Tag Archives: continuum

Continuum XII – Stranger than Fiction

If you’re in Melbourne this weekend, you should come and check out Continuum XII – Melbourne’s very own spec fic convention. From the website:

Continuum is an annual fan run speculative fiction and pop culture convention. From sci-fi to epic fantasy and everything in between, Continuum 12 will celebrate the theme “Stranger Than Fiction”. Continuum runs every year on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. In 2016 the convention will be held between June 10-13.

Run by fans for fans, Continuum features a great line up of writers and creative artists in the heart of Australia’s most artistic city, Melbourne. The guests of honor at the next convention will be Queenie Chan and Kylie Chan.

Friday night is gold coin donation if you want to get a cheap taste, but be warned–it’s unlikely you can stop at one night!

I will be there all weekend, and I am on a number of panels (see below). Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 10
Continuum 101
Tesla, 7:30pm – 8pm
Tags: Panel

New to Continuum? Come chat to Continuum veterans about what to expect and how to get the most out of your convention

Batman vs. Superman
Tesla, 10pm – 11pm
Tags: Panel, Movies

Enjoyed by some, reviled by others, and with a Rotten Tomatoes score only 2% higher than Green Lantern, BvS has had a rather mixed reception. What happened? Is Batfleck a worthy successor and just how badass is Wonder Woman? Warning: SPOILERS (Duh)

Saturday, June 11
Books That Changed My Life
Granger, 10am – 11am
Tags: Panel

Join us for a discussion of works that had a profound effect on the panellists’ lives.

Religion vs. Science vs. Philosophy
Tesla, 2pm – 3pm

Most future works tend to avoid the issue, but can they co-exist? Does religion have a place in the far future and can different ideologies truly co-exist?

Sunday, June 12
Building a Dramatic Fight Scene
Curie, 5pm – 6pm

How do you write a great fight scene? What does it take to make it believable? Come hear some practical tips and watch your moves and techniques demonstrated by some experienced fighters

Monday, June 13
The Author is a Jerk!
Granger, 1pm – 2pm
Tags: Panel

How do the personal opinions and actions of an author affect the reception of their work and do we really care? Should an author’s personal and professional lives remain separate or should we boycott problematic authors?

My 2014 in Review

So, 2014 has come and gone. Wow. Time flies, huh?

Looking back, 2014 was a much better year than I realised. Even though I only had one story published, there were a number of significant milestones that are well worth celebrating.

But, first, let me get the negatives out of the way.

We lost some good people last year, and some people I care about had some tough times. That puts my problems into perspective, in the scheme of things I was very fortunate. So, I don’t really want to go into details as so many others have it so much worse, but during 2014 I struggled with some medical issues and, when added to my talent for taking too much on, I had a bit of a meltdown. The medical stuff is nothing life threatening, or anything for anyone to worry about, but enough to cause some issues. It’s not an excuse, but this did contribute to me messing up a couple of deadlines and letting some people down. You know who you are and, again, I apologise. It’s something I am very disappointed with myself in, and I hope that 2015 will be a much better year for that!

Looking back at the goals that I had set myself, I am disappointed to note that I still haven’t caught up on Doctor Who! Hopefully I can remedy that before Easter for reasons that will become clear later in this post.

I also haven’t made that first pro rate sale, though I do feel that I am getting closer and closer, and I might have another announcement to make soon..

But, on to the good things! There really were some wonderful moments, and I have a lot to be thankful for. And, it’s been great to feel like I am actually making some progress with my writing.

Unfortunately, I can’t share my biggest piece of news yet, but stay tuned as it will be announced around February.

Amongst the things I can talk about are:

  • After an eighteen year career in the field (pretty much straight out of Year 11), I left IT. I was seconded to our Editorial Department for 6 months in the position of Deputy Editor of one of our magazines (though I was essentially doing the Editor’s job). I can now announce that last  week I signed a contract extending my contract and naming me Editor. So, I guess I can say that I am a full time editor and writer now! There are not many people who get the chance to make a living from writing, so I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity– it really has changed my life. And, this has been so beneficial to my own writing, both in what I am learning from editing, and  because I am excited to be at work everyday instead being stressed and frustrated all the time. (which I know makes me very fortunate). I also think it has made me more productive, too, if there is a writing muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets
  • From a fiction writing POV, one of the highlights of 2014 was being shortlisted for the WSFA Small Press Award. As I said at the time, seeing my name alongside all the past nominees and winners was a huge thrill and I was gobsmacked when I found out. I never expected to be nominated, let alone win, so I wasn’t that disappointed to lose–especially to a great story.
  • After two previous nominations, winning a William J. Atheling Jr Award for the New Who reviews. I have felt very privileged to get to work with Tehani and Tansy, and humbled to tie with Galactic Suburbia, one of my biggest influences. Hopefully I can catch up on the latest seasons soon!
  • The Ditmar for Galactic Chat. A huge amount of the credit for this needs to go to Sean Wright, our podcast overlord, and it was great to see him recognised for his hard work. It felt a bit weird winning an award for having the opportunity to get to talk to some of my writing heroes. Seems like a bit of a rort, really! lol
  • Which leads on to the interviews with Ken Liu and Kameron Hurley. Wow, talk about gushing fanboy moments. Just a hint: next year wills ee even more fanboying! I have a few more writing superstars lined up for you.
  • Being asked to return as part of the Aussie Snapshot team. This one was even bigger than the last one, and we managed to cover a huge cross section of the Aussie Spec Fic scene. If you haven’t read it yet, you are really missing out!
  • Even though I had a quiet year in publications, I managed to sell some stories and I have already have three new stories confirmed for 2015 (including a sale to Fablecroft and coeur de lion) as well as something a bit longer which I can’t talk about yet (and that is killing me).
  • The release of a bundle of my short stories from Clan Destine Press, including a brand new story that I am rather proud of, and am very glad to see find a home. It already has a great review!
  • Managing to make a good start on the collaborative young adult novel I am working on, It’s definitely starting to take shape now and has gotten to that point where it has developed some momentum, and the process that we decided to use seems to be working (big thanks to Amie Kaufman for her generosity with her time and advice. I am very excited about where it is heading, and you can expect to hear more about it in 2015
  • Helping my good friend, Laura Goodin, perform a radio play at Conflux. Hopefully there will be a version available for your listening pleasure soon
  • Beating “Hold Over Funds” to become the FFANZ delegate. I am really excited about heading over tot New Zealand in 2015, i am sure that it is going to be a blast. It looks like I need to be caught up on Doctor Who by then, though!
  • Amazing fun at Continuum X and Conflux 10

