Denvention panels


One of the things that people do at a sf/f convention is go and listen to the panels. There are plenty of them to choose from, and the problem is often which to choose because there are a large number of them on at the same time.And there are several different reasons to choose to attend a particular panel. After all, who could resist a panel that included Connie Willis, George R.R. Martin and Lois McMaster Bujold and (if I remember correctly) Larry Niven, all talking about how they started reading SF and what their early influences were? Or one (top pix) with Joe Haldeman, Connie Willis and Mike Resnik? The title of that one was: “The Best Convention Panel Ever”, but they spent most of their time talking about “The Worst Convention Panel Ever”, and similar disasters instead. It was a laugh a minute. Then there was the panel on “Making a Living Telling Lies” with Jo Walton, Jay Lake, Connie W., and Bill Mayhew.

So the first reason is simply for listening to the greats of sf/f talking about what they do best – writing – and their influences.

The second reason is for information. Want to know about agents and what impresses them? Or listen to Brandon Sanderson talk about the last Wheel of Time novel? Or learn about the reality of space drives? Or dinosaurs? Or a world without fossil fuels? Or the Future of Libraries? There were panels on all those things.

My three panels wavered between great fun and…not so much. As I thought, the birds and dinosaur panel would have been a bit of a disaster for the audience if they’d only had me to listen to. As birders, David Coe and I sort of faded into the background and let the experts on dinosaurs take over. They were much more informed and I ended up learning quite a bit.

The panel on kicking off a story by using the myths of our cultures was interesting and ranged all over the place, taking in everything from ‘have we had enough of King Arthur?’ to cultural appropriation (.e. should writers use the mythology of another living culture, especially if they are going to alter it for their own purposes, or if it is still part of the religion of that people. Short answer: No. Exception: if you really know and respect the culture, enough to ensure that you won’t offend, then – sure.)

The panel on writing in spite of one’s environment was fun. A small and interested audience added to the debate, and the panel – all of us very different in how we approach the same problems – was a good mix.

Unfortunately, I never seem to get to enough panels because there is always so much other stuff going on – more about that next time.


Denvention panels — 5 Comments

  1. Ooh I’m happy you had fun!

    I’m just here at home, re-reading the Mirage Makers LOL. But I’m reading the trilogy slowly this time; last time I rushed through it, I just wanted to finish it LOL. But now I’m savouring it, living it.

    I’m about half-way through The Shadow of Tyr now – I’ve just read the scene where Arrant first meets Temellin, and in the night he wakes to find his mother gone, but finds her with Tem, and then he lies with them on the pallet. It was so touching: I felt his love for them and his happiness; the emotion was amazing.


  2. The ‘writing in spite of one’s environment’ panel. Can you remember anything of what the other guys said about how they handle the problems (since it never seems to be much of a problem for you!)? Just wondered …

  3. Denventicon sounded interesting, I think I would have found it difficult as well on deciding which panel to go to.

    On a side note, I see you’re reading Spirit Gate – how are you finding it? I got it for my birthday but havent gotten around to reading it yet. I’ve been absorbed in Robin Hobbs’Farseer trilogy.

    Take care! Hope you dont get too Noramlyed on the way home.


  4. Thank you, Elliott. Just what a writer loves to hear…

    Ru: Carol Berg told me that when her husband retired he drove her so crazy that she moved her workroom up to the attic to get away from his music etc. And when they had workmen in the house, she went to a cafe – and found “anonymous noise” easier to deal with than more specific stuff.

    One panelist said things got too quiet when the last of her 5 kids went to school – so she used to turn on the kids channel on TV!

    Others used music while they worked. Some worked in the middle of the night or very early when it was quiet. Those with kids just dealt with interruptions and went straight back to work.

    Most believed in changing what they were doing when they had problems – writing a different story, or a different part of the book. Or simply writing anyway and throwing out the crap later.

    I was the only person who really took my work everywhere and worked anywhere, anytime.

  5. Sarah – I am really, really enjoying Spirit Gate. I like what is sometimes called “deep genre”, where the culture and the world building is well thought through and the story builds up against that background more slowly than more racy tales. Mind you, I like the racy, action oriented tales too!

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