Can-Con 2018! Day 1!

It’s the best time of the year (or pretty close to it). Can-Con is the Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature held in Ottawa each year and it was this past weekend. And, as usual, it was so good.

A couple of years ago, I managed to write posts on each day of the con, although I think it took me two or three months to post them. Last year, I only managed to talk about the first day and even that, very belatedly. I’m trying to be better this year.

This is only going to touch on things I did (there was a lot more going on).

On Friday, there were two workshop sessions (2 hour workshops, costing $20 each, before the schedule began). I’ve done workshops at previous Can-Con’s and I always enjoy them. This year’s were particularly useful.

The first one I went to was The Nuts and Bolts of Writing Fantasy with Julie Czerneda. I took a workshop with Julie a couple of years ago and it was very good, so I was looking forward to this one. I confess I don’t write much in the way of fantasy, but the description looked interesting and I do have a few languishing first drafts and ideas that are more fantasy than not.

Julie makes you work and in groups at that. The discussion centered primarily on objects and how we describe them and consider them as elements of story. It was a really interesting perspective that I do not consider often enough.

And then I went to KT Bryski’s A Sound Idea – Fiction Writing for Podcasts. KT started with a bit of the history of podcasting and different types of fictional podcasts before discussing different elements of writing fiction for them.

I love podcasts, so I was predisposed to enjoy this, but it was really well done and the many examples were great. I tend to listen to more audio dramas than narratives and it really made me think about the differences and the potential story ideas that would work with one or the other. Overall, I left feeling really encouraged/excited about the possibilities.

Then the main schedule started! (Yay!)

Rather than describing each panel in detail, I’ll mention my key takeaways.

Star Wars, Heroism and Society (Eric Desmarais, A.A. Jankiewicz, Sylvain Neuvel, Evan May (Moderator)): Good discussions around cool Darth Vader versus whiny Kylo Ren and saving the people around you versus saving the world. It was heartening to be part of a non-contentious Star Wars discussion!

Space: The Economic Frontier (Chandra Clarke, Eva-Jane Lark, Andrej Litvinjenko, Claudiu Murgan, Lynne Sargent (Moderator)): This panel was amazing, with really knowledgeable people on it. It’s hard to pick out just a few points but:

  • who owns what in space? While countries/corporations can’t own an entire moon/planet/asteroid, can/should they own what they take from it?
  • moving heavy manufacturing (as well as perhaps mining) off Earth and the environmental, social, etc benefits that could result
  • what does a benign capitalism in space look like, one with externalities priced in?

Queering the Future: How Do We Write a Queer Futurism? (Phoebe Barton, Stephen Graham King, Jerome Stueart, Kerrie Seljak-Byrne, Leah Bobet (Moderator)): Another panel that had lots to say. Highlights included:

  • imagine a world where sex doesn’t sell (Phoebe)
  • building a better, non-normative system, not just ‘new people on top’
  • worlds where drama doesn’t derive from the mere fact of queerness
  • wanting happy stories (of a happier future) while also acknowledging the anger of today that some writers want to be able to express/vent (Kerrie)
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