How to Avoid Gillian at Continuum 15

Just this once, you may not want to avoid me. This is because an email got buried in an avalanche of other emails and so I didn’t reply when I had to and my research doesn’t have a slot in the Deep Dives. This is probably just as well, because I’m at the stage in a big project where a 20 minute talk was going to be very difficult. I’m also at the stage in my big project where I can talk about all the things science fiction and fantasy people love, for I’ve been exploring them for well over two years now. If how we write culture (and bigotry and other things) into our speculative fiction interests you, skip to the bottom of this post where you will find a bit about my project.

If you want to know how to avoid me… read on.

Continuum 101 – the best panel for people new to conventions. Makes it tough to avoid me. Just pretend I’m not there. Hespa and Lauren are amazing and helpful and very funny and you need to hear what they have to say.
June 7, 2019, 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm  Barrayar

Fan Fund Auction – I’m not running this. I’m a background kinda person who always attends because of my link to the fanfunds. So come and ignore me. The Cotinuum auction has the best stuff and often at ridiculously cheap prices. Support fandom and get a cool t-shirt or a book that’s not quite in print yet or something so strange no-one can describe it. Tell yourself firmly “That’s not Gillian sitting behind me. I am avoiding her quite successfully.” If I end up doing anything public at all, demand an apology for not warning you.
June 8, 2019, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Andor

Maskobalo – I won’t actually be at the Maskobalo, for I still can’t dance (not ‘can’t’ as in do not know how – ‘can’t’ as in have physical restrictions, although it’s absolutely possible that if I could dance, I’d dance quite badly). I’m volunteering at the entrance, and will have crayons for drawing pictures on yourself for those who have given up avoiding me and just want to draw rabbits with wings flying down their arms.
June 8, 2019, 9 pm to 11 pm – at the entrance to Magrathea

What Makes a Hero? – great panel, great topic: all the things you want. Except I’m there. Ask Sam to sit me at one end, then turn your head away. Have a nap when I say something. You don’t want to miss that precious moment when Sam and Aiki argue about Snape.
Sam Hawke, E. J. Beaton, Aiki Flinthart and me, June 9, 2019, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm Pluto

Fantastic Tongues and How to Write Them – I love the thought of this panel. I’m there. This means anyone avoiding me will have to miss out. Sorry-not-sorry. We’re going to have so much fun. None of us come from the same backgrounds and we all have thoughts on the subject. I don’t know if I’ve told the rest of the panel that my current scholarly research includes how language represents cultures in SF. I possibly forgot. I was sidetracked into thinking about Tolkien.
Adeline Teoh, Josh Melican, Jae Waller and me June 9, 2019, 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm Andor

Fictional Librarians and Archivists  – I’m only on the best of panels. How could you want to avoid Sean McMullen, or, in fact, any of the other panellists. So don’t. Normally I say “Skip a panel I’m on.” Now I’m saying… take a micronap or consult the programme when I say something.” That way you can ignore me and leave no regrets and brilliant panellists missed.
Kathryn Hore, Sean Mcmullen, Lex and me, June 10, 2019, 10:00 am to 11:00 am Pluto

Note: I will probably be at the awards ceremony to cheer everyone on. I’m a finalist, but think that my category is between two of the other finalists so I will be in the audience, cheering. This means you can avoid me easily.

My current project

My cultural project – some notes

I’m looking at genre fiction for this, mainly novels.

Foundations – what are cultural foundations? I talked about long culture in Amiens and I’ve been looking at K-drama to see how different narratives from different places give us insights into foundations. The foundations of culture lead to writers carrying a bunch of cultural baggage and assumptions – I look at how they’re encoded to get them into fiction. This leads as night follows day to how voices (women’s, minority culture, religious, and more) are passed over, what techniques writers use, intentionally or otherwise that silence specific groups. If you want to hear much weeping, ask me about my summer reading on this.

Understanding silencing isn’t enough. When we draw upon the culture and history of others, what are we actually doing? This is where all my work on mapping culture presented in fiction comes together (or will come together, whenever I reach the point where I can write it up, which depends very much on non-existent funding) and on finding ways of identifying and analysing those silences (what doesn’t appear and how/why/what we know of it through cultural contexts). Cultural mapping includes things like: religion, myth, history, popular history. cultures of place, time and space, cultural behaviour and ethics, ethnicity, age, gender, gender roles, relationships.

Of course I’ve been looking at story space. I started exploring it for History and Fiction and I’ve worked out ways of teaching writers how to write better using it. This is not a part of the wider project (story space is but how I teach writers isn’t) but I love that I can teach writers how to frame their novels and what choices they have and… there’s a magic to it. (I get to work with writers in Sydney later in the year. Ask me for details. There’s nothing planned for Melbourne because no-one in Melbourne wanted workshops or masterclasses from me, not because I do not like Melbourne – I adore Melbourne. It is the place of my heart and the first twenty-one years of my life.)

Anyhow, story space. How does story space relate to this bigger project? It is part of the choices writers make and some of the mechanism used to make them (cultural, world build, genre – story space as bringing these together and effecting the choice). It all comes down to how a novel is made specific for an audience. This leads (of course it does) into transmission issues. I have a little list of transmission issues I wanted to look at this year, but some may have to be dropped. They include (it’s quite a long little list): colonialism, cultural hierarchies, ethics, marketing, memes…

And that’s pretty much it.

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