Thursday, November 03, 2016

World Fantasy Convention 2016: Meat and Bones

So everyone has been waiting with breathless anticipation, on pins and needles, after the cliffhanger of my last post ...

All right, not exactly.

Conclusion:  this was a high quality, worthwhile World Fantasy Convention, and I had a great time.  There were some minor planning problems that always seem to be common at conventions - one mic or no mic at all, lack of name signs - but nothing that got in the way of the conference.  (There was that particularly memorable incident in the final Thursday night panel where the *lights kept going off,* though.  Turned out that a venue staff member didn't realize that when he turned them off in the other room, they went out in both.  So a panelist would get up, turn on the lights ... they'd still on for a moment ... go back off ...)

I mentioned in my previous post that I was a little unenthused about the selection of panel topics, but like many WFCs previously, the panels I was just lukewarm about turned out to be great fun.  For instance, the Tall Tale panel Thursday evening was a blast - the panelists were hilarious, informed and made those of us who never really cared or thought about the tall tale as a storytelling form (hi!) interested in the topic.  A few panels wandered off what I interpreted as the topic, but I can't say if that was me or them getting it wrong.  There was only one panel that both diverged and became unpleasantly argumentative.

Thursday featured back-to-back panels about costumes / clothing and masks, which not only hit upon the period significance and use of both, but discussed the psychological impact.  "Flights of Fancy" was the central theme of the convention - though as with every WFC I've attended, it received lip service more than any true focus - and I attended two panels on aspects of flight.  They ended up being somewhat repetitive due to wandering topic, but I still gained useful insight from both.  Besides the philosophical and primal aspects of flight, the panelists discussed its use in warfare ... and, of course, the physiology necessary to allow a creature to fly, which gave me a story idea I'm dying to write.

L.E. Modesitt was everywhere, in the best sense.  He's an excellent panelist and not afraid to disagree - politely - with his fellow panelists.  He self-describes as borderline aspergers, and as someone who often feels the same way ... it's encouraging to hear him speak.

Of course, I adored the panel on retellings, always a favorite topic of mine and populated by eloquent, witty speakers.  Another highlight was the panel on Strange Drugs, which was partly notable due to the fact it was the last panel on Saturday, and, well ... everyone was tired and punchy ... I've never heard so many snarky comebacks from an audience before.  All in good fun, and suitable because it really is a heavy topic if taken in an entirely serious vein.

My final panel was a perfect ending for the convention:  "Is God Dead?  Atheist Fantasy."  Arguably, this one veered off-topic, too - one panelist contended that the term religion can be applied more broadly to community systems of belief, even without a deity component, and the dialogue ended up centering around the use, justification and purpose - narratively speaking - of gods, religion, etc.

Sidebar:  one of the pitfalls of writing by hand (besides my terrible handwriting and the occasional leftie smear) is my notebook is full of terrible little doodles.  One in particular is a vague little sketch of water with critters labeled, "narwhals!"  The panel topic had nothing to do with this.  I also ended up writing multiple poems.  This in no way should indicate that I wasn't absorbed in the topic and paying attention:  I seem to have trouble with *just* listening to people speak, so the jots filled in the empty spaces in my brain.

Going in without expectations or grandiose plans improved my experience, and I'm glad it happened that way.  Overall, a satisfying convention.

No comments: