Friday, October 29, 2010

WFC Day Two: Part 1

I kept sneaking into the ConSuite to eat today ... well, sneaking is the wrong word, that's what it's there for. Also, I am about as sneaky as an elephant.

Panels for the first half of today:

Fantasy Gun Control (Walter Jon Williams, Charles Gannon, Elizabeth Bunce, Lee Martindale, Ian Drury): This panel discussed why guns are missing from our quasi-medieval fantasy stories when hand cannons date back to the 1400s. Some theories suggested were the deep influence of the original fantasists, including Tolkien, who very explicitly wanted to move away from that evidence of modernity; the lack of "elegance" in a gun versus a sword, the intimacy of hand-to-hand combat, and the idea of personal courage / heroism that can be lost or diluted when weaponry is added. All these things can be overcome, but there is a very strong public perception / bias against it. Yet other genres - eg westerns - do romanticize guns ...

(My two most recent secondary fantasies do have pistols. Butterfly's Poison is set in a world where these things are brand new, and my mad-scientist inventor is maybe the first person to have come up with a multi-shot pistol. Pity he can't hit the broad side of a barn. And Journal of the Dead is loosely Victorian, so the presence of firearms is in the background.)

The Explosion of Funny Fantasy Series (Lucienne Diver, Laura Resnick, Steven Silver): Another one of those panels where the panelists debunked the topic in question, though not as vigorously as before - they just said it was less a question of explosion and more a question that a field once locked tight is now open for exploitation. Among the difficulties of comedy is the fact that it isn't universal and that pacing is very difficult to maintain - even if it's perfect in the book, you can't control how and when the reader will encounter certain sections. Putting the book down for a crisis? Reading hastily in the car? (... not while driving.) Even the slightest placement of a word or sentence can alter the comedic impact.

Making Mythology Fresh (And a Little Silly) (Elizabeth Bear, Kathy Sullivan, Laura Bickle, Esther Friesner): Another great panel, and one from which I came away with a particular number of books to look up. (Darn, that sentence still ended with a preposition.) Among the suggestions for keeping it fresh were to seek out more obscure mythologies, confront ancient myths with modern realities - akin to science fiction's extrapolation - and going back to the roots of myths that have been so well-mined that the derivations have become the familiar. (Not lookng at vampires here at all, no ...)

Also: never discount zombie Paracelsus. (Actual quote from the panel.)

At this point in the chronology, I take a break for lunch and browsing the dealer's room. At this point in real life, I hop away from my computer with every intention of creeping into the ConSuite again.

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