Ad Astra 2015: Sunday’s Report From Our Secret Correspondent

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Well, technically the last day, I suppose.  Sundays are always a bit of a blur at a con though, when everyone is a happy zombie of their former selves. The line for coffee was indeed long that day.


The Guest of Honour brunch absorbed a bunch of participants from the get-go, filling up people with awesome conversation and bacon.  Programming also continued at a good clip, and it was difficult to select from all the tracks again today.

I took in a reading from Geoff Gander, who regaled us with tales of cannibals, apocalypses and Mars.  Geoff has had several stories published and some retaken by “best of” anthologies, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

The panel on Fairy Tales: Rewriting Grimm, Anderson and Aesop was really well attended. Panelists Charles De Lint, Anne Bishop, Alisse Lee Goldenberg and Ellie Di Julio had a lively discussion on rewriting, updating and re-modeling fairy tales. Disney’s Frozen came up a few times, but no one broke out in a rendition of Let it Go, much to my disappointment.  (I’m trying to keep this report real by showcasing the disappointments, too).

For me, the rest of the con was all about running around and doing business meetings. Since I didn’t partake of further programming, I asked my two favourite Dereks to share some opinions.  Because two Dereks cannot make a wrong.  They both shared gained insights from some of their favourite panels.

Derek Künsken, award-winning and widely published science-fiction author, noted how much he enjoyed being on the When Bad Science Happens to Good Stories: Putting the Science Into Science Fiction panel. The panel came to the conclusion that the audience would choose the level of the scientific accuracy they deemed necessary in stories for their enjoyment, and they would follow the authors they loved.

In Superheroes: From the Printed Page to the Silver Screenpanel, the panellists discussed the response (or non-response, as the case may be) of the comics and movie industries to audience demands for more accurate representation of diversity and gender. The comic industry, notably Marvel and indie, were noted as doing better than movies in general.  (I imagine a smack down in this panel, but that’s probably not correct. Again, I mark my disappointments where they are.)

My second Derek, Derek Newman-Stille, scholar, writer, and keeper of Speculating Canada, selected Intersections Between SF and Contemporary Issues as one of the day’s favourite panels.  He’ll post more about these on his site, but he loved that this panel discussed how speculative fiction demonstrated that in normalcy lies the fiction, and that challenging current assumptions of who “must stay” in power can be effectively done through SF.

His second pick, The Bedlam, the Hag and the Hedgewitch: Witches in Popular Culture offered a powerful realization of its own – that characters who empower themselves through magic can inspire others to empower themselves in this world.  The true magic of magic, as it turns out, is not that it makes us believe in it, but that it makes us believe in ourselves.

(Each Derek report was cut down dramatically in the writing of this post, and I take responsibility for any inaccuracies. Dereks get enthusiastic on subject matters and can be wordy.)**

This was definitely my favourite Ad Astra, and it’s always been on of my favourite conventions. Other attendees agreed that it was the perfect mix of business, pleasure and learning, all while getting to geek out with some “old” and new friends.  I can’t wait until next year, and I hope you’ll check it out, too!

** The author of this post doesn’t mean to discriminate against Dereks, and she understands that some Dereks may, in fact, be non-wordy and non-enthustiatic. She’s just never met one herself.


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