Monday, November 19, 2007

Fantasy Matters Conference A Success

Some initial pictures from the highly successful conference Fantasy Matters at the University of Minnesota on November 16-18. Excellent and enjoyable at every level. :)

Before I begin my after-action report, I have to give a hand to the conference organizers, Lindsay Craig, Kathleen Howard and Jen Miller and all of the volunteers for putting together an informed, fun and amazing event.

As most of you know, I was given very short notice to read on Friday, and I was slated for the dreaded 8:30 Sunday panel with my good friends John Till and Robert Wood on Monstrous Assemblages.

See what happens when you don't slip the schedulers a $50?

Still, my parts went well enough, and John Till gave a truly excellent presentation.

John spanned political history, Russian art, images of the profane, the World of Darkness role playing game, a fabulous diagram and a great question that effectively drives a stake through the heart of that conventional wisdom which suggests during conservative eras horror thrives but wanes during liberal times. Great job!

And Robert also spoke well on issues in Tolkein's universe and the construction of the monstrous.

I was able to attend an interesting pair of papers on the issue of "His Dark Materials" including the topic of how the 'anti-religious' elements of the trilogy may be toned down and we may never see the sequels since, well, it's pretty hard to tone down the 'anti-religious' elements of a book about a war with heaven. :)

Neil Gaiman naturally gave a magnificent presentation, using us as guinea pigs for his new upcoming novel. It unfortunately made most of the rest of the writers in the audience slap our hands to our heads and go: "What a maddeningly genius idea, why didn't we think of that."

But that's just par for the course with Neil.

Had a great opportunity to meet some fine and incredible writers, including the ever-wonderful Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, author of Zahrah the Windseeker and Shadow Speaker, and whom I must confess was the real initial draw for me to the conference.

Neil, of course, we always know is going to be great, but I always like going to these conferences to see if you can spot the up-and-comers, and Nnedi is by far definitely in my short-list of people I'll be watching.

I'd met her first during Think Galacticon and the Carl Brandon Society, and she's got a great and lively take on things with her writing that she's seriously one to watch.

Nnedi will be back up here for Diversicon as well, taking the acclaimed Special Guest spot Minister Faust, Christopher Jones, Melissa S. Kaercher (Go Godzilla! Go Cthulhu! Go Zombies!) and I have all happily occupied in the past.

I had a chance to talk with the legendary Jack Zipes for a while about fairy tales and his upcoming book on fairy tales in the movies around the world. It was great and informative.

New faces I also had a chance to meet for the first time include the hilarious and multi-talented Patrick Rothfuss and the young Drew Bowling who has finished his first novel before he even left college.

David Anthony Durham, the author of Acacia was another writer who had a great presence, as well as Jim C. Hines, who's a great guy to talk to, working with goblins. :) I also met Jackie Kessler, who's a riot, as well as Theodora Goss and Damian Sheridan.

The folks from DreamHaven were there and it's always good to see them.

Among the local con regulars, I had a chance to catch up with Jody Wurl and Eric Heideman and also ran into Haddayr Copley-Woods, and they all seem to be doing really well. :) The free food and drinks afterwards at the Town Hall Brewery was wonderful and everyone worked well to make it worthwhile.

I will probably post more reflections on this all later, but for now, suffice it to say that this was really fun.

And DreamHaven books even sold out all of their copies of On The Other Side Of The Eye! :) Yay!


Jackie said...

It was wonderful meeting you!

Anonymous said...

Agreed with Jackie--I enjoyed meeting and talking with you, and really appreciate the book (might even mention one of the poems as an example in my fantasy class, if that's okay with you). Hope to see you at a conference again soon!

Greg Wilson