Charlie and I contemplated the programme, but in the end went to look at the art show before it was dismantled for the auction. There I also had chance to chat with Bridget Wilkinson.
After a snack lunch, I went to the Is this meant to be funny? panel with guests of honour Jasper Fforde and Robert Rankin. I found this rather disappointing (though I'm sure Rankin fans enjoyed it). I really wanted to hear Jasper Fforde talk about his books and his writing. Unfortunately he ended up being forced to play the straight man to Rankin's clowning and jokes and, what is more, could scarcely get a word in edgeways. I don't know whether the panel's chairman could have kept Rankin on-topic and persuaded him to shut up occasionally, but I suspect the answer is, probably not.
Another slight disappointment was the LiveJournal session. According to the programme this was to be "dougs takes us through the phenomenon that is LJ." I encouraged a writer friend to come along with a view to tempting her to start her own LJ. However, the meeting was not a discussion of how one can use an LJ for various purposes, including serious ones, e.g. a reflective writing journal, but was more a general meeting of a bunch of LJ fannish friends who use LJ for socialising. And, of course, I knew none of them. Oh, well...
The next panel was The Hero As Villain with Ian Watson, Geoff Ryman, Juliet McKenna and Richard Morgan. Nothing particularly new or eath-shattering was discussed, but it was a good panel. Very brief notes follow:
Geoff said: "A hero is someone wh otakes the tools of evil to do good."
Richard: We're all sophisticated now; we see all sides of the argument. No longer can take the simplistic vision."
Ian: Offered a sideways look at the Matrix, likening the good guys to Al Qaeda type terrorist/rebels. As he said, what is the point of destroying the Matrix? Earth is uninhabitable and everyone's happy where they are.
Richard: The anti-hero only has to be a good destroyer. Destruction can be satisfying -- anyone who has ever been to a bottle bank knows that.
Geoff: Not interested in Heroes and Villains any more. Only acts can be good or evil. People can't be good or evil.
Juliet told a droll anecdote about how her grandfather's friend (in the army pay corps) captured two strapping young Germans after the D-Day landings.
The banality of evil was mentioned. Also Juliet mentioned how the good guys need to demonise the enemy to justify what would otherwise be appalling actions.
Final thoughts: Richard quoted Michael Moorcock, "The hero acts."
And finally, a thought from the audience. Readers like Good and Evil in fiction in order to take a holiday fom the complex and confused shades of grey of reality.