Two panels tonight and I am wiped out. I have a business stop to make tomorrow in the dealer's room (which I may or may not discuss, depending on the outcome thereof), and once that's over with, I can ... well, not breathe easier, because my five minutes of spotlight for reading aren't til Saturday evening. Mock me if you will, I've done half hour stage sets and introduced numbers for a group - but then I have a five foot tall instrument to hide behind. And I'm good at making people laugh, particularly at me ... not so much with other forms of public speaking.
Fantasy as a Rejection of the Present (Theodora Goss, Walter Jon Williams, Nancy Jane Moore): Every now and again, there's a panel where the panelists seem focused upon debunking the panel topic, and it cracks me up. This was one of them. It was a very thoughtful discussion that went beyond fantasy as a form of nostalgia and into its possible use as social agenda, its expression of the anxieties of the age, etc. For instance, it was suggested that part of steampunk's popularity might be that it goes back to the last period where the average person really understood technology.
(I'm writing down a lot of book titles. My Amazon list is going to sprawl out again after this, I can just see it.)
The Logic of Absurdity (Gerald Warfield, David Levine): Unfortunately, Eric Flint, who I was looking forward to seeing on this panel, was a no-show. He couldn't make it in time. Hope he's not stuck in an airport now. The other two joshed him good-naturedly in absentia. Handpuppet Flint: "Hi, I'm Eric Flint, and I'm not here."
Anyhow, this panel was not about what I expected, and at first, I was disappointed - it was more about using absurd, larger than life elements within stories. However, it turned out to be very relevant in ways I hadn't expected. They talked a lot about the rules of absurdity, the need for it to fit into the framework; how it was essentially an element in context, and in a wholly "absurd" world, the normal becomes out of place. This seemed to affirm some of my gripes / quibbles with "weird" fiction, and I felt better for hearing it. (Of course, it's all subjective, too.) Other points: the absurd still needs to map onto the reader's experience. If you've got plot, character and setting, one of those elements can be absurd, maybe two ... but try to make all three absurd, and it crumbles.
So not at all on that note, what do people think of, "Who Wants To Be A Hero?" as a title?