Donald and I will be attending the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto this weekend. This is like a science fiction convention, only for fantasy. It focuses on the writing and art of the genre, whereas many other conventions have a broader scope, including movies, gaming, costuming, and other aspects of the fantasy and science fiction world. Because of this narrower focus, it tends to have a higher concentration of writers and editors, so it’s a good place to meet and catch up with other people who write and publish fantasy fiction.
Donald and I will be co-panelists, discussing “The Real World in Fantastic Fiction” at noon on Saturday, along with Ian Drury, Geoff Hart, Christopher Kovacs, and Kenneth Schneyer. I’m not sure whether the people in charge of programming realized Donald and I were married when they decided to put us on the same panel. Seeing as how we don’t have the same last name. We haven’t decided whether to argue with each other, or gang up on the other panelists.
Here’s the description of the panel, from the program book:
Just because a story is set in a secondary world doesn’t mean its medical/legal/political/military systems cannot be grounded in some kind of reality. Inaccuracies can abound when authors try to incorporate procedures and systems that exist in the real world into their created worlds without paying proper attention to details. The panel examines why and how reality is all important, even in a fantastic world.
I think the description puts reality in fiction on a higher pedestal than I would, and that it’s possible to obsess a bit too much over details. On the other hand, even in an imagined world, most authors are positing that certain facts (how the human body responds to physical trauma, for instance) would not be different, and if things happen in your story that you’re not an expert on (someone gets hit in the head), it’s easy to get details wrong (they are immediately knocked unconscious, and recover 15-30 minutes later with no lingering effects), and it’s hard for someone who does know more than you about the subject (any medical professional, or anyone who’s been to a panel at a science fiction convention where a medical professional was speaking on this subject–I fall into the latter category) to continue to suspend disbelief sufficiently to enjoy your story.
Several of my friends are also scheduled to be on panels or do readings. Matthew Kressel is on “Faith and Fantasy” at 9 am on Friday, Rajan Khanna is on “They Call Me the Wanderer” at noon on Friday, Eugene Myers is on “Diversity and Difference in YA Fantasy” at 3 pm on Saturday, and Max Gladstone is doing a reading at 5:30 pm on Saturday. Matt and Raj both live in New York, so hopefully they’ll both be able to make it, but apparently airports in New York are still closed.