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[personal profile] kerravonsen
This report is delayed because I was so tired that when I got home on Tuesday morning, I slept most of the day. I'm starting to wonder if it might actually be better for me, in future, NOT to stay at the convention hotel, but get a taxi in and out each day. Even though taxis are not cheap, it would be still be cheaper than a hotel, and I would sleep better. Sleep better? Yes, because I was just glancing at my old Continuum 9 report, and I slept badly on that occasion too. So it isn't just a one-off thing; hotels just seem to be too hot for me in winter. On the other hand, I would have to carry everything with me and have nowhere to retreat to. Contrariwise, while I would have to carry everything for a day with me, I wouldn't have to pack stuff for four days. Hmmmm.

Costume: the costume without a name
I'm not sure what category this falls into; something non-mundane at least. Black-and-white poly-satin pseudo-Japanese top; black pants; clockwork sandals; chainmaille headdress. Later on, I exchanged the headdress for two plaits, one with my chainmaille hair-chain, and the other with a doubled-over non-clasp necklace (that is, a long string of beads which is intended to dangle or be tied in a knot). Also, ear-cuffs, but I ended up taking them off because they were a bit uncomfortable.

Panel: Romanpunk
This was rescheduled from earlier on in the con, swapping with an item about Remembering Ian Banks.
The Roman Empire is one of my favourite periods for historical fiction, but I hadn't been aware of Romanpunk as a genre (like Steampunk only with Romans rather than Victorians). I hope the panellists post links to the various stories they mentioned in the discussion. I did go off and buy Tansy Roberts' (who was on the panel) book "Love & Romanpunk" after the panel, and managed to find her in the bar later and she signed it. Discussion included: the influence of Robert Graves on Roman historical fiction, cool historical figures in Roman history (including the lack of positive info about women), the popularity of "What if the Roman Empire never fell?" scenarios, and the tendency for Hollywood to cast Romans into the role of villains - including an eyerolly example of a movie about Pompeii which had a heroic British hero, a villainous Roman, a love-triangle, a last-minute Damselling of the love-interest, oh, and everyone who hadn't already died from the Volcano, died in a Tsunami. Um.
Favourite quote: "Pliny livetweeted Pompeii".

Presentation: Writers and History
Fascinating talk by Gillian Polack about her research into writers who use history (that is, writers of historical fiction and speculative fiction) and their approach to history and researching history. The first point that she tried to make clear, is that history is not the past, it isn't even a record of the past; it is a narrative created by historians based on the relics of the past. Historical fiction is one or more steps removed from this: it is a narrative based on a narrative based on the relics of the past.

One thing that was unusual about her research was that she actually talked to writers, about their motivations, their backgrounds, and how they went about things. This is pretty radical because the field usually behaves as if the authors are dead. That approach is still valid, but there are new and interesting things that can be learned when the authors are still alive.

One fascinating finding turns conventional wisdom on its head. Current conventional wisdom declares that you won't sell unless you write to the market, rather than writing for yourself. However, those authors who declared that they wrote to the market when interviewed in 2004... still haven't been published in 2014. Whereas those authors who were well-published and continue to be so... were all writing for themselves.

Also, a set of fascinating patterns emerged, which split the group along the lines of spec-fic versus historical fiction. Historical fiction writers tend to be passionate about history, having an emotional investment in the events and people of history. There have been more books written about Richard III than any other single person in history. Spec fic writers, on the other hand, tend to use history as background; in the worst cases they use it as wallpaper. Historical fiction writers tend to be self-taught in history, and continually self-teaching. Spec fic writers are more likely to have degrees. Historical fiction and fan fiction are not that different; it is only the modern concept of copyright that sets a wall between them. If one looks at the Arthurian sagas, one can see the elaborations, the AUs, the cherry-picking of good ideas, the re-imaginings... it's basically fanfic.

Also, historians hate historical fiction.

Panel: Researching Other Cultures
Ambelin's succinct answer at the start probably sums it up best. But a lot of insightful stuff was said by all. I particularly liked Jack Dann's point that even if one has been invited in to experience part of a culture, one will always be an outsider.

