Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fourth Street Fantasy: Day One

I stand in the very short registration line to get my name badge and whatever other miscellany is given out at the con. I hear a woman talking with somebody else about her drive up from Texas and I think, “I wonder if that is txanne”. Txanne, because apparently I think in Livejournal tags, is a very active member of the Shadow Unit forums who I knew was coming to the Con. I take a wild guess that txanne is short for Texas Anne. Deep, I know.

I tell the lady at the table (Beth Friedman) my name and mystery woman from Texas excitedly repeats my name and introduces herself as...well...Txanne (pronounced Tex-Anne).

The start of my convention experience is already kinda cool.

I should add, at this point, that Fourth Street is my first convention.

I head in to the room which host the panels for the evening, have a nice Shadow Unit discussion with Txanne about the ending of the first season. Txanne repeats my theory on Chaz in a loud stage whisper because apparently Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette are sitting two rows in front of us, but we’re ignored.

A guy walks by in black jeans, black t-shirt, leather vest, and a black cowboy hat. I only see him from the back. I ask if that’s Steven Brust because just from that back, that’s exactly what I expect Steven Brust to look like. It is.

Opening Ceremonies: Steven Brust introduces himself, welcomes us to Fourth Street, gives a bit of a background on how this happened so many years after the last Fourth Street, briefly introduces our Guest of Honor (Elizabeth Bear). Elise Matheson stands up, says that the con is going to happen NEXT year, too, that she will be running it, and that the confirmed Guest of Honor is Cory Doctorow. I haven’t even been to a single panel yet and I already want to go next year to hear Cory speak.

After Opening Ceremonies txanne introduced me to Emma Bull and Will Shetterly in order to briefly share my Chaz theory. Bull looks at me and says “and you know that we’re not going to tell you anything, even if you’re right. It’s just too much fun” Bull was awesome. Bear came over and gave Bull a small carved platypus, which makes sense if you know Shadow Unit.

Two Panels on the First Day:

3:30: From Cool Idea to Story. This is where writers talk about how they take the Great Idea they have and make it a Story.

Panelists: Jim Frenkel (moderator), Alec Austen, Ellen Klages, Marissa Lingen, Will Shetterly

I don’t know when I got this idea, but Jim Frenkel is an awesome grump. He just seems cranky on panel, but not necessarily in a negative way. In a damned entertaining way.

I also don’t know if the panel ever *really* answered the question of how the cool idea really gets to be a story, though I think they tried, but it was fascinating listening to the conversation. Ellen Klages: funny as hell on panel.

This is also where I noticed Alec Austen. Not necessarily because of anything he said. He spoke kind of quietly and so I am pretty sure I missed a good deal of what he said. But Alec has a fairly severe stutter when on panel and it was very impressive and VERY cool that he was up there. I was slightly bugged by some of the other panelists finishing the occasional sentences of Alec’s, but I don’t know his opinion on it. I did briefly tell him on Saturday that I was thought it was awesome he was up there, because that takes a bit of courage, but this wasn’t a panel / con on stuttering, so I really didn’t bring it up ever again.

5:00: Grinding Buttons and Pushing Axes for Fun and Profit. A panel on “message” stories, anything that tries to push an agenda. This was a damn interesting panel that ran the gamut of Left Behind (but only barely) to Pilgrim’s Progress and other didactic literature, to pretty much anything trying really hard to make a point.

Panelists: Elizabeth Bear (moderator), Alec Austen, Emma Bull, Marissa Lingen, Sarah Monette.

Bull is great on panel. She has a lot to say and she takes a bit of a different, more moderate perspective from the others. Not necessarily a more academic perspective, because I think that’s where Sarah Monette comes from, but it was a great panel.

After dinner there was “A Very Shiny Evening of Readings and Celebration”. On one hand it was a jewelry showcase for Elise Matheson, but also readings of poetry (some very funny haiku: Bring on the asps!) and short fiction. Lois McMaster Bujold was there, too.

I only stayed for the first reading, which had a short story from Sarah Monette. I left at 10:00 after the first round of readings because the next round wouldn’t be over until 10:45 and it felt late. Unfortunately, I missed Bear’s reading and then I missed the party where there was singing, but that’s okay (well, the fact that I left...I really, really wished I got to hear Bear read)

For a first day at my first convention, I had a good time. I wanted more panel, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. The social aspect isn't my forte, but I like to listen.

It was a very good day. I'll wrap up Days Two and Three soon and then make some concluding comments, overall impressions, and try to link to as much Fourth Street commentary as possible.


Mary Robinette Kowal said...

I am jealous that you went to this. If I could have made it happen, I would totally have been there.

On the other hand, I'm such a fan girl about Steven Brust, that I probably would have been inarticulate.

Elizabeth Bear said...

So what's your dratted theory?

Joe said...

Mary: I appreciate that you suggested I just go. I kind of wanted to anyway, and just had a great time. It would have been more cool than words if you could have gone.

Bear: It's actually less grand of a theory than I'm (or txanne) making it sound. On the SU forum folks keep saying that Chaz is fine and that they're so happy that he made it through okay.

He didn't. Chaz isn't fine. Chaz had breakthrough and not a one of us (except for you writers) knows what it means. Chaz is still in the hospital. He's not whole. He felt wings and he killed.

Whether or not this gets raised anytime during Season Two, this will loom over my reading experience for the season: Chaz may be a gamma.

The question is...can he come back?

That's my theory, such as it is.

So, are you going to pull the Robert Jordan answer and say Read and Find Out?

Elizabeth Bear said...

I'm going to award you a gold star for intelligent speculation and nuanced thought.

And then I'm going to say, "Read and find out."

Joe said...

Thank you very much, Miss Bear, and honestly - I wouldn't have it any other way.

Anonymous said...

That wasn't your whole theory, Joe! You also wondered if Chaz hated his PT because he still felt wings.

Joe said...

I think you're projecting on that one, Anne. :) I really don't remember that part.

Or, maybe that was part of our collective consciousness working together in connecting the puzzle pieces before the opening ceremonies.