Swancon36 » Fandom http://2011.swancon.com.au Get ready to party like it's Easter 2011 Thu, 05 May 2011 07:14:06 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.6 en hourly 1 Why I am going to Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty http://2011.swancon.com.au/2011/03/why-i-am-going-to-swancon-thirty-six-natcon-fifty/ http://2011.swancon.com.au/2011/03/why-i-am-going-to-swancon-thirty-six-natcon-fifty/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2011 04:11:32 +0000 swancon36 http://2011.swancon.com.au/?p=752 Glenda Larke is an invited guest of Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty. Here she tells us why she loves conventions, and why you will too.

Back in the days of yore…

Ok, back in about 1997 or 1998, my agent, who lives in UK, told me I should start going to science fiction conventions now that I had my first book accepted for publication. I said, ‘Conventions? What are they?’

She explained, and it all seemed rather strange and alien. I couldn’t imagine me, all alone, rolling up to a place where I knew no one and no one knew me – and not just for one day, either. For several days, and at great expense, seeing as I live in Malaysia where there is no such event.

Yeah, well, I’ve come a long way since then. Once I got the hang of this thing called the internet*, I investigated and it all seemed intriguing. So I decided I’d give one a try. I timed a visit to Perth to see my sister with the Easter holidays, then twisted her arm to come with me for the first day of Swancon 2004. Fortunately she’s an ex teacher-librarian with a love of SF/F, and she was happy to oblige.

No one knew who I was, my first Oz published books were not long out, but I was welcomed, shoved onto panels, met a whole slew of terrific people many of whom are still friends, and generally had a ball. Tim Powers was the main guest, and was totally delightful. I still remember his GoH speech.

I was hooked for life. I’ve loved cons ever since. Donna Hanson somehow got me to go from Perth to Canberra for Conflux 2004 immediately afterwards. That was the first time I met Russell Kirkpatrick… The main GoH was Greg Benson. I went back the next year to another Swancon (Charles de Lint was the main guest). Even now, I still haven’t got over being on the same panel with famous writers.

In 2008 I was totally gobsmacked to be asked to Swancon as their Australian GoH. I was incredibly moved to have my hometown ask me back as a guest. Even more fabulously, the international GoH was Ken McLeod, and writer Rob Shearman of Dr Who fame was a guest as well. What a great con.

So, above you have several reasons to go to a SF Con, especially ones in Perth.

Reason No 1: You have a ball
Reason No 2: They have fabulous guests
Reason No 3: You make lifelong friends
Reason No 4: You can end up on panels — or attend them

I’ve been to other Australian conventions since: Continuum 2005 in Melbourne, which had one of the funniest debates I’ve ever heard — after all how can you go wrong with Neil Gaiman, Russell Kirkpatrick and Kim Wilkins (Lord, how could ANYONE ever forget her speech???), Poppy Z.Brite and Richard Harland taking sides on the subject of whether humans are creatures natural or unnatural…

Reason No 5: Writers are often also very witty speakers…

Most of that con I actually spent with the Harper Voyager and their authors, including Robin Hobb. I think that was the time I first met author Karen Miller, whom I now count a very special friend. Then there was Natcon/Convergence in Melbourne in 2007, which was where I first met Dave Freer, who was one of the guests, and was later enticed back to Oz to live.

Reason No 6: You meet some of your favourite authors…

And in the meantime I was also investigating my first Worldcon, in Glasgow in 2005, and my second in Denver in 2008, my third in Melbourne last year.

So, if you live in Oz and aren’t going to Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty – the 50th Natcon, by the way – why not? Come to think of it, you don’t have to live in Oz to go. I don’t.

See here for more info. It’s 21st-25th April (Easter) 2011. And I am one of a whole stack of invited guests. Don’t miss it.
*I was a very early user of a PC — Apple IIe anyone? — but came somewhat late to the internet.

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It’s NAFF time! http://2011.swancon.com.au/2011/02/naff/ http://2011.swancon.com.au/2011/02/naff/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 11:10:25 +0000 swancon36 http://2011.swancon.com.au/?p=623 The call for nominations for the 2011 National Australia Fan Fund (NAFF) has opened.

NAFF sends one fan each year to the current National Science Fiction Convention, which this year will be held in Perth at Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty. Any active fan living outside Western Australia is eligible to nominate.

For further information visit the ASFF Fan Funds LJ, or contact Gina or Sue Ann.

Nominations close on February 28th.

