Eylul was involved in the Gezi protests in Turkey. I run Con or Bust and am on the Readercon safety committee that was formed as a result of the above link.

I am giving myself half an hour to do this before I get lunch before my next panel, so this will be short. I always welcome corrections and additions, but particularly here since I will be specifically referencing personal experiences described by the other panelists.

Eylul talked about how pre-existing fannish skills were employed in the Gezi protests, particularly by two sets of fans: football fans, who used their skills both in mobilizing and coordinating large groups of people and in, uh, being hooligans and resisting the police; and media fans, who raised Western awareness and sympathy by reshaping the narrative on Twitter with gifs and jokes and so forth. (Yes, Eylul acknowledged the uncomfortableness of having to use Western media properties like _LotR_ in this endeavor.) The media fannish stuff also extended to cosplayers at the protests and graffiti and so forth, which also helped keep people's morale up in scary times. The mass protests also improved people's awareness of and respect for each other: football fans stopped shouting slurs that involving denigrating prostitutes, the next year's Pride was the biggest ever, things like that.

Crystal talked about doing activism with cons: how it was important for crafting the Readercon statement linked above to give people time to express their feelings and clear the air so that they could turn to the details of the statement; how cons need to take visible action to support their principles, like the Helsinki bid sending a group to march in Pride there and heavily promoting it on Twitter; how cons need transparency about their workings and decisions and to stay on top of public relations and announcements in social media.

I talked about how you have to know your strengths and weaknesses and how you can be an activist without mass protests or running conventions (not that I think the other panelists disagree!). I would be terrible at conrunning because meetings, but I knew I could do Con or Bust because I'd done a very much smaller-scale thing before and I had models of online auctions from other people in my online fannish community. I also talked about transparency, especially since I was receiving and distributing money, and how people are often very glad to help out . . . if you just ask. ("Just," I know.) I mentioned knowing the landscape so you don't unknowingly overlap existing efforts.

We all said to ask other people who are doing stuff you admire! Odds are extremely good that they'd be delighted to offer suggestions and there's no need to reinvent the wheel. And, as always, it's important to accept criticism thoughtfully, to be prepared to adjust how you do things in response to actual reality, be aware of intersectionality, and be aware of your own resources and whether existing organizations are fixable or need to be abandoned.

And now my self-imposed time is up. I always love comments and questions, but I particularly welcome them here--at any time!--or in email, knepveu@steelypips.org .
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Food notes:

Last night I got a club sandwich at the Fox and Connaught pub out the east end of ExCel. The thing is, if you insist that bacon not be crispy, as the English do, then you really need your bread to be actually toasted in order to have a satisfactorily texture-balanced club sandwich. This was not. (Also the chips paled in comparison to the ones we'd had earlier in the day.)

Possibly as a result, I was in the mood for something crispy at lunch today. Walking down the interior of ExCel, I ended up having a pasty as the best apparent value, which was hot and crispy but was subtly, well, foreign-to-me in flavor. Not that I blame it!

So for dinner I ended up having a sandwich from something that may have been called the Upper Crust further toward the west end of ExCel, which was ham & mozzarella heated up to melting on a sourdough baguette, and was very simple and satisfying and also not ridiculously expensive.

Then I had what purported to be a chocolate orange cheesecake from a place that does make-your-own-sandwich at lunch (can't remember the name), which was a lot more like mousse than cheesecake and possibly didn't agree with me, causing me to leave early tonight. (But I felt better pretty quickly.)

Other notes:

Between panels, I went to a stitching meet-up in the fan tent, and I had such a good time. We commiserated over lessons learned the hard way, showed off projects (either what we'd brought to work on or through pictures), admired different techniques, and used the wonder of smartphones to show each other pictures when we weren't sure if we were using the same terminology. By luck I was sitting near several cross-stitchers, and now I've seen evenweave stitched in the hand, which I could never get the hang of, and which I will have to try again because it looks a lot faster. And a couple of the people were self-taught and identified as newbies, so we got to talk about things they'd like to know and give them a few tips and reassure them that they were doing fine, all would be well, and it was just really delightful.

. . . wow, I have no idea what I was going to type next, I think I really need to go to bed.

