Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunday Salon: Continuum 8 (Friday)

Last weekend was a long weekend here which meant an additional day off work on Monday! Yay! Especially when it was also the Continuum weekend. Not just two days of bookish goodness, but three, plus Friday night as well!

This year Continuum, which is the Victorian convention for celebrating spec fic and pop culture. This year, it also did double duty as the 51st Australian National SF Convention. I had pegged this convention as one that I wanted attend from last year, but it was only a few weeks ago that I actually decided to go. As it got closer and closer to the time to buy tickets I got more and more nervous at the prospect of doing so. In the end, I am glad I went but I was once again reminded that I am not great in crowds of people where I don't know people! One of the highlights was to meet the people that I have been chatting to online and actually get to chat with them face to face.

On the Friday night, it was gold coin entry and so I dragged encouraged Bree to come along. One of the first people we met was Sean from Adventures of a Blogonaut.

Lisa Hannett making a point
The first session we attended was Splicing Genres which featured Jane Routley, Jenny Blackford, Lisa Hannett and Claire Corbett. This is where I begin to wish that my handwriting was a little more legible a week after I was scrawling the notes.

With each session only an hour, there was a lot of topic to cover. Some of the main comments that I found of interest were talking about genre labels as a whole and their importance or otherwise to readers and publishers in particular in relation to how to market something that doesn't fit neatly into one category. One of the books that I went to con knowing that I intended to read eventually but definitely wanting to read by the time I came home is When We Have Wings, especially after hearing more of what Claire Corbett had to say about it. When she started writing the book she knew she had a detective character but not necessarily that she had a detective story. She found the thriller and spec fic aspects were pulling against each other but both aspects still needed to be strong and to work within the storyline.  There was a discussion about splicing like the recent spate of classics mixed with the paranormal like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and brief mention of the fact that much fantasy is actually genre splicing with historical fiction, particularly with so many fantasy worlds having a kind of medieval feel. There was quite a lot more meat in the discussion but if I am ever going to finish this post I need to move to the next session!

After a break for dinner, the next session we attended was Tales as Old as Time which looked at the resurgence of fairy tale retelling in popular culture with TV shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time and also in fiction. The panelists were Angela Slatter, Lisa Hannett, Jane Routley, Kirstyn McDermott and Jenny Blackford. I actually attended a couple of sessions about fairy tales over the weekend. Among the discussion points were topics like the grittiness and darkness of the original fairytales which started to be lost with versions like those told by the Grimm Brothers and then the Disneyfication of many of those same stories into something with a sparkly happy ending. Loved the discussion about why wolves are so prevalent in the fairy tales that we know and how different animals take the place of the big bad wolf in other cultures fairy tales.

Next up was Twelfth Planet Press Hour. You could be forgiven that this hour was just an excuse for cupcakes and champagne, but really it was a chance to celebrate the release of the twentieth book for this small publisher, the announcement of a new crime imprint for the press and so much more! The room was crowded with people including many of the authors who have had books published with the press. For much more extensive coverage I would direct you to Alisa's blog (Alisa is the owner and driving force behind Twelfth Planet Press).

There was another panel scheduled that I wanted to attend but we couldn't find it and by that time I was getting tired after a long day at work and then out so we headed off pretty happy with our initial Continuum impressions.

I will have more posts about the con, but I thought I would finish up this one with a brief comparison to the romance conventions that I have previously attended.

The first thing is that I was actually expecting there to be a bigger attendance for a spec fic/pop culture event but I am not sure that the organisers were planning for too many more than they got. The venue was a good size for the number of people but there wouldn't have wanted to be too many more people as a lot of the sessions were full with standing room only and the corridor outside the various rooms were quite crowded.

