EasterCon 2014: Satellite 4

Though this year’s EasterCon was my second (last year was my first), I still feel a bit of a newbie. I had therefore decide that for this year’s con, Satellite 4, I would volunteer. My friend DC pretty much “claimed” me for Ops, so I had shifts there every day of the convention.

Photo © 2014

My badge.
Photo © 2014

Though I had arrived on Thursday, the first day of the convention was Friday 18 April 2014. I didn’t actually attend any program items this day, but had two shifts in Ops, and had a blast doing that. However, I managed to attend a few on Saturday, among them one called “Astronomy and poetry”, which was pretty much reading of poetry with some sort of astronomy link. I really enjoyed it. It was lead by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who’s a British scientist and Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford.

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Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Photo © 2014

Another fun program item on Saturday was “Is it steampunk if it’s real?” Here we could listen to Feorag NicBhride tell us about some odd transportations that was developed in the 19th and early 20th century. One thing is for sure: There was no lack of imagination at the time! If the transportation actually worked? Well…

Two other program items I attended Saturday were “African Writes” and “Read for your life!”, and I enjoyed both. Especially the latter ones, where you could listen to known and unknown readers read from their works. If there’s a similar item next year, I would love to listen to it! It’s not every day you get to hear an author read something from their brand new one-week-old idea!

Come Sunday, I managed to oversleep terribly, that meant I missed breakfast, as well as the first program item I had planned to attend. Fortunately, I did not miss the panel “Red planets”, which was on politics in science fiction and fantasy. It’s no secret politics interest me, so this was an interesting discussion. I would probably have gone to it even if my friend Pogodragon hadn’t been on the panel.

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The Red planet panel.
Photo © 2014

After the politics, I hurried over to the next item I wanted to listen to, this one called “Humans are weird”. And this item made it clear we really are a weird mammal. Our babies are helpless, we have good eyesight and amazing sense of taste (humans have 10000 taste buds, while a hen has only 24!), and we have a rubbish sense of smell.

When the weird humans were done with for the day, I headed for my shift in Ops, before going to a sort of celebration of Terry Pratchett. This was a sweet and fun program item, where stories about the wonderful Sir Terry Pratchett were told. Stories about meetings and other fun facts. I have never met, nor probably ever will meet, Sir Terry Pratchett, but he seems like a grand dude, and writes fun books indeed.

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Celebrating Sir Terry Pratchett!
Photo © 2014

Sunday ended with a party for next year’s EasterCon, Dysprosium. There was a beheadding of a chocolate bunny, drinks, snacks, and people to talk to. It was indeed fun, until I decided it was time for me to go to bed.

Monday was the last day of the convention, and I started it with a shift in Ops, before some time to relax. I then attended the program item “Early science fiction writing”, which I must admit was a great disappointment. I actually ended up fishing out my e-reader to read my book! Just because I was too polite to get up and leave, and maybe in the hopes it could turn better?

The convention officially ended with the closing ceremony. Prizes were handed out, people were thanked, and we all concluded it had been a wonderful convention. We can’t wait for the next one!

EasterCon 2013: Eight Squared Con

At the end of March I headed to Bradford, in West Yorkshire, England. Though I have been to several conventions before (I was quite active with ShadowCon in Oslo at one point), this was my first outside Norway. Actually, it was my first outside Oslo, even though I haven’t lived in the capital for the four last years. I have been wanting to attend EasterCon for several years. I almost managed to get there last year, but then things didn’t quite worked out.

I arrived in Bradford on Thursday, and had a bit of a soft start before the convention actually started. Spent the evening with some people I knew already, as well as some new people who were introduced. There was Indian food in the centre of Bradford, which was good.

I headed to the Cedar Court Hotel, where the main event took place, a tad bit early on Friday. The registration opened before expected, and I managed to get my badge and a bag of information. As I couldn’t see anyone I knew around, I headed back to my hotel, where I relaxed, before heading down to Cedar Court for the opening ceremony.

Eight Squared Con was, as I said, my very first con outside of Oslo, and it was on a totally different scale from what I was used to. I admit it felt intimidating in the beginning, as I am an introvert by nature. Some people would probably not believe me, but it’s true, I feel very insecure among strangers, and am not the person to go up to a group of strangers and start chatting with them. As the days went by, I did warmed up a bit, and managed to talk to quite a few people.

I attended a few panels, and my favourite was “The Changing Portrayal of Gender and Sexuality in SF & Fantasy”, which more or less was about LGBTQI people in SFF literature. It was more like a discussion group than a panel, which I think worked very well. Another panel I found to be funny, was the “Superheroes on Film” one. I kind of like superheroes, you know…

All-in-all I had a great experience, and have even signed up for next year’s EasterCon! See you there?