Panel: Fake Geek Pride
More emphasis on the gaming community, but also fandom in general. Alex told of how she'd been involved in gaming as a teenager, then took a break from it as university studies took up all her time, and when she went back, she found she was being treated as a sex object when she hadn't been before. Whether this because she'd been an ugly duckling as a teenager and suddenly she was pretty, or because the community had gone downhill, she couldn't tell.

Started off hypothesising the causes of geek hostility: perceived invaders, revenge against the Pretty People, etc. Then turned to "it's all very well explaining it, but that still doesn't excuse it"; on to calling people on their behaviour; considerations of whether one can or not, on dogpiling, The Tone Argument, repeated behaviour, unintentional offence, and what you do when someone stands on your foot (figuratively speaking). What I mean by "dogpiling": that behaviour where one goes to the internet, calls the offender out in public, and sics all your friends on the offending party. When that was raised, others were quick to point out that sometimes that's the only thing one can do, if the offending party is a repeat offender who has ignored all previous attempts at chastisement and correction. On the other hand, some people use dogpiling as a first resort rather than a last resort. I stuck my hand up a couple of times; once was the example (I didn't give specifics) that there have been times when I have given unintentional offence, and the offended party didn't call me on it because they knew it was unintentional and they wanted to avoid conflict, which meant that I kept on doing it, and it wasn't until I'd done it several times that they told me, and I'd wished they'd told me earlier. Also, that it's usually better to confront someone about their behaviour one-on-one in private, simply from a human relationship point of view. Alex said that one needs to be polite in one's correction, rather than confrontational. Jim Hines said that if someone kept stepping on his foot, he wouldn't be polite.

IMHO... I have a lot of Opinions on this subject. More on that later.

Closing Ceremony
I spent most of the time desperately trying to finish the bookmark I'd been working on for most of the convention, so that I could give it to Ambelin after; fortunately I just finished it. And, yes, I did give it to her.
Also REBECCA J ANDERSON [personal profile] rj_anderson is International Guest of Honour for Continuum 11! YAAAAAAAY!
Alas, I fear that most of the audience had never heard of her, because there was dead silence when she was announced (and I'm embarrassed that I didn't do my very loud squee until after the closing ceremony). Let's hope that this GoH gig will give her more of the recognition that she deserves.

I hung around afterwards talking to various people. Had an interesting conversation with someone whom I have no idea of who he is, about death. Yes, really.
Retreated to my room eventually, and watched National Geographic Channel. That was one of the things I actually enjoyed about staying in the hotel; all these cool NatGeo documentaries. Hey, if one of the cable companies had a really cheap plan that consisted only of the National Geographic Channel or the Discovery Channel, I'd be on it. But they'd never do that.

Further Thoughts on the Fake Geek Pride Panel

Yes, I've been thinking about this.

One thing that I don't think was really addressed is why people get defensive when they are told they have been offensive. I think it's because many people - both the offenders and the offended - don't really grasp that one can offend without intending to, that one can hurt without intending to be hurtful.
"You hurt me, therefore you are wicked, because you must have done it on purpose."
"I did not! How dare you call me wicked!"
Grrrrr-ing all around.

I had a very salutary lesson in unintentional offence when I was house-sharing. Folks weren't hanging up their towels properly (they were all bunched up and crumpled), and one person kept on straightening them. I simply thought "oh, that's nice of them". What I didn't know, until she raised it in a house meeting, was that the rest of us were driving her crazy with our messy towels, because they wouldn't dry properly when they weren't hanging straight, so she kept straightening them, but every time she had to do so it was really irritating for her. But I'd had no clue, because she had just been gritting her teeth and straightening them and saying nothing. She wasn't just being anal-retentive, she had a good reason for wanting them to be straight (so that they would dry better) but we hadn't known because we weren't mind-readers. When it was raised, it was all straightened out. (Pun not intended!)

