I've attended FOGcon, the Bay Area convention celebrating speculative fiction, for the five years of its existence, and this year was one of the most fun for me.
The theme this time was The Traveler, and one of the honored guests was Kim Stanley Robinson, whose fiction takes readers on explorations of the solar system, as well as parts of our planet that are remote in space or time. I am a huge fan of Robinson's Mars trilogy, and I'd been excited about the prospect of hearing him speak and perhaps meeting him. As a panelist, he turned out to be fantastic and knowledgeable, to nobody's surprise. And when he took some time to sign books, I was able to chat with him for several minutes about the latest Mars research, which made my day/weekend/life. I'm eager to read all the other intriguing, ambitious works by my buddy Stan, a project that may take the rest of my life.
This year's selection of panels was great. The discussion of languages and linguistics in science fiction and fantasy was especially excellent, with expert panelists who had all studied and/or written in this area. Another of my favorites, which included Kim Stanley Robinson, explored how science can best be incorporated into fiction. The panel on The SF/F Of Suburbia considered a range of fascinating topics and provided audience members with many possibilities for new stories.
My friend Andrea Blythe blogged more thoroughly about her favorite panels, many of which I also enjoyed, so check out her post for a better idea of what these discussions covered.
I moderated a panel on apocalyptic fiction, and it went quite well. The panelists had some great thoughts and recommendations to share, and the audience contributed good questions and comments. We discussed the appeal of this genre, why it might be growing in popularity, and the distinction between apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories. One of the topics we touched on is how the speculated causes of apocalypse change over time, and one attendee was inspired to do some awesome data analysis and present statistics and graphs. Fans of the end of the world should also take a look at The Apocalypse Garden, a blog by another FOGcon participant.
As always, the very best part of the con was the time spent sharing meals, drinks, and conversation with a whole bunch of cool people, including old friends, those I only get to see once a year at FOGcon, and brand new connections. And of course, the karaoke tradition continued, with singing going late into the night.
I came away from FOGcon with a huge list of book and author recommendations that's likely to influence my upcoming reading. Plus a serious case of sleep deprivation, which I think I'm finally recovered from. Can't wait for next year!
Good Stuff Out There:
→ N. K. Jemisin analyzes reviews to investigate whether readers are harder on female characters than male characters: "I see Oree taking a lot of flak for being a victim of fate, but no commentary about Ehiru having a very similar story-role. I see snark about Oree being desirable to others, but none about Ehiru being the same."