Aside from all these, there is something even more important to mention. I got to spend time with existing friends, made a number of new friends and, most of all, was continually reminded of what an amazing community we have in Australia. A number of my friends had some great moments of their own, and I was delighted to see their successes (and quite often got to help celebrate them, which is always fun).

The big goals for 2015:

  • Get that elusive pro sale!
  • Finish the YA novel and get it off for submission.
  • Catch up with Doctor Who.
  • Get my solo novel done.
  • Start another conversational review series about a series of books that are very dear to my heart
  • Try and get involved in some sort of news/discussion podcast

And, that’s probably enough for now!

Hopefully I will be at a few cons in 2015. I always try and get to Continuum, and I have brought my membership and booked my hotel for the Worldcon on in Spokane. And, of course, I will be in NZ for their Natcon.

I am looking forward to 2015, which I think might be my biggest yet, and I will be hoping for the same for you!

Writing update with shiny sales and shiny trophies!

Yet again I have been very bad with keeping up to date on my blog. But, I do have lots of exciting stuff to talk about!

Firstly, I have started a new job! I am working for the same organisation, but I have been seconded to our Editorial Department and am now responsible for a fortnightly magazine. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I am loving it. So, I guess now I am a professional writer/editor. The last issue was the first I did completely alone and having survived that I think I am going to be all right – but it was a long fortnight. The downside is that I have been so consumed by learning the ropes that I have let some stuff slide and let some people down with other things. 🙁

I am also very excited to announce the sale of my story, “Her face like lightning”, to Fablecroft’s “Insert Title Here”. You can find out more details here.

I am currently working on two major projects that I hope to be able to announce in a month or so, but they are taking up most of my writing time. If they work out, they will be a big deal but until contracts are signed I will be keeping it quiet.

In June I went along to Continuum X and had an amazing time. I am a bit biased, being on the committee and all, but it seemed to be a smashing success. I spent a fair bit of time running around trying to help with organisational matters, but I also managed to catch up with heaps of friends, and make some new ones. My panels went reasonably well, and I even managed to organise a reprint of one of my stories. Well done to everyone who contributed to making it an awesome convention!

And, in a very surprising turn of events, we won both our categories in the Ditmars! I honestly didn’t expect it, given the other nominees, so it was a wonderful surprise. In the Atheling, New Who Reviews tied with Galactic Suburbia. As Galactic Suburbia was the first Aussie podcast I started listening to, and has had a huge influence on my perception of the genre, this was a huge honour. It’s been a great deal of fun working with Tansy and Tehani, so a big thank you to them for all their hard work and letting me be part of it (and a shout out to our guests over the years  – Lynne Thomas, Jo Anderton and Kathleen Jennings).

Then, in the Best Fan Publication, Galactic Chat won! Again, I have been fortunate to get to work with an incredible group of people, and Sean has worked extremely hard in his role as our fearless leader. We were very excited to see him win Best Fan Writer, as well – a very deserved result.

But, looking at the rest of the nominees in all the categories, it was an extremely strong list – and congratulations to all the winners, and nominees, for the wonderful work you are doing! You can see the full list here.

So, it has been an exciting few months! How is your year going?

Finally, all three of the New Who Review team together at a Con!

Finally, all three of the New Who Review team together at a Con!

A lovely work of art by Kathleen Jennings

A lovely work of art by Kathleen Jennings

Lunch on the last day - photo by Alan Baxter

Lunch on the last day – photo by Alan Baxter

with Alan Baxter and Alex Pierce - photo by Cat Sparks

with Alan Baxter and Alex Pierce – photo by Cat Sparks

My Continuum X Schedule

It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow Continuun X starts! I am on commitee (my excuse for being very absent here of late) so it feels like there has been a mad rush to get everything ready, but the time for preparation is over and the fun begins soon.

What is ContinuumX? From the website:

Continuum is an annual Melbourne speculative fiction and pop culture fan convention celebrating creativity across genre and media. From hard-edge science fiction to high-flown fantasy, comic books to film noir, high culture to sub-culture… we sink our teeth into it all! Continuum is run on a not-for-profit basis and all revenue goes towards venue and equipment hire, transport and accommodation for our guests, and other convention specific expenses. The Continuum Foundation supports Continuum conventions and we are grateful for their support.

Continuum 10 will take place on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, June 6 — 9, 2014. Our guests of honour this year are Jim C. Hines and Ambelin Kwaymullina. Supporting them will be a wide range of other speakers and panellists in a fabulous line up of panels, presentations and special events.

Continuum 10 is also proud to be host convention for the 53rd Australian National Science Fiction Convention for 2014.

I may be biased, but I think we have an awesome program, with something for everyone. You can check it out here.

My schedule is below, but you will also find me at most of the book launches, running around doing errands…or in the bar. Come and say hello!

Friday, 6 June

Continuum 101
The Haunted House, 6pm – 6:30pm
Hespa, David McDonald, Fran la Fontaine
Everything you wanted to know about fan conventions and con-going – an ideal starting point for anyone relatively new to conventions. Learn the secrets from those who have been around long enough to know better.

