Writers and the winds of change at Illogicon 2

IllogiCon is a small, local science fiction convention attended by fans, readers, authors, editors and publishers in my area.

I had the chance to hang out with friends new and old — Joe from the Research Triangle Science Fiction Society, Kate and Margaret from the Durham Writers Meetup, author and video game writer Richard Dansky and his wife Belinda, Wired columnist and author Natania Barron, writer and game developer Warren Schultz, Ribbons and Rivets, the Chainmail Chick, and author M. David Blake.

I’d attended the inaugural Illogicon as a vendor in 2012, selling my handmade jewelry and a couple of art books featuring my work, and promoting the release of Stellarnet Rebel. This year, I went as a guest, panelist and moderator, rather than a seller. I didn’t have much to sell, since I’d spent the year writing rather than restocking my jewelry inventory.

Saturday, I moderated the panel Comedy in Sci-fi/Fantasy with John Hartness, author of the Black Knight Chronicles and Bubba the Monster Hunter series, and Jeremy Whitley, writer for the comics Princeless and The Order of Dagonet. Sunday I was on the Steampunk to Cyberpunk: A History panel, with Illogicon webcomic guest of honor Garth Graham.

The convention ended for me after the How long will our books still be on paper? panel, where Davey Beauchamp, Tony Daniel, James Maxey and I discussed the future of paperbacks, hard covers and ebooks.

What amazed me the most about this convention was the apparent shift in attitudes toward ebooks. For months I’ve heard: Why aren’t your books on paper? Are you with one of those vanity presses? I hate reading ebooks. You’re not a real author unless your book is on a shelf at B&N. Don’t you have a real copy I could buy right now?

Suddenly, at Illogicon, I heard: Ebooks are the future. Paperbacks and big bookstores are going away in a few years. You’re on Audible? And Kindle? And Nook, Diesel, Sony, Google and Apple bookstore? Really? My publisher doesn’t do that. I can buy your book DRM-free? Can I buy your book on my new tablet? I’m buying your book right now with my smartphone…

There also seemed to be a lot of talk about misogyny, racism and homophobia in SF/F. Some of the discussion occurred in panels like Science Fiction and Ethics, Women and Geek Culture and Writing Strong Women, but it also happened in the hallways and side rooms of the convention.

I found this all very encouraging.

~ J.L. Hilton

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