Con Report

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Minicon, the local SFF convention, was this past weekend. I am having trouble getting back to con going after the epidemic, which is still with us. So I only spent five hours there on Saturday. I had two panels and a poetry reading.

I moderated one panel — on humor. I wanted to do the panel because I think of my own work as mostly funny, even the stories where people die. Partly this is my Nordic sense of humor. The Icelandic sagas are full of laugh riot death scenes. And partly — it seems to me — both humor and SFF are about surprise. That shock of “I wasn’t expecting that” can happen in humor and in SFF. (There is humor and SFF that relies on meeting expectations, but I am less interested in this.) Anyway, I was asked to moderate and said yes.

As it turned out, I hadn’t done enough prepping. The panel was unfocused. I have given more thought to humor in SFF since. One thing that the panel did not emphasize: the Brits are masters of SFF humor. Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Monty Python, Terry Gilliam — who is actually from Minnesota, but left long ago. We should have mentioned John Sladek, a Midwesterner who spent a lot of time in England. A very funny writer.

The panel also stuck to English language writers. We should have mentioned Stanislaw Lem and Italo Calvino and maybe The Journey to the West, the great Chinese novel which is both fantastic and funny.

And there is more than one kind of humor: parody, satire, slapstick, wit, punning and other forms of wordplay. We didn’t talk about that.

So, not a great panel. Though not a disaster. I figure con panels have a rule of three: one third are okay, one third are good, and one third are disasters.

Then there was a group poetry reading with a tiny audience in a huge room. It was a successor to Lady Poetesses from Hell, which used to draw a good audience. I think changing the name was a mistake. But it is hard to keep the old name when so many of the Lady Poetesses are not with us — passed on, moved out of state and very, very ill. Old age is not fun.

The second panel I was supposed to be on was in the early evening. It was on world building in SF and F. It could have been interesting. But I was feeling tired. So I went home.