The guests of honour for the 2009 Eastercon, LX, have been announced: Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Tim Powers, and Dirk Maggs (with Mary and Bill Burns as fan GoHs)
This morning’s panel on “Is UK SF publishing overly masculine?” covered a lot of ground, featured some full and frank exchanges of views, and good contributions from panellists Liz Williams, Jo Fletcher, Graham Sleight, Gareth Lyn Powell, and Jaine Fenn, plus various audience members, in spite of thoroughly inept moderation by John Richards. I’m hoping my recording of the panel will come out ok, in which case a transcript will be forthcoming. One note: the selection of future masters mentioned in my previous post was apparently made purely on the basis of previous sales (and there was some debate within Gollancz about whether that was appropriate, given the resulting gender balance).
A third row posse went to see Sunshine. Opinion is somewhat divided as to whether it’s deeply stupid and quite fun, or just painfully stupid. I tend towards the latter category, although it was quite pretty; this may be because all the pre-film publicity about their physicist consultant had raised my expectations, or it may just be because it starts out as an interesting Cold Equations-style story and turns into a slasher film in space.
The hotel really is an excellent Eastercon venue. Everything is on one floor, the bar space is large and convivial, the staff are friendly and the food provision is excellent — they serve a good cooked breafast until the thoroughly civilised hour of 11am, and there are hot baps of freshly-carved pork and beef for lunch! I have a feeling it wouldn’t work if the convention was any bigger (the dealer’s room isn’t huge, for instance), but future medium-sized cons should bear it in mind as a potential venue.
John Richards’ moderation of the ‘Is SF Masculine’ panel was inept in many ways. He barely acknowledged Jaine Fenn for instance or drew her into the debate at all. His attempt to silence Farah was not inept though, it was down right offensive.
He was later overheard in the bar complaining about the response from various audience members as if he had been the wronged party.
I should perhaps say that for me personally, saying someone is incompetent is usually a stronger expression of unimpressed-ness than saying they’re offensive. But you’re right — that attempt was offensive as well as inept, and to try to claim he was the wronged party is ridiculous.
I do not think he will be moderating at Orbital, and I hope he’s not moderating at future Eastercons.
Yes, that sounds like JR’s panel moderation style, especially for panels whose theme he thought up. Was this one of his ideas, does anyone know? Or one that was someone else’s concept, for which he was asked to be the moderator? It’s really not the job of the moderator to keep the discussion on the bright straight rails of the original beautiful plan. If it were, then other contributors would not be a feature.
One of my most distressing experiences as a moderator was at a panel at Helicon 2, which I allowed myself to be bullied into accepting the position of moderator for just because I came up with the panel idea. I had a miserable time for reasons only distantly related to that fact, but there certainly was no positive benefit to be had in choosing the inventor as moderator. Why should there be?
Maureen and I worked on a convention programming committee with JR a good few years back. At our first meeting, two years before the convention, he turned up with the entire programme mapped out, even down to who would be on each individual item and when it would be staged. He had some good ideas, but as far as I was concerned just about everything needed some editing, there was no room for people who decided not to go to the convention nor any way to accommodate those who turned up unexpectedly at the last minute, and absolutely no chance to respond to anything that might happen over the next two years. It is, shall we say, not a way I would choose to organise a convention programme.