So my fellow VPXer at this year's World Fantasy Convention was John Chu, fresh from selling short fiction to Asimov's and to Tor.com, and thus in a state of not-quite-believing and recalibrating status as a neopro. (There's more than one kind of 'sense of wonder', and the OMG I'm REAL! version is fun if exhausting.)
I went to more panels than last year, and a mixed bag they were.
I was disappointed in the Humour in Horror and Fantasy panel, because the description promised some historical overview, and it turned into 'who's writing funny books right now' and 'how I shoved humour into my own books'. Because apparently none of the panelists had ever read any Victorian or Edwardian fantasy, or even much from before the 1990s. Eh. A similar problem turned up with Bibliofantasies (discussing the trope of arcane and dangerous books and libraries) so I wandered over to Have the Antiquarians Served Their Purpose? where the panelists were better acquainted with the topic.
Sandra Kasturi's interview of Tanya Huff was huge fun and very funny. I'd meant to tear myself away and catch a couple of Hadley Rille author readings, but couldn't manage it. Forgive me, I am weak!
Then dinner with my agent, as mentioned before, and back to the hotel for the Autograph Reception. I collected my tent-card (all attendees get a tent-card, whether they plan to use it or not) so that I can pretend to be real, and trotted around to collect autographed books, mostly for Christmas presents.
It's also a good chance to discover new-to-me authors, by asking people what their books are about. The highlights this time were chatting with Hiromi Goto about Darkest Light (she tried and tried to give Gee a happier ending, but the way the story ended was really the only way it could have ended.) and getting to try the Death Machine. My death fortune is 'misfortune', about as non-specific as could be. The person before me got a more specific death.
I almost didn't go to the Fritz Leiber panel because Danel Olson was on it, and he brings me out in a rash, but thankfully he wasn't the moderator, so it went much more quickly. The panel on Designing and Building a Book Collection was terrific, though someone behind me was disappointed that it wasn't much more than anecdotes about collecting. Ed Greenwood and John Clute were funny enough that I didn't care.
Then, instead of going to the bar to argue with John Clute about the relevance of social-networking sites to book collectors, I trotted over to The Road to Urban Fantasy, where Farah Mendlesohn had a completely different definition of 'urban' from the other panelists, dating its origins to the first British children's fantasies to use cities for their settings (and entry to other worlds) rather than the countryside, for instance Elidor, by Alan Garner (as opposed to his The Weirdstone of Brisingamen). The other panelists hadn't considered children's books at all, and she wondered if this was a US/UK split.
The other notable panel that day was Diversity and Difference in YA Fantasy, even though the description was rather disjointed and only mentioned female protagonists (perhaps so as not to tread on The Changing Face of YA Fantasy the next morning). Nonetheless, there was a good discussion of diversity in race and ability, and I got to recommend the books of Zoe Marriott, fellow Furtive Scribbler who should be better known in North America.
I felt my hackles rise some when an audience member asked whether the race and/or disability of characters should be mentioned if it wasn't going to be 'dealt with' within the story. The panelists were quite polite in responding that there were still plenty of 'issue novels' being written that were all about the difficulties of being a non-default person in a default white-ablebodied-straight-male setting (sorry, my paraphrasing got annoyed there) but that there was merit in writing stories where non-default characters were just characters, not problems to be 'dealt with'.
Sunday morning I was torn between Maps in Fantasy Literature and The Changing Face of YA Fantasy, ended up in the latter and stayed in the same room for Part Seen, Part Imagined, which was about fantasy art, particularly book covers. I was impressed that all the artist panelists said they read the book whenever possible and contacted the author whenever possible (sometimes the art director didn't allow contact, hmmm).
Got the usual bag o' books, and added more from the Dealers Room, haunted the swap table, wandered through the Tor party and the Chizine party, sat on the floor in Hospitality and talked about e-publishing with Kathryn Sullivan and about racist subtexts with John Chu, made it to a few readings ( checking my program book suggests Julie Czerneda, Andy Duncan, Max Gladstone, Barb Galler-Smith)