Conflux 7 – A Quick Report

I’m supposed to be on holiday for the rest of this week, but I just wanted to post a quick report on Conflux 7, which happened this past long weekend. Conflux is the Canberra-based annual Fantasy and Science Fiction convention, and it holds a special place in my heart. I love the vibe of this particular con, always friendly and open. It lived up to that rep once again.


There were many highlights for me. The Angry Robot launch was excellent and well attended. Kaaron Warren and Joanne Anderton were there to launch their books, Mistification and Debris. Trent Jamieson was there in spirit, though not in person, as his new book, Roil, was also included in the launch. Kaaron’s daughter made angry robot cupcakes for the event, which looked great and tasted better:

angry robot cupcake Conflux 7   a quick report

The official opening ceremony followed that, MCd by the incomparable Jack Dann. There’s no one quite like Jack Dann, for which we should probably all be thankful, but he’s a great guy and loads of fun. He’s one of the good guys and opened the con with great enthusiasm.

Following the opening ceremony was the official launch of the new CSFG Publishing anthology, Winds Of Change. That book includes my story, Dream Shadow. There were a staggering fifteen contributing authors and artists at the convention, so a mass signing table was set up and we all sat down to sign for people buying the book. It sold really well – my signing hand was fully a-cramped by the end. Here’s a shot of the mass signing – you can spot me by my terrible posture:

winds launch Conflux 7   a quick report

Quite a night, involving lots of beer, and that was only the first evening.

Other personal highlights for me included the Evil Overlord panel, on the subject of the Best Getaway Vehicle for an Evil Overlord. I was moderating that panel, with Laura E Goodin, Kathleen Jennings and Phil Berrie. We started by discussing some of our ideas, then I opened the floor to the audience. Lots of suggestions were made and discussed, a long list was whittled to a short list and a final vote decided that the ideal getaway vehicle was a Monkey-style flying cloud. I’m pleased to say that was my original suggestion. Not only that, the incredibly talented Kathleen Jennings illustrated the winner. Here’s me with The Duck Lord:

duck lord Conflux 7   a quick report

I’m honoured to have that very drawing hanging on the wall of my study right now.

I enjoyed the Paths To Publishing panel I was on, along with Cat Sparks, Nicole Murphy and Natalie Costa-Bir. That was one of those panels where I got to share my own experience and learn a lot at the same time – always the best kind in my mind.

Right after that panel, due to a bit of a SNAFU, the Guests Of Honour gathered for their Q&A panel, but there was no MC present. I stepped up and got to wrangle the audience for questions for four very cool people – awesome author Kim Westwood, editor extraordinaire Natalie Costa-Bir, and artists Lewis Morley and Marilyn Pride. Hearing them talk about their processes and projects, and where they’re headed next was very interesting. Here’s a pic of that panel:

goh qa Conflux 7   a quick report

L to R: Lewis Morley, Marilyn Pride, Natalie Costa-Bir, Kim Westwood and me (last minute ring-in MC)

From that panel I went directly to one about the influence of heavy metal music on SF, and SF’s influence on it. The panel consisted of myself, Tracey O’Hara and Joanne Anderton. We also talked about the influence of extreme music on us and our writing. It was a great panel, very interesting and vibrant, and I think everyone there, including the three of us, left with a list of new bands to check out. Here’s that panel:

metal in sf Conflux 7   a quick report

L to R: Tracey O’Hara, me, Joanne Anderton

I attended several other items as an audience member too. Probably the highlights for me were Kim Westwood’s Guest Of Honour speech, the panel on short story writing (with Kim Westwood, Jack Dann, Kaaron Warren, Helen Stubbs and Cat Sparks), the panel on why we love the dark and macabre in our art (with Andrew J McKiernan, Kaaron Warren and Kyla Ward), and a reading by Kaaron Warren of a new short story, which resulted in a very interesting discussion afterwards, talking about the themes of the story. I’d love to see more of that at cons, and I’d love the opportunity to read one of my short stories to a group and have a discussion about it afterwards. I also really enjoyed the Historical Banquet on Saturday night, a 1929 Zeppelin themed dinner. Well done Gillian Polack for that one. Of course, I did loads more stuff, but it’s all swirling in the misty pseudo-memory that is my post-con brain right now.

Just reading over that, I look like a right Kaaron Warren fanboi. And you know what? I am. Not only that, Kaaron was kind enough to put me up over the weekend and make me coffee and bacon sandwiches. She’s absolutely lovely in every way and an incredible talent. I’m honoured to call her my friend. In fact, here’s a pic of three of my favourite SF ladies and me:

fave ladies Conflux 7   a quick report

L to R: Jodi Cleghorn, Kaaron Warren, me, Joanne Anderton

It was also great to hang out with Cat Sparks and Rob Hood for the weekend, who were also staying at Kaaron’s. And that’s a fine example of the kind of SF community we have in Australia, and around the world. The F&SF community takes care of each other and every con is just an excuse to catch up with good friends and hopefully make some new ones.

The only downside to the con was that on Sunday night some junkie fuckknuckle smashed out the window of my car, bled all over it and stole a bunch of my stuff. He also smashed windows and stole stuff from at least seven other cars in the street. So that sucks the big one, but it’s not enough to spoil a good con.

Conflux was great, as it always is, and I can’t wait for the next one.

I’ve only posted a handful of pics, as those are all I’ve managed to pilfer thus far. I’ll post links to other photos from the con when I find some. If you have any, please drop a link in the comments. Also, if you were there, share your favourite moments in the comments too.

Oh, and one last thing. There was a person there who asked me a few times to have a chat about short story markets. I kept telling her that I would find five minutes for a chat about it, yet I never did! I’m sorry – if you’re reading, drop me an email.


This is a reprint from Alan Baxter‘s The Word.