Continuum 101 – Getting To Know You
The Haunted House, 6:30pm – 7pm
Hespa, David McDonald, Fran la Fontaine
A quick round of ice-breaker games to introduce you to your fellow newbies and your Continuum 101 hosts.

Spicks & Speckulations
The Haunted House/The Big Top/The Hall of Mirrors 8pm
George Ivanoff, Jim C. Hines, Narrelle Harris, Kirstyn McDermott, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Danny Oz, David McDonald
Inspired by the ABC music game show, our two teams of “experts” go head-to-head as their spec fic and music knowledge is tested to its (possibly quite limited) limits. Who will prevail? How silly will this get? We suspect quite silly.

Saturday, 7 June

Continuum 101
The Hall of Mirrors, 11am – 11:30am
Hespa, David McDonald, Fran la Fontaine
Everything you wanted to know about fan conventions and con-going – an ideal starting point for anyone relatively new to conventions. Learn the secrets from those who have been around long enough to know better.

Monday, 9 June

In Conversation: DUFF Delegate Juanita Coulson
The Hall of Mirrors, 11am – 11:30am
David McDonald, Juanita Coulson
Juanita Coulson joins us all the way from America to talk about being a writer, the changing face of American fandom since the 1950s, and filking.

Feedback Panel
The Haunted House 3pm
Julia Svaganovic,, Liz Barr, Amanda Elliott, David McDonald, PRK
The con’s nearly over! What did you like? What did you hate? This is your chance to chat directly with the CX and C11 committee and help make the next Continuum even better.

Fake Geek Pride
The Big Top 4pm
Jim C. Hines, Alex Matti, David McDonald, Kirsty Sculler
Many fans see fandom as a welcoming home to all, but sagas like the “fake geek girl” furore are starkly at odds with this rosy picture. Where does the idea of non-judgemental fandom come from and how much truth is in it really?

Continuum 9: Contraindicators Report

Wow, it’s hard to believe that it has been almost two weeks since the Con! I haven’t had time to experience too much post con emo – I’ve been sent all over Victoria for work, hence the lateness of this report.

This Con was a bit of a different experience for me. I had an amazing time, but I didn’t spend quite as much time socialising as I normally would. Being on the Committee was really rewarding, and something I would love to do again, but it meant that I spent a lot of time doing behind the scenes things. Of course, it meant I spent way less money at the bar!


On Friday I did the usual welcome to convention going panel, Continuum 101 and then hung around to do a Meet and Greet for people who were new to the scene. Was quite nice, and I met a very interesting couple who had recently been to ComicCon and seemed to like the idea of a smaller, more welcoming convention. Hopefully they will return!

Then it was off to the Opening Ceremony, which featured a very cool video of different spec fic films, set to a catchy song by a local group. I am going to have to chase them up, I think. Apparently, the song is about Tram 86 – it’s called  “Northcote So Hungover” and is by the Bedroom Philosopher. Steph gave us a great introduction to the Convention and we were off and running.

Cleverly, they had organised the Chronos Awards Ceremony to follow straight after. While it wasn’t a seamless transition, there was still a sizeable crowd. As usual, Mondy and Kirstyn did a great job of hosting, and it was perhaps the quickest awards ceremony I have ever been to! The winners were:

Best Long Fiction 2012
“Salvage” by Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Short Fiction 2012
“The Mornington Ride” by Jason Nahrung in Epilogue, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)

Best Fan Writer 2012
Nalini Haynes

Best Fan Written Work 2012
Reviewing New Who series by David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely

Best Fan Artist 2012
Dick Jenssen

Best Fan Artwork 2012
“The Entellechy” by Dick Jenssen, cover art for Interstellar Ramjet Scoop for ANZAPA 267 edited by Bill Wright

Best Fan Publication 2012
Viewing Clutter by George Ivanoff

Best Achievement 2012
Continuum 8: Craftonomicon (51st Australian National SF Convention) Program by Julia Svaganovic, Emma Hespa Mann, and Caitlin Noble

I was relieved that we beat No Award to take away the Chronos for Best Fan Written Work. I was really honoured to be able to accept it on behalf of Tehani and Tansy, it’s been a massive privilege working with them. I also was able to thank Lynne Thomas, Jo Anderton and Kathleen Jennings who have all contributed at different stages.And, what a lovely trophy!

Our Chronos Award

Our Chronos Award

However, I want it on record that I actually offered Tehani the trophy, but she said no!

The Snapshot lost in the Achievement category, but it was hard to be too disappointment given who we were up against – the Continuum 8 team did an amazing job and deserved to be recognised for a wonderful Con. Congratulations to all the winners!


Saturday did not get off to the best of starts, with some car trouble meaning I missed my first my first two panels! Very embarrassing, but by the sounds of things I was barely missed and they went off extremely well.

I spent a bit of time on the rego desk, and generally trying to be useful, plus squeezing in a bit of socialising. Sadly, I missed N.K. Jemisin’s amazing GoH speech, but you can read it here. Once you’ve done so (and trust me, you should), you will understand why everyone is tlaking about it, and why some troglodytes feel so threatened by it.

I went along to the book launch of George Ivanoff’s “Gamer’s Rebellion”. George is a great guy (and the coolest jacket of the weekend, which is saying something. It was painted in a TARDIS design) so I was delighted to see how many people turned up to support him as he officially achieved trilogy status. Narelle Harris was a wonderful launcher, too.

Standing room only at the Launch of Gamer's Rebellion

Standing room only at the Launch of Gamer’s Rebellion

After dinner there was a bit of setup and then the Maskabolo. Because I am not much of dancer I volunteered to man the door and check IDs and field questions from bemused hotel patrons as to what was going on! There were some amazing costumes, from Margo Lanagan inspired selkies to the God of Thunder himself.

