I've been to conventions before, most notably ComicCon. But this was my first WorldCon.
It was weird.
The world of science fiction fandom is indeed a different one than that of any other kind of fandom. Those involved are hella serious and very focused... to a fault at times. I was disappointed in most of the panels. The topics were either an easily answered question or more of a discussion of tastes than an actual panel. If this is something you already do with your peer group, it can be frustrating. And the make-ups of the panels were sometimes odd.
The interesting thing about this convention was that on some level, it was exactly like the other conventions I've been to. There are more aspiring novelists here than at other conventions, but there are also some aspiring TV and film folks there. The problem with having a panel on how to break into the business -- whether it's books or film/TV -- is that there's really only one answer to that question. How do you break in? Write your ass off. If you've got one script or book that you carry around on a velvet pillow and consider your masterpiece, I assure you that it isn't. Writing Is Hard. If all you want to do is succeed, look elsewhere. If you absolutely MUST write, you don't need to be told to write. You'll already have a lot of material that's been written and rewritten. THEN -- and ONLY then -- can you ask the question about what to do next. But until then? WRITE. There. A panel in less than a paragraph.
Now comes the time in the blog where I decide whether or not to name names.
I suppose I shall.
So I went to a panel -- Is Art the Inspiration For Madness? The panel was supposed to be about how responsible writers are for their work. Trust me. This topic sounds more interesting than it is. But there were three very interesting panelists -- Joe Haldeman, Tim Powers and Nick Sagan. All well-respected, thoughtful writers. And then there was Elizabeth Gilligan, a fantasy writer who's published two novels. Now, I've never heard of Ms. Gilligan. But as she would tell it (over and over again), she's an expert in poisons and (I think) alternative medicine. There was one line in the panel description that she took to heart -- "Is there a responsibility not to show how to make a bomb?"
The woman riffed on this for virtually the entire panel, drowning out the other panelists, who were all too polite to just tell her to shut the hell up. She did other boring, heinous things that you don't need to hear about. She was (I suppose) somewhat qualified to be on this panel -- she has, after all, published two books. But she was on another panel titled Fantasy On Television that she was NOT qualified for and she did the same damned thing on that panel.
This kind of shit drove me crazy. There would invariably be an interesting person with an informed opinion or an expertise and three other idiots espousing their uninformed opinions. I don't want to hear those people talk. That's not why I'm here. I mean damn, I was on a Star Trek panel and didn't feel qualified for THAT, but at least I have some knowledge of how television works.
So Elizabeth Gilligan and others like you, stop interrupting interesting, smart people with your brainless chatter, you blithering misanthropes.
The best part of WorldCon was hanging out with friends and meeting new people, and then seeing them win awards at the Hugos (John Scalzi!). Harlan Ellison gave a fantastic, wicked performance at his talk and then later at the Hugos. Connie Willis (a good sport) and Robert Silverberg were damned funny at the awards. Tim Powers was a freakin' rock star god all week, and deserves to be such outside in the Real World. Doselle and Janine were everywhere, and the party followed them. Dave, David Lloyd, Jaime and especially Nick made the week really worthwhile.
It was a weird but a very fun week.
This seems like a long, pointless post that will just disappear, unread, into the ether, so I'll stop now. Tomorrow, maybe a little about TeeVee.
Or maybe I'll talk about ponies.