Sunday, January 19, 2014

Con Report: MarsCon, Day 2

The largest MarsCon yet, and it was a busy, full day! I heard 1,200 people, but I don’t know how close that it to official numbers.


These are pretty much my raw notes from today’s panels:


My first panel was “Simply Fabulous, the best in fairy tale literature,” with Jim Hines, Carrie Ryan, Denise Golinowski, and Alethea Kontis. Each of the panelists discussed what had started each of their love of or interest in fairy tales.


An interesting audience question was a brief “panel hijack” – do, or how do superheroes relate to fairy tales. Some discussion ensued of early incarnations of the superheroes, such as Superman, who was not alien and leaped tall building, rather than flying. They discussed the theme of exaggeration in American folklore, such as the John Henry and Paul Bunyan stories.


Another brief panel hijack was “Is Dr. Who a fairy tale?” To the extent that fantasy, space opera, etc all share some very deep common themes, including some morals.


On morals:

  1. Writers can’t go in with the idea/goal to convey a moral or a lesson – guaranteed failure! Have to show, not tell!
  2. Early Disney movies and many old tales should be recognized as coming from a different time, culture, and moral expectations - Mores and morals change over time
    1970 feminist movement brought a huge change to popular fairy tale storytelling
    Jim Henson’s The Frog Prince
    Fractured Fairy Tales
    Jay Williams Petronella and a 10-book series [??] –fairy tale retellings with strong female protagonists
    Fairy tales speak to something really deep in our psyche
    Hundreds of years of storytelling  - across all cultures
    Sondheim’s Into the Woods – after the “happily ever after” falls apart – coming out in 2014 as a movie with Chris Pine
    Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling’s Fairy Tale Anthologies, starting with Snow White, Blood Red
    My 2nd panel was “The Year in Fandom” with Mike Pederson, Laura Haywood-Cory, Justin Anderson and James Rodatus.
    First comment was women being heard and valued as integral in the fan community in 2013. Being female geeks in public, and no longer qualifying “I’m a girl gamer” or “I’m a girl fan”. Browncoats still very strong community, strike a strong chord with women – well-represented at the con.
    Gravity – gorgeous in 3D Imax
    Day of the Doctor (never saw so many grown men cry in an audience)
                                      2013 was the Year of Dr Who with the 50th anniversary
    World’s End
    Hyper Drive – Nick Frost
    Into Darkness – what about the JJ Abrams reboot?
    Europa Report – fantastic! And string female lead
    Elysium – liked it, but heavy handed – very driven by today’s issues (1 vs 99 %)
    Ender’s Game – tried to combine too much from both the 1st book and sequel into the story
    After Earth - visually gorgeous, but very flawed story and acting
    Wicker Man – limited remake of the 70s original with Christopher Lee – very creepy!
    What about Disney and Lucas: Star Wars
    On TV:
    Walking Dead
    Agents of SHIELD – still trying!
    Almost Human – good stories, good actors – so Fox will probably cancel it
    Comic: Y, the Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan
    Vaughan has a new series, Saga
    Redshirts, John Scalzi
    Ready Player One (older)
    Of Dice and Men, David M. Ewalt (history of D&D)
    Red Planet Blues, Robert Sawyer
    Nos4a2, Joe Hill (Joseph Hillman King) – anything by Hill is excellent
    Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson – collection of essays
    Anithem, Neal Stephenson – older
    Deborah Harness, Shadow of Night, long-awaited sequel to Discovery of Witches
    Human Division, John Scalzi
    Wool, Hugh Howey
    The Long Earth, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
    Neptune's Brood, Charles Stross
    Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
    Abominable, Dan Simmons
    Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin
    How Dark the World Becomes, Frank Chadwick
    Treecat Wars, David Weber, Honor YA series
    Next up was the worldbuilding panel, showing several different applications for modeling planets, space, etc.
    Celestia – free – sort of a “solar system browser” –
    AstroSynthesis - $35 – universe modeling – same guy as Fractal Mapper –
    Fractal Mapper – shows changes in world topography etc – no underwater ocean topography – not challenging the user – if you tell it oceans rise 1,000 feet, it’s not going to ask you where the water came from.
    Blender – free - *very* complex – Coursera has a free class with a $50 textbook – lots of online videos and tutorials – can model spaceships, dragons, etc - Blender is not optimized for 3D printing, but SolidWorks is
    Google Earth – lots of on-Earth or like-Earth options – great visuals – has a timeline simulator – can also look up Google Moon and Google Mars
    My final panel for the day was a very fun Sherlock panel, but I’m going to wait and write up my notes on Sunday. I enjoyed some social time, including Captain Jack’s Crosstime Saloon, but when I returned to my room, my door lock was broken, and it took security quite awhile to actually get me back into my room, so this post is even later than usual!

Time writing
1 hour
January word count



  1. Writing report:
    Novel editing, Ch18 again, Ch19, preview Ch20

    Time: ~40min

  2. Con sounds fun! Thanks for the notes on the world-mapping stuff. I may look for some of that.

    1. Yes, I plan to check out the freebies. I need to work on mapping Mira, and her two moons!