The DJ did a great job, and I was very jealous of his iPad mixing desk app – I wish I’d had that back in my community radio days! Every one seemed to be having a great deal of fun, and I did the wallflower thing and hung around until very late. While there wasn’t enough alcohol in the hotel to get me on the dance floor, I still enjoyed myself thoroughly.


I was pretty nervous on Sunday, as I had arranged to interview Nora (N.K. Jemisin) for Galactic Chat. I’d never used the equipment before, and this was my first interview for the podcast, so I was really worried that something would go wrong, or that I would stuff it up. But, everything went smoothly and any shortcomings as interviewer were more than compensated for by Nora being such a wonderful interviewee. You can hear it here.

With that out of the way, I could relax a bit and spent some time on the rego desk. Soon, it was time for the launch of Kirstyn McDermott’s new collection, “Caution: Contains Small Parts“. KIrstyn is one of Australia’s leading horror writers (Madigan Mine is one of my all time favourites), and if the excerpt is anything to go by this will be a very scary, and brilliant, collection!

Then it was off to my next panel, Deeper Than Swords. I knew it was going to be a good panel when our moderator, Darrren, turned up wearing chainmail. This was a tough one because everyone is scared of spoilers, which I think impacted the numbers. We ended up asking the audience where they were up, and deciding to limit discussion to anything up to the latest episode of the TV show. We still managed to have a great discussion, touching on topics like the difference between the books and shows, the changes that come about because of the difference in medium, and the way that the exposure from and success of the TV has changed the makeup of the fandom of the series.

Tehani and I with our trophy!

Tehani and I with our trophy!

I had initially asked be taken off a few panels because of the extra commitments from being on the committee, but I ended up back on one of them:

Zombies Go Mainstream
Panellists: Gareth Hodges, David McDonald, Adrian Melchiori, Darren Sanderson

Walking Dead, I Am Legend, World War Z… Much like superheroes, zombies have lurched, groaning, into the public eye. Where do they come from, what is their appeal today and whose brains will they seek out next? And what about their origins in Vodoun?

I’m really glad that I was part of this one! We had a really enthusiastic and interactive audience, some great panelists (and me), and a wide ranging and fascinating discussion. One of the things I found really interesting was the idea that the zombie is one of the few modern horror archetypes (along with giant radioactive monsters), with most being pre 1900s (the Werewolf, the Vampire, Frankenstein’s Monster). We talked about what these archetypes represent, and how the Zombie reflected the fear of becoming a faceless member of the crowd and losing identity. We also talked about why zombie stories might appeal to the genre crowd so much, and made a long list of recommended reading and viewing. The only thing I found difficult was that I have never had people listen quite so raptly to things I was saying, and it was disconcerting! lol

And, then, of course it was time for more socialising!


Monday I took some friends out to the airport, so I didn’t get to the Con until lunchtime and before I knew it, it was time for my final panel, Tolkien v Jackson.

I felt rather boringly under-dressed for this one. Richard and Kathryn sported steampunk hats that I immediately coveted, and Paul was a picture of sartorial elegance. And, their discussion was just as sparkling, ranging from the Bakshi adaptations to the madness (and excellence) of Nicol Williamson’s audio reading. There was some spirited debate about the merits of the Hobbit movie and whether it lived up to Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies. One of the highlights was when we got Lewis Morley (who was in the audience) talking about his experiences working on the movies.  We should have had him on the panel!

I had another interview scheduled for the afternoon, but I think I will let you wait and see who. It’s going to be worth the wait!

The end of a Con is always a little melancholy, so after the Closing Ceremony the Committee, and a few others, retired to the bar for an unofficial Dead Dog Party and spent some time reflecting on what I think was a pretty successful Con.

There were so many positives to look back on. The Chair, Stephanie Lai, had a very clear vision for the Con and everyone bought into it. I think that everyone could see the really strong social justice theme that ran through the Con, and the programming team created a programme stream that reflected this. I was really proud to be associated with it, and to have played some small part in helping organise it.

As always, the choice of guests played a huge role in how the Con went. Both Nora and Paul were extremely accessible and involved, and went above and beyond in their roles as Guests of Honour. Nora’s speech helped set the tone for the whole event, and is still being talked about around the world. Add a great turnout of awesome people, a wonderful crowd, exceptional panelists and a huge range of panels and you ended up with an incredible convention.

There are few things they may have to be looked at in the future, mainly concerning the venue. The hotel staff were exceptional and did everything possible to make us feel welcome but I think this con was almost too big for it, with a lot of very packed rooms. But, next year is the Natcon and will be at a different hotel anyway.

All in all, another great Con. Next on my list – Worldcon!


Continuum 9: Contraindicators

I am starting to get very excited – Continuum starts tomorrow! If you don’t know what Continuum is, the short answer is that it is going to be four days of hanging out with awesome people who love speculative fiction. The long answer is:

Continuum is an annual Melbourne speculative fiction and pop culture fan convention celebrating creativity across genre and media. From hard-edge science fiction to high-flown fantasy, comic books to film noir, high culture to sub-culture… we sink our teeth into it all! Continuum is run on a not-for-profit basis and all revenue goes towards venue and equipment hire, transport and accommodation for our guests, and other convention specific expenses. The Continuum conventions are supported by the Continuum Foundation and we are grateful for their support.

Continuum 9 will take place on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, June 7 — 10, 2013. Our guests of honour this year are N.K. Jemisin and Paul Collins. Supporting them will be a wide range of other speakers and panellists in a fabulous line up of panels, presentations and special events.

Check out the website here. With tomorrow night being gold coin donation entry, there is no reason not to check it out.

I am going to have an action packed time, I am on the committee and have a number of panels. If you want to say hello, my schedule is below, or you’ll see me wandering around with a dazed look on my face. Or, I will be spending a fair bit of time on the registration desk. It’s going to be an awesome convention, we have wonderful guests and the programming has something for everyone. See you there!

