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REPORT: ApolloCon 2007, Day 3

The final day at ApolloCon. Today was a shorter day than day one or day two. I was a bit worn out today, so my participation level wasn’t up to previous days. On the bright side, I met up with local author Larry Ketchersid and got to say hi.

My first session was Size Matters! Knowing or Choosing the Correct Length to Tell Your Tale with panelists Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, Alexis Glynn Latner, Julia Mandala, Chris Roberson and Shanna Swendson. Although mostly meant for the writer attendees, I couldn’t help but be amazed at all the reasons why books and stories are as long as they are. I used to think it was as simple as a writer getting an idea for a story and telling that story. Nope. There are so many other factors at work: contractual obligations (publishers require a certain length so that the book can be profitable), distribution (shelf-space and packaging), writers eager to talk about the universe they created even though it’s not pertinent to the story and – probably the biggest impact of all – economic forces. For example, a writer has a better chance of getting a shorter story in a space-limited anthology than a longer one. Another example: A publisher’s offer of a $30,000 advance to write a sequel that the writer would not otherwise write is powerful persuasion. An illuminating session.

Next up was What is this Hollywood Fascination with Philip K. Dick?

Panelists included A.T. Campbell III, David G. Hartwell (one of Dick’s editors) and Michael Teegarden. About 80% of the discussion was around Blade Runner, as could be expected. At least one panelist (A.T.) echoed my belief that the movie was sometimes a bit slow, but still liked it way better than I did. Interesting Blade Runner tidbit, offered by David Hartwell: The original script had no dialogue in Roy Batty’s death scene. But when filming it, they thought some dialogue was needed, so Rutger Hauer spent 30 minutes in his trailer and wrote Roy Batty’s final words. (Go, go, gadget YouTube!)

The final session for me was Putting Science in Science Fiction. The panelists – Paul Abell, John Cramer, Larry Friesen and Alexis Glynn Latner – all agreed on the importance of accurate science. There was also much talk about researching science fiction for articles. Alexis Glynn Latner not only runs her stories by real scientists but, having studied linguistics herself, has even created her own language! Another interesting tidbit: John Cramer, whose writes a bi-monthly science column in Analog called The Alternate View, had the idea to publish an anthology of stories that were based on and inspired by the scientific topics discussed in his articles. David Hartwell “swindled” him by agreeing to do so only if he wrote a novel to go along with it. Cramer wrote Twistor and then Hartwell rejected the anthology. Heh-heh.

Overall, my first con was lots of both educational and fun. I got to meet and mingle with like-minded people and learn some stuff about the genre and its history. I would easily recommend ApolloCon for anyone looking the same.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

1 Comment on REPORT: ApolloCon 2007, Day 3

  1. It is interesting to learn about all the behind the scenes stuff that goes into book publishing, writing, etc. When watching the extras on the LOTR disks I was amazed to discover that one of the reasons that the LOTR was broken up into three volumes was due to a paper shortage during and after the war and that it would have been so costly to produce in one volume that the price they would have had to charge for the book would have severly decreased sales. Interesting stuff.

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