Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Back from Convergence
We actually took the weekend off - and a bit of the two days on either side of it - to attend Convergence 2, the 2007 National SF Convention, here in Melbourne. Well, to be quite truthful, although we stayed in the convention hotel, we did sneak home for a little bit of Saturday and Sunday, partly to check up on Felix the cat (whom we'd left by himself), and partly because I did want to get just a little bit of work done on the thesis, which I'm racing against time to finish. I have a self-imposed deadline of the end of June for the first "real" draft, and other things don't stop happening in that time - e.g. I have a huge pile of exam marking to do next week.
Meanwhile, we were also a bit worried about our families, up in Newcastle, which was hit by floods over the weekend (they're okay, but more about that in another post).
Convergence itself was enjoyable, though I got to very little of the programming, except for the couple of panels on which I was scheduled: one about Second Life, and the other relating to whether there is any distinctive voice in Australian science fiction/fantasy, or whether we are like the 51st state of the USA. As to the latter, we all doubted that there is any need for a distinctive Australian voice, as opposed to distinctive individual voices. We also challenged the idea that Americans are all alike, either. That's not to deny that there are some "Australian" characteristics that people are more likely to be socialised into here than in some other places (perhaps a certain sense of irony and humour), but if those influence our writing it will happen unconsciously. There's no reason to force it. Hmmm, what I just said is really my own view, I suppose, but everyone else - Jack Dann, Donna Hanson, Stuart Mayne - seemed to be making points that were consistent with this, and there was a lot of agreement on the panel.
For some reason, I don't find myself hanging out with the Melbourne science-fiction fans from day to day, and in fact several of my closest Melbourne-based, sf-involved friends are actually not Melbourne-based anymore: Damien Broderick is living in Texas, these days; Janeen Webb and Jack Dann are down in Gippsland; and Alison Goodman has moved up to Brisbane. As a result, not many of the people with whom I am likely to hang out in an ordinary week are actually sf professionals or fans (and even those people - such as Paul Collins and Meredith Costain - are not immersed in organised fandom).
I often feel a bit disoriented when I first wander into an Australian sf convention, not knowing a lot of the people, and not having caught up for a long time with a lot whom I do know from back in the day. With people like Janeen and Jack, who were there (we went out to dinner with them on Friday night), we pick up easily from where we left off. With others, there's a bit of ice to be broken (oh, to be a bit less shy and not have that initial feeling!). But as the con goes on, the initial feeling passes, and I settle back in. By the end, I was really enjoying the convention, the company of old friends, and the chance to meet some new people.
Back to work now - there are books that must be read if the thesis is to get done, there's a stray review to write, some marking and admin crying out for me to complete (some students will submit late essays), and so on. I'll be fairly submerged in work for the next three weeks, and then it's off for two weeks to Armidale (for a philosophy conference) and Newcastle (to see family and friends).