WordCon Day 5 – The Glorious End

For previous days, links below.

WorldCon Day 4 – and the, er. . .Hugos

WorldCon Day 3 – and Brisbane 2025

WorldCon Day 2 – The Socialising. . .kind of

WorldCon Day 1 – The Rambling

After Saturday’s post though, I want to make something clear – for the vast majority of the Con, I had an absolute blast. One thing I really appreciated is that the con ended how it began for me – with a bunch of fascinating panels with engaging panelists and attendees that held refine and inform my own writing.

That said, I woke still pretty deflated from the Hugos. Some people have suggested anger is a more appropriate response, but me and anger are not a great combination, so I prefer to celebrate the strong lists, the amazing winners, and the speeches. Other aspects need to be learnt from, and analysis of those elements is on a repeat loop in my head. It might be selfish, but I want to keep helping with the Hugos, and I never want to be attached to the kinds of things that were said outside of the winners’ speeches. To that end, I will try to learn from the horrific, but focus on the positives. The Hugos should be about the fans, and the winners are included in that category. Toastmaster is a service to those fans. That service might be meant as an honour, but it comes with obligations and responsibilities, not self-indulgent rights.

So that’s all I’ll say about that – the rest of my focus will be listening and improving to ensure as much as I can, I will be able to push the focus towards the fans in future ceremonies.

With all that going through my head, I missed the first panel of the day. But good news, its all available for another week, so I can still chase that up.

The first panel I did make was Screenwriting 101. I’m not a screenwriter, but its an area I’ve always wanted to get into. The idea of doing an anthology of shorts is absolutely on my bucket list, and now seems to be a better time than any to start learning how to get that done. Key take aways were that, ‘You’re a genius’ is Hollywood for ‘Hello’, and to register all scripts with WGA for protection. Slightly concerning takeaways, but still, useful. There were others as well – a few tips on how to stand out, how to find a niche, and challenge (that I’m sure wasn’t intended) to write a weird horror RomCom.

Challenge accepted.*

The second panel I attended was Military SF with Joe Haldeman. This was a particularly personal one for me, and it did a great job of discussing what matters in military science fiction. The idea that we write it from the context of our own – such as fleets fighting a Naval force in space, and by extension cloaked battles were submarine battles in space.

One thing that really stood out though was the humility and respect with which Joe spoke. Maybe it was because it was in contrast to others of a similar demographic over the con, but Joe was willing to contribute from his own experience and past, while openly acknowledging he was (in his own words) a ‘historical relic’. Now, I’m not sure that’s the case; much of the advice he was giving on the focus of relationships and growing a critical mindset as part of the soldier’s character development.

While I don’t think the ‘historical relic’ is completely accurate, I do appreciate that he seemed to be subtly pushing people to looking at the future of writing and the future of science fiction. Also, Kin-Ming Looi’s Babylon Five setup was amazing.

The next panel was one that focussed on the technical side of virtual cons. It was interesting, and very helpful in looking at the Aus 2025 bid, but much of the technical side probably isn’t that relevant to the con. What I will say is that a key take away for me was the pivotal requirement for integration of a number of different systems. Also, regarding those systems – sometimes some budgetary pain for the sake of a professional frees up many volunteers and efforts for other elements. More expensive, but less stressful and a less resource heavy.

My final session is one that was probably one of the best ways to end the con – a two hour documentary on the legacy of Ursula K. Le Guin.

The doco is apparently available on Amazon Prime (which I can’t check because I don’t have it anymore), and I thoroughly recommend it. From her childhood, to her education, family, and works. It interviews Le Guin herself, in which she admits to the fear of accepting awards and delivering scathing acceptance speeches, she discusses what she did wrong and how she grew in her writing, and beautiful recitals of her own poetry.

It also left me with one question that has played at the back of my mind ever since the Astounding award was given its name last year – why is there no Urusla K. Le Guin award, scholarship, or other formal recognition within the industry? She won I think seven Hugos, six Nebulas, the World Fantasy Award, a bunch of Locus awards, and a bunch of formal literary accolades – yet there is a scholarship with Oregon University and that is all. She has arguably redefined the way we look at science fiction and fantasy, enabling a more accessible genre, and forced people to take it seriously (though this is an ongoing battle). Maybe its just the fan in me planting a whole bunch of bias, or maybe I’ talking in ignorance and something dies exist out there. But if it doesn’t, I think that we, as a community, need to be able to recognise her contribution in some kind of perpetual way. Maybe it isn’t the time, or maybe there are others from more marginalised communities we need to recognise first. I don’t know. But she stands out as a giant of talent, bravery, and change to me. I think that should be recognised somewhere.

But anyway, on following this I did what is appropriate at the end of a Con. I went and got a comfortable chair, a glass of Dubliners, and hung out in the virtual bar for a bit. It was a bit quiet to start with, but soon a bunch of local Kiwis appeared which resulted in a nice, quiet, decompression from the week.

In the end, there were some great experiences and I met some fantastic people. Yes, there was a horrific butchering of a role by an actual historical relic, but to focus on the winners, the future of SFF looks fantastic. Learning and networking alike were far more exhausting and successful than I ever expected and the technical execution was not flawless, but ridiculously well done as the first virtual WordCon. For New Zealand, I hope this is their legacy. For me, I’m just glad that overall, I got to enjoy my first ever WorldCon, even if it was from the comfort of my own home.

Onward to Washington – likely also from the comfort of my own home.

~Nathan

*Challenge pitch:

‘All Kraken wants is a breeding partner – they didn’t mean to find love. Now they must try to reveal their true form to their lover, without the lover freaking out – or worse, attracting the attention of their lover’s tentacle obsessed younger sibling. Octodad meets The Little Mermaid

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