If I don’t blog now, I never will! I am home after one of the most intense and inspiring long weekends of my life! Swancon36/Natcon50 was definitely one of those legendary events of the Australian SF community. Cat Sparks called it ‘the con of conversations’ and it’s absolutely true that the set up of the hotel bar, and the lovely mix of people we had, meant that all the pieces were in place for some amazing conversations. However, it’s usually true that the cons which are the most fun socially are those with the suckiest programs, and that was definitely not the case here. I found so much to interest me in a professional development sense, even if I didn’t get to nearly as much as I wanted to, and the feedback I got from other authors/professionals was the same.
The thematic streams (educational, academic, romance, writers etc.), run by different programmers, gave a real structure to the program and meant there were several flavours to each day of the convention – I only participated in and saw some of the writers stream but I heard great things from friends who spent time in the others. I’m glad to hear that the romance stream went well as that’s something you don’t often see given much time/space in a traditional con.
Jonathan, Tansy, Alex & Alisa, taken by Cat
The design of the bar, in the centre of the hotel lobby, gave a really nice vibe to the convention for me. It often feels like ‘the bar’ is a hub of private little groups in a dark squished-in space, which can feel exclusive and a little intimidating, especially if like me you’re someone who actually doesn’t spend a lot of time in those kind of spaces the rest of the year around. At this con, the cafe-bar seemed to allow for a lot more of spotting people you knew, and a lot more mixing up of people rather than always sticking to the same crowd. Also their homemade lemonade allowed for some serious injections of Vitamin C, which I was grateful for.
On the whole I found the staff really friendly and helpful – Good Friday was a bit of a nightmare day for them as they were understaffed as usual on public holidays – but I appreciated the cheerful waitstaff, bartenders, receptionist etc. It didn’t hurt that Alex and I were sharing a club twin on the top floor which allowed access to a very swanky breakfast/coffee lounge. Lovely for when you needed the quiet moments.
I really enjoyed the panels I was on – I never cease to be appreciative when I am put on something other than the usual suspects. Yes I do remember the years where I only ever had the same panel (comedy and fantasy, who knew you could combine them?) at every convention. Which was fun and all, but being able to talk about adventures/quests, indoor v. outdoor fantasy, my TV influences, social media, feminism and gender, and all manner of other things was lovely, and with so many different people.
Particular thanks to Kitty who did the ‘awesome women in comics’ panel with me – I was very wary of that after the awful mess that happened at Worldcon, and because I still don’t feel like enough of an expert on the comics field to talk about it for a whole hour, but it went well, was probably my biggest attended panel, and it was fantastic how we both had such different reading lists for people to look at. That and the other gender panel, the one I did with Justina Robson and Sarah Xu, were probably the most audience-participationy of the ones I did, and for the most part in a very good way. Let me hear a No Derailing Woohoo!