Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My writing week 3 (35) - Aussiecon

Hi all,

Well I survived Aussiecon. I spent most of my time attending panels as well as the opening ceremony and the guest of honour speeches. I also spent a bit of time in the dealers room searching for books. There was so much to see and listen to.

The panel sessions I saw were mainly on science fiction, writing for young adults, editing and climate change. A lot of those panels included the guest of honour, Kim Stanley Robinson. I had read his novel Red Mars and, after finding he had a great concern for climate change, I will now finish reading the series. He said the series was not so much about terraforming Mars but an allegory about man's treatment of Earth.

I also saw Canadian author Cory Doctorow with his uncomfortable arguments about where the publishing is heading. He is a fan, if not major contributor, to the digital revolution, running the well patronised website Boing Boing. He has also been nominated for three Hugos for mainly young adult science fiction. Although I did not share his enthusiasm for the digital redesign of the publishing industry, I was so impressed with the way he articulated his arguments and for the information he imparted that I felt obliged to buy one on his novels, which I did.

The overseas panelists, like Cory Doctorow, Kim Stanley Robinson, Gregory Bedford, James Scalzi, David D. Levine, and editors Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor), and Ginger Buchanan (Ace) where generally very articulate, entertaining and full of information. Only one American female novelist seemed too overbearing to generate convention sales. Sean McMullen was perhaps the best of the Australian writers I saw.

I choose the panel sessions more on topic then presenters, so I missed seeing China Mieville (if he turned up). It was disappointing that Australian authors like Greg Egan and Damien Broderick did not make an appearance. Sean Williams was ill and could not make it. I still have not read the daily update sheets to find out why some panelists didn't appear.

The convention centre is a huge cavernous venue. Aussiecon had access to two large auditoriums, and 20 other rooms, most of which seated 200 or so fans. No attempt had be made to decorate the place and very few fans turned up in costumes. The convention was more for the novel reading science fiction fan than the film or television science fiction fan. So for me, there seemed to be a lack of atmosphere.

The books in the dealers room were about 25% cheaper than what I pay in Wangaratta. I was disappointed not the find any of Adrian Bedford's books other then the one I had already had read. I also had no luck finding one Kim Stanley Robinson mentioned. I did find a collection of short stories by Aussie great George Turner, which was free with the purchase of another book, that took a while to choose.

Overall, I enjoyed the convention, I felt at home there, even though I wasn't wearing black. I was entertained and informed by a lot of open and articulate authors, editors and scientists, and left each day eager to return the next. I wish the convention had gone longer so I could have attended some of the panels I missed.

Over the coming weeks I will be blogging about the individual sessions and the winners of the Hugo's which were announced at the convention (I voted for two of the winners).



Damien Broderick said...

It was disappointing that Australian authors like Greg Egan and Damien Broderick did not make an appearance.

Would have loved to be there, Graham, but I live in San Antonio, Texas, these days, and just can't afford trans-Pacific flights.

Greg Egan doesn't do conventions.

Graham Clements said...


It would have been nice to see you here to give the overseas born authors a bit of competition.


Anthony J Langford said...

It sounds like an interesting time Graham. I don't do enough conventions.
I'm still not convinced about the 'digital revloution of books.' Too many people prefer reading the old fashioned way, including me. There might be some sort of shift, mainly for technophobes, but I beleive that some things don't go out of fashion. We will see.

How's the water level around where you are?

Graham Clements said...


Luckily the King river and the leaking levee that has been causing all the tension is on the other side of town. It would take a huge rise of the Ovens river (which the King flows into)to threaten where we live. I don't think many houses where flooded, if any in Wang. The Painter's Island caravan park was inundated as usual, it is right next to the Ovens. I took some photos and put them on my facebook page.

Like you, I much prefer paper books, but I pulled out an article from the Age which has the Kindle down to $154, just about to investigate it on the web.

We might have no choice but to go digital in about a decade, because a lot of books, unless print on demand really takes off, will only be available as ebooks. Like Graham Storr's first novel.

At Aussiecon, science fiction legend Robert Silverberg obviously disagreed with Cory Doctorow's vision of the digital future. I will be writing more about that in future posts, once I get rid of this bloody cold that I brought back with me.