I'm looking forward to Au Contraire more than I've looked forward to a science fiction convention for a long while.
My convention-going extends back to 1980 and the second New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention (Natcon) in Wellington. I have been to a couple of World Science Fiction Conventions - Aussiecon Two in 1985, and ConFrancisco in San Francisco in 1993, where I was daunted by the sheer scale of the event - and I've attended other conventions in Melbourne and Edinburgh.
But my con-going has been sporadic at best in recent years. I've popped along to Wellington Natcons, and it has been nice to catch up with friends there, but the conventions themselves have seemed subject to the law of diminishing returns.
So why am I so excited about Au Contraire? Well, part of it is the programme, which has a strong bent towards written rather than watched SF this year.
Part of it is the very strong lineup of guests, many of whom are proceeding on to Aussiecon 4, the 2010 Worldcon, held the weekend after Au Contraire - unfortunately, I'm unable to make the journey. The lineup of visiting guests includes Hugo Award winners like Cheryl Morgan and Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
- Helen Lowe's excellent interview with Cheryl Morgan has just been published.
Part of my excitement is because I'm more involved in the convention programme than I have been for a long time. I'll be taking part in or attending:
- The launch of NZ SF anthology A Foreign Country, which includes my story "The Last Good Place", and a whole bunch of stories by authors whose work I'm keen to read.
- The panel I'm running on "Getting Published in New Zealand".
- The launch of Speculative Fiction Writers of New Zealand (SpecFicNZ) - I haven't been involved in setting this up, but I'm impressed by the dedication shown by those who have.
- A panel I'm on called "Joss Whedon Is My Master Now". As a good anarchist, I will of course respectfully dissent from the panel title, and argue that, instead, "Jed Whedon Is My Master Now". (Sorry, Zack. Sorry, Mo!)
- The panel on SF poetry I'm on with Janis Freegard and Harvey Molloy.
- A live Q&A session I'm doing with Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
- The Sir Julius Vogel Awards ceremony, where Voyagers is up for "Best Collected Work".
And after all that, I think I might take Monday morning off!