March 17, 2011

FOGcon Report

I had a fabulous time at FOGcon this past weekend, and now I'm finally recovered and caught up enough to take the time to write about the experience.

This was the first occurrence of FOGcon, a genre fiction convention modeled on similar events such as WisCon. I'd heard a lot about these similar events, and I'm always intrigued by the notes from fascinating panel discussions, but I never gave much thought to attending because my knowledge of science fiction and fantasy literature is limited. I probably wouldn't have gone to FOGcon either, but I'm friends with one of the committee members, and she talked it up so well that I was eventually drawn in.

I'm so glad I was persuaded to attend, and that I heeded the great advice that participating in panels can result in an excellent first con experience. I wasn't wrong in expecting that other attendees would be a lot more familiar with SF/F than I am, but it didn't matter so much. Nobody made me feel bad for not understanding all the references, and now I have a long list of books and short stories I want to read. I got to listen to thoughtful people dissect fiction, and I'm always happy to do that.

FOGcon was basically a gathering of 250 people who not only like to read, but also like to geek about every aspect of storytelling. I attended a panel that debated happy versus unhappy endings and another that explored the concept of spoilers. Other sessions, in keeping with this year's theme of The City, considered how technology or race and class divisions are portrayed in different fictional cities. Since a fair number of readers who care this deeply about fiction are also writers, there were several writing workshops and some panels aimed at writers.

I was a panelist for one of these writerly sessions, entitled "I Have Written The Greatest Story Ever (No Wait, It Sucks)". Our moderator led us through a discussion of the ups and downs of the writing life by having us talk about the Seven Deadly Sins as they apply to writing. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and the audience seemed to have a good time as well. I'm waiting to see if anyone who wasn't on the panel took notes on what we said. Otherwise I'll cobble together a recap from the notes I made.

I also served as co-moderator for "Your Favorite Book No One's Ever Heard Of". Our time slot had a lot of competition, so the audience was pretty small, but everyone who came had a book to talk about, and I was blown away by the variety and uniqueness of the premises. I'll post more about this once the compiled list of suggestions is online.

In addition to attending panels, I had fun conversations and meals with a bunch of friends, sang karaoke, participated in my first live action role-playing game (based on Hamlet!), and enjoyed a delicious literary cocktail, the flaming rum monkey. I didn't make much of an effort to meet new people, but I did have a few good talks with former strangers.

I plan to be at FOGcon next year, attending as a seasoned veteran, and I'm already wondering what I should read to be prepared for next year's tantalizing theme, The Body.


Anonymous said...

Waves hello!

The panel report is up on my journal, I'm sure it will appear on the con site soon.

An oldie but goody on the body is Maureen McHugh's China Mountain Zhang.

Lisa Eckstein said...

Hi, Jesse! Thanks for compiling the list of books from our panel, and thanks for the additional book recommendation!

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