A Wind from the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree – SPFBO #6 Finals Review

A Wind from the Wilderness

SPFBO #6 Finals Review

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San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Report – Part Three

When I say say I went to “a lot” of panels this year, I meant that it climbed into the double digits. Usually things like the need to eat something other than granola bars, long lines, and panels featuring things like the entire cast of Firefly mean I miss a few that I wanted to go to.

But whatever divine power watches over the scheduling of things that interest me was feeling particularly benevolent (some of the time).

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Time Travel: Science Fact or Science Fiction

Panelists: Josh Clark, Chuck Bryant

Science of Science Fiction: Canon Fodder

Panelists: Jon Spaihts, Jane Espenson, Zack Stentz, Ashley Miller, Jaime Paglia, Dr. Kevin Grazier, Phil Plait

I set these two panels together because they really deal with much the same thing. Putting some kind of scientific reality in speculative fiction is always a bonus with regards to the suspension of disbelief department, but one of the things that was brought up was that sociology was vastly underrated with regards to such things as how characters interact with the social institutions around them.

Anyway, from what we understand about things like time travel, it really only works in one direction, from present to future. However all things are possible if you explain them properly with all the timey-wimey bits appropriately hand waved off. There also needs to be consequences for which laws of physics or thermodynamics or any other preexisting conditions one sets up in their worldbuilding, regardless of if the audience gets an explanation or not.

For those of you who operate under the notion that “boundaries limit creativity” would do well to realize that for all of its rules science opens up possibilities in unexpected ways. Also, big phenomena where science doesn’t have all the answers offer plenty of room for speculation and extrapolation. Global climate change is on a lot of people’s minds these days and human science surrounding things like ocean currents and meteorology are not perfect and not clean.

The talk ended with noting that scientists are seen in varying ways inside of stories and are used in ways that reflect how aspects of society see them.

Anatomy of a Fight Scene (parts one and two)

Panelists: Maxwell Alexander Drake

This was one of those “how to” panels that seem to ensure that the convention organizers can prove that they are actually running an educational convention rather than a purely commercial one.

Since there was an article about this here not that long ago, I’ll just run through the short version. Character motivation is important. Wait no, ignore that last sentence. Character motivation is the most important thing when considering both sides of any physical or emotional altercation. There needs to be limits and consequences for all characters and those characters are going to see violence differently from each other. If the story doesn’t move forwards as fallout from the fracas then it shouldn’t be in the final edit of the story.

He did a good presentation overall, although, I did feel that smart tactics could have had a slightly larger mention. Although it has to be said that I tend to categorize fight scenes with sex scenes: potentially titillating, frequently overused, sometimes forget that human forms have a finite number of ways in which they can move, and that I am one of the people who will go over it and start asking questions about the laws of physics and anatomy. There also could have been more discussion on leading in violence for use as a narrative tool or a culmination of a lot of different conflicts from other areas, like social, economic, or geographic pressures and how this can result in acts of violence from the characters.

Stunted Fools, Scary-Ass Clowns, Enlightened Orangutans, and other Devilish Charmers: Humor in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Panelists: John Scalzi, Richard Kadrey, Doyce Testerman, Rob Reid, Ned Vizzini, Gini Koch, Nathan Long, Nick Hurwitch

This was a fun panel. I enjoy humor in books the same way I like hot chili sauce over a rice bowl… a nice layer of it over everything. Yet as with all things, it is possible to get humor wrong. It was mentioned that the easiest way to get humor wrong is to not be funny in the first place and that being funny over long periods of time takes work. Humor can either make a book more readable and spur character growth or it can bog the book down and stagnate everything.

That being said there are a lot of things that are inherently funny such as corporate culture and time travel’s myriad ways of screwing things up. Everyday life has its humor too (this is magnified with pets or children). Humor in some form or another isn’t exclusively held by one group and anyone who tries to dismiss a group as “not funny” is a willfully ignorant fool.

Next and last: The spotlight panels, the best room crew ever, and talking about Ray Bradbury.


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