Continuum 13 Convention Program book

Continuum 13 Wrap-up

After every convention I go to, I try to put some meandering brain thoughts into words, so that everyone can partake of the wonder that is a speculative fiction convention. This year Continuum 13 was the Australian National Science Fiction Convention. Last year I’d been on the committee for Continuum, so this year was an entirely different experience. For one, I wasn’t on seven panels and trying to man the registration desk at the same time.

I had a fairly relaxed Continuum, which was good as there has been a lot of change going on in my life at the moment. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed by everything going on, so it was great that the committee included a quiet room this year, something I think a lot of conventions could learn from. The programming was awesome – thanks to Julia and Liz who did a stellar job. You know it’s good programming when you want to go to everything in your timeslot.

But first, cake…

Elizabeth from Earl Grey Editing and I had a lovely tea catch up before the craziness of the con. We went to the Hopetoun Tea Rooms, which I’d wanted to go to since I moved to Melbourne, but didn’t have any suitably ladylike friends to go with. Needless to say, we had delicious cake, Earl Grey tea (the best) and great conversations about travel, blogging and books.

Cake at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms
Mmm… Cake

Friday night book launches: Cat Sparks and Thoraiya Dyer

Thoraiya Dyer and Cat Sparks at the book launch
Thoraiya Dyer and Cat Sparks at the book launch

My main goal on the Friday night was to go to the book launch of Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks and Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer, and get food. Priorities. As I established at last year’s convention, Cat Sparks is me from the future. It was lovely to support these two fabulous authors and get books signed. Plus Thoraiya signed my copy to the Goblin King, which is how I should rightfully be addressed at every ongoing event. Food was then obtained (Korean – my fav).

Saturday panelizing

Saturday was my big day of panelizing. Three panels in one day, including moderating one on Secondary Worlds in Weird Fiction. I was feeling a bit nervous about moderating when I saw how many people turned up to the panel! Oh my goodness, so many people are interested in weird fiction. I thought I was going to have three people in the audience. Thankfully the panellists, JS Breukelaar, Stephanie Lai and Michelle Goldsmith, were all so insightful and wise. Jen raised some fascinating points about how the mean streets of noir and the world of Sergio Leone films are secondary worlds. Which is quite possibly why I like them so much – they touch on the mythic. I had some great feedback after the panel from a couple of people, which really made my day. I have been working hard on becoming a good moderator and trying to direct the conversation into interesting places.

Andrei Seleznev, Michelle Goldsmith, Aidan Doyle, Kat Clay, JS Breukelaar
Andrei Seleznev, Michelle Goldsmith, Aidan Doyle, Me, JS Breukelaar

My other panels were so fun, talking about Bioware Games and Jane Austen (not at the same time, although a Bioware Jane Austen game would be rad… think of the romance options). We did so much prep for the Bioware panel we could have talked for ages about the games, but alas, we only had an hour. I did love squeeing with other friends about Garrus and Dorian. The Jane Austen panel talked about how her work has influenced spec fic. I came away with so many recommendations for books to read, and it was a reminder I still need to read Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey.

In between panels I got to sit in Likhain’s guest of honour speech, which blew everyone away. Not to mention her incredible outfit. Likhain is a talented illustrator and writer and I was so glad to meet her at this year’s con.

Fan Fund Auction Interlude

Obi Wan Kenobi Figurine
What can I say, I’m a sucker for Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi. Now he can grace my desk with my figurine collection.

Fan fund auctions are officially my favourite part of conventions, although Justin from Slow Glass Books knows my weakness for books. I didn’t buy as much as I usually do, partly because I had to zip off mid-way through to do a panel. BUT I did buy this terrifically broken plastic Star Wars prequel merchandise of Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi. He is going on my desk along with my terrifying plastic owl.

Maskobalo – this is where the ravens come in…

Kat Clay in a raven costume

So the theme for this year’s Maskobalo was superstitions, but I think I was only one of about three people dressed as a superstition. I went as the ravens from the Tower of London. Obscure, I know. The winner of the costume competition was the most adorable mini-sith child. It was great to get out and dance! Donna Maree Hanson ended up with the ravens… she is going to make a hat with them.

Sunday things

So on Sunday, I finally got to go and watch panels and relax. I have a general rule that no matter how good your intentions are, you can usually only get to three panels in a day.

One of the panels I was really looking forward to was the one on cityscapes, which ended up being my favourite panel. I’m a bit passionate about writing about cities, especially cities as a living being. Stephanie asked me why I wasn’t on the panel myself, but I was glad to sit back and listen to other people’s experience of cities. It really stoked the imagination fires of what I could write about, although my biggest problem is that I keep coming up with novel ideas, not short stories. One of the most interesting ideas was that of the city as a living organism, and having to interact with it as a constantly moving, changing thing.

I also went to the Journey to the West panel with Grant Watson and Stephanie Lai. You might be familiar with Monkey Magic if you’re a child of the 80s like me, but there is so much more to this classic Chinese story. I was able to pick up a translated copy from the free books table and hope to read it some time this year. It’s fascinating to see the different interpretations of Monkey through the years.

Ditmar Awards Ceremony

I was nominated for a Ditmar this year for my essays and reviews on Weird Fiction Review. While I didn’t win, it meant a lot to me to even be nominated as I have only really been in the fan community for three years. I’ve framed my certificate and put it in my office to remind me to keep going.

Kat Clay and Aidan Doyle at the Ditmar Award Ceremony
Me and my nemesis Aidan Doyle at the Ditmar Awards.
Ditmar certificate
My Ditmar nomination certificate alongside all the books I bought at Continuum 13… eep.

I had a great time at Continuum and met some wonderful people. These are my people and my tribe and it makes me so happy to be part of the community.