Dispatches from Dragon*Con

Over Labor Day weekend (yes, that Labor day weekend, the one two months ago… what of it?), Anastasia Beaverhausen and I got our geek on (do we ever really take it off?) and attended Dragon*Con 2011. In between discussing the finer points of Doctor Who and bonding with fellow True Blood fans while waiting in line to see the cast, we attended a number of panels on the con’s YA Literature track. So for those of you who didn’t spend your holiday weekend with 60,000 sci-fi and fantasy uber-fans, here are a few con highlights we thought you’d enjoy.

Harry Potter – From Page to Screen: (RS) This was a lot of people talking about how the books were better than the movies. Which… duh. But there were a few good points that came out of the discussion, and in general it was fun to sit around and hear other people talk about what they loved about the movies and what they wished they’d seen more of. A lot centered around the last movie, obviously, and one of the people on the panel said he’d have liked the movie a lot more if their special effects budget had been cut in half. Word. There was a lot of unnecessary action movie type things that really didn’t need to be there.

There was a lot of general hand-wringing about things that were changed in the movie, but for the most part this didn’t really bother me as much as it seemed to bother the rest of the world. I realize that things need to be changed not only for time, but just for the way a story is told on screen verses on page. Surprisingly, there were a few scenes that people actually liked better in the movie, and a few additions that veered off canon but were thought to be good adds. One in particular was the scene between the trio on the stairs right before Harry went to the forest, which everyone really enjoyed even if it wasn’t strictly canon.

So yeah, not much new stuff, but a nice look back at the movies.

The Hero’s Journey of Neville Longbottom: (RS) Okay, full disclosure – by the end of this panel, we’d pretty much crammed everyone in the series into the mold of the hero’s journey. But that’s okay. First of all, I adore Neville, so I was down with any panel where he was the featured topic of discussion. The topic at hand was also very interesting because it delved into something I love about the books, which is the parallel between Harry and Neville. One of the most interesting points made in the panel was that while Harry’s mentor is Dumbledore, Neville’s is Harry himself. It’s a connection I never really thought about, but made perfect sense when I looked at Deathly Hallows from the point of view of Neville. Very cool, interesting panel.

By the way, if you’re not familiar with Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey and don’t have the time/inclination to pick up a copy of The Hero with a Thousand Faces for a bit of light reading, Wikipedia can help you out.

Clockwork, Goggles, & Dirigibles: Steampunk for Teens: (RS) Much like 60 Books in 60 Minutes (below), this was mostly an overview of upcoming Steampunk novels in YA, as well as a brief but interesting discussion of what, exactly, Steampunk is and isn’t (it is NOT, in case you were confused, merely confined to Victorian times, as I had thought).  In fact, some of these might not even be considered Steampunk by some, but the panelists felt that anyone who likes the genre will love them. A few novels from the panel that I’ll be adding to my reading list:

  • Soulless: A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves, and Parasols by Gail Carriger (actually, the only novel that I went ahead and picked up while there)
  • The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • Airman by Eoin Colfer
  • The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
  • The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
  • Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (our beloved Maria V. Snyder has a story in here)
  • Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space by Phillip Reeve
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

The Hunger Games:  (RS) Four days of programming and one HG panel? In the small YA Lit room? Epic fail, as evidenced by the mass of people who didn’t get in (including yours truly). Though I expect this will be a wake up call and lead to more discussion panels for the trilogy next year. Stay tuned.

An Hour with Tom Felton:  (RS) Just in case you didn’t know it, Tom Felton is delightful. If you ever have the chance to be in a room with him (and I hope that you do), you should seriously jump on that.*  First of all, he called everyone “love,” which was was both darling and delightfully English. Second, he handled the panel like a pro. In the past, I believe he’d been with Matt Lewis and/or the Phelps twins, but he may have manned it alone in the past few years when I didn’t attend the Con. Either way, he was a champ at smiling at the giggling pre-teens, dancing around the awkward questions (oh, the awkward questions…), and calmly explaining to one girl that he was not, in fact, Draco, but that he could tell how he as an actor felt in a particular scene.

One of the cutest stories was when someone asked if he’d kept anything from the set. After explaining that they weren’t allowed to and had, in fact, had their cars searched every night when leaving the last two films, he told us that he and Dan Radcliffe had planned to tie Dan up and put him in the trunk of Tom’s car for the security guards to find as they searched his car. Sadly, they never got to do this, but everyone was cracking up at the thought of the security guard finding Dan in the trunk and Tom’s casual, “wait, was I not supposed to take that?” The funniest part of the whole panel, however, was when a couple dressed to the tee as Lucius and Narcissa approached the microphone and asked him, in character, what happened between him and “that nice Parkinson girl.” He nearly fell out of his chair laughing, as did the rest of us, then shot back, “Mum! Dad! I told you guys not to show up here!” See? Delightful.

*The chance, not Tom Felton. People tend to frown on randomly tackling adorable British twenty-somethings.

Coming Soon – 60 Books in 60 minutes: (AB) Susan Fichtelber, Diana Tixier Herald and Bonnie Kunzel, 3 excellent Young Adult librarians from around the country gave an awesome presentation on 60 books due to come out in late 2011 and 2012 that scifi and fantasy-loving teens would be excited about. And they got through the whole list! It was very impressive. I have the entire list in my bag, but here are some that sounded particularly exciting to me:

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
Red Glove by Holly Black
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede
Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen

It’s a glorious time for YA and I can’t wait to start reading!

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About Robin Sparkles

Robin Sparkles spent her formative years as a teen popstar in the great country of Canada. She went on to a successful career solving mysteries in space using her mad math skillz. Now retired, Robin can often be found at her favorite bar, Hoser Hut, with her good friend and Canadian treasure, Alan Thicke. She still dons her bedazzled jacket on special occasions. View all posts by Robin Sparkles

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