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, such as Baen editor Jim Minz and event toastmaster Mark Van Name, who were both on Sunday’s Ebooks panel with me.

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 had the ebooks panel, then Steampunk to Cyberpunk: A History, with Illogicon webcomic guest of honor Garth Graham.

The convention ended for me with 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 with an audience of three. At 5pm on a Sunday, most folks had gone home, and those who hadn’t were over in the time travel panel with writing guest of honor Tim Powers.

What amazed me the most about this convention was the apparent shift in attitudes toward ebooks. This is the sort of thing I’ve heard for months: 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?

In what seemed, to me, to be a 180 turn around, at Illogicon I heard (in panels and elsewhere): 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 a 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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2 Responses to Writers and the winds of change at Illogicon 2

  1. Agreed on all points. As a matter of fact, I gave an impromptu lecture on understanding your own privilege in the middle of the very well attended Writing Strong Women panel. I started talking about it and quickly found myself going on and on.

  2. J.L. Hilton says:

    There can’t be enough discussions like this. I was in a panel called “Girl Cooties in SF” during CoyoteCon last year, where there were several panels devoted to these topics.

    Also, have you seen Balogun Ojetade’s blog? He writes a lot about SF/F, steampunk and racism (plus, I love his Chronicles of Harriet Tubman series). http://chroniclesofharriet.com/