Since that incident, I'm a bit more aware of the possibility of unintentional offence, and that, as an offender, one doesn't need to be defensive, and as an offended party, one doesn't need to be accusatory. That it is a worthwhile exercise to try to understand why the offender offended, not to excuse them, but to improve their chances of learning better.

Which gets back to the "stepping on the foot" metaphor. I think Jim Hines was unconsciously speaking from privilege when he said that. I mean, it's clear from his GoH speech that he gets it most of the time, or tries to, but... sure, if the same person keeps stepping on your foot, you probably aren't required to be polite, but what if a thousand different people keep stepping on your foot? His own metaphor about being flayed alive by a thousand paper cuts is relevant here. So the thousandth person steps on your foot. You want to yell at them "Get off my foot, you asshole!" but for them, it is a first offence, and the yelling reaction is overkill. So do you want to yell, or do you want them to learn better? If you want them to learn better, you grit your teeth and try to be polite so that they will listen. Yes, The Tone Argument, but still, "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar". Not to mention that the person stepping on my foot could well be bigger and stronger than I am, and I'd rather not be yelled at or worse, thank you very much.

Another thing, that I don't think can be emphasized too much, is that it is much better all around to talk one-on-one in private, because the chances of you both coming to an understanding are much greater - heck, you may end up making a friend, and wouldn't that be awesome? No, it isn't easy or trivial; it requires courage and patience and effort, but think about it: this is something that you yourself can do to help make the world a better place. Wow. Think of that and feel empowered.

back to Sunday

Date: 2014-06-12 10:25 am (UTC)
vilakins: Vila's coat of arms (made up by me) (semper ubi sub ubi)
From: [personal profile] vilakins
I've never heard of Romanpunk; I now desperately want to read it. Where do I find it - any idea after the panel?

And yes, one of my unwritten novels is about the empire never falling (in an alternate timeline, another of which is Arthurian).

It sounds like it was a great con that you got a lot out of.

Date: 2014-06-11 03:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It sounds like it was a good convention. :)

Date: 2014-06-11 09:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
One fascinating finding turns conventional wisdom on its head. Current conventional wisdom declares that you won't sell unless you write to the market, rather than writing for yourself. However, those authors who declared that they wrote to the market when interviewed in 2004... still haven't been published in 2014. Whereas those authors who were well-published and continue to be so... were all writing for themselves.

That's immensely encouraging.

I think that what you wrote about the unintentional giving of offence is very good.

Date: 2014-06-11 10:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What is more worrying for me is when unintentional offence is given and apologies are made the offended still insists you are a bad person and you really meant it, even after you have apologized and explained no offence was meant.

Thus proving that no two people ever read the same thing.

What is the point of not writing for yourself?

Re Historical fiction

Date: 2014-06-11 10:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I liked Harry Turtledove's alt. Roman series.

Mind you the comment about Historical fiction being fiction of a fiction made me smile. Of course as a fan of Heyer's Regency romances I am quite willing to overlook grim historical reality for the sake of a story.

Date: 2014-06-12 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Excellent and thought-provoking notes on unintended offense. Thank you; this is a topic I have a difficult time with (on either side!).

Date: 2014-06-14 07:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I seem to have missed most of the panels except those I was on and a couple of GoH speeches. I spent a bit of time on the ASIM table and had to go home early twice due to family commitments.

As for staying at con hotels, I gave up staying at Melbourne ones years ago. As you say, it's actually cheaper to get a cab home if you're late. There is the matter of costuming, of course, and I've done precious little of that since I stopped staying at hotels. But then, is it really worth paying $$$ per night just to have somewhere to stash your hall costumes? If you have a costume for the masquerade, you can always ask an interstate friend to stash it for you. Mind you, my hall costumes were always pretty light, I could carry one in a supermarket green bag and get changed in the Ladies. Of course, then you're stuck lugging your own clothes around, spoiling the effect. I guess it's a matter of your priorities - and you always do some impressive hall costumes and good on you for keeping them up in this era of low costuming and no art shows!


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Kathryn A.

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