Conflux 2013 Roundup

Wow! What an awesome Con! After a month of solid travel, I have to admit that a little part of me was wishing that I had another week or so before I had to jump on another plane, but once I got there I realised just how much I needed to be around the spec fic community. There are much better con round ups out there (if you have one feel free to post in the comments), so this is just a very quick one from me.


At around 3:30am Thursday morning I realised there was probably no point going to sleep, and I am now terrified of missing another flight, so I gave up on the idea. That meant for a change I got to the airport nice and early and felt rather relaxed. It also meant when I got to Canberra, I was absolutely exhausted! Fortunately, someone had very kindly offered to come out and pick me up (thanks, Simon!) and through the wonders of Twitter we collected someone else and headed to the Rydges (going to the wrong one first lol).

After a coffee with some friends, I decided I should go and get some sleep in my hotel to preapre myself for the excitement ahead.

Photo by Helen Stubbs

Photo by Helen Stubbs

The hotel looked closer on the map than it was, but it was still only about 2.5km away. Someone else gave me a lift back there (the generosity of others was a recurring theme over the con) and I felt much better after a nap. The only problem was I cut it a bit fine to get back for the first event I had locked in and had to run the 2.5km back!

But it was worth the heart palpitations as I got there in time for the launch of “The Bride Price”, the awesome new collection from Cat Sparks! I love Cat’s writing, and this looks like it is going to be incredible! Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long to sell out.

Photo by Cat Sparks

Russell Farr and Cat Sparks-Photo by Cat Sparks

Then, it was off to the cocktail hour where I got to mingle with lots of awesome people, both old friends and new. From there, we all naturally migrated to the bar to continue socialising until late. Despite our warnings, the hotel obviously did not believe the stories of writerly habits and left a few poor staff to face the hordes.


Had a bit of a late start on Friday, you know, because of the flight etc My first event for the day was the long awaited launch of Rob Hood’s Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead. As always, Jack Dann was an excellent MC and it was wonderful to see the support from the community for this much anticipated release.

Photo by Cat Sparks

Jack Dann and Rob Hood – Photo by Cat Sparks

Once we had toasted Rob’s book, I headed off to a Memorial for Jan Howard Finder, or Wombat as he was affectionately known. I only met Jan once, on a panel at Worldcon, but he was a really nice guy and made me feel very welcome. It was a sad occasion, yes, but filled with lots of happy memories and funny stories about a well loved member of fandom.

The rest of the night was devoted to more socialising, and a great dinner with friends.


On Saturday, my awesome Mentor’s awesome book was launched!

Jason Fischer - photo by Cat Sparks

Jason Fischer – photo by Cat Sparks

And, then lunch and – you guessed it – more socialising!

Soon, it was time to suit up for the Ditmars. Someone had the great idea (not sarcasm – I loved it!) of handing out bubble blowing kits, so I spent most of the ceremony feeling bubbles land on the back of my head – they tickled! Deb Biancotti was our host this year, and did an exceptional job. After the awesomeness that was Mondy and Kirstyn’s show last year, it would have been tempting to try and copy it, and easy to fall short. But, instead, Deb made it her own, ably assisted by the wonderful Terri.

One of my favourite innovations was the way that the twitter stream was displayed on the big screen. Aussie spec fic fans are obviously far more mature than Bryan Adams fans, because every fifth word wasn’t “boobs”! For a great slice of the night, check out Sean’s storify roundup here.

One of the great things about this community is that most of the people nominated are friends so, I was very excited for each of the winners. It is obviously how important Peter McNamara’s legacy is (and rightly so) and it was lovely to see some of his family watch the amazing Nick Stathopoulos take away the Lifetime Achievement Award, while Russell Farr was overwhelmed after being awarded the A. Bertram Chandler for his services to Aussie Spec Fic.

And, I was absolutely stunned to win the Ditmar for Best New Talent! I was completely unprepared, in fact I hadn’t even voted for myself, and I didn’t have a speech ready. I have no idea what I said, other than that I forgot to thank some people I should have (sigh), but it was a massive honour, especially given the quality of the other nominees. I was delighted that it was Kaaron who handed me the award, as she is someone who has been extremely kind to me since I came on the scene. This was the first award I have ever won in my life, and I can’t think of a crowd I would have rather won it in front of.

Kaaron hands me the award - Photo by Cat Sparks

Kaaron hands me the award – Photo by Cat Sparks

As you can imagine, I was a bit stunned by all this, in fact I still am! I really don’t know what to say, other than thank you to everyone who has supported me, and everyone who nominated and voted for me. When I look at the past winners, there is a lot to live up and I promise I will do my utmost to do so.

You can find a full list of the winners here.


The trophies themselves were beautfiul, Lewis Morley designed them and did an incredible job.

The Trophy

Trophy – Photo by Amanda Rainey

I couldn’t celebrate too hard as I had a panel at 9pm, so I lingered in the bar for a while before heading back up.

SF, movies, television and fictionIs there an increased market for things SF? Movies, books, short fiction, TV series? Dr Who just keeps going.  There’s been a new Star Trek, a movie based on the Battleship game with groovy aliens, there’s Looper, Prometheus and Iron Sky. In books, Egan, Reynolds, and Peter F Hamilton are still in the game. The panellists talk about what they are seeing? Hard SF, space opera, romance in SF? What is driving this?

The panel went really well, with some great comments from Jonathan Blum, Devin Jeyathurai, Cat Sparks as we discussed whether TV has replaced the cinema has the source of quality SF, whether we are in a “Golden Age” of spec fic adaptations and whether complex ideas are being dumbed done to suit a simpler medium. Lots of robust, but respectful debate made for an hour that flew by!

Then it was time to celebrate an eventful day, first at the bar and then onwards to a room party until the wee hours..


In my capacity as a Continuum committee member I had to attend the Natcon Business Meeting. It was fascinating see the things that need to happen behind the scenes to make conventions happen. After two hours or so, the shine of discovery had worn off a little, but I am glad I went.

The rest of the day was devoted to trying to catch up with some of the people I’d missed, though I didn’t completely succeed. I was going to go to the Closing Ceremony but ended just chilling out with some friends until I was given another lift by generous, people to the airport. The flight home wasn’t the greatest, for some reason I went through Sydney and got stuck on the tarmac in Melbourne due to an airbridge malfunction. The drunken ice hockey team expressing their displeasure didn’t help either. But, none of that could take the shine off a truly wonderful few days.

Nicole and Donna and the rest of their team deserve much congratulations for staging such an incredible Con. It had all the things I consider essential – friendly and accessible guests, strong programming, a good area for social interaction and a great venue. This was my second Conflux and reinforced my belief that it is one of the best cons for writers in Australia.

While I didn’t make it to many panels I don;t regret it, because for me a convention is about catching up with old friends and making new ones. The time I took to socialise was definitely well spent, but the beauty of this con was that whatever stage of your writing career and whatever you were looking for, you would have been well catered to. Well done to all involved!

You can find a roundup of roundups here, with more in the comments. And, please feel free to link to your own in the comments for this post.



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