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They’re Fanzines, Jim, but not as we knew them http://2011.swancon.com.au/2011/01/they%e2%80%99re-fanzines-jim-but-not-as-we-knew-them/ http://2011.swancon.com.au/2011/01/they%e2%80%99re-fanzines-jim-but-not-as-we-knew-them/#comments Wed, 12 Jan 2011 10:00:35 +0000 swancon36 http://2011.swancon.com.au/?p=460 As part of our ongoing series on retro-futurism and fandom, please welcome Bill Wright. Bill is the awards administrator of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation. He will be on deck in that capacity at Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty to introduce presenters of the 2011 A. Bertram Chandler and Norma K. Hemming Awards. Visit: the ASFF site for details.

“Only a really vital culture, an organised culture, will publish magazines.”

H Beam Piper (1904-1964) in his much-anthologised short story Omnilingual

Mervyn Binns at work on fanzine production in Melbourne (1960s)

According to the Doyen of fanzine publishers in Australia, Bruce Gillespie, whatever it is that SF fans do can’t be classified as fan activity until it’s written down and published. Twenty five years ago, at the time of Aussiecon 2 (43rd Worldcon in Melbourne in 1985), that might have survived as the opinion of a majority of fans; but, with the advent of the Internet and its many ways of putting out one’s instant rather than considered opinions, it’s not thought to be the case now.

True, there are a number of older fanzine editors and publishers who, calling themselves core fandom, cling to past tradition and think they are the only trufen. Other fans they consign to the fringe. Bruce Gillespie puts it well. He says, “Those who call themselves ‘core fandom’ are the survivors of the pre-Internet past in which to publish a fanzine established one’s fannish credentials beyond dispute, everything else being mere gossip and socialising.”

Their skills have been honed by a lifetime of publishing experience, with the result that their zines are generally of the highest quality with what they have to say in them well worth reading. Younger fans pay less attention to them than they deserve. That said, the perceived elitism of a minority (in terms of the “fig jam” syndrome: fuck I’m good, just ask me) gets up some fans’ noses.

On the other hand, an increasing number of fanzine editors are embracing the new technology, engaging with the blogosphere and all its myriad ways with creative enthusiasm. (The writer is at the conservative end of that spectrum, being of a generation that is more than a little frightened of Facebook, leery of e-mail lists and finding texting and twittering akin to unintelligible foreign languages).

But, whatever their age or level of experience, most fanzine editors today can no longer afford the expense of mailing large volumes of paper zines to their readers. Apart from isolated pockets of resistance like apas (amateur press associations where mailing costs are shared by members) they opt, instead, to prepare a copy- ready version of each issue in PDF format and post it on the Internet, sometimes to their own web log (or ‘blog’ as personal data dumps are referred to these days – it’s an ugly term, but it seems we’re stuck with it), but generally to a website such as eFanzines that catalogues and displays them. Such posts have been given the distinctive name of e-zines to distinguish them from paper zines.

The eFanzines website is popular with established faneds but it doesn’t get as many hits as it deserves from the general body of fans given the quality of the zines on offer via its ultra-sophisticated and user friendly catalogue. That may be partly due to the multiplicity of media that makes the post-Internet generation more receivers than transmitters, and what they receive passive (eg. watching TV) rather than active (eg. reading).

“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing. The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

MICHAEL RICH, executive director of the Centre on Media and Child Health, on how digital technology affects children.

But judging from the sheer volume of transmitting that takes place via the Internet in all its manifestations, it’s much more likely that a vast number of potential devotees of eFanzines simply haven’t discovered it yet. Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty members should suss out eFanzines, if they haven’t discovered it already.

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The perils of conventions http://2011.swancon.com.au/2010/03/the-perils-of-conventions/ http://2011.swancon.com.au/2010/03/the-perils-of-conventions/#comments Fri, 19 Mar 2010 15:19:59 +0000 swancon36 http://2011.swancon.com.au/?p=19 “Cross Section” was a publication produced for the 3rd Australian Natcon in 1954, which contained messages from international fans to members of the Natcon.

Donald A. Ford from the Cincinnati Fantasy Group wrote a piece in which he describes, amongst other things, the beginnings of the Indian Lake Convention:

This regional con is for the more hardened fen though. It isn’t nice to have to quell a gibbering neo-fan when he sees his favorite pro denuded of glamor and living it up just like at home.

The shock of finding their idols with feet of clay is too much for them, and their little beanie-capped brains collapse as rapidly as fan and pro mags. A special squad has been organized to lead the poor dazed creatures back to their rooms where they can be alone with their grief. Seeing their favorite pro author stretched out on the floor, dead drunk, does something to them than all King Ron’s auditors can’t put together again. Only the first five fandoms can stand this sight without a tremor. Sixth fandom still has to be watched over, for signs of occasional relapses. However Seventh Fandom has been making an effort to help out their own. A number bring fire crackers and use them for shock therapy. Sometimes it works. Other times it merely brings the pros to, and they rise up calling loudly for another drink and a new deck of cards. Will Eighth Fandom be able to withstand this, along with the “A” and “H” bombs?

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