Rachel Cain at Forbidden Planet

Rachel Caine Black DawnDid you know that the author of the Morganville Vampires will be at Forbidden Planet in 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, Friday 4 May? Well, now you do. She will be signing book 12 of the Morganville Vampires series from 18 to 19. Alas, I will not even be close to London that day. Envious of everybody going!

Guilty Pleasures?

J.A. Saare asked in her blog a little while ago:

How many of you have guilty pleasures? What are they if you don’t mind me asking? Is there a movie or book that you love that you just can’t bring yourself to talk about because you know the reaction you receive won’t be a positive one?

Guilty Pleasures

I’m not sure I can call it guilty pleasures, as I don’t feel very guilty about it, though a lot of people might think I should. Even if others would frown upon me, I don’t care. Why should I? Who is to tell me what I should or should not enjoy? To be quite frank, I find the idea of looking down on somebody for what they enjoy reading for quite snobbish, and not in a positive way. It is, of course, OK to disagree. One doesn’t have to like the same things, that would be rather boring. But telling someone that they’re stupid or whatever because they happen to like what they like, that’s is not OK.

But on to what I probably should think of as “guilty pleasures”, though I simply refuse to call them so. I love vampire books. Always have done, long before vampires were “in”. Most of them, at least. My favourite by far is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though I think it’s probably not seen as something to feel guilty about, it being a classic and all that. But I also enjoy other books. Like the Twilight series. I loved it, it was a very exciting read. (I can’t stand the films, though, they aren’t even close to being as good as the books). Another series is the Anita Blake, vampire hunter. They can be quite sappy, I guess, but they’re pure entertainment. Not to mention the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (though I’ve only read the first three books).

I think this sort of books is like all other type of entertainment. I don’t read them for depth or to learn something. I read them to escape reality for a while, to relax and have a bit of fun. It’s not the only type or genre I read, but I like variety.

So, that’s my reply to J. A. Saare’s question, I guess… Though it’s maybe not quite what she expected?

The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman

I just read volume 14 of the Walking Dead comic books by Robert Kirkman, No way out. As usual, it ends with a cliff hanger, and I will have to wait until the next volume is published. This is the sort of comic books I find easily addictive: Once I’ve started reading, I can hardly put it down.

Normally, zombies aren’t really my cup of tea. However, the Walking Dead aren’t really about the zombies. Yes, the zombies, or roamers, are there, but what’s it’s really about are people. People’s reactions, their feelings, and how they cope under extreme circumstances.

The artwork is brilliant too. There’s so much to read from the illustrations, they express a whole lot more than a lot of other comic books. And to be honest – I find it harder to like comics with crap artwork than the one with really good one.

So, if you really like good comic books, I highly recommend the Walking Dead: It’s one of the best comics written today, in my opinion.

The Walking Dead

Book Review: Little Star, by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Little Star - John Ajvide LindqvistLittle Star is written by the very same author who is known from the book, and the film, Let the Right One In. I have read the book in its original language, Swedish, Lilla stjärna, which was released in 2010. The English version is due to be released 29 September 2011.

Little Star starts with the former pop singer Lennart Cederström, who one day finds something in the woods he not at all expected to: Half buried, in a plastic bag, a baby girl. Lennart gives her the kiss of life, and to his surprise, her first cry is a pure, musical note. He takes the baby back to his wife, and persuades her that they should keep this remarkable child. They hide her in a room in the cellar, and keep her secret from the outside world. The girl turns out to be a strange and disturbed. When she reaches puberty, a terrifying scene sees her kill both her parents. Her adopted brother, Jeremy, takes care of her, but she is still a scared and lonely girl.

Not far from Stockholm, another lonely and strange girl lives an unhappy life. Bullied by her fellow school mates, she finds comfort in poetry, trolling the Internet and learning about wolves. After a while, the two girls get in touch, and forms a special and scary friendship. They form a powerful bond and soon they do things most people wouldn’t even dream of doing.

Yet again Linqvist has managed to create a chilling story. It is at times grotesque, and is not for the faint hearted. Since I read it in Swedish, I don’t know how the translation will turn out, but I found it to be well written. At times he used some slang, but in the setting it was used, it worked very well.

There were parts of the books I almost felt like the need to turn away, as it wasn’t pretty, but I kept on reading. It gripped me from the very beginning, and I am already looking forward to read another book written by John Ajvide Lindqvist.