I hit the ground not running on Friday (5th June) because I was dragging a giant suitcase down Swanston Street without the benefit of the trams. My giant suitcase was only two-thirds full because I had plans for book-buying. There are now two things I dutifully save up for each year: NaNoWriMo (where I spend a bunch of money on my region), and Continuum (where BOOKS).
If you want the long story short of my Continuum 11, you can see my panel listing here. If not, read on.
Checked into the hotel at about 2PM, where the lifts were running erratically, and managed to get my case up to my room on the third floor, which had a lovely view of the back of some other building. The first Continuum person I saw was Stephen from Satalyte in the hotel foyer while waiting for said lifts to crawl down to the ground floor. He didn’t think I remembered him. I did; one tends to remember the first person who ever offered you a book contract!
I settled into the room (unpacked and hung clothes that needed hanging; attempted to find room for bathroom stuff in bathroom; put Up&Gos in mini-fridge), and then went down to the con foyer to see what was happening. As it was 2.30 PM and the reg desk wasn’t due to open until 5PM, what was happening was Not Much. I dropped off the choc chip biscuits I’d made with the committee (I succeeded in veganising one batch, yay!) and went out to buy juice (vitamins!) and Glad Wrap (covering still-new tattoo at night!).
I accidentally also bought the Munchkin: Apocalypse expansion (Sheep Impact), but this is what happens when the hotel is across the road from Mind Games.
Stuffed around in the room for a while, mostly reading the new Munchkin cards. My roommate’s suitcase was a victim of the non-functioning lifts, so that wasn’t brought upstairs until later on. I counted my blessings that I am reasonably mobile (and that I have a good cane), and used the stairs to get down to reg desk at 5PM more or less on the dot. The reason being that I had two back to back panels coming up, and I didn’t want to be late.
5.30 PM: Geeky Tattoos (Harmony room)
Amanda and Bella and I showed off our various tattoos, talked about why they were geeky if it wasn’t readily apparent (one of mine has filk lyrics on it), answered questions about pain, cost, artist recommendations (mine were for Fox Body Art and Dynamic Tattoo), and I think we may have talked a quarter of the audience into getting their first tattoo. Mind you, we only had four people in the audience, which was not unexpected for the first timeslot of the con, but ‘a quarter of the audience’ sounds so much more impressive than ‘this one guy’.
6.30 PM: Positive Portrayals of Mental Health (Earth room)
R.J. (one of our Guests of Honour), Dorian, Cecilia, and I talked about Iron Man a whole lot. I used the word ‘demonising’ at least three times to refer to the way that the media portrays various mental health issues. We had to explain what ‘positive’ meant in the panel title, which was tricky because (afaik) none of us was actually the person who’d chosen that word: we’d settled on ‘realistic’, or at least not demonising (again). Unfortunately during pre-panel discussion we’d had a lot of trouble coming up with such examples, but we managed to do a pretty good panel to an audience of about 20.
This panel sparked the only negative feedback I had all weekend, where an attendee complained post-panel that we had appropriated the term ‘neurodiverse’ from the gender activism community. I had to hand off said complaint to the committee to respond to, as I was having trouble finding a diplomatic way to say ‘uh, no, actually “neurodiverse” is a term coined by the disability community, in particular the autistic community, which is who we were talking about’ without devolving into a physical embodiment of xkcd #386. Fortunately the Continuum committee are excellent at taking these issues on board.
7.30 PM: Opening Ceremony (Earth and Fire rooms; by their powers combined, it was Captain Planet!)
Liz welcomed us to the con and to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and I applauded when appropriate and enjoyed the fact that I could listen to someone else talk (two panels back to back will do that to you).
8PM: Fanfic 101 (Harmony room)
This panel was the one that made me decide that Harmony was cursed. We had had three panelists and four audience members for Geeky Tattoos. For Fanfic 101, we had three panelists and one audience member. I called the panel’s time of death at 8.08PM, after seeking out one of the committee members and ascertaining that, if the panelists outnumbered the audience, tradition dictated going to the bar. It was a shame as Cecil, Kathryn, and I had done a fair whack of pre-panel prep, but we came to the conclusion that everyone at the con obviously knew how to write fic and we’re expecting all con attendees to hand in 1000 words of fic in the fandom of their choice to prove that they had a valid reason for not attending our fabulous panel. (Joke. We know everyone was at the cocktail party.)
Having been on three panels in one day, even if one of them didn’t happen, meant I needed a little bit of a break. I went back up to my room (the lifts were working again) and ate one of the cheesecake brownies that Cecil had made for me and contemplated my 9.30 PM panel options. I fancied ‘Here All Along’, which was described as ‘on SF/F authors who have been hidden, blocked or dismissed because they were women or persons-of-colour or some other discriminated group’, but then I realised that that’s pretty much an average day on the internet for me and it was a panel I could have been on myself, so I went elsewhere, so that I might hear something I don’t have to, you know, live.
9.30 PM: Robots and Androids and Artificial Intelligences (Harmony room)
This panel broke the Harmony curse (which was really all just me being ridiculous; it never caught on as a thing), because it was very well attended. Cecil, Dorian, Freya, and Darren (I’m sorry, I’ve lost track of individual links; the list of people’s bios is here) all had thoughts and opinions to bring to this. One of the really interesting concepts was of bodied AIs versus non-bodied AIs (like Kryten versus Holly). I may have made far too many Red Dwarf references (I mostly raised my hand to contribute). It was a lively and highly enjoyable panel. I would have liked to hear a little more about the way that we gender robots and AIs in fiction, which was touched on but really could be a whole discussion on its own. (I mentioned Kryten again from S8 when he got classified as a woman because he didn’t have a penis. Gender binarism or what!)
10.30 PM: Depictions of Nerds on TV/Movies (Sun room)
This was up against ‘Scared Shitless: How Horror Movies Work’, which I’d wanted to see, but when the program first came out Darren was only on this panel and so I was opting to be supportive and go to this. He ended up being on five things, because con programs are strange and mutable animals. I didn’t regret it though because frankly, watching Candice and Darren more or less yell at each other for an hour was hilarious. This was a very audience-interactive panel, by which I mean the audience were also yelling at Candice and Darren. It was the point in the night where I think everyone was tired and punchy. When I say ‘yelling’ I don’t mean aggressively: we were all just very excitable and it was a volatile topic. The ultimate outcome was that I am going to put Darren in a headlock and glue his eyes to the telly if that’s what it takes to make him watch Leverage.
After that I went upstairs and collapsed into bed after showering. Note to self and anyone reading this: don’t use the Mercure ‘conditioning shampoo’, as you will end up with a pile of frizz where your hair used to be.