At Large Norwescon Wrap-Up
posted by March 23 at 19:53 PMon
Holy God, am I exhausted. And at least I can say, from the looks of the other convention-goers here, that I am not alone. By the end, the only people left standing were the ones who did not party.
The Norwescon Poetry panel, I believe, didn’t actually happen. Or at least, at five past the hour, the only person sitting in the room where people were supposed to compose an epic Norwescon Poem was the panel moderator, all by himself. It just goes to show that poetry gets no respect in the science-fiction world, either. Are there poetry conventions? Are they only attended by one person at a time?
I attended a seminar on Fanfic. Fanfic, for those of you who don’t know, is fan-written fiction about preexisting worlds and characters. Some people stick to just one kind of fanfic: there were a few people in the panel who were Harry-Potter-Fanfic only. Others write about different tv shows and books and movies. Slash fiction, or erotica starring fictional characters, is very popular, and ship fiction—writing romances about the relationship between two characters—is also a big deal. One woman in the room—the panel was entirely women—wrote Back to the Future fanfic and also Kim Possible slash fic.
They asked, probably hypothetically, why they wrote fan fiction, and most of the women decided that it was to fix what they perceive as mistakes in the primary text, or “To make things end better,” as one teenager in attendance said. Veronica Mars, for instance, was cancelled before dealing with the main character’s romantic situation in a satisfying way, and so fanfic is a way for the writer to get some closure, or to further enjoy the character.
It was an interesting look at a subculture full of its own language and terminology (some of the writers write mpreg fiction, or fiction where male characters like Harry Potter or Captain Kirk become pregnant, for instance, and fans who are online can often break out into ugly ‘shipping wars,’ where they argue vehemently about why this character would wind up with this or that character: to maintain the Star Trek analogy, why Kirk would wind up with Uhura rather than Spock) and in that way it was a good lens through which to view fandom as a whole. It’s a rarified atmosphere at Norwescon, and hard for an outsider to completely understand. The coded language tends to work as both a shield, keeping outsiders out, but also as a latticework to keep fans feeling connected and safe.
Fans at Norwescon do seem to feel safe, be it if they’re in costume or getting their motherfucking freak on at a party, or tearing up while talking about Arthur C. Clarke’s death last month. Being able to watch that is kind of sweet. Sure, at times, I was ready to scream and flee—the threat of Hobbit filking is almost too sphincter-tighteningly horrifying to relay to someone not in attendance—but I also feel kind of grateful for the opportunity to see them feeling so safe, in the open, without a care in the world, for one weekend.