Continuum 101
From Friday 18:30 until Friday 19:00 (30 Minutes)
Panellists: Hespa , Nicole Canal, David McDonald, Brendan Podger

Everything you wanted to know about fan conventions and con-going – an ideal starting point for anyone new or relatively new to conventions. Learn the secrets from those who have been around long enough to know better.

Venue: Harmony Room

Meet and Greet
From Friday 19:00 until Friday 19:30 (30 Minutes)
Panellists: Nicole Canal, David McDonald

If you’re new to Continuum, or just feeling social, come along and meet some people!


Reboots and Retcons
From Saturday 10:00 until Saturday 11:00 (60 Minutes)
Panellists: Lucy Baker, Nicole Canal, George Ivanoff, David McDonald

/Reboot/: to trash all known series history and just start over. /Retcon/ (retroactive continuity): to “discover” new events from series history that supposedly always happened. Some consider rebooting and retconning simply helpful ways of freshening up a mature comics, TV, or film series. Others consider them big frickin cheats. Discuss.

Venue:Fire Room

Continuum 101
From Saturday 11:00 until Saturday 11:30 (30 Minutes)
Panellists: Hespa , Nicole Canal, David McDonald, Brendan Podger

Everything you wanted to know about fan conventions and con-going – an ideal starting point for anyone relatively new to conventions. Learn the secrets from those who have been around long enough to know better.

Venue:Fire Room

Deeper Than Swords
From Sunday 19:00 until Sunday 20:00 (60 Minutes)
Panellists: David McDonald, Ben McKenzie, Jane Routley, Darren Sanderson

The Panel of Ice and Fire! Is the TV series gratuitous in its portrayal of sex and violence? Has Tyrion become too unsympathetic? Is there a divide between those who watch the series without reading the novels? Are we holding our breath for the next book?

Venue:Earth Room

Tolkien v Jackson
From Monday 14:00 until Monday 15:00 (60 Minutes)
Panellists: Kathryn Andersen, Richard Harland, David McDonald, Paul Poulton

From the animated Hobbit to the Peter Jackson and 48 frames per second, a discussion of films based on the books of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Venue:Fire Room

Chronos Ballot announced

So, I am still on the road – currently in Perth. While it has been a little stressful on the work side of things (not helped by missing a flight for the first time – not a pleasant feeling), it is balanced out by getting to see some friends while I am here!

I also received some texts and emails last night telling me that the Chronos Awards ballot has been released, and that I am on it! All very exciting, but even more exciting to see some good friends on there as well. So, whatever happens, there will be reason to celebrate!

You can find the complete list below, and voting instructions are here (scroll al the way down). Whoever you thinks should win, if you are eligible please do vote. Like the other awards, the more community investment in the awards the healthier they are.

Best Long Fiction

Bread and Circuses by Felicity Dowker (Ticonderoga Publications)

Salvage by Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)

Walking Shadows by Narrelle M. Harris (Clan Destine Press)

Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2011 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)

Dyson’s Drop by Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing)

No Award

Best Short Fiction

“Five Ways to Start a War” by Sue Bursztynski in Light Touch Paper Stand Clear, edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)

“The Mornington Ride” by Jason Nahrung in Epilogue, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)

“Nematalien” by LynC in The Narratorium, edited by David Grigg

“Fireflies” by Steve Cameron in Epilogue (FableCroft Publishing)

“The D_d” by Adam Browne in Light Touch Paper Stand Clear, edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)

No Award

Best Fan Writer

Alexandra Pierce

Jason Nahrung

Nalini Haynes

Bruce Gillespie

Grant Watson

Steve Cameron

No Award

Best Fan Written Work

Reviewing New Who series by David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely

No Award

Best Fan Artist

Dick Jenssen

No Award

Best Fan Artwork

“The Entellechy” by Dick Jenssen, cover art for Interstellar Ramjet Scoop for ANZAPA 267 edited by Bill Wright

No Award

Best Fan Publication

Dark Matter Fanzine (www.darkmatterfanzine.com), by Nalini Hayes

SF Commentary, (http://efanzines.com/SFC/) edited by Bruce Gillespie

Viewing Clutter, DVD and Blu-ray reviews blog (http://georgeivanoff.com.au/other-writing/reviews/viewing-clutter/), by George Ivanoff

No Award

Best Achievement

Continuum 8: Craftonomicon (51st Australian National SF Convention) Program by Julia Svaganovic, Emma Hespa Mann, and Caitlin Noble

“Snapshot 2012″ by Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Ian Mond, Jason Nahrung, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright

No Award

Best Artwork

The award for Best Artwork is not being presented due to insufficient nominations being received.

Continuum 9: Contraindicators

So, after enjoying two wonderful conventions in Melbourne I decided it was time to give something back and volunteered for the Continuum Committee. What is Continuum?

Continuum is an annual Melbourne speculative fiction and pop culture fan convention celebrating creativity across genre and media. From hard-edge science fiction to high-flown fantasy, comic books to film noir, high culture to sub-culture… we sink our teeth into it all! Continuum is run on a not-for-profit basis and all revenue goes towards venue and equipment hire, transport and accommodation for our guests, and other convention specific expenses. The Continuum conventions are supported by the Continuum Foundation and we are grateful for their support.

Continuum 9 will take place on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, June 7 — 10, 2013. Our guests of honour this year are Waris Hussein and N.K. Jemisin. Supporting them will be a wide range of other speakers and panellists in a fabulous line up of panels, presentations and special events.

To contact the convention committee, please email info@continuum.org.au. We’ll make sure your query gets to the right person!

June may seem like a while off, but things are really starting to happen. There are lots of events, both fund raisers and community building, being organised and they are a great way to meet people before the Con. Nominations for the Chronos awards (Victoria’s spec fic awards) are now open, and as a Continuum member you are eligible to nominate, and vote.