The second difference was in relation to the books and authors that were available. One of the hallmarks of the romance conventions has been coming home with a huge pile of free books, both in the convention bag and in winning door prizes in each session, but there was none of that at Continuum. I am not sure if it is a reflection of the lack of big publisher support for this convention. The small presses were there in force, doing what they could to promote their authors and books but there was very little big publisher presence. Maybe that is the way that the conventions want it!  In addition, at both the Australian Romance Reader's Conventions I have been to there was dedicated time for author signings and people brought lots of books from home to get signed by their favourite authors. From what I saw, there was only a little bit of adhoc author signing going on. I am not saying that there should be huge amounts of free books, because goodness knows I still spent more than enough in the Dealer's Room acquiring new books but it was interesting to see the difference in this aspect!

Attending these conferences always forces to look at myself too. If you talked to people who know me in real life, most of them would suggest that I could talk the legs off a chair, especially when you get me onto my favourite topics, like books, but the fact is that I am happy enough with people I know, and even in groups of people who are friends of friends as an example, but put me in a room full of strangers and I find it incredibly confronting to start a conversation with the people around me. I also think I must give off a don't approach me vibe as well! It is interesting because while I inherited a lot of my father's bad traits, this is one trait that I wish I did inherit. He can talk to anyone.

Anyway, it is already Monday here and I need to go to work in just a few hours, so I will just finish this post here. I did intend to write the whole con up in this post but unfortunately I got very distracted by The Voice again tonight. I will come back with brief notes about the other days in the next couple of days.

Currently Reading

My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson for the readalong, Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier for the current season over at Historical Tapestry (it should be noted that we are giving away some books by Daphne du Maurier!)

Up Next

Until I Die by Amy Plum and The Girl in Steel Capped Boots by Loretta Hill


  1. Interesting. I'm not great at crowds either, but still had a good time at our local SF con last year. It sound like it was a similar experience in terms of publisher interest and numbers of people, but possibly as a result it was incredibly friendly and welcoming.

    1. I had a good time and it was friendly and welcoming, but there are times when I find myself standing alone.

    2. That's what the Bar was for :)

    3. Didn't actually make it to the bar at all!

  2. It sounds like you had a wonderful time, Marg! Despite being shy and not able to talk to strangers. I've found that at cons too, so I always went with a friend, so I'd have someone to talk to, and eat with. Otherwise everyone seems to have their own group, and no one would think to approach me. I can start a conversation, but after the initial hi it tends to dry up. That's the part I hate.

    I'm surprised too there weren't any author signings there, that is usually a big part of conventions,as well as authors reading from their new work. I've only gone to sci fi/fantasy conventions, so I can't compare to romance ones.

    I am interested in your other things to say about this con! What did they say about the presence of the wolf and the other animals in other cultures?

    1. I am not sure that it is shy, rather than being seen as unapproachable. Bree was with me on the Friday but the rest of the weekend I was flying solo.

      The main thing about wolves was that they were the alpha hunter in many of the European countries that our fairy tales come from and so they represent the biggest fear for those people. In other cultures, there are animals like foxes and bears in Indian culture because they were again they were the alpha hunters in those areas.

  3. The major reason why I love Once Upon A Time so much is because it's brought back that darkness in fairytales. It's so easy to forget that the originals are actually rather horrible, The Little Mermaid dying Hansel And Gretel meeting a human-eating witch, and I love that although the twists might be different, this same darkness is on it's way back.

    I'd say a convention where you're listening to panels is a good way to get an opportunity to speak to people without it being compulsory :) Glad you're still enjoying The Voice. In the UK ours sort of trailed off, there were lots of complaints about the judges. What I've seen of yours I really liked.

    1. There wasn't a lot of love for Once Upon a Time on the various panels I'm afraid.

      We loved The Voice Australia in our house. Not quite sure what show we will find to replace it as something that the boy and I can watch together! Can not wait for the second series to start!

  4. So glad you had a great time, Marg! I made it along to Continuum a couple of years ago, but haven't attended a con since then. :)

  5. I had a good time on Friday night - I really should've attended the whole thing!

  6. That sounds interesting. I am quite shy in real life and technology tends to further that at conferences because I just play around with my phone (or go shopping). I reckon I could talk books with you though for ages!
    Hope you enjoy The Girl in the Steel Capped Boots - my mother loved it and is pressing me to read it.