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wshaffer
Short Worldcon report 
4th-Sep-2012 11:05 am
language, voyage
I'm back from Worldcon. I had a great time - I think I did a better job of managing my social energy than I often do at Worldcons, which means I spent less time at parties but had more fun at the parties I attended. A good trade.

When people ask me, "How is your con going?", I tend to think they mean the one I'm helping to run, rather than the one I'm attending. I had a lot of accidental conversations about FOGcon that way.

As with last year's Worldcon in Reno, I really enjoyed the "Stroll with the Stars" morning walks. I don't often get to chat with the "stars" much, but it's a great low-pressure environment in which to chat to fellow fans, and to get familiar with the area surrounding the convention hotel. (Admittedly, in Reno, the area surrounding the convention hotel was one that I'd have been content to remain unacquainted with. Chicago had a lot more to offer.)

It was a fairly mediocre year for programming, I think. To briefly summarize the panels I attended...
The Good: The SF Squeecast recording was an absolute hoot - I recommend checking it out when it shows up on their podcast feed. I came away from the "F**k Your Knight and the Horse He Rode in On, Part Deux" panel with a long list of book recommendations.

The Bad: "Girl Power in YA SF and Fantasy" was marred by the sole male panelist spending the first half hour talking more than all the female panelists combined. It wasn't intentional, and parity was eventually restored when the women just started interrupting him. "Do We Need Print Books?" was frustrating because people kept bringing up supposed problems with e-books that have either already been technologically solved ("You can't lend an e-book to your friend!" Yes you can!) or will be easily technologically solved once someone brings the right product to market ("E-readers aren't durable enough for small children," or "You can't read an e-book in the bath.") I was annoyed. The three people sitting with me, who are much bigger e-book proponents than I am, were nearly incandescent.

The Meh: "Have Sonic Lipstick, Will Travel" proved to be an hour plus of a roomful of people going, "Yeah, Sarah Jane was awesome. Lis Sladen was awesome." While I can happily spend an hour singing Sarah Jane's praises, I'm not sure a Worldcon panel is the best format to do it in - we'd probably have done better to all go down to the bar and chat. There were brief moments of differing opinion on K-9 and Company and "School Reunion", but the panel didn't really catch fire. (Also, this is nitpicky, but I wish that fandom in general could praise Sarah Jane Smith without (probably unintentionally) belittling prior companions. Sarah Jane was not the "first feminist companion," the "first companion who was a career woman," or "the first companion who stood up to the Doctor," although she was arguably the most effectively-realized character matching those descriptions that the show had had in a while.)

Quibbles about programming aside, it was an excellent con overall.
Comments 
4th-Sep-2012 06:34 pm (UTC)
It was great to meet you in person.

The only programming I went to: one kaffeeklatsch, Scalzi's interview of Story Musgrave, and the Hugo ceremony. (I did stick my head into a presentation that might have been interesting; I decided it was not only unlikely to teach me anything I didn't know but also had the potential to present things I knew to be incomplete or incorrect that I couldn't correct...so I left.)

OTOH, the bar/lobby/party track was excellent and I had an amazingly good time throughout. I didn't get enough time with all the people I wanted to see & talk to (but that always happens) and I wish I'd been able to give more massages (my room's location in the other tower made the logistics too difficult during party times) but all in all I had a wonderful time.
4th-Sep-2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed meeting you, too. And yes, I'd happily take a con with an excellent bar/lobby/party track and mediocre programming over one with the reverse any day.
4th-Sep-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, envious of your attendance, but super glad to read the report! :)

I don't understand what the trend with moderation at large cons is, though. In your Bad's, you mention problems that a good mod should be able to nip in the bud ("Oh, you've been talking a while, let's have so-and-so offer her perspective." Or, "I believe we're already covered this topic... perhaps we should move onto [next topic].") The same thing has happened at SDCC several times now, and each time, I wish that the mod would step in and do her/his job. Is there no mod training at all anymore? :(
4th-Sep-2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
I don't know if Worldcon offers any sort of moderator training, although many conventions that I attend have a "How to moderate a panel" panel. But, yes, apart from just choosing really inappropriate panelists, poor moderation is the easiest way to ruin an otherwise promising panel, and I wish more cons would pay more attention to encouraging people to do it well.
4th-Sep-2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
supposed problems with e-books

A friend of mine declared yesterday that ebooks have no typography. I confess, I am ... puzzled.

(Your programming notes: RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS. I'm programming Melbourne's Continuum next year. GOD HELP US ALL.)
5th-Sep-2012 03:48 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine declared yesterday that ebooks have no typography

Well, it is true that, except for PDF, most ebook formats offer content producers less control over fonts, text size, line-spacing, line breaks, and formatting of tables, inset text boxes, and similar items than print does. Generally, this is a feature, because it's what allows ebooks to be read comfortably on so many different devices. And, yes, these limitations are very far from "no typography".

Good luck with programming Continuum!
5th-Sep-2012 10:39 am (UTC)
Definitely not sorry you talked about FOGcon!
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