Thursday, 2 September 2010

Easing into Aussiecon 4 - Day 1

It's been a long time coming, but Aussiecon 4 is finally here. The venue is the very swish new Melbourne Convention Centre - an elegant cavern with monster escalators and long winding halls. It's the type of venue where you doubt you'll ever quite see all of it -- and if today is any indication the place is going to get packed. My experience today was a far cry from my first-day experience in 1999 at my first ever science fiction convention. Back then I only knew one person, although made a few friends along the way. These days, thanks to the tentacles of my writing group, friends seemed to be everywhere.

I went to just one panel this afternoon, but it was an interesting one. It was called 'Steal the past, build the future: new histories for fantasy fiction' and focused not so much on setting (as we had expected) as theme and plot. In other words: overlaying a traditional folk tale or mythology with a fantasy/SF setting, or rediscovering/reinterpreting historical events in a fantasy setting. On the panel were Kate Elliott, Catherynne M. Valente, Amanda Pillar and Jonathon Walker.

They all had very interesting things to say, but I particularly recall some of JW's points. He's a historian and author, and talked about how all historical records are filtered -- whether by the person recording it or a translator etc -- and that the potential influences on the source hold as much interest as the 'facts' themselves. He also likened use of history in fiction as 'having a conversation' with the past, or 'finding a connection between past and present'. I like this.

After my one panel, there was the bar and socialising and Chinese for dinner and socialising. A good first day, easing me into the festival to follow...

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