Four panel day tomorrow! Breaking out one of my new dresses to give myself strength.
kate_nepveu: photo-based version of logo (purple night sky with full moon, cloud, power lines, water tower, antenna) (Welcome to Night Vale)
My second panel of the day, and last programming thing of the day.


The podcast Welcome to Night Vale exploded in popularity in mid-2013. It's a pastiche of community radio set in the US Southwest, in a small town where all the conspiracy theories are true, the dog park is forbidden to both dogs and humans, and no-one bats an eye at Cecil, the radio host, rhapsodizing over Carlos, a new scientist in town. This panel will discuss the nature of reality in Night Vale; how the show's long-term plotting is working out; the good and less-good ways the show treats characters from underrepresented groups; the traditions it works with, and its counterparts in other media; and the panel's favourite moments, characters and quotes.

Douglas Spencer (m), Jesi Pershing, Zalia Chimera, Kate Nepveu, Tanya Brown

(No Glow Cloud, but three Hooded Figures with signs about the Dog Park.)

I've talked extensively about WtNV here, so I'm only mentioning other things.

At least one person found the live show I went to, "The Librarian," more funny and less scary than the podcast. I had exactly the opposite reaction (well, still funny. But not much of the podcast actively gives me the creeps and the show came close.).

At least one person didn't get a very American vibe from Night Vale because it was so unmoored from a larger political context, which seemed to be a minority view; I said I put it down that down to the genre and was perfectly happy to believe it was somewhere in an alternate American Southwest, as did most other people.

I gave my spiel about disability in WtNV, now updated for Old Oak Doors! People generally agreed that those episodes were not very satisfying on lots of levels. Note to self: next time, be sure to preface by saying that this is what you understand from listening to disabled activists, but you are able-bodied and do not speak for all disabled people, who are indeed not a monolith. This was particularly awkward since there were two people in wheelchairs at the panel; I at least had enough sense not to appeal to them during the panel for validation. (They thanked me afterward for saving them from saying it, but still, I should have done better and next time I will.)

Someone asked whether the writers were going to have to keep making things weirder and scarier because the audience was getting acclimated. I & at least one other person on the panel were not wild about that idea: hard for new listeners who don't go through the whole backlog, and instead we get some pretty explicit reminders that Night Vale is a horrible dystopia, it's just _their_ horrible dystopia.

Uh. I asked about whether Tamika's name and Dana's mother's natural hair came across as signifiers that they were at least part African-American to non-Americans, but I'm not sure I got an answer. I attempted to formulate a theory on the fly about who gets last names in Night Vale, and failed.

. . . all the other things I can think of I'm pretty sure I've already written about before. But we can talk more about it!

Assume spoilers in comments for . . . everything except today's episode, let's say.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Last detailed notes for today! . . . getting really, really tired, especially since I had Opinions about this panel.


Fantasy world-building sometimes comes under fire for its pedantic attention to detail at the expense of pacing or prose style. Do descriptive passages clog up the narrative needlessly, when reader imagination should be filling in the gaps? Where does that leave the landscapes and cultures that are less well represented in the Western genre: can world-building be a tool in subverting reader expectations that would otherwise default to pseudo-medieval Euro-esque? If fantasy is about defamiliarising the familiar, how important is material culture - buildings, furnishings, tools, the organisation of social and commercial space - in creating a fantasy world?

Mary Anne Mohanraj (m), Tobias Buckell, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Victoria Donnelly, Ellen Kushner

notes; some uncomfortable bits about race )
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Panel two of three that weren't mine today! I appear to be losing focus fast, so I apologize if my proofreading is inadequate; feel free to ask.


Sofia Samatar recently suggested [*] that SF genre writers and readers have "a tendency to focus on content rather than form", even or especially when engaging with marginalised perspectives. Does our genre inevitably tend towards the form and structure of western, English-language stories, regardless of what cultural tradition(s) are reflected in the content? How can a non-western or non-Anglophone writer engage with science fiction and fantasy while also operating outside of the conventions of western-style storytelling? Is it possible for western writers to engage with non-western traditions in an authentic way and produce a story that a wider audience will recognize as science fiction or fantasy? What are some of the different forms offered by non-western cultures that need to be told?

