Kate and the gang at Conjure have just posted the draft list of panel topics for the convention. As Kate says they’re looking for feedback, and “For anyone else interested in putting their hands up to be on panels, now is the time to tell us and, you know, join the convention.” All of which I can only second.
Running my eye down their list, it seems that CHARLES and I will be doing the dreaded ‘best of the year’ panel, cunningly disguised as What’s hot in speculative fiction? (did they think I wouldn’t notice?). I hate list panels, where panelists just sit there and run down a long list of things you need to know/read/buy. I guess we’ll have to do some preparation for this one, so we actually have something intelligent to say. You up for it, CHARLES? :)
One topic I’m interested in discussing — assuming the organisers like it, I can find the right panellists and can work out what I think on the subject — is how we oversimplify the history of science fiction and fantasy in Australia. The published histories of Australian SF that I have seen seem to assume a causal chain from World War II shortages all the way to HarperCollins launching Voyager, and from Bert Chandler all the way to Sara Douglass. The problem is, it can’t have worked that way. Very few of the people who write science fiction or fantasy in Australia seem to have read any science fiction or fantasy written by other Australians prior to starting to write, and so are unlikley to have been influenced by Australian science fiction and fantasy. And it’s also difficult to see a causal relationship between, say Lee Harding and Damien Broderick, and Sara Douglass and Trudi Canavan. And surely, the attempt by Pan to launch a fantasy line and the success of Voyager in launching an SF/F line, had nothing to do with anything being done in Australia. It was a reflection of the success of the sale of imported fiction in this country. On the other hand, while Miracle Ingredient A is a load of rubbish, surely living in Australia must have some impact on writers and what they write. See? All of this stuff could make an interesting panel.