As you can see, there are two awesome international guests, and we have just announced a local Guest of Honour, the splendiferous Paul Collins. As well as the GoHs, there will also be fans and pros from all over Australia converging on Melbourne for an action packed couple of days. A great programme is taking shape, and you can submit your ideas, and there will most definitely be something for everyone.

I’ve blogged about my previous Continuums here and here, and I really can’t recommend it enough. If you haven’t already signed up, what are you waiting for? 🙂


Wednesday Writers: Hespa

Back when I was even newer to the scene than I am now (and that’s saying something!), I was fresh off the buzz of the most excellent Swancon36 and desperate for another convention fix. I’d already decided I was going to Continuum, but I wanted to be involved as well simply attending. I sent off an email to the organisers, volunteering to help out if I could, and asking if there was any chance I could be on a panel of some sort. I’d been on a grand total of one panel before, so I honestly expected that I would get a polite no, but instead the wonderful programming coordinators managed to find room for me on some great panels. But, more than that, they went out of their way to make me feel welcome and included, not just on panels but throughout the convention, a convention where I knew very few people. So, it is very apt that today I welcome Hespa (One half of that programming committee – and I do hope the other half will be doing a post here at some point *hint hint*) to talk about her experience of the community aspect of conventions, and what it has meant to her. I am sure that, like me, many of you will find yourself nodding your head in agreement as you read this most excellent post.

Why I Get Excited About Conventions

Thank you to David for inviting me to write something here. I have a confession to make: I’m not really a writer. At best, I’d call myself an inexperienced dabbler in the writerly arts. I am therefore both honoured and terrified to be included among the august ranks of the Wednesday Writers. Here goes…

A couple of weeks ago 200 fantasy, science-fiction, horror, steampunk, anime, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Neil Gaiman, graphic novel, computer game, boardgame fans and I were hanging around the corridors of the Rydges Hotel, Carlton. It was the eighth Continuum, Melbourne’s annual fan-run SF convention.

I’ve been to Continuum since it began, but this year was different. I experienced the con through the fresh eyes of a number of friends from uni – geeks I’ve known for many years, who have finally decided to try out these convention things I keep raving about and see what it is that gets me so excited about them.

Here’s the thing: fandom is a community. It’s a cliche because it’s true. I’m sure there are fans who’ve had happy, well-adjusted upbringings surrounded by kindred spirits, but many of us grew up feeling like outsiders, teased or rejected or just plain lonely. For us, fandom can provide a sense of community that’s sorely needed. More accurately, though, fandom is a series of communities, connected by shared interests but sometimes oblivious to one another.

University was my first fan community. I was lucky enough to go to Melbourne Uni, which had (and, I believe, still has) such a thriving fan community that it spawned five separate fan clubs, including one devoted solely to the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (OK, that and drinking). Uni fandom was a revelation: for the first time I wasn’t the weird loner lurking in the library, I was part of a loud and raucously proud fellowship.

But uni fandom is strongly generational. I entered it as part of the 2002 wave that quickly became known as ‘The Scary First-years’. The older members who called us that viewed askance the sudden influx of bouncy, exciteable teenagers with no interest in the club’s traditions. Mind you, the old guard and their “traditions” had only been around for half a dozen years themselves, dating back to the last significant influx. Most of their peers had now graduated and were rarely seen any more, leaving a small core group to show up to meetings, sticking together, talking about shows no one had seen (“What’s Babylon 5?“) and making in-jokes no one else understood. Soon we had replaced them on the club committees; gradually, they disappeared from view.

A few years later, the cycle repeated. The Scary First-years graduated and moved on. Our time in fandom gave us confidence in ourselves and a network of strong friendships, but as we moved on out into the world, the old fan clubs ceased being the easiest way to keep in touch with one another. We left MU and its fandom behind. I’ve been back on campus a couple of times over the years and it gives me a kind of nostalgic delight to stick my head into a room and see a Fantasy And Science Fiction Appreciation Society event in progress, but the faces are all unfamiliar (and so young!). I’m now the old guard; the next generation is busy building its own community.

Conventions (the fan-run kind, at least) are fundamentally different. Their members run the gamut from wide-eyed newcomers to seasoned elders of fandom, all intermingled. I went alone to my first convention, since no one I knew was interested in cons, and the number of people willing to make friendly conversation with a random eighteen-year-old was astonishing. Sure, it’s always awkward to be the newcomer in a gathering of people who already know each other, but at conventions many of the old guard go out of their way to reduce that awkwardness. “Where did you get that great t-shirt?” they ask, or, “Hey, can you tell me more about that book you mentioned?”

If university fandom is a home occupied by successive, distinct families, oblivious to one another, convention fandom is home to a great big, multi-generational family, parents and kids and grandparents and interstate relatives all living together under one roof. And that gives it a sense of history and geography, of a much bigger picture. If it wasn’t for conventions and the people I have met through them, I might still not know about worldcons, ‘zines, Blake’s 7,  Community, fan funds or the works of a whole range of Australian small-press authors. I would remain blithely unaware of the issues surrounding women and people of colour in speculative fiction (and, indeed, in fandom). I probably wouldn’t be catching up with half the world on Twitter. I certainly wouldn’t have joined the Continuum committee and learned how to run one of these things. My world, in short, would be a whole lot narrower.

I know the convention community is far from perfect. For one of my uni friends, the recent con (her second) included her first direct experience of gamer sexism. She laughed it off, but knowing that she will always have that association with Continuum fills me with rage. So no, we’re surely not perfect. But set against that one negative experience from the weekend were dozens and dozens of positive ones: joining in on panel discussions, dressing up for the maskerade, being inspired to intense hallway conversations on topics that would never normally come up. Not to mention chatting with people they’d never met – from fellow first-timers to old hands to published authors.

