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World Fantasy Convention 2007 by Joe Berlant (Chair)
Review by Gayle Surrette
 ISBN/ITEM#: 0711SFC07
Date: November 1 – 4, 2007

Links: Official Site / Gayle's WFC Blog Reports / Show Official Info /

This year the World Fantasy Convention was held in Saratoga Springs, NY. The town is lovely and very walkable. And even though it was a bit chilly, the temperatures throughout the convention period were relatively warm for the time of year.

The hotel was a good venue for the event. However, problems encountered were lack of signage. There was a coat room but it was up a hallway behind the seating area for reservations and down at the far end. The only sign was on the door of the room. There was a shuttle bus from some of the outlying hotels (ours was one) but while the hotel information people knew of it, they had no information on when it would make stops. The information was in our program books, but it would have been nice if the hotels had had a handout also. Much of the information was available, you just needed to know where to look and that's where my brain fell down on the job.

Otherwise, overall, we had a great time. I've written up my experiences in detail on my blog. There were many exceptional panel topics and often there were two or three at one time period that I wanted to see.

Ernest Lilley wrote up the panel on Monsters from the Lizard Brain. Panelists: Sarah Beth Durst, Tim Powers(m), Elizabeth Bunce, Margo Lanagan. Mark Ferrari.

    What are they anyway?, asks Tim. Margo points out that they were character shorthand, and Sarah Beth in turn said that they are things that tap into our collective, not unconscious, but idea of character built up from stories, and transmitted through book, film, or tale. Nick goes deep for the representation of common paradigms for group behavior.

    Tim says there's something in the lizard part of our brain that recognizes the validity of some things that may not make rational sense. "Pick that flower and a princess in another land dies. Sure. We get that. But why, Tim asks. Maybe they're like the silhouettes of hawks that make chickens who have never seen a hawk go nuts. Elizabeth challenges the notion of universal archetypes, pointing out that our fantasy tradition...to which Sarah said that she had no trouble reading the Narnia chronicles, even though she hadn't been familiar with the myths it represented as a child. Somehow that misses the whole Christ allegory, but well. Nick points out that some things are so common, like the old terrible woman, which he's pretty sure every culture has.

    Tim was intrigued that some archetypes don't follow what might be an expected archetype, citing a favorite of his, the fisher king. Nick suggested that the lizard brain didn't have a fisher king model in it. Elizabeth got entranced by the thought of chicken archetypes, and how it matched into her study of animal behavioral anthropology.

    Sarah brought up an interesting bit about how archetypes get transformed into a stereotype..or cliché.

    Interesting questions. Can there be new archetypes? Elizabeth leapt to the answer that in the Tim Powers lizard brain school, no...but in the Margo Lanagan school, the brain wants to find patterns, so yes, though I really think they're talking about the same thing. I pointed out that a lot of media works hard to break archetype in plot, but Nick (and then Sarah) pointed out that the sudden twist away from the expected was the hallmark of the Loki/Coyote archetype.

    Nick, "in the end, a milestone is still a milestone, whether you are walking towards it or away from (or orthogonally) it."

Other than panels, readings, and events, World Fantasy was a chance to talk to authors, publishers, and friends.

Next year, World Fantasy will be held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada from October 30-November 2, 2008.

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