I spent this past weekend down in Houston for ApolloCon. I had a fairly laid-back experience this year. I even stole away some time to exercise in the gym and do red-line edits to Debts of My Fathers. I don’t have access to the actual attendance numbers, but the con seemed a little smaller this year than in the last couple of years. Or maybe I did not go to the really popular events. It’s hard to tell.
Anyway, here were some of the panels I attended:
Genre Journalism: This was mostly a discussion of some great SF/F blogs and news sources. John DeNardo was there, and he’s the managing editor of the group blog sfsignal.com. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, whose Hugo-winning blog started off about ten years ago just to share SF links with some friends.
Is There More to Space Opera than Space Fleets and Exploding Planets?: The obvious answer is yes, but we did spend a while talking about what makes space opera… well, space opera. Some argued that it required an epic scope… or rather, an EPIC SCOPE!! Others felt you could tell smaller stories within the larger backdrop. From the audience, I pushed my own agenda for more civilian space opera, even though much of what I write does touch on the military.
When Spec Fic Stole My Brain: This turned into a fun trip down memory lane as panelists discussed what piece of speculative fiction first sparked their interest. Their ages ranged from the 40’s to the 70’s, so there was an interesting range from seeing the movies on the weekend for a dime to staying up late with the babysitter to watch Star Trek. It was neat that one of them had been hooked by Ringworld, just as I had.
Aaargh! We Loves Us Our Pirates – But Why?: I had been hoping this would take a turn towards space piracy, but we stayed pretty thoroughly mired in the ocean-bound variety. Still, it was an interesting mix of history, legends, and pure myth.
Communicating at the Speed of Light… Social Media for SF/F: This was mostly a discussion of the merits and pitfalls of various social media services and independent blogs. It was clear that the tide has turned against Facebook as a useful marketing platform, unless you’re selling pictures of cute cats. Google+ got some love, but the message from these particular panelists was mostly personal blogs and Twitter.
Frack You! No… Frell You!: This was a fun panel on various made-up swear words, alien oaths, and fantasy curses. By Grapthar’s Hammer, I haven’t laughed so hard at a panel in a long time.
And that was it. Like I said, it was fairly laid back for me. I probably spent about three hours on Sunday just sitting out in the lobby, chatting with people who stopped by, and editing Debts when they left. I even ran into a couple of friends who might go so far as to call themselves my fans. (Happy Dance!)