Tuesday, January 23, 2018

ConFusion 2018!

I'm just back from my first ConFusion.

I loved it! Great people. Good hanging out. I mean, really? Me hanging out with Charlie Jane Anders and Kate Elliott? Pic taken by John Scalzi and featured in a post on Whatever? Way too lovely.

Decent panel schedule too. They worked me! For example:

Friday 5PM INTERLOCHEN World-building Culture Beyond Aesthetics Many authors take care to ground readers in the aesthetic details of their secondary-world cultures, using clothing, architecture, food, and language to give readers a 'feel' for what a culture is like. Often, these details are drawn from stereotypes of real regions of the world, leaving us with the generic "middle easternness" of Narnia's Calormen, or the "future Chinese empire with no Chinese people" of Joss Whedon's Firefly. Let's talk about how to go beyond aesthetics to build original cultures with their own philosophies, biases, social orders, and worldviews. How can we build distinct cultures in our work without using medieval Europe as the cultureless default against which other societies are compared? What are our favorite fictional cultures, and our favorite stories that use distinct original cultures to add more to their world than appropriated aesthetics? David Anthony Durham, Max Gladstone, Michael R. Underwood, Scott H. Andrews, Shweta Adhyam

Friday 6PM SAUGATUCK Visions of Positive Masculinity - Moderator From high fantasy adventures to noir mysteries to superheroes and war stories, genre fiction has meticulously catalogued the narrow roles society expects men to occupy: strong, brave, and powerful, but also angry, competitive, emotionally repressed, and misogynistic. What does a character arc look like for the man who has decided not to be the best at performing this toxic vision of masculinity? We've seen many stories about women who struggle and triumph against gender roles. How can writers use social expectations of masculinity to create challenges that their male characters have to overcome to save the day? David Anthony Durham, Jason Sanford, Jim C. Hines, John Chu, Pablo Defendini

Saturday 10AM MANITOU Immigration and Refuge in Science Fiction - Moderator Travel stories are classics in any genre, but in science fiction stories of travelling to a new home are often about colonization, or about intrepid explorers amongst the (primitive) aliens. Let's talk about the science fiction stories that better reflect the experiences of immigrants and refugees in the real world. Alexandra Manglis, Amal El-Mohtar, David Anthony Durham, John Chu Saturday

12PM ISLE ROYALE The Ancient 1980s - Moderator When most people think historical fiction, they think of the 16th through 19th centuries. But genre fiction is increasingly taking on the recent past. What's the draw (beyond nostalgia) of the 1980s and 90s as fictional settings? What unique research challenges do they present, and how do writers balance providing familiarity for those who remember the era with background information for those who need context? What are our favorite modern works set in the recent past? Alexandra Manglis, David Anthony Durham, Michael W Lucas, Sara Dobie Bauer, Stephanie Morris

Saturday 2PM BIG TOP Any Sufficiently Detailed Magic System is Indistinguishable From Science - Moderator The influence of tabletop roleplaying games is widely felt in fantasy. Many stories make a 'science' out of their magic that reflects the carefully-balanced rules of a tabletop sourcebook. What are the trade-offs between creating magic systems with strict rules and leaving magic as a mysterious and unknown force? How do we balance the sense of wonder and magic against the desire to give readers a stable hook from which to suspend their disbelief? What makes a well-defined magic system work in a story, and when are we showing the reader too much of the machinery behind the curtain? Brandon Crilly, Charlie Jane Anders, David Anthony Durham, Kate Elliott, Shweta Adhyam, Jim Butcher

Saturday 5PM SAINT CLAIR Mass Autographing Session Come meet your favorite authors, artists and musicians and have them sign things! (Please limit your signing requests to 3 items per person.)

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