Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DragonCon 2011 Report

By Linda

Due to a rush of catching up on my paid job, my family and also jetlag after returning home, I haven’t posted anything here for some days.

This is the last of my “What I did on my vacation” reports and covers the wonderful carnival that is DragonCon. DragonCon is held on the first weekend of September in Atlanta and attracts a huge crowd. This year was no exception. The Dealers’ and Exhibitors’ Halls were particularly chockers, but I persevered and got a wolf-brother ring from Badali jewelry for my older son and two anime series for my younger son.

My first panel was on Wheel of Time technology and discussion mostly centred on combining channelling and gunpowder weapons in various ways in the Last Battle. We also looked forward to the next age, when the experiments on gas, aeronautics, steam power, etc underway may lead to a more advanced technology.

The Saturday morning parade is amazing. It was quite hot, but I had applied sunscreen and wore a hat, so I was fine. However the massive size of the crowd was completely unexpected to me, and nor did I expect the number of vehicles in costume as well as people. Such a high standard! But our Wheel of Time group had a great representation (see photos).

Back at the WOT track room, once we cooled off, we discussed Perrin’s character development and his forging and dreaming talents and where this may lead next. Then in the Wheel of Time graphic novel panel Team Jordan member Maria Simmons explained her role as continuity editor. New Spring is now complete and quite a few issues of the Eye of the World have been published. Volume 1 of The Eye of the World graphic novel was released today. I asked Maria what her favourite scene was in The Eye of the World graphic novel, but there are many scenes she likes.

The WOT track had two Wheel of Time costuming panels, held on consecutive days: one for the Westland nations, and one for the “others” - Seanchan, Shara, Aiel and Sea Folk. WOT costume is something I have written about extensively here. I talked about the Empress’ cloth of gold dress – a reference to the Machiavellian Byzantine empire, which was renowned for cloth of gold, a fabric made of a silk warp and either thin gold weft threads or silk wrapped with gold weft threads. There are also influences of China (the hair styles of the Low Blood and dress of the public servants) and Ancient Egypt (pleated garments and wigs and also the attire of the dacovale) in Seanchan costume.

Sharan costume also shows influence of China, as well as Africa, and the Sea Folk are dressed like corsairs and also have a strong Indian influence. The Sharan who was trying to sell the technology of sericulture is a parallel of those who smuggled silkworms to the West. Someone in the audience asked if the Seanchan grow silk themselves. In Knife of Dreams, we see that a Seanchan Seeker knows that silk comes from silkworms, not common knowledge on the mainland. Moreover the Blood wear the fabric so it is possible that they acquired sericulture, or that they may have always had it since the Breaking. There is a tale that Christian monks smuggled the caterpillars and the knowledge out of China and sold it to the Byzantine Empire in the middle of the 6th century AD, which may be a parallel to the Seanchan having “stolen” the knowledge from the Sharans, especially since we know they are big on espionage.

Saturday night was the WOT track’s karaoke night and was tremendous fun. There were games and competitions too in the WOT track: Are You A Darkfriend?, team and individual trivia games and the Costume Contest.

The Ogier and Black Tower panels were a couple of my favourites. Much information has been held back for the last book on these two groups.

Discussion on the Ogier centred on the Book of Translation, stedding, Ways and parallel worlds. I raised the possibility that there are Darkfriends at work among the Ogier (and RJ said Ogier could be Darkfriends) encouraging them to open the Book of Translation (however this is done) to depart the main world for some other world and not participate in the Last Battle. It’s so convenient to the Shadow that surely they are encouraging it. However, since we know that the Dark One is present in all worlds and if he is freed in one he is freed in all, the Ogier can’t escape the peril of the Shadow simply by fleeing as Loial’s mother implies. She is my prime candidate for Darkfriend (see theory). So amazed was Jennifer Liang at this theory that she tweeted that I was a Darkfriend. Presumably she meant that this is why I recognise or suspect so many!

The audience participation was fantastic, and led to some great insights. During the discussion I remembered Loial saying that “It’s not the Ogier makes the stedding but the stedding the Ogier.” Since the Seanchan Ogier do not have the Longing to the degree that the mainland Ogier do (they were never cut off from their stedding during the Breaking because there were more stedding in Seanchan) and are violent, it may be that dependence on the stedding make Ogier pacifist. Loial has survived some years outside, enough that Elder Haman feared for his health, and he has fought and killed in battle, something that mainland Ogier rarely do.

In the Black Tower panel we looked at Logain being MIA and what he may do that gives him glory and fulfils the dream of his stepping over Rand’s shell of a body while laughing; also at the likelihood that Perrin will destroy the dreamspike since he knows how this can be done, and at Androl and the Reds.

Jennifer Liang (Dragonmount and TorDOTwot) and I talked about our blogging: what we blog about and how we use Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday night I went to the Time Travellers’ ball with WOT friendsand heard some great music and saw some really great costumes. Actually, really great costumes were everywhere at DragonCon.

On the last day we discussed the Hero’s Journey which has up to 17 stages (as listed on Wikipedia):

1. The Call to Adventure
2. Refusal of the Call
3. Supernatural Aid
4. Crossing the First Threshold
5. Belly of the Whale

6. The Road of Trials
7. Meeting with the Goddess
8. Woman as Temptress
9. Atonement with the Father
10. Apotheosis
11. Ultimate Boon

12. Refusal of the Return
13. Magic Flight
14. Rescue From Without
15. Crossing the Return Threshold
16. Master of Two Worlds
17. Freedom to Live

It is important to remember that Jordan plotted everything in triplicate and the heroes are no exception. All three ta’veren are undertaking their own hero’s journey. Despite it not being necessary for the story to have all 17 stages, it looks like Jordan’s series does and for all three heroes. Although Jordan has met all of the stages, he does so in often unpredictable ways.

After this last panel we discussed possible panels for next year (if only I can be there!) and then it was time to say our goodbyes. I had a wonderful time at DragonCon, and would thoroughly recommend it, not just for the WOT track, but for the art show, the Dealers and Exhibitors, the socials and workshops, the stars and the great variety of discussion tracks. Best of all, though, is catching up with all my WOT friends, and making new ones.

Thanks to the hard work of the WOT track and DragonCon organisers for a great convention, and also to my fellow panelists and audience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such as inspiring article! keep up the exciting stuff...

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