Create Change — Gold Coast Future Conference: #2970Degrees Boiling Point

This weekend artists, scientists, business and cultural leaders, on the Gold Coast, have been talking about how to create a better future. And the coolest part is that no-one is denying climate change is happening, we’re talking about how to make positive change – humanitarian and sustainable change. We have both fear and hope for the future.

Alex Kelly says hope is an active choice. Kelly is an activist and film impact creator, and when she was asked why our government and media are denying climate change, her answer was that they are afraid. That they are shouting the story they want to believe louder, because facing the alternative is too difficult.

She said that we need to create other narratives — positive narratives about climate and culture. I agree with this. It starts with story. But I also think we need a How To guide, lisiting the small changes we make within ourselves to create a liveable world.

It’s been wonderful to hear Indigenous people talk about how they have lived in peace with the land, both supporting it and supported by it, and how all their modes of thought are combined, they don’t separate story from science. In the Welcome to Country they asked that we consider the land that we’re on, in our discussions.

This wisdom seems to hold the answers. We need to bring all our technologies and experts together, a trans-disciplinary approach, put our heads together, to work out how to live with respect for the biosphere that supports us.

Many people at the conference seem to feel we still have a choice, we still have the chance to save our world from environmental catastrophe. But we need to start today.

I believe artists, writers and other arts professionals have the power of imagination and surprise, and we can create inspiring projects and be leaders towards positive change, as well as innovating new ways of doing things which are healthier for our communities.

Michael Aird talked about the importance of leadership. That strong leadership leads to prosperous, thriving communities, however traitorous leadership destroys communities for generations. Leadership is what we need now, and with an absence of it in our government, we need to find it within ourselves.

What are the steps? I would say we need to shout ‘yes’ to renewable energy and ‘no’ to fossil fuels. We need to show compassion to those in need. We need to try to close the gaps between those who have privilege and excess wealth, and those who don’t have a safe home to go to at night. The ability to consciously affect our world is what makes us human. Let’s be better humans!

In all our projects we need to measure what the net effect is. Are we making a better world? Or are we helping it die?

I’ll be thinking about these questions as I execute WordXchange, my writing/reading project, in Southport. It might mean sourcing second hand furniture rather than new furniture, catching the tram rather than driving, avoiding printing paper materials, encouraging those who are silenced to share their stories, helping those who find writing difficult to tell their stories, too.

We need to ask ourselves, how can we make positive change? And we need to act.

Alex Kelly (right) in conversation.

Selfie with Stelarc!

This is a side project to Stelarc’s performance of growing an ear in his arm using an ear scaffolding structure implanted through surgery. The ear has a recorder and transmitter implanted and will eventually transmit for us to eavesdrop on his conversations!

    


Infini — Space Horror Film

I saw Infini last night, a new Australian space horror film, at the Gold Coast Film Festival. There was red carpet with actors posing for photos… Pretty exciting!

  

I really enjoyed this film. The main character, Whit Carmichael, ends up on an old space outpost where bad shit has gone down in the past and is going to again.

The film stands comfortably in the space horror and bio-contagion horror subgenres, reminding me of Event Horizon, Helix, Alien, but with significant themes of family and redemption.

Director, Shane Abbess, said the film was his rebellion against what he’d worked on in Hollywood. His wife and co producer Sidonie Abbene wanted the film to have an international feel, which I think it achieves.

It also voices Aussie wisdom with repeated statements of, “Don’t touch anything,” which seemed like a blatant tongue poke at Prometheus.

Like most films, it needed more women in it. Let’s get those cast ratios up to 50%! 

I’ve heard a rumour that it opens at cinemas in May, but I can’t find a source to back that up. I hope it does.


Back Home and Swancon Highlights

I finally got a full night of sleep, partly due to being home in my dark quiet room, and in my home time-zone, and away from all the convention excitement. I haven’t taken off my Swancon T-shirt yet! It’s so comfy and I still feel a bit wrapped in Swancon this way. But it will probably need a wash soon. :-)

  

Compared to being at home doing the daily grind of school lunches and school runs, four days of conversation, learning and fun (and moderate consumption of alcohol) have left me feeling a lot sharper and excited about life.

Though I did have conbrain yesterday, but I blame Virgin for continually giving out wine. They also provided mostly/totally vegan food options without being asked. I’m guessing they do this to keep costs down and also to please vegetarians and vegans, but it is so wonderful to find food you are happy to eat when you’re very high up in the air! I stayed mostly vegan over the con. Took along my little blender and my seed, nut and rice powders, which made it easier.

Coolangatta Welcome Arachnid — Welcome to the Web Hotel! Bugs stay for free! In silky sleeping bags. Breakfast included.

