Fairy tales and the magic of science fiction conventions

Fairy tales are chasing me this year. I gave a talk earlier in the year (and wrote it up, here) and now they’re the theme at Conflux, the Canberra science fiction convention. I’m on several panels. I’m also going to give out sweets (candy? lollies? wrapped things made of sugar and flavouring?). Normally I give out chocolate, but with sweets science fiction fans can pretend they’re Hansel and Gretel and leave trails to help them find their cars.

There’s a panel I can’t be on, for it’s on while I’m running a workshop, “Magic systems in SF fiction.” It’s a pity, for it means I don’t get to talk about the rather cool research I did to establish magic that would work for The Wizardry of Jewish Women.

Mostly, however, I regret not being able to listen. How writers develop the magic for their novels says a lot about how the novel works. It also tells me where the writer slots the story into wider culture. And it’s fun. The writer’s eyes light up when they talk about the bits they’ve fallen in love with, with the spells they wish they could do or that link to something they care about. If favourite character does something nasty, then they’ll look regretful and if they’ve accomplished a particularly clever piece of writing then they’ll look gleeful.

I wish I lived closer to the other BVC writers at this point, for I’d love to see their faces light up and look regretful when they discuss their work. That’s something that readers at the other end of the world miss out on.

After panels like this I always go straight to the library and borrow a bunch of books by the authors. If I like what I read, then I buy the books. My excuse is that I get to do deeper analysis, but the real reason is that the writer’s taught me how to love their work. This is one of the main reasons I go to science fiction conventions : I want to find more books to love. And to watch writers’ faces as they talk about their work.

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