Monday, August 26, 2013

Bubonicon 2013

It seems like Bubonicon just happened a few weeks ago, and yet here it is again, already. Each year I meet a few more people, the art work and costumes exceed the previous year, and I have a little more fun each time.

I attended some great panels. The first promised a cage fight between fantasy and science fiction. Alas, there were no fists flying or blood shed, but there was a lively discussion on the definitions of fantasy and science fiction. One of the panelists said the difference between the two mostly lies in marketing. Roughly, if a publisher puts dragons and swords on the cover, it's fantasy; if the cover has spaceships, it's science fiction.

Joel Shepherd brought up an interesting idea, namely, that his prose is more lyrical and abstract when he writes fantasy, and it's more specific when he writes science fiction. He went on to say that fantasy is 'a made up past,' and science fiction is 'a made up future.'

Diana Gabaldon
I then attended a talk given by Diana Gabaldon on how (and how not) to write sex scenes. As you might suspect, there was quite a bit of laughter throughout the hour, not only because of the subject, but because Gabaldon is an entertaining speaker. And by the way, hearing her read Jaime's dialogue is worth more than gold. Also, hearing her read the myriad names for a man's private parts is highly entertaining.

She began with a summary of the things needed to write good sex scenes ("This is for those in a hurry.") Sex scenes are about emotion, and lust does not count as an emotion. A good sex scene is a dialogue scene with physical cues/specific body language. For Gabaldon, dialogue is the most flexible and powerful tool a writer can use. She also spoke about "the rule of three." If you use at least three of the five sense, it makes a scene feel three dimensional.

Death & La Llorona
There was also a panel on serial killers and assassins in fiction, which reminded me of an article I read a while back on a neuroscientist who discovered his family had a history of murder. One of his ancestors was Lizzy Borden. Yes, that Lizzie Borden. You know, she took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks.... Anyhow, after reading that, I wondered how many of us walked around like little ticking time bombs, socially functioning only because we had decent childhoods. How much is nature, and how much is nurture? Which is stronger and overrides the other?

As always, Bubonicon left me with a sore belly from laughing, it left me more knowledgable than before, and it left me highly satisfied. The first year I went, there were six hundred and some attendees. This year, the woman checking me in at registration said there were nearing a thousand. This little con is growing fast, and they do a great job of running it. I can hardly wait until next year!

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