Trigger Warning: This post contains a realistic depiction of brains. You can thank Seanan McGuire.
Last weekend, I attended Continuum 13 in Melbourne. It was also the 56th Australian National Science Fiction Convention. The Guests of Honour were Seanan McGuire and Likhain.
I took a bit of a different approach to the convention this year. Instead of writing notes, I live-tweeted most of the panels and events I attended. You can find those tweets on Storify. They cover:
To Be Continued… a panel on serialised fiction with Nathan Farrugia, Seanan McGuire, Gillian Polack and Tansy Rayner Roberts.
Creativity and Mental Health with Likhain, Creatrix Tiara, Lauren E. Mitchell, Mary Borsellino and Dorian Ellis.
1001 Ways to Die in Space with Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
The Art and Science of Publishing with Devin Madson, Sam Hawke, Donna Maree Hanson and Robert Law.
It’s Okay to Quit, a panel on breaking up with books, franchises and fandoms. Panelists were Seanan McGuire, Tori, Figgy O’Connell, and Lauren Mitchell.
Anime and Manga with Likhain, John Samuel, Bryce Campbell, Laura Wilkinson and Candice Schilder.
Once Upon A Time with Seanan McGuire, Amanda Pillar, Kirstyn McDermott, Jodi McAlister and Sebastian Edwards.
Whitewashing in SF with Devin Jeyathurai, Stephanie Lai, Likhain, Creatrix Tiara and Tori.
Seanan McGuire’s Guest of Honour AMA.
The Ditmar Awards.
Forgotten Mothers of SFF, a panel on women writers erased from SFF. Panelists were Cat Sparks, Seanan McGuire, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Sam Hawke and Jodi McAlister.
Fan Fiction and Fan Art with Likhain, Liz Barr, Elaine Cuyegkeng and Erica.
There are also links to tweets about other panels, such as Asian SFF, Secondary Worlds in Weird Fiction, the Bioware Panel and Likhain’s Guest of Honour speech. And I included a few tweets about the Tabletop Renaissance panel I sat on, but plan to post on that in more detail next week.
Despite this fairly thorough coverage of the con, there were a few things I didn’t mention, or touched on only briefly. I will expand on those here.
I arrived early in Melbourne, which afforded me a chance to catch up with a few people before the start of the convention. On Friday morning, Kat Clay took me to the Hopetoun Tea Rooms. The shop windows are a work of art, filled with gorgeous cakes and tarts that are guaranteed to get you drooling. They also do a lovely range of loose-leaf tea. We shared a pot of Earl Grey which had been given a unique twist by the addition of Gumbi Gumbi–a kind of Pittosporum known as Native Apricot. The chocolate pecan tart was also excellent.
In the afternoon, I got the chance to catch up with Ju from The Conversationalist. Being a Melbourne native, she was able to give me a great tour, including the locations of good places to eat and the Kit Kat store–both vital bits of knowledge. She also took me past McIver’s and Lupicia, both wonderful loose-leaf tea stores.
The convention started in earnest at 5PM on Friday. But that doesn’t mean there was an end to the cake. Galactic Suburbia held a fundraising drive for the Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship.
And there was cake for the launch of Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones.
In keeping with the natures of the protagonists, Seanan had two different kinds of cake from Cake and Madness. One was a traditional cupcake with glittery frosting. And the other… well, the other was a bit disturbing.
Watching it be eaten was a little like finding myself in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.
Moving away from the food theme, I also managed to get in a bit of roleplaying at the convention. Alex Hardison was gracious enough to run a one-shot of Feng Shui for me and a few friends. The game is modelled after Hong Kong action movies, rewarding flamboyant, physics-defying manoeuvres. The system was easy to grasp, making it perfect for a one-shot. Alex had also put together a cleverly modular session based around a train heist. Everyone had a wonderful time.
I made a few new friends this year. I got to meet DUFF delegate Paul Weimer, whose voice remained very familiar after the last few months of listening to the Skiffy and Fanty podcast. It was wonderful to finally meet face-to-face. I also got to meet Kate Laidley, who I’d previously met virtually on Instagram. It was her first convention, so hopefully we didn’t scare her away!
And, of course, no convention is complete without a book haul. My own was fairly modest this year. The first thing I picked up from the dealers’ room wasn’t a book at all.
As soon as I saw those teapot earrings, I knew I needed them.
I came back on Monday to pick up a few bits and pieces. It was lucky I did, because by the time the launch of Down Among the Sticks and Bones came around, there were very few copies left.
The Princess Diarist is also a bit of a cheat because I didn’t actually buy it. It’s on loan from Mayakitten. We’re both making our way through the Hugo shortlists and catch up on a regular basis to discuss them over hot chocolate.
So, that was Continuum 13! It was my first Continuum and I had a fantastic time. Kudos to the programmers, who did a brilliant job with piecing together the panels. And a big thank-you to the committee and volunteers, who were all very friendly and kept everything running smoothly. I’ll definitely be going back when I can.