On the plane I planned a story, watched the end of Interstellar :,) and the beginning of Young Ones (desert farming future with robots). It looked good. I loved Interstellar. 

If I had to pick highlights of the con, they would be interviewing Kylie Chan, meeting new friends and immersing in WA fan culture, attending John Scalzi’s Kaffeeklatsche, getting to know people better, and winning an award.

The interview with Kylie was my first in front of an audience and I was really nervous before it, but not at all once we got started. So grateful to Swancon and Kylie for giving me that opportunity! Btw, if you are into Chinese mythology or urban fantasy with cool fighting women, romance and a big cast of rich characters, check out her novels. She recommends starting at the first, White Tiger. She’s working on the ninth book of the series now, so it’s a story you can really sink your teeth into.  

With Kylie Chan

And whoa, the next Natcon is ours, Queensland! The very first Contact! Geeze, it’s a bit early to be getting excited about it but I want to start counting down the days, lol.


Farewell Swancon

Up well before dawn again and just as well. My stuff plus books didn’t want to fit in my suitcase! I wonder if when I get home my body will finally switch to Western Australia time? How convenient…

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Little friends (made in the family stream) say bye-bye!

It’s *so* sad to leave a con and head back out to normal life. I’m looking forward to seeing my family, of course, but I miss the warm buzz of fun and friendship.

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Wearing the awesome Swancon T-shirt someone threw at me. Perfect fit!

The closing ceremony consisted of gaming awards, short speeches by the guests of honour, Anthony Peacey, Kylie Chan and I’m not sure if John Scalzi got to say anything or was just tortured with Tim Tams.

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Anthony Peacey convened the first Swancon

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Kylie Chan expressed her enjoyment of the con

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PRK and John Scalzi trying hide in his gift bag to avoid the Tim Tam slam.

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Sarah Lee Parker was my main contact for the con and she was wonderful.

Belinda Morris and I watched the closing ceremony together. Belinda is a wonderful illustrator. Check out her work on Etsy.

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Selfie with Belinda.

In the last hours of the con I watched a bit of Ludicrous Cogs, by Raez. It comes in a normal board game size too!

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Ludicrous Cogz by Raez. Looks fun!

Contact Convenor Aimee Lindorf and I attended the Natcon meeting for a progress report on Contact 2016, the next Natcon. She reported that our website was up and memberships are on sale, and that Jill Pantozzi from The Mary Sue and Keri Arthur are two  of our guests.

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Aimee at work.

Aimee and I enjoyed discussions about Natcons with past committee members and we are enormously excited to be doing Contact in Brisbane next year!

Thanks for everything Swancon. It was wonderful to hang out with your community for four days. Can’t wait to do it again!

Ooh, and lastly. Thank you for all the congratulations I’ve received over the past two days. I feel very loved. :D





Ditmar Best New Talent Happy

Would you believe I’m inebriated with…happiness? I’m so incredibly grateful to have been given the Ditmar Award for Best New Talent in Australian speculative fiction. That gratitude is especially for my friends, editors and publishers of my stories, and readers and reviewers who’ve tried my work.

My thanks extend to everyone who’s shared my writing journey and provided encouragement and critique, and offered the opportunities new writers need.

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Aimee Lindorf’s lovely photo.

Australian speculative fiction is made up of such a generous, hardworking, welcoming, talented bunch of people. They inspire me!

I was a bit down on my writing when I came to the con. I’ve had plenty of story rejections this year, and zero acceptances. This award is a warm hug from the community. :)

It was wonderful to see Donna Maree Hanson receive the A. Bertram Chandler Award. I love Donna’s writing. Her kindness and community spirit inspired me from the moment she sent me a zombie jelly mould, possibly in 2011. She included the little book…an overview of members of the community, which was so helpful to me at the time, just starting to get to know people. (Sorry, I can’t recall the exact title.)

Go Donna!

Congratulations to all the award winners, and nominees. Massive thanks to Samara and everyone who organised the awards.

Sunday at Swancon

I volunteered in the family room for a little bit and had fun doing craft and chatting to the kids and Kitty. The family stream here is wonderful.

I hung out with the little people in the family stream and made some stuff.

I attended John Scalzi’s kaffeeklatsch. It was lovely to hear him talk about writing, Australian biscuits and seeing the bright side of things that happen in life.

Transhumanism panel

This was the transhumanism panel with Dave Cake, Doug Burbidge, Keith Stevenson, Robert Hood and Zara Baxter. I think transhumanism is about what humans are becoming and how we get there. One message coming through was that change is a constant, whether by evolution or directed.

