Fantastic Voyages Within the Speculative Fiction Community

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Last Thursday I attended Fantastic Voyages with Helen Lowe and Tim Jones each talking about their books and Speculative Fiction. It was an inspiring night with readings from both authors. Tim read part of his short story ‘When she came walking’ (which I loved) and Helen read from Thornspell. Of course, discussion was lively and informed, and the lily was gilded by the presence of Lynn Freeman who added both direction and interesting comments (I have learned that you can catch her programme after the fact here). We noted New Zealand’s fascination with Apocalypses and Tim said that he could have filled his recent collection of N.Z Sci – fi poetry, Voyagers, with apocalyptic poems from the 60s era.

In short,  it was fascinating and fun. However, what I want to comment on here is not the food provided for the intellect by the discussion, but the joys of the social network that surrounded it.  The Speculative Fiction community is growing rapidly and developing its own culture and voice. I was able to Tweet that I was heading to the Southern Cross for food before the event and find myself joined by several equally interested friends. The atmosphere of the event was one of shared pleasures and enthusiasm and was both warm and welcoming. One friend, Jenni, had never attended a Speculative Fiction orientated event and was thrilled to find that  “everyone was very friendly and encouraging when Sally mentioned I’d just been published for the first time.”

After the event the two authors invited everyone to join them for a few drinks in Fidels:

tim aftermath

Again, we shared a great discussion and huge amounts of mutual enthusiasm for SF.  Everyone present was professionally supportive of one another and incredibly friendly. This exactly mirrors my experience of the SF community on every occasion. My first forays into it were via the yearly conferences organised by SFFANZ and associated groups each year (next years event is Au Contraire). I went at the urging of Mundens with a little trepidation. I suspected I would be surrounded by geeks and wondered how interesting it would all be. Well, I was surrounded by geeks, and that was fantastic. I felt like I was wrapped in a blanket of loving support for my work as a yet to be published author (as I was then), I found an incredible amount of great advice for my work, and some recognition which was a heady draught.  I also found the fellowship of people with exotic and interesting obsessions, well developed personal outlooks, and considerable charm. All the guest authors were utterly welcoming. I learnt more in that first weekend than I had in all my life prior to that point about my vocation. Naturally, now I go every year, and will always continue to.

I think it’s possible that there has been a happy marriage of the energies of these conferences, the inspiration afforded by the success of our film industry, and the personal inclinations of the many good people involved in Speculative Fiction. There seems to be a quiet awareness that we are all writing our own new culture and are able to determine what it will be by our actions as individuals. In practise I am thrilled to see us choosing thusly: we will be warm and support each other in practical ways, we will engage in discussion to learn and share rather than to win, we have integrity in how we treat one another. There seems to be a general agreement that there is enough sunshine for all of us to grow our careers as writers. After all, the more good writing that emerges from the Speculative Fiction community, the more readers will encounter and demand good speculative fiction. So, newcomers are nurtured.

On the forest floor of Speculative Fiction, as it were, there is a hotbed of new growth as a result. Dozens of new and vulnerable  sapling authors are beginning to poke their heads up out of the leaf litter. It is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by such young talent, to be taking part in their energy, and observing their struggles toward the light while I enjoy my own slow growth as an author. My social group is full of novelists with actual completed novels sitting in their drawers, script writers, poets, playwrights, board game designers and more; all with a heavy slant toward Speculative Fiction content. Several have joined me in participating in this first Speculative Fiction Blogging week. Almost daily I pinch myself at my good fortune to be here and now.

~~This post was created for Speculative Fiction Blogging Week~~

4 Responses to “Fantastic Voyages Within the Speculative Fiction Community”

  1. Tim Jones Says:

    That’s a lovely report, Sally, which only enhances the “warm glow” feeling I still have about the event. Thanks for putting up the photos, too.

  2. seraph Says:

    Its nice to know you’re feeling it too!

    My pleasure – help yourself Tim, if they are of use at all!

  3. HelenL Says:

    Hey Sally,

    Thanks for the great write up and for coming along! It was lovely to catch up with you again and here that Deputy Dan is going a blast and I agree 100% that it is wonderful to see the NZ spec fic community coming together. And of course there’s Au Contraire and AussieCon to look forward to next year.

  4. seraph Says:

    Yeah, I can’t wait for those events. Big fun ahead.

    I really enjoyed our time after the event in Fidels – seems like things are going in leaps and bounds for you which is just great.

    If you want the piccys – as with Tim, help yourself Helen.


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