First up was the honored guest reading (which is always on Sunday morning and always a must-see for me). Ted Chiang (whose panels I somehow managed to completely miss) gave an excellent and thought-provoking talk about life-logging and its potential effects on memory, both good and bad, a sort of non-fictional response to his story The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling. Donna Haraway read from her work in progress (and covered very much the same ground as the presentation she gave yesterday; it was well down, but I found myself wishing that she had done something different). And Jo Walton read a sonnet and the opening section of her book The Just City, which may have moved somewhat further up my to-read list. Walton is a particularly gifted reader -- she infuses her words with life and humor.
After lunch came the Draconic Appreciation Society panel, for which I had high hopes, and those hopes were realized. Marie Brennan was on it -- always a plus in a panel, for me, but especially since I really love the dragon series she's currently writing (the Isabela Trent books). Jo Walton was on the panel as well, and it was just generally a good mix of entertaining panel and enthusiastic audience. Discussion started with the history of dragon myths in Europe, and Jo Walton's theory that Northern dragons are based on stories about snake creatures -- when there were no snakes in Scandinavia. From there, they talked about dragons in different cultures (and the curious fact that many different types of creatures are all recognizable as dragons), books that disappoint their readers by having dragons in the title but not in the story, whether dragons always mean fantasy (like space ships always mean science fiction) and what that means for books like Pern, and whether the discovery that dinosaurs had feathers is going to start influencing dragon design in the future. I was actually the first person to bring up the Temeraire series, in the context of dragons as partners to humans rather than either pets (ala Pern) or threats (like Smaug or Dragon Age), but then someone in the audience linked that to the different dragon myths in cultures around the world.
Afterwards, I had my second opportunity of the weekend to geek out over Dragon Age with Marie Brennan, which is one of the things that has most boggled my mind about going to cons: the idea of chatting with authors who I admire about totally unrelated works that we're both fans of. I'm glad to be getting less shy about that sort of thing, and I hope I'm able to not become completely star-struck when the time comes at WisCon.
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