Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fourth Street Fantasy: Day Three

I started out in the consuite with a combination reason of seeing if there was any grub available and also seeing if there was anyone to talk to before the first panel. I saw cloudsudding and went over to the couches to join the conversation. Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette were both there. I joined the conversation without really intruding on it. It was a good start to the morning.

After the first panel, and just before lunch, I got a quick signing from Bear on my still unread copy of Undertow.

I was a little sad that this was the final day of Fourth Street. Even though I had gone to bed at fairly reasonable hours, I was tired but not ready to be done.


10:00 AM: Writing in the Negative Space
Panelists: Steven Brust (moderator), Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Will Shetterly

Emma Bull was originally on the panel, but needed a bit more rest than what is normally available at a con. Will Shetterly gave a great example of what the concept of negative space means, and that is if you try to describe something directly the description is going to be lacking and only in two dimensions. However, if you describe around the thing you want to bring attention to you’ll get a more clear picture of that thing even though you never directly describe it. This is a bit vague, but Bear gave another example: in art you don’t draw the person, you draw the stuff around the person so that what you see in the end is the person you wanted to bring out. Pretty much, how I understand this is that the negative space is that which we don’t say but is still the overall shape of the story. Negative space is what we build the story around. All this was much more clear in my mind until I tried to type it out. Good thing Brust never called on me when I had my hand raised. This was one of the better panels of the con.

12:30 PM: Writer’s Lies
Panelists: Steven Brust (moderator), Pamela Dean, Ellen Klages, Marissa Lingen, Will Shetterly, Caroline Stevermer

This is a panel dealing with the lies writers tell themselves in order to do their best work. Like the Cool Idea to Story panel from Friday, I’m not sure this panel really answered the question in a way that is truly helpful. The panel identified several lies (I’ll never publish this, this doesn’t suck, Grandpa will never read this story) that has helped them get through and finish work, but then the panel sort of devolved into coming up with lies on why their work ISN’T good (led by Bear’s question from the audience about her incredibly negative inner critic) and that’s when I think the panel got off topic a bit. I don’t mind the off topic bits because listening to the panelists riff on various ideas and topics is great. I think the topic for this panel wasn’t quite sufficiently broad enough to get to the core of Brusts’s questions.

2:00 PM: Stuff
Panelists: Patrick Nielsen Hayden (moderator), Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, Arthur Hlavaty, Sarah Monette.

Throughout the con, and probably any con, there are things that come up in panels that the only appropriate response to the question or idea is: And that’s really another panel. This is that panel. The focus of this panel ended up being...well, I don't really remember. I remember discussion about researching, wikipedia being like the children's nonfiction section of your library, metafilters, and something that is juuust grasping at the edge of my consciousness but failing.

Following the last panel was the Closing Ceremonies. This included a drawing for a Kindle. I didn’t want one, per se, but I’d have loved to have won one. Closing ceremonies were much like the opening ceremonies, with a little bit of info on next year’s con, and other quick goodness. Steven Brust seemed quite happy with how this con went and I’d say he should be. It was a great experience.

Before the closing ceremonies I had the chance to speak with Will Shetterly. I let him know that I enjoyed his Disney copyright story and this led to a conversation about copyright, Disney, Cory Doctorow, Canada, and the odd dynamic of wanting a company like Disney to hold on to their copyright so they can protect the Mouse as a brand while understanding that doing so can be damaging to the public discourse and the ability to write stories using 100 year old characters which in most cases, should no longer be protected by copyright. In that case the brand may be the trust in Disney’s brand even if there are knock off stories and property out in the public domain using the mouse. But, we both suspect that Disney may not necessarily want the company to be the public brand as opposed to Mickey, even though the company has already pretty well branded themselves with the Disney “name”. Good conversation.

After closing ceremonies I had a chance to thank both Elizabeth Bear and Emma Bull for coming, say goodbye to a couple people I met, and then head on home to finally sit down and relax at home for the first time that weekend.

I’m quite happy that Fourth Street returned, that Bear was the Guest of Honor, that the Shadow Unit crew was almost all able to attend, that most everyone at the Con were interesting to talk with (when I talked), and that the whole thing was a fantastic experience and one which I hope to repeat next year.


aedifica said...

In that last panel, the role of Arthur Hlavaty was played by Victor Raymond. :-)

Joe said...

Thank you! I know something was going on with "Arthur". I tried googling his LJ and what I found didn't seem to jive with who I remembered seeing there.