April 15th, 2011

OddCon 2011

We had a good time at this year's Odyssey Con in Madison, despite it being rather hectic. We made an extra effort to get in early so that we could stop and visit my mother on the way, but then had plenty of time to get a good lunch between checking in with the hotel and checking in with the Con. (Georgie's "Calfatar" t-shirt design of the year was well received and got a lot of comments--.)

We listened to the "Rules of Magic" panel with some interest, and then our first panel (one of a number Georgie and I were both on) was "Superheroes" at 4:00PM. I thought this panel, which was a wide ranging discussion of the origin, present status, and possible future of the comic superhero. J.J. Miller, who's actually written for superhero comics such as "Iron Man" was a particularly good addition to the group.

After that, we went to the Epic Fantasy Quiz, given by GoH J.V. Jones, which was a fun time. Unfortunately, I didn;t finish in the top three. What I knew I knew cold, but on those things I hadn't read, I wasn't a lucky guesser.

That evening, we took in the Opening Ceremonies, (rackety but fun as ever) checked out the Poetry Slam (interesting), looked in on the SF Films Charades, and sampled the chocolate, wine, and art work at the Art Show reception before going to bed.

Saturday, we had several panels, starting with "What is the nature of magic in fantasy writing," which was a very interesting panel featuring GoHs Sarah Monette and J.V. Jones, as well as Alex Bledsoe, all of whom have worked in this area with very different, yet valid, results.

Between panels, we visited the Hucksters, and found some interesting things for Steampunk wear, among other things.

Georgie had the "Shapeshifting" panel at 2:30, which was also an interesting survey of this broad topic, although I thought that moderator Chris Welch's tactic of polling the audience on many questions slowed things down.

I was next up for "Vampires (Not Sparkly), which actually avoided trashing "Twilight" very much and instead dug into the literary history of this favorite monster.

OddCon is one of those weekends when a lot happens, so, as soon as this panel was over, we dug out and headed back to the Milwaukee area for a performance by the Mark Morris Dance Group (see separate review). We slept in our own bed (Garrison Keilor aside, we do not care for the "Sleep Number Bed"--) and headed back to OddCon for Sunday.

I had two panels on Sunday, the first one being on the history and evolution of Robin Hood. This was a very well-prepared and informative panel, with Steve Silver even having done graduate-school research on the bandit of Sherwood Forest.

After that, we went over to Maharajah for buffet lunch, with Bill Bodden and Tracy Benton. Both lunch and conversation were very good.

My last panel was "What the Heck is Science Fantasy anyway?" This was a very free-wheeling panel in which some colorful and disparate opinions were expressed. My own position, which I still think good, is that Science Fantasy is a plot/action-driven genre set in a "futuristic" milieu, and in which the plausibility of the superscientific effects is so far subservient to the perceived coolness factor that, not only are they not explained, trying to explain them by handwaving ("the force" "midichlorans")actually detracts.

After a last pass around the con, we rolled home in time to catch the premier of the new "Upstairs, Downstairs" on PBS, putting a relaxing cap on a busy weekend.

Sarah Monette and J.V. Jones were both great guests and it was fun to be on panels with both of them. Sarah in particular was a real trouper, having a crisis at home with a very ill pet.

OddCon was good solid fun for us, and we will of course be back.

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