Amal El-Mohtar, Aliette de Bodard, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, JY Yang, Nick Wood

[*] source

notes )

[*] Here's the whiteboard rec list for the African SF panel at Nine Worlds; thanks, [twitter.com profile] shaded_sun!
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
My first panel of today, though second writeup because I have to turn paper scribbles into notes.


This panel celebrates some of the ways that London has been represented in games; including LARP, tabletop, point-and-click and videogames. We also explore some of the darker aspects of seeing London with a player's eye.

Kate Nepveu, Jonathan Green, Frances Hardinge, Christi Scarborough (m)

Fallen London is basically the only game I play these days (though I did bump into someone last night randomly from my NetHack days!), so this was a panel I was very consciously intending to keep my mouth shut for most of. And the other panelists were excellent and all was well. (Those of you who really like Frances Hardinge's books, you'll be pleased to know she's very smart and interesting in person.)

I have more notes than usual for a panel I'm on, because I was scribbling to keep myself busy while listening for something I could genuinely contribute to. I'm going to re-order things a bit to make them make more sense in a static report.

Victorian London, supernatural elephants, and more )

I did not get to mention the gender selection text for Fallen London, which I will quote here because I love it:

May we ask whether you're a lady or a gentleman?

* A lady
* A gentleman
* My dear sir, there are individuals roaming the streets of Fallen London at this very moment with the faces of squid! Squid! Do you ask them their gender? And yet you waste our time asking me trifling and impertinent questions about mine? It is my own business, sir, and I bid you good day.

(That is about 85% of the reason I play as an individual of mysterious and indistinct gender, honestly. The spinoff, Sunless Sea, doesn't even ask you for gender, just how you want to be addressed.)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
I went to the wrong panel at first (there are two doors into Capital 7, and I went into one of those thinking I was going into Capital 8) and so I missed the introductions.


Translations of SF/F books from one language to another offer a snapshot of the global SF/F scene, and in recent years it seems there has been an uptick in translated material available in the English-language market. But how representative is the sample of books translated into English? What factors determine which books get translated, and which don't? Who initiates a translation: does the translator work on spec, or are they commissioned by overseas publishers? How are translated books marketed to their new audiences? And why are so many SF and fantasy works by English-language authors translated into other languages, year after year, while so few from the rest of the world make their way into English?

Sue Burke (m), Gili Bar-Hillel, Tom Clegg, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Marian Womack

Shorted bios via program: Sue was born in the US, lives in Spain, and works as a writer, editor, and translator. Gili founded Utz Publishing House in Israel and is a translator. Tom was also born in the US, lives in France, and is a translator and the editor in charge of the SF imprint at Editions Bragelonne. Elisabeth was born in France, lives in Quebec, and is a writer and translator. Marian lives in Spain and runs a small press called Ediciones Nevksy.

notes )

I don't know much about this topic so I found this pretty informative and a good balance of experiences and perspectives in the panelists.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

We registered at Loncon late today, so we missed the huge lines (I don't know if that suggests any problem with the con itself or is just inevitable). The convention center that the con is in one end of is certainly very, very long. But on the bright side, that means lots of mall-food-court type food and lots of tables with chairs where people can hang out, which Chad & I did after our program items.

Anyway, my first panel was today. Here's the description:

The creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been one of the most exciting pop culture developments of the last decade – and contradicts the decades-long strategy, followed primarily by DC, of keeping superheroes in their own worlds for their screen incarnations. Now DC have plans to follow Marvel's lead (and Sony are developing an entire Spider-verse), but will the "Marvel megafranchise model" work for others? Does an interconnected universe imply certain kinds of stories and not others? What are the advantages of solo films? And how are different studios using other media – in particular, TV – to further develop their properties?

Kate Nepveu, Jenni Hill, Glyn Morgan, CE Murphy, Gavia Baker Whitelaw

I was looking forward to this enormously, and it lived up to my expectations: it was well-attended and lively and fun (despite my feeling that I didn't quite do my best possible moderating job). However, I was kicking myself for not realizing that there were 90 minutes slots available and pushing for one, because it really needed it. I'd hoped to cover four things, and we really only got through two and a half, specifically:

(1) Everyone wants a cinematic universe / megafranchise because Avengers literally made a billion and a half dollars, but is being part of a cinematic universe necessary or sufficient for that kind of success?

