Day two kicked off with a panel on worldbuilding “The Best of All Possible Worlds” with Robin Hobb, Hal Duncan, Patrick Rothfuss (who has the most awesome laugh by the way), Adrian Tchaikovsky and Robert Silverberg and moderated by Ellen Kushner. The essence of worldbuilding is that the devil is in the details, and there is a balance to achieve between providing the reader with enough details to bring the world to life around them whilst not ‘data dumping’ them with enough details to bore them senseless.
The key is to establish those things such as economic situation and currency, class, politics, geography and so forth in the world so that none of these aspects inadvertently become a hindrance to the story because they have not been considered. The basic necessity of worldbuilding is to make it believable and plausible and leave enough space for the reader to fill in aspects that are unnecessary to the story themselves.
Next I went to some readings and as it turned out they were all extracts from forthcoming pieces. Trudi Canavan gave us the enticing opening of her new series due to come out May 2014 and told us a little about the worlds and characters in that. Then onto Scott Lynch with a brief, animated performance from Wes Chu to begin with. Lynch’s extract was from a short story which will be in a forthcoming anthology and he gave us a glimpse of a world and characters as rich as those in the Gentleman Bastard Sequence. After that it was Joe Abercrombie’s turn to read an extract from his forthcoming book, which is aimed at younger readers though is evidently no less lacking in conflicts and shocks.
My final panel of the day was hugely entertaining – “Elvish has Left the Building” with Trudi Canavan, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Tad Williams, Adrian Stone and moderated by Stan Nicholls.
This panel discussed just what epic fantasy is and established that its key tropes will never change – scale, complexity and depth of story, for example. There was a lot of discussion about Tolkien’s domination of fantasy vs. ‘quieter’, smaller, sword and sorcery books. Interestingly the panel did also delve into the accessibility of science fiction to a wider audience through different media (you can be a science fiction fan without having read any SF books) compared to fantasy whose fan base has pretty much always come from avid readers.
And so the discussion ended and my motivation level shot up as it always does at these events – it is great to be surrounded by likeminded people and talented people who enjoy what they do and remind me why I want to be part of this industry. This was the best convention I’ve been to so far and well worth the cost of the trip and braving the terrible weather in Brighton for.
Now, books to read and books to write… back to life.