April 7th, 2012

Never give up

How pseudo do you like your medieval?

Today I was down to breakfast at 8 am prompt and this time I didn't loiter but set off for the con about 8.45 am. Walked more or less straight onto a tube and once the crush had died down after we left the central touristy bits, read Mortal Engines as we trundled out to Heathrow. Walked out of the tube station at into the Heathrow central bus station and straight onto a bus, so arrived in plenty of time to chat to carl_allery and Tina before going to see George RR Martin, Anne Lyle, jemck and birdsedge talk about "How pseudo do you like your medieval?". This was a fun panel, expertly chaired by Anne Perry who, when we complimented her at the end on how well the panel had gone, admitted that it was her first attempt at panelist herding.

Panelists talked about how the biggest problem can be overcoming the reader's preconceptions, for example many people think that life pre-1900 was "nasty, brutish and short", but this isn't actually true. As long as you lived in a stable society with enough food and you could avoid serious accidents or dying in childbirth or of things like appendicitis, you were as likely to live to 80 as you are today. Also discussed was the danger of doing the research and the story ending up being all "my research, let me show you it!" and boring the reader into a coma. Collapse )

One thing I have noticed at this con and that is that as well as a lot of old familiar faces, there are lots of new people. I sat next next to a lovely young woman from Wooton Bassett in the fantastic landscapes panel who told me that this was her first con. She writes SF, but the local writers' group all write mainstream and don't get this "weird" stuff that she writes. Then I left the con at the same time as a chap who was heading to the Albert Hall for a folk concert. Though he'd been reading SF for 50 years, he too was at his first convention, courtesy of having heard about it on Charlie Stross's blog.

Why this sudden upsurge in interest? Have SF cons suddenly become respectable, I wonder?

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