Saturday, January 23, 2010

In Arisian Fields

The lobster and the canary loved our two days at Arisia in Cambridge, Massachusetts last week (work and travel schedules meant we had to miss the Friday and Monday sessions, alas!). Click here for the Arisia site.

Kudos to the Arisia organizers for putting on a good event-- 451 sessions over four days, ranging from medieval swordplay to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, from Joss Whedon's work to "How to Draw a Dragon."

The con was well attended, the buzz was happy. We were delighted to see many families there--the con had lots of kid-friendly activities-- and so many excited youngsters ("look Mom, a real light-saber!"). If Arisia is any indication, the future of fandom is bright.

As we posted a few days ago, we capped our Arisia off by dining on fish with Sonya Taaffe, Greer Gilman, and Eric Van.

Random notes from our time at the con:

We were stunned-- delightfully, full-body stunned-- that the panel on fairy tales held at 7:00 p.m. on the Saturday was overflowing, standing room only. At the end of a long day...during the dinner the masqueraders were marshalling for the con's single biggest event...

Quote of the session: "Death is a drastic price to pay for not cutting your toenails" (Vikki Rose, referring to Heinrich Hoffmann's 19th-century Struwwelpeter).

Another lively session, on "Interstitial Fiction: Dancing Between Genres." Andrea Hairston on the interstitiality of theater, Shira Lipkin differentiating between "genre" and "medium."

A tertulia at the "Non-standard Fantasy" panel: Taaffe, Gilman, Debra Doyle and Sarah Smith trading reading recommendations with a very engaged audience. Among the authors discussed: Hope Mirrlees, Mervyn Peake, G.K. Chesterton, Edward Eager, Kelly Link, Nalo Hopkinson, Lord Dunsany (likened to Laphroaig, and to Altoids), John Bellairs, Edith Nesbit, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Terri Windling (especially the Elsewhere anthologies), Jorge Amado, Avram Davidson, Tim Powers, Sergei Lukyanenko, R.A. Lafferty, Clark Ashton Smith, Roger Zelazny, M. John Harrison, Terry Bisson, Robert Holdstock.

Lobster and canary were in the audience for "Faeries of Color: Tales of the Fae beyond Europe," which featured Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah Smith, Trisha Wooldridge, Esther Friesner, and Julia Starkey. Excellent discussion. Also, Starkey presented the best, most succinct schematic we've ever seen explaining the relationship between folklore, fairy tale and myth. Should be required reading at all future cons!

Genevieve Iseult Eldredge ("Gie") had the quote of the session at "The Undefended Borders of SF": "What's the terminal velocity of a falling Balrog?"

Mike Kabongo had the quote of the session at "The City as Character": "Vampires don't hang out in small towns because there is not enough food."

Great insights from Elaine Isaak, Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Katherine Crighton (who publishes as "Anna Katherine"), many others.

A good art show (loved the works by Tamara Gurevitz and by Wendy Ellertson), glorious costumes, interesting vendors.

Lobster & canary only regret that lack of time/direct schedule conflicts kept us from experiencing so much more: The Palimpsest Road Show (Cat Valente, S.J. Tucker, Kevin Wiley, Betsy Tinney); "The Changing Face of Fiction"; the Broad Universe reading; "The Next -punk"; "Queer SF & F"; "Short Fiction is not Dead"; "Take Back the Sci-Fi"; "Machines Augmenting Mankind: Our Cyborg Future"; "Fantasy and Horror in Shakespeare"; the Carl Brandon Awards; "The Art of Comics"...on and on.

Viva Arisia!

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