We had a few stops to make on our way to Balticon but we actually managed to get here at a reasonable time. We’d passed a long line of police cars along the major highway all lined up — some with their hoods up. We realized it was for the funeral procession of a state trooper.
It seems we were lucky. Later people were saying how the drive was the longest ever to get here. Some people ended up taking 3 hours to drive the last 20 minutes of the route here because of that parking lot that was the highway due to the funeral procession. Everyone was trying to put a good face on the delays because of the reason for it, but for many it was a very trying experience. If you’ve ever been on a major highway that suddenly turned into a parking lot on a 90+ degree day with humidity — I’m sure you’ll understand.
Anyway, we arrived and got our room. Walked around to find the Capclave table — no one was there yet so it wasn’t set up. Managed to get our registration materials. Then we went to eat lunsup (lunch/supper combination — too late for lunch, too early for supper). Once we got back marked my panels in the pocket program, we decided to check the Capclave table again. Now there were people and Dodo’s — the village dodos to be precise. I’ll try to get pictures up once I can get things set up for a download. We had people stop to talk and ask about our Dodo’s but no one bought a membership to Capclave yet.
At almost 6 PM, I headed out to my first panel, Luddites of Fandom? The moderator was Carl Cipra, who did a marvelous job of seeing we all got a chance to contribute and kept us on track. Panelists were Ray Ridenour, Grig “Punkie” Larson, and me (Gayle Surrette).
The panel description was: Why do some fans persist in doing things the old-fashioned way — not getting an email connection or publishing fanzines on paper instead of posting on the Web? Are the people who still use real paper a handful of misfit cranks who won’t get with the? Wait — did we actually SAY that? The real question may be what medium will serve best in a particular case: a phone call or a letter or a flower. (And maybe, too, how to get along while trying to figure that out.)
Turns out most of us while we’re comfortable with technology do have some hesitancy about some aspects of it. Discussion was wide ranging and covered some of the reason people are reluctant to let go of older technologies and some drop the old for the new immediately. Why do we save things?
One interesting thing was on the topic of books and ereaders. Book give a tactile pleasure when reading — the paper, the typeface, the smell, the look, feel, weight — etc. On the other hand eReader are just not the same tactile pleasure. Do we save books we never intend to read again as trophies or status symbols. It’s going to make me think about why I hold onto my books — even though I’ve decided we really need to cull our shelves at home.
9:00 PM — Fantasy Motifs in SF Literature. Panelists: Douglas Fratz, Gayle Surrette (moderator), Izolda Trakhtenberg, Michael Swanwick, and Bernard Dukas.
Description: Fantasy is about elves, and SF is about spaceships, and ne’er the twain shall meet, right? Or is it? It has even been noted that an “enchanted forest” exists in “Against the Fall of Night” but…but that’s SF…not fantasy! So what happens when SF uses fantasy motifs? Is it no longer SF, or at least not “real” SF? Is Yoda Merlin? AKKA the One Ring? How does a writer take a classic fantasy motif and make it SF–or it more than just dressing it in hardware? Are there any fantasy motifs which have not been used…or cannot be used? Why do hard sf writers bother to play with folkloric images: What do they get out of this miscegenation, (and why?)
I thought this went pretty well. The discussion was pretty wide ranging but on track. At the beginning, I mentioned Clarke’s Law that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. I then asked if magic in fantasy just became technology in SF. Of course not — it’s not a one-to-one substitution but it gave the panelists something to hang their own theories on. Discussion cover the tropes of fantasy and how they have been used in SF and to what degree. How folklore and folk tales get updated for space — I wish I could remember the details but I found myself enjoying the discussion and the various additions and exception and possibilities suggested by the panelists and the audience.
This panel just seemed to take off on it’s own — everyone was excited by the topic. If only all the other panels this weekend go so well and fuel the imagination so much.
Then we stopped in a few parties and now we’re winding down for the night.
If you’re at Balticon, (or even if you’re not), leave a comment and let me know what you think about the above topics and/or what you’re panels were like. When I’m here I can’t see or sit in on anywhere near as many items as I’d like to so I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Tags: fantasy, science fiction