A few days after Continuum, my uni friends were on Twitter organising to attend a New Melbourne Browncoats outing they had heard about at the con. And that, right there? That’s why I get so excited about fan-run conventions. Because they connect people and fandoms; because they open our eyes and broaden our horizons; because they help turn a collection of disparate groups into one big community.

Hespa is a firm believer that the best way to get the most out of life is to live several lives simultaneously. When not working her day job as a park ranger, she helps organise conventions; writes; crafts; cycles; cooks; photographs; learns; reads; games; and occasionally wonders why she never seems to have any free time. If you like, you can follow her non-daily Daily Writing Project at hespa.livejournal.com and her sporadic musings and squeeings at twitter.com/hespas_hats

My (very belated) Natcon report

I thought I had survived the excitement of the Con unscathed, but around Thursday the dreaded Con lurgy hit me like a tonne of bricks, and I’ve been the walking dead since. But, it was worth it, I had an awesome time at Natcon.

On the Friday I had the privilege of being part of Kelly Link’s short story workshop. Not only did I get excellent feedback on the story I submitted, from Kelly and the group, but we also went through some very useful exercises, one of which I have used already to great effect. I also met some very talented writers and hope to stay in touch with them. It’s amazing how much Kelly packed into the time we had, I can see why she is as highly regarded as she is.

After the workshop I didn’t have a great deal of time before my first panel, so after a quick trip to the bar, it was time for Daikaiju Go Heavenly!. As well featuring the dashing Dirk Flinthart, Cat had roped in expert assistance in the form of Robin Pen, and a hilarious panel ensued. I don’t think we really decided on a victor, but I think I defended Christ’s honour reasonably well, though I might have committed both blasphemy and heresy at various points.

Photo by Cat Sparks

Dirk Flinthart and Robin Pen impart their wisdom.

Then it was time for a quick meal, which in hindsight turned out to be a big mistake, then off to the Twelfth Planet Hour, where we sampled the most incredible range of cupcakes imaginable (well done on an awesome job, Terri!). It was wonderful to spend time mingling with so many people as we celebrated the well deserved success of TPP. And, I accidentally discovered that the cupcakes were capable of exploding in a cloud of cream if dropped….

Photo by Cat Sparks

Meg Mundell and I – before the cupcake goes all kamikaze!

This segued nicely into the opening ceremony, where the Continuum tradition (well, this is my second) of excellent video montages continued. With a smack of the gavel, the Con was officially launched. I then had to quickly head to another panel, Continuum 101, where I imparted my meagre Con wisdom to an audience of neophyte Con goers who listened very politely. It was around then that I started to feel ill, and I retired to a friend’s motel room to lie down for a while (A big thank you to Steve and Pete who were very generous with their room all weekend), which turned into a few hours. There was a rather embarrassing moment when I staggered out of the room wearing a wet face washer on my hat like a bedraggled hat, only to almost walk into two people I was on panel with the next day (when I attempted to explain the next day they were very understanding, and pointed out it was far from the strangest thing that they had seen at a Con). Eventually I made my way downstairs, bid a few quick goodbyes and somehow got home.

The next morning I had two panels on religion back to back, and to be honest I was a little nervous – it isn’t the most safe of topics at times. But, both went really well. The first, New Faiths for New Worlds was really well moderated by Russell, and we covered some interesting ground. Alan and I both picked the same examples for a religion done well and a religion done badly, and took turns beating each other to the punch. The second, Fans and Faith was one of the best panels I had ever been on, and a very different vibe than I was used to. Not only did Mondy moderate brilliantly, with his usual mix of wit and perception, he also raised some points I had never even thought of and gave me a story idea! Through out the weekend I had people, religious and non religious, approaching me to remark on these two panels and tell me how much they enjoyed them or to ask questions, which is not something I have had happen before.

After all that excitement I was very happy to take some time for lunch and take in some caffeine, and do some socialising. Then it was off to Winter is Coming, a panel on the various works of George R.R. Martin. After the more serious morning ones, this was a lot of fun, very energetic with lots of audience interaction. We covered everything from piracy to the state of television, as well as plenty of talk about the “Game of Thrones” television series.

Photo by Tom Bicknell

Ben Mckenzie gets expressive as Kelly Link, David McDonald, Mick Mihalic and Jules Wilkinson look on

Then it was time for something that had really been giving me the heebie jeebies, my first reading. It was a bit of an anti climax, four writers from Epilogue facing an audience one person, so Dirk invoked an ancient and venerable rule regarding panels, if the panel outnumbers the audience you all go to the bar! To be honest, I wasn’t that crushed, I had been rather nervous at the idea of reading from my story. Maybe next time.

Photo by Jo Anderton

Signing a book for only the second time ever!

That was the end of my commitments for the day, which meant I got down to the real business of a convention, socialising! There were so many people to chat to that the time flew. After a lovely dinner, and more time in the bar I realised that, yet again, I had missed the Maskobalo!

On Sunday, my first panel was a zombie themed one, We Want Your Brainz. Fortunately, a very kind soul brought me in a coffee so I wasn’t a complete zombie myself. We talked about what exactly makes a zombie, and whether zombies and romance are ever a good mix. As well as all the other excellent panellists, I got to sit with the author of one of the best short stories I have ever read (Stephen Dedman and his story “Never Seen by Waking Eyes”), which was a thrill.

Later that afternoon, after more socialising, it was time for the Newbie’s Guide to Writing, where a bunch of newish writers were able to talk about the mistakes that they had made so that others could avoid them, and pass on hard won tips. We also had the editor of the amazing collection Ishtar present, Amanda Pillar, who gave an excellent perspective from the other side of the submissions process. It was a well attended, and I hope really informative panel. And, that was the end of my scheduled panels for the convention, so I could relax.

Photo by Tom Bicknell

Travis McKenzie and I on the “Newbie’s Guide to Writing”

I then wandered up to the launch of Felicity Dowker’s Bread and Circuses, which was very well attended. I thought Alan Baxter spoke very well, and it was heartening to see all the launch copies disappearing as people put their money where their mouth is, and supported Aussie small press.

