Saturday for me was when Eastercon got… busy… there was so much I wanted to see and do today and so much I missed, plus I was busy with a lot of volunteer work too. However, as this mostly involved holding up a card to say when a panel was overunning, it was no great effort and I got to watch the panels too.
First panel of the day was “What is #Ownvoices and why is it important?” This panel featured the wonderful Russell Smith, a regular on this blog, and a selection of other diverse voices who were there to discuss their own experiences of being seen as ‘other’ in publishing. For example, the tired old excuse of “We already have a book about [insert minoroty issue here], we don’t need another one.” An argument easily countered by “but you have half a dozen books about the experiences of cis het white males…” The panel made it clear why these were issues, whey they shouldn’t need to be an issue and discussed what is now a growing and more vocal group of #Ownvoices. In all, an entertaining panel.
This was followed by an interview with Frances Hardinge, another old regular on this blog. As a guest of honour, she had certain obligations, including being interviewed. The interview ably covered the spread of her work and discussed such topics as her thoughts on over researching and the personalities of her main characters. For example, the wonderful quote as tweeted by Farah Mendledesohn on twitter: “My heroines tend to have other things on their mind: like surviving, or revolutions, or not eating people.”
Then we had John Scalzi’s interview, where Emma Newman went into detail about his career as a writer, the popularity of his blog (Whatever) and why he is the only writer in history who does not seem to have imposter syndrome (diagnosis: he is a Mage…). This interview also covered why he is destined to be eaten by a polar bear (because, as a Mage, if he wishes it, it will happen and he did say if he were to get eaten hy any sort of bear it should be a polar bear as that is the most environmentally friendly option).
There then followed the Hay lecture where Hamied Haroon, of the University of Manchester, talked about medical imaging. My one take home message from that lecture was “Any chance of any jobs in your research group?” because it looked like awesome work I would really liked to have got involved with as a biomedical scientist with an especial interest in the technical aspects of research…
After this, things got a little dark and sinister… with a panel about conspiracy theories called ‘Paranoid Politics and Fantasy’. This one also featured John Scalzi, who did coin the phrase ‘Trump’s Razor’ to describe the situation where the stupidest possibility is most likely true. Much discussion about various theories and the reasons they exist as well as looking at differences in past and present in terms of conspiracy.
Next we had ‘Romance in Fantasy and SF’ which did explore differences in current romance vs older romance tropes, mostly examining the change in the ethnicity and sexuality of those involved in it.
Finally, there was ‘Creating Fantasy Biologies’ which ranged through a lot of evolutionary and paleontological theories and tried to work out how these will apply to alien or fantasy species. This was an entertaining panel that was, unfortunately, over crowded due to being in the smallest room.
In all an excellent day if somewhat tiring…