Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alt.Fiction Day Two

Howdy all,
Finally, here are my notes from Day Two of Alt.Fiction, Leicester's premier SF convention.

The day started off for me with a panel by Graham Joyce and Kate Laity about fairy tales and folklore. Like most members of the audience, I was a little hungover, but what I took away from this session was:
  • Myth and fairy tale actually have very little to do with one another; there is more elasticity in folklore, whereas myth was deemed as more "fixed".
  • Fairy tales exist in every culture, the same stories recur over and over again.
  • The image of fairies from the Victorian age (delicate wings, white dresses, etc) was a way to make fairies "safe".
  • The idea that fairies are linked to a sense of the uncanny, of uncertainty, menace, and creativity as a destructive force.
  • Graham's new book sounds awesome!
Next up was a session on Diversity in Fantasy. I was pleased that they covered diversity in most senses of the word - sex, race, sexuality, even touching on religion. If they had included disability as well, then they'd have had to call bingo. The panel discussed secondary worlds, and how it is a writer's responsibility to consider diversity when creating their own universes. If there can be dwarves and dragons, why not minority ethnic characters? They touched on whether as readers, are we still conservative when it comes to homosexuality, male homosexuality in particular, and pointed at recent criticism of gay characters as evidence. The session made me reflect on my own writing, and I was pleased to discover that most of my stories contain characters from non-white backgrounds in (hopefully) non-stereotypical roles. Perhaps though the fact that I live in Leicester in a multi-cultural society, it is very hard for me to imagine even in a secondary world a place where "white male" is all there is.
I missed the last sessions because my stomach was rumbling something chronic and so I had to get something to eat before hunger turned me into the Hulk. Therefore I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Phoenix cafe, chatting to people, eating chunky chips with mayonnaise and improving my laughter lines.
I'm already looking forward to next year's event. So thanks to Adele and all who organised it. See you in 2013!

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