But man oh man, what a gracious and charming guy Miéville turned out to be. Some of the sillier people I know had predicted he would be a rather gruff speaker, citing his reputation for being very political (which I'm not) and his rather "unconventional" appearance for an author. Alas, these were the kind of people who think fantasy and science fiction are only for old professors or young men lacking in hygiene and social graces...I digress. Besides, shaved heads and a row of earrings aren't that intimidating; I live in California and have seen much stranger. And I always find it refreshing to see authors who don't look like one would expect.
It sort of ties into a point Miéville made that really stuck with me, that fantasy is not reducible to one thing. It's not one type of story. It's a sub-portion of speculative fiction, a title that should demonstrate how far-reaching the genre can and should be. What the human mind can conceive, what it can speculate on, is incredible, and if we each spend time delving into our own worlds (or multiple worlds, usually, if you're an author), all separately from each other, it's ludicrous to deduce that fantasy is a homogeneous entity. ...Bringing it back around to Miéville's appearance, and that of the large attendance in the room, it's just as silly to assume that fantasy would only appeal to one type or look of person. I really believe there's a speculative fiction story to interest everyone, because it is in humanity's nature to be inquisitive.
I should stop being so wordy, so I will continue this post with...slightly less wordy points:
-Panel started with a reading of his short story, "The Rope is the World". Very interesting thought experiment about life with space elevators, and one of the few stories I can think of where second-person present worked.
-Question and answer session where a lot of the specific questions went over my head, given that I'm rather new to his work. Additional points that I could appreciate:
- We all have more ideas than we even realize, but we often cast out our sillier ideas because of societal conditioning. We're more creative than we know. (Guilty!)
- Fandoms often ruin the things they love. "You know what's awesome? Boba Fett. You know what would be more awesome? More Boba Fett...Well, no. Now you've ruined Boba Fett."
- I admire anyone who stands by their work, even if it has alienated some readers (in reference to one of his more politically-charged novels, which I haven't read).
I had been planning to go to a panel on writing action and characters after the signing, but I received a phone call that a good friend of mine, who had spent a good portion of the previous few weeks remaking his General Grievous costume. It blew my mind last time, and so I dropped everything to go support him (and in the process, fulfilled my nerdy con dream by posing with Predator cosplayers). Action and characters tend to be things I'm better at, so I hope my writing won't suffer too terribly as a result...but perhaps I can find somebody else's con report to fill me in.
I don't expect anyone to have read all the way through this monster. Someday I'll learn to be brief while I'm rambling! But if you did, please share your con experiences, experiences with good or bad author panels, most awesome costumes you've ever seen, etc.