No rants today: I spent the weekend at Lunacon so ’tis time for what passes for my after action report.
Lunacon, for those who aren’t familiar with it, mostly lives near NYC, at the Westchester Hilton – known to regulars as the Escher Memorial Hilton, due to the strange interdimensional portals and odd corners which sprout tentacles if you go there at the right time of night during the dark of the moon. Much of the weird has been sanitized of late, so that you no longer go from level 4 to level 7 without using any stairs. Now it’s 4 to 4000 which doesn’t have quite the same ring. Plus they’ve renovated and the old restaurant and bar has been replaced by a new open plan sterile thing that might acquire some character as it ages but right now it’s pretty meh. Still, there’s enough oddness to make Strange Things Happen.
It wouldn’t be Lunacon if Strange Things didn’t happen. This year was pretty mild. The fire alarms went off twice and there was an issue getting badges in time, which led to much use of “We don’t need no stinking badges!”, people drifting into con ops to be told “Nope, not here yet” and the guest of honor joking that he needed a special hat because nobody had any idea who he was without a badge to proclaim his GOH-ness. I am not revealing who suggested Mickey Mouse ears. I might not survive if I did that.
For me this was a busybusy con – six panels and a signing session. Not that – with almost everything I have being ebook only – I signed much.
First up was “There are no rules” at 10pm on Friday – which broke one of my normal rules, namely the one about The Kate Does Not Do Panels After 9pm Because You Have No Idea What You’re Going To Get. It turned into a fun discussion about which rules really are rules and which ones are merely guidelines (the ones about spelling and grammar are the actual rules, the rest are guidelines, but those work differently for the megabestsellers than they do for us mere mortals).
Saturday after a nice quiet signing session, I got to play with the scientists in a panel on “Science, Ignorance and Power”. Now there was a minefield that somehow never really got triggered. One panelist slipped a comment about “global warming deniers” in the middle of his commentary on how it works better to find areas of common ground with people than to tell them how ignorant, stupid, or evil they were (yes, irony alert, and no, he had no idea – until he was called on it which rather startled him and sent him backpedaling). Interestingly the focus didn’t stray to politics but stayed largely on a general line of this science stuff being pretty cool and how do we folks who think it’s cool convince a wider audience of the coolth?
Later, I had “Galactic Domination” (long-time Hoyt’s Hun Mary Catelli was on the panel, too) and it kind of morphed into more of a discussion on the economics and logistics of multiple-planet empires and what kind of tech levels would be needed to support one in the first place. I think the consensus ended up being that there wouldn’t be any real ‘domination’ as such outside the fantasy with technology trappings space operas (where the logistics basically have planets as stand ins for islands and everything feels kind of like Napoleonic era naval warfare with lasers, only not done nearly as well as Weber does it).
Sunday I started with “Genre Bending: Making Good Cross-Genre Mashups”, a panel where all of us had fun and shamelessly talked about the way SF and Fantasy can coopt practically anything and make it work because unlike most other genres it’s defined by setting (Romance is defined by plot. Ditto Mystery. Horror by plot and mood. Etc). That means it’s perfectly possible to have a noir mystery mixed with a romance in an urban fantasy (Hi, Cedar!) and the fans won’t run. At least not if you respect and admire all the genres you’re playing with. If you’re just snarking one or using it for its tropes, all best are off, though.
My last panel was “Economics in Fantasy Land” which turned into something more along the lines of weaving actual economics into one’s stories (you know, where the hero actually has to pay for stuff for real, and that massive haul of gold is too freaking heavy to carry away), with side orders of economics in history including the tulip crash and the economies of the various European states after the fall of the Roman Empire – all of which kept the audience interested, which means we didn’t do too bad a job. Interestingly enough, despite the potential for political arguments here, there weren’t any. The one person who mentioned the Communist theory of value (=labor plus skill) got contradicted from several directions pointing out that value is what someone is willing to pay for it. Whether that payment is in sheep, gold, bitcoins or some other commodity. Yes, bitcoins got a mention.
Alas, every panel that I would have like to go to as an audience member was scheduled against one of my panels, so I didn’t get to see “If I were the Evil Overlord” (damn it) or any of several others that looked interesting. I did score a lovely dragon sculpture which I need to find a home for, and caught up with quite a few friends.
The most interesting thing was the feel… this is the first con I’ve been to in a while that didn’t have the loudly espoused pro-left politics being shoved down people’s throats. Maybe people are tired of that… I sure hope so, because I for one just want to deal with the matter of writing a damn good story.