All the Things That Happened at Swancon 43

April 5, 2018
Kat Clay against a Perth Skyline
Me against the stunning view from Kings Park in Perth.

I went to Swancon over the Easter long weekend for the first time ever! I usually try to make it to the National Science Fiction Convention and Continuum each year. Anything else is a bonus!

Unfortunately there weren’t a lot of people at Swancon this year. I get it – the cost of flights from the east coast to the west coast is expensive. It’s cheaper for us Melburnians to fly to Hobbiton than to Perth. There were no international guest of honor this year, but kudos to Foz Meadows for stepping in. I also found the proportion of fans to writers much higher than at other conventions like Continuum. However, it was exciting to be there for both the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards.

Panels

The Worst Movies We Ever Saw

I was on two panels at Swancon – the first late on Friday night was The Worst Movies We Ever Saw. We ran through some of the worst of the worst from the prequels (you could’ve guessed) to video game adaptations like Tomb Raider and Street Fighter. I was tired because of the time difference between Melbourne and Perth, but there was a lot of audience interaction which made it fun. And I will still defend Titanic despite everyone hating on it. No shame!

Technohorror

On Saturday I was on a panel on Technohorror with Stephen Dedman and Rob Hood. I’ve been on a couple of panels with Rob and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of horror. I talked about the idea that our relationship to technology is ripe for horror stories, and part of that horror relates to our willingness to give over control to technology. Rob pointed out that this has been a concern of horror since Frankenstein – it seems everything comes back to Mary Shelley. We talked about Black Mirror and the Twilight Zone, and how there’s a difference between technohorror where the technology creates fear, versus stories like Dracula where technology is used to fight the horror.

Other talks I went to

  • I really enjoyed Frames’ talk on AI and Machine Learning. I’m percolating a story about AI, but I want to get the science right (or at least know what I’m breaking) to set it apart from other tropes about AI.
  • The book covers panel was fun, and a good reminder to hire a professional if you don’t know what you’re doing. Needless to say, don’t use Papyrus.

Launching the Time of the Stripes

Sparkly cupcakes and donuts at the book launch for the Time of the Stripes by Amanda Bridgeman
Delicious sparkly treats at the book launch for The Time of the Stripes by Amanda Bridgeman

I was so excited to launch Amanda Bridgeman’s The Time of the Stripes. It’s a science-fiction thriller in the vein of V meets the Andromeda Strain. Amanda even brought sparkly donuts for the launch!! Sparkles!! I can confirm the sparkles digest easily. 🙂 We had a good time at the launch with a Q&A followed by Amanda reading an excerpt from her novel. If you’re going to a con, it means so much to authors when you rock up to their book launches. I got to meet some nice fans at the launch and share a cupcake or two!

All the Awards!

Aurealis Awards

Authors dressed up for the Aurealis Awards
Glammed up for the Aurealis Awards. From left to right, Rob Hood, Russell B Farr, Liz Grzyb, Me and Amanda Bridgeman

More sugar was had at the Aurealis Awards… I guess it was Easter, but I feel like I functioned off sugar and coffee the whole weekend. Back to kale this week.

While I was up for Best Horror Short Story for Reef, J. Ashley Smith ended up winning the category with his solid story Old Growth. It was awesome to make the shortlist as this was my first short story published everrrrr (I’ve had a novella and a novelette published, but no short stories!).

Most hilariously, Devin accepted on behalf of the other Devin. I was super happy that she won the best Fantasy Novella category as I really enjoyed her book The Blood of Whisperers last year. Can you believe there were around 800 entries? It was a strong and competitive field, which says that lots of people are making good work. 😀

Mini-cakes at the Aurealis Awards
Nom nom nom… mini-cakes at the Aurealis Awards

Ditmar Awards

I picked up awards on behalf of Shauna O’Meara and Stephanie Lai, although Stephanie’s I picked up at the last minute and was my usual clutzy, uncoordinated self. As much as I like public speaking, I felt incoherent! There are some awesome books on the shortlist, and I was especially happy to see Thoraiya Dyer’s Crossroads of Canopy win as it’s one of the most original fantasy novels I’ve read in a long time.

Other things:

I caught up with my future self, Cat Sparks, and the space-time continuum didn’t fall apart. Funnily enough, we almost wore the same outfit on Sunday.

The theme for the Masquerade was Rites of Passage, and while many went as the obligatory Death/Persephone/Pagan references, I went as Daria. And people got it, although I got a few Ghost World comments too. I’ll take that.

Daria cosplay
La la la la la… me dressed up in my Daria cosplay. All I need is a Jane.

And I got to catch up with the wonderful Emily Randolph who I originally met at my very first World Fantasy Convention. It was amazing that we could be on the other side of the world together. She’s an incredibly dedicated writer and I’m sure you’ll see her name on a novel in the future.

Next year…

While I probably won’t go next year with tentative plans to attend Stokercon AND the World Fantasy Convention AND as always, Continuum, they have some awesome Guests of Honor lined up including Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz and Jonathan Strahan. You can get your tickets for 2019 here.

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[…] Kat Clay reports on SwanCon. And Cat Sparks has photos of the 2018 Aurealis Awards. […]

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