Sideview of the Science in Science Fiction panel

I was on a panel about science in science fiction. We talked about work that got it right and wrong, and what we’re willing to forgive. I’ll forgive nonsense if it looks cool. For example, all the needles in the neck in Insurgent and the black hole in Interstellar. Not everyone is as forgiving as me!

John Scalzi and Amanda Bridgeman

Had a drink with Ben and Leonie…

Cocktails with Ben Payne and Leonie Rogers.

Last day of the con today…


Saturday at Swancon

Wow, thanks for the pretty sunrise, Perth! I hate to sound ungrateful, but I’d love to get more than three hours of sleep one night soon. Not sure what is with the insomnia. *shrug*

Maybe it’s because I had so much fun yesterday and my head is still buzzing with wonderful conversations about stories, anthologies, books, ghosts, jumping out of planes, organising conventions…

I attended John Scalzi’s guest of honour speech. His wife sounds wonderful.

It was great listening to Robin Pen, Alisa Krasnostein and Tehani Wessely talk about publishing. Australian small press rocks!

Aimee and I started to promote Natcon next year in Brisbane! Our cheapest rates are available this weekend!

I really enjoyed Sophie Ambrose’s short session on Hanako games and I will try out their games!

See, I looked them up straight away!

I loved the short story panel with Anthony Panegyres, Juliet Marillier, Stephanie Gunn, Stephen Dedman and Louisa Loder. What a fountain of knowledge! They seemed to say there is no formula to writing a great short story: learn the rules of writing and break them. They said a great short story creates resonance, has a strong beginning and end, has no wasted words but can meander.

I joined the discussion on a panel about crit groups with Carol Ryles, Anthony Panegyres and Keith Stevenson. It was interesting to hear our different approaches and experiences of crit groups, and to hear the audience share their thoughts and questions, too. My thoughts on crit groups are that they are wonderful for learning and support, that the type of critique depends on the where the writer and story are at in their journeys, and that critique groups are a great way to learn but aren’t a complete learning solution. I love my two current crit groups, the Magic Puppies and Gold Coast Novel Writers!

And… ta da!

I picked up my pin for being a Ditmar nominee. Thank you for this, Swancon. I feel super proud to have one of these. :-)


At Swancon 2015

Morning Lovelies!

I’m having a great time at Swancon. Sleep isn’t really working that well, but who needs sleep when you can blog?

The positive reaction about Natcon 2016 being in Brisbane is great! We’ve got a shiny new website and are running a special con promo this weekend, so check out our website and rates here.

The highlights for me so far have been catching up with friends, chatting with people about what we’re doing and what we love, and about how cons work. I also enjoyed Kylie Chan’s guest of honour speech, then interviewing her in front of real live people for a Writer’s Interview session which we recorded for Galactic Chat. I was SO nervous before we started (so nervous)!

I don’t think I’d ever interviewed someone in front of an audience. Usually I do Skype interviews for podcasts. But it was fun. Kylie is great to talk to.

Kylie spoke about how lucky we were to have imagination and ideas, about how our genre is aware of the need for diverse representation.

After our interview. Not sure why I look so devious!

Another session I loved was the Young Adult Dystopia’s panel with Cat Sparks, Tsana Dolichva, Leonie Rogers and Sue Ackerman. This weekend multiple sources are debunking myths that boys won’t read stories about girls, and that people only want characters similar to themselves.

Grant Watson and Sonia Marcon talk about how horror movies work. Played some great frighty clips.

Late last night, I really enjoyed Grant Watson and Sonia Marcon’s chat about different types of horror films! Creating a great horror story or film is a fine art (if you ask me:) and I would love to create work with that much tension, and horrify my readers a bit occasionally.

Of the snippets they showed and discussed, I loved the look of The Ruins, a film about body-invading vines. There is something subtly creepy about plants. I love them, but I don’t trust them.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Clover Field and Who Can Kill a Child look interesting too! It got me thinking about what I like in horror. I like to be on the edge of my seat, the suspense and the adrenaline of being frightened. I like creative horror that is some distance from likely reality so I can empathise with the character, and just the right level of gore. Too much chop-chop, gore and blood kind of blunts my senses, and becomes a bit funny and boring.

Some horror films I love include Ring (2002), Cabin in the Woods, Alien and — it doesn’t quite feel like a horror film — but Monsters (2010).

I don’t like horror scenes that feel like they could actually happen to me. I’ve heard the Babadook is great, and the clip they played looked very well done, but I get my own personal horror scene of a kid screaming in my back seat most afternoons, and I just don’t think it would be fun for me right now. Maybe in a few years.

What’s on today? Lots of sessions I want to see, including John Scalzi’s guest of honour speech. I’m on a panel titled Crits and Grits, When are Crit Groups a Good Idea? I’m a bit of a crit group addict!


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