(2) What are the pluses and minuses of cinematic universes from storytelling points of view?

(3) What about TV adaptations, how do they compare and contrast with cinematic adaptations?

(4) Diversity, please (damn it)?

And we covered the first two pretty thoroughly, got some digs in about the fourth along the way, but only glanced at the third and mostly through discussions of animated series, not Arrow and the many forthcoming live-action series.

We talked a lot about humor, about backstory and hoping to ditch or truncate the origin story, and the need for really good writing if you're going to connect up bits of a bigger universe with a standalone story without things feeling pasted on. With regard to the MCU, we talked about its structure and how its future scope depends on Guardians of the Galaxy (space; check!) and Doctor Strange (magic; unknown). Someone asked if there was anything Marvel could do that would wreck the MCU. I said that considering that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is currently atop the U.S. box office, we just have to accept that spectacle sells, sometimes regardless of whether it is accompanied by quality, so it's hard for me to imagine. Other people said that if Ant-Man [*] or Doctor Strange tanks, that's not such a big deal, but if the next Avengers is terrible . . . well, maybe you'd need two high-profile disasters before people lost their goodwill, but it was theoretically possible.

[*] Someone also pointed out that in any other situation, losing the director of a movie so close to its release date would cause a studio to just push back or shelve the movie; but since Ant-Man is part of the MCU, Marvel apparently views it as immovable, presumably because it is connected to or sets up things in other movies, despite the incredible time pressures that puts on production.

With regard to backstory, after the panel someone who lives in Europe and doesn't have English as a first language told me that interconnected movies are getting harder to follow without prior homework, which I thought was interesting, though Thor: The Dark World was specifically cited and I'm not sure I get the impression it made a lot of sense in English (I haven't seen it).

Ugh, there was a lot of other stuff but it's past midnight and I really need sleep. Chime in if you were there or ask questions if you weren't, jog my memory!

A few things I mentioned:

Max Gladstone on the appeal of small-f fellowships particularly as applied to Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy

Comics Alliance article about the MCU and diversity and how it's falling behind (a little more charitable than I would be, but I agree with the overall thrust)

And finally, if I didn't mention it I should have, a column from Forbes of all places about GotG:

But come what may this is a terrific start that firmly establishes that Marvel is a brand name unto itself and a more important marketing variable than whatever property it happens to be producing this time around.

[ . . . ]

Second, it means that Marvel can do whatever it wants now. So if they choose not to make a female-centric or minority-centric superhero film, it’s because they just don’t want to.

Oh, and before I go to bed, shout-out to the volunteer audience member who fiddled with the soundboard until our mikes turned on! We salute you, gentleperson, as otherwise we would have had to shout the entire time to be heard in that large room.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
And it is awesome.

cut for length )

Thoughts on any of these topics are always welcomed.

(Edit: weirdly, Chad is still not on any science panels, despite being an actual working scientist and one who specializes in public communication regarding science. They claim to have a full track, so maybe they're just full up with people the track leaders already know and committed to, or something? If so, I mean, good for them, but still, kind of weird.)


Sunday, June 15th, 2014 08:45 am
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Woke up to draft program schedule for WorldCon in my inbox. It looks pretty great, though I need to reread when it's quiet and I'm more awake.

(Also to the children having created an elaborate and worryingly wobbly "slide" on the couch using all available cushions (while Chad was awake with them, they aren't getting up without adults yet). Have forced some additional breakfast into them and bribed them with more TV, and so am spared having to stand over vigil that for a little bit longer . . . )


Monday, February 3rd, 2014 08:50 pm
kate_nepveu: line drawing of startled cat with vacuum nozzle held to back (cat-vacuuming)
Finally filled out the WorldCon program(me) survey, which I kept putting off because it was so long. I've gotten spoiled by panel signups that give you a list of panels and then ask you to rate them by interest and make your pitch for why you should be on it. What if I miss something perfect because I didn't think of it ahead of time??!! (Exaggerated for effect. All will be well.)

Anyway, that counted as cat-vacuuming because there is a full evening of housework and Con or Bust work ahead of me. What are you all using to procrastinate with lately?

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