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Olympus 2012 - my con report

This year’s Eastercon was held in the Radisson Edwardian near Heathrow – a venue that’s hosted the convention several times before and is memorable for its quirky, rabbit-warren layout interspersed with huge glass atriums and bizarre water features. I’ll keep my report brief as no one needs the minutiae of our day-to-day con experience, but I will just note that we’ve taken to staying in the Marriott next door as we like its huge, comfortable rooms!

It was certainly a busy, bustling con. I think I saw everyone I was hoping to see, but often managed only one conversation with them! There was so much going on.

The consensus seems to be that Olympus was a highly successful event. Membership was completely sold out, and they weren’t even taking walk-ins on the day, which is very unusual. This was largely due to the big-name attraction of GRR Martin, but Tricia Sullivan deserves a special mention for being a superb SF Guest of Honour. She’s a fascinating speaker on panels, and a warm, friendly person to chat to in the bar too.

The art show was one of the best I’ve seen, stuffed with great art from such acclaimed talents as Anne Sudworth, Jim Burns and Chris Baker (Fangorn) along with many others. I like to take part in the art show, because it lends an extra dimension to the convention for me. I don’t want or expect the con to be all about hoping someone will remember I’m an author! (Actually, it’s many years since I naively thought cons should be like that). For Mike and me, it’s about getting together with like-minded friends and having fun. Chatting with other writers, having a business discussion with your agent, and signing the occasional book are all bonuses, and pretty great ones.

Oh, and going to panels! The programme was amazing, almost too big – there were at least five different things going on at all times, making it difficult to cherry-pick what you most wanted to see. Mike doesn’t go to panels at all, preferring to wander about chatting and book-browsing, but I don’t feel I’ve properly been at the con unless I catch at least a few events. On the Saturday I made it to five panels (plus a signing) which was pretty good going. In the main convention hall, the ops had rigged up cameras and a big screen, so everyone had a great view of the panels, which were recorded for later viewing on the net. Great for catching up on anything you missed!

An interesting and welcome theme is taking shape, that of Gender Parity.

I blogged a while ago about the fact that while female authors were publishing very nearly as many books as males, we were getting only half the attention, review-wise – sometimes as little as a tenth of the attention, in SF publications. Now there’s a big push to get male and female authors/ editors/ academics/ fans and so on equally represented in all spheres, not least on panel discussions.

I heard a few of the inevitable moans, ‘What if brilliant male panellists are overlooked in favour of mediocre females?’ >>SIGH<<. It should hardly need pointing out that for countless years – not just on con panels, but in all walks of life! – brilliant women may well have been overlooked in favour of mediocre men, and yet this was taken for granted. Heaven forfend we should challenge the notion!

I don’t wish to get on a soapbox about this, but it seems to me it’s a never-ending battle for women to be seen as equal to men, even in the most supposedly civilised parts of the world. We make progress, then we slide back as society gets antsy and tries to push us back into our ‘place’. It’s like running up a down escalator. Is this going to be The Forever War?

I seem to have got right off the subject here but to sum up, a) we had a great con and b) I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been invited to be Fantasy Guest of Honour at next year’s Eastercon, Eight Squared in Bradford 2013. The others Guests will be Walter Jon Willliams (SF GoH), Anne Sudworth (Artist GoH) and Edward James (Fan GoH). More info soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve posted some links and some fun photos on my Facebook wall, www.facebook.com/freda.warrington. There’s one of Tricia Sullivan, Aliette de Bodard and Justina Robson that I love. Three of our best contemporary writers, folks!


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
It was so lovely to see you, far too briefly--and thank you for your kind words and the snapshot!

More importantly, huge congratulations on being a GoH next year! I shall have to haul my butt up to Bradford to see you. I can sit in the bar and chill and watch you whizz by!

Hope to see you before then, at Bristolcon maybe?
Apr. 18th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
Lovely to see you too, Tricia! I caught your 'hero' panel on Uview (I think it's called) and was really impressed with the way you held your own amidst the boys. Loved the Bionicles, too!

We hope to go to Bristolcon, no firm plans yet but we enjoyed it last year. Hope you and your hubby and children are all well - no more con lurgy I hope? xxx
Apr. 17th, 2012 11:29 am (UTC)

By all means, get on your soapbox! Works for me.

In my world, women who aspire to equality with men, in whatever sphere, lack ambition. It's absurd - it's the 21st century! And we are still 'battling?'

In my experience, brilliant women are rarely asked onto panels about anything - BBC1's Newsnight is a perfect example. And when women are included they invariably have to shout, or 'insist' on being heard rather then being accorded a basic respect for their views.

That thing I said about 'absurd' - I meant 'outrageous.' ;)

Interesting post, in every respect. Thank you.

Apr. 18th, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you Carol! I noticed you were blogging about similar issues. I didn't leave a comment at the time but I love reading your blog. See you there soon, and again, thank you for these comments. You must have read about the 'Republican war on women' in the States - there is some seriously scary stuff going on there, and that's part of the reason I believe we have to be vigilant and fight the same battles over and over again.

Don't get me started!!!
Apr. 17th, 2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
It was lovely to see you, albeit briefly.
Apr. 18th, 2012 01:27 pm (UTC)
I know! I can't believe I only saw you for about five minutes, when I was looking forward to sitting down for a proper chat! And it happened with a number of other people too. V. Frustrating.

Anyway, I hope Juliet passed on my message that I haven't forgotten about your novel! It's just the usual problem, lack of time, but I am really looking forward to reading it. Take care xxx
Apr. 21st, 2012 10:26 am (UTC)
She did indeed: please don't worry about it. There's no rush.
It's so hard to find people in that hotel: I shall hope to see you at the Cambridge con in the summer.
Apr. 17th, 2012 07:54 pm (UTC)
In the circles I was moving in at Eastercon, the reaction to Eight-Squared's announcement that they would have gender equality on all their panels was "OK! It may cause occasional logistical difficulties, but it's worth far more than the costs of solving them."

The subject of discussion was more that Satellite 4 (2014 Eastercon), who seemed to have been surprised by it, got a bit flustered.
Apr. 18th, 2012 01:41 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was in the room for the Satellite 4 furore too, though I didn't really feel in a position to comment on it above.

I'm all in favour of gender parity - and pleased to hear that the reactions to Eight Squared's policy are in favour - but I don't feel so extreme about it that I'd insist on every single panel having exactly equal numbers. Two men, three women or vice versa, I can't see a problem with that, as long as things are evenly balanced across the programme. Which seemed to be what the Sat 4 organisers were proposing, so I don't know why some people were so hot under the collar about it. They may well have had good reason for storming out, and maybe I'm wrong for not joining them... I just don't know.

My lurking feeling is that people can set back their own cause by getting TOO angry about it. That's just me. I can imagine being shot down in flames for saying that, though. What do others think?
Apr. 19th, 2012 07:20 am (UTC)
Seems ridiculous that gender parity in SF/F reviewing is even an issue, doesn't it? After all, employers have to ensure equality on many fronts, including gender, otherwise people cry "discrimintion" and rightly so.

Congrats on being invited to be GoH btw.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )