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Beware the Creeper!

Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter

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Loncon 3 - Fourth Day and Hugos

And so we enter the downhill run - energywise, rather than qualitywise.

The first panel I got to on Sunday was:

The Spies We (Still) Love

with Nicholas Whyte, Elizabeth Bear, Gillian Redfearn, Stefanie Zurek,Tim Phipps

This turned out to be what I call a list panel. There's no real discussion, just the panelists, and then the audience, listing every book, film, tv show that fits the criteria of the panel with no real synthesis of themes as such (though that did occur.) One panelist made the assertion that with shows like 24, recent spy-related media had no room for humour, it all had to be grimly serious. As I was wearing my Archer t-shirt, I begged to differ. Yes, we get the spy shows that deal with our current fears or, in the case of 24 and Spooks, validate pervasive surveillance and torture on behalf of the government, but some shows react against these assumptions. The main one at the moment appears to be "Person of Interest", which I'll have to catch up with.

Making Old Tropes New: Vampires

with Alys Sterling, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Mur Lafferty, Marianna Leikomaa,Kim Newman

Another list panel, but a bit more synthesis in this one. Again vampires mold themselves to fit our anxieties, but there was little discussion of the rise of the sympathetic vampire (though I think the problem with discussing that is that you have to start with the Twilight phenomenon and that makes everyone feel dirty.) I find the rise of sympathy for our (fictional) predators an interesting phenomena and possibly sympathetic of existential Stockholm Syndrome.

The Gendered AI

with Charlie Jane Anders, Abigail Nussbaum, Nic Clarke, Michael Morelli,Jed Hartman

This panel irritated me, though there was more synthesis then listing going on. I agree completely with the consensus of the panel that AIs are intrisically non-gendered and the Banksian Minds (that take umbrage against being assigned a gender) was the optimised character beat that other writers should use (if relevant.)

What irritated me was the panel's response to my question "What gender is R2D2?"

The consensus was R2D2 was a gay male, based solely on the perceived dynamic between R2D2 & C3P0 and their basis on two male characters from Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress." My contention is an 8 year old wouldn't be aware of these precendents and might actually perceive R2D2 as non-gendered (and that non-gendered characters are a possibility.) I found it vaguely hypocritical of the panel to argue that gender comes from within the programming of the AI, to then turn around and assign gender externally based on their own preconceptions. In other words, gendering is bad, unless we do it.

The Other Man

I was all panelled out, so it was time to just sit in a dark room and watch stuff for a while. My friend A (who was at the con for just Sunday with his partner) joined me to watch the remaining fragments of a telemovie from 1964 with Michael Caine - set in an England that capitulated to Germany after Churchill died in the opening years of WW2.

What little we could see of it was impressive. Caine's character initially accepts the Nazis and is at odds with his compatriots, an interesting critique of the military character. Unfortunately it was over just as Caine's character got a glimpse of the labour camps in Dover. Basically, the start was there and we were assured that the ending was intact, but there nothing but black after a certain point - which may have been a problem with the digital transfer as it was obvious they didn't have time to check it fully. Hopefully more of it will be recovered (it was originally two and a half hours long.)

After that was one of the highlights of the con for me:

Nineteen Eighty-Four

This was a restoration of the 1954 BBC live production, written by Nigel Kneale and starring Peter Cushing. I've wanted to see this for decades and it did not disappoint - in fact it was far more assured a piece of television than I would have expected for the time. It really didn't appear to have dated at all. Cushing's performance is heart-breaking and the show was just as (if not more) relevant now as it was then.

An absolute masterpiece, but a very difficult watch. I was left shaken by it.

Then, after dinner, it was time for

The Hugos

We were surprised at how short the ceremony was - it only lasted two hours, and fair rocketed along, despite some minor technical mishaps (that were to be expected.) I had not read anywhere near enough of the nominations but I was very happy about John Chu winning Best Short Story and Ann Leckie winning Best Novel and the sexist/racist/troll block winning nothing at all.

The next day we found out that The Guardian had actually requested to cover the ceremony, which is a great sign of the acceptance of SF literature by the mainstream.

Then we stumbled home to prepare for the last day of Loncon.