From there I moved on to the bar, where a large crowd shared a bittersweet hour as we remembered Paul Haines. I say bittersweet because despite the sadness, there were lots of laughs and fond reminisces as people who had known him shared their stories with those who had not had the pleasure. Truly moving. The time flew, and then it was time to suit up for the awards ceremony.

Despite the fact that there were a lot of awards to be presented, the evening did not drag at all, thanks in no small part to the excellent hosts, Mondy and Kirstyn. They shared a great chemistry without it being in jokey or over the top, and they kept the night flowing. It was an evening of both celebration and remembrance, with some truly emotional moments that included a number of awards deservedly won by the late Paul Haines and Sara Douglass. There was also a truly beautiful moment when Merv Binns with presented with the inaugural Infinity Award for contributions to the Aussie scene. There was a spontaneous standing ovation as we thanked him for his part in creating the sort of fandom that gives us wonderful events like Continuum.

I know they aren’t really some people’s cup of tea, but I’ve loved the awards ceremonies I have been to so far, I am was really happy to see this one follow the trend of last year’s Natcon with lots of people glamming up and a real effort to make them a prestigious event on the spec fic calendar. I really enjoy seeing people’ hard work rewarded, not just for standalone achievements but the awards that recognise an ongoing commitment to the community. It was a very strong field, but I don’t think anyone can argue that the winners did not deserve their awards (and the squeaking octopi that came with them!).

After the awards ceremony a few of us wandered back to Lygon Street until we were kicked out of the excellent little bar we found and went in search of more refreshments. By the time I got home it was around 4:30am so I only just made it back to the convention for a coffee catch up with a friend I had to see before they left the state and the Closing Ceremony where all the volunteers and committee members and guests were quite rightly applauded for a stellar convention.

On a personal level, I had an amazing time. Getting feedback on a story from someone like Kelly Link was a huge privilege, as was being on a number of panels with her. And, I really enjoyed the chance to be on so many panels, despite my relatively minor status in the scheme of things. I was able to catch up with people who I don’t get to see half as much as I would like, and to get to know some people with whom I’d previously only had a fleeting acquaintance with a lot better. And, of course, I was able to make a whole heap of new friends, and meet people who formerly had only been names on a byline or a webpage. As always, I was astounded and delighted by how inclusive and welcoming everyone was.

One of the more exciting writerly moments was being asked to sign a book for the first time, and by someone I didn’t know! A measure of how little I was expecting this was the fact I didn’t even have a signature worked out, as I had never expected someone to ask. I just scrawled something and mentally resolved that I would have to work something out for the future. I can just imagine myself sitting with a notepad signing my name again and again like someone about to get married and wanting to get their new name right! I ended up signing three books over the Con which was three more than I had expected, but hopefully they won’t be the last.

It’s hard to divorce my own experience and give an objective rating of the convention, but I think you would have to say it was a resounding success. It had all the elements that I think make for a good Con:

  • A hardworking, conscientious and wonderful committee and a dedicated group of volunteers
  • Notable guests who went out their way to be accessible to con goers and took their responsibilities as guests very seriously
  •  A very strong program that had something for everyone, whether you wanted a focus on writing or on pop culture
  • A central place for people to gather and hang out because, after all, it is the social aspect that makes or breaks a Con.

The only possible criticism I could make is that, yet again, the hotel management obviously hadn’t taken warnings seriously enough about how much writers can drink and didn’t have enough staff on hand. One can’t fault the bar staff though, they were unfailingly gracious and polite under a great deal of pressure.

And, the other downside of the Con was that it came to end. I always struggle readjusting to life after an event like that, where you have to go back to the boring routine of a day job and not being surrounded by wonderful people who share you passions. But, with Chicon on the horizon, at least I can start counting down to that!

Award Winners:

The 2012 Ditmars and Australian SF Awards were awarded at Continuum 8: Craftonomicon, the 51st Australian National SF Convention.  And those winners are:

The A Bertram Chandler Award: Richard Harland

The Norma K Hemming Award: AA Bell, for Hindsight, and Sara Douglass, for The Devil’s Diadem

The Peter McNamara Award: Bill Congreve

The Chronos Awards:

Best Long Fiction:
The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Paul Haines (Brimstone Press)

Best Short Fiction:
The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt, Paul Haines (in The Last Days of Kali Yuga)

Best Fan Writer:
Jason Nahrung

Best Fan Artist:
Rachel Holkner

Best Fan Written Work:
Tiptree, and a collection of her short stories, Alexandra Pierce (in Randomly Yours, Alex)

Best Fan Artwork:
Blue Locks, Rebecca Ing (Scape 2)

Best Fan Publication:
The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Best Achievement:
Conquilt, Rachel Holkner and Jeanette Holkner (Continuum 7)

The Infinity Award, for overwhelming contribution to Australian SF: Merv Binns

The Ditmar Awards:

Best Novel
The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood (HarperCollins)

Best Novella or Novelette
“The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt”, Paul Haines, in The Last Days of Kali Yuga(Brimstone Press)

Best Short Story
“The Patrician”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Love and Romanpunk (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Collected Work
The Last Days of Kali Yuga by Paul Haines, edited by Angela Challis (Brimstone Press)

Best Artwork
“Finishing School”, Kathleen Jennings, in Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories (Candlewick Press)

Best Fan Writer
Robin Pen, for “The Ballad of the Unrequited Ditmar”

Best Fan Artist
Kathleen Jennings, for work in Errantry (tanaudel.wordpress.com) including “The Dalek Game”

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium
The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Best New Talent
Joanne Anderton

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review
Alexandra Pierce and Tehani Wessely, for reviews of Vorkosigan Saga, in Randomly Yours, Alex