On Thursday I rode downtown with my sister, who had free valet parking at the Hilton across the street from the convention centre. This was for a job she'd gotten for the Con, handing out flyers across the street. She didn't know what the flyers were for until she got there--it was part of a promotion for the upcoming movie Accepted, starring Justin Long (the "Mac" from the new Macintosh commercials. I prefer the PC actor, myself) and Lewis Black. On Friday, there was a "kegger" held in front of the Hilton attended by the cast of the movie. My sister got a pass for it, and met Justin Long and some others. The only cast member I would have been interested in seeing was Lewis Black, whose luggage, my sister tells me, was in the middle of the room in the Hilton. Due to some mix-up, Black was not reserved a room of his own, and my sister said he spent a lot of time standing around, smoking, and looking very angry.
My sister's boss offered me a pass to the kegger, but there's something about the word "kegger" I find to be uninspiring.
I only saw one panel on Thursday--a panel of Science Fiction authors including matociquala, Greg Bear, Josh Conviser, Karen Traviss, Kevin J. Anderson, and Vernor Vinge. Of them, I'd only read Kevin J. Anderson and Elizabeth Bear--and only some Star Wars books in high school by the former and one short story by the latter. But it seemed like it might be interesting, and I was tired of not getting into panels all day because of all the other people trying to get in. Even this one was pretty damned crowded and there were a lot of people forced to stand.
The topic for the panel to discuss was, as stated in the programme; "Is SF/Fantasy getting too bloody depressing and denying us escape from grim reality?" In the one hour allocated for the panel, it seemed no-one managed to say much on the subject. In fact, aside from words of mutual admiration, the authors seemed barely able to communicate with one another. Of course, it's, if anything, a complicated subject to tackle. So maybe that's why many of them held forth on tangential things--Kevin J. Anderson began talking about how inaccessible truly fine Science Fiction can be. Karen Traviss, who'd suggested the topic, mentioned several times that she doesn't actually read. Everyone agreed that conflict was essential to drama. Vernor Vinge mentioned how things were more innocent in the fifties, when he was growing up, and people were afraid less, while Greg Bear talked about how when he was growing up in the fifties, people were more frightened than they are to-day because of the atomic bomb, and I couldn't tell if they realised they were disagreeing with each other.
Ray Bradbury spoke rather highly of Greg Bear on his panel, so I feel I might try and check out the guy's work at some point. And I read Elizabeth Bear's blog now and then, so she's also on my ever expanding list of things I very much need to read, too.
I saw a heads up in Neil Gaiman's blog regarding how crowded panels had been this year, so I showed up to the programme in hall H scheduled before the Stardust presentation. This was the 20th Century Fox presentation, beginning with footage from the upcoming Eragon, which, according to the Fox rep., is a much beloved fantasy classic, even if the movie looks like Fox's cynical stab at the Lord of the Rings cash cow. The film's young star, Edward Speleers, came out to talk to us, looking like a pretty milksop. The movie also has Jeremy Irons and John Malcovich, and Weta's doing the special effects. Who knows? Maybe it'll be good.
Next, three stars from the upcoming Reno: 911 movie came out, in character, and were mildly amusing. Less amusing was Sacha Baron Cohen, who appeared next, also in character, to promote his new movie Borat. It looks like a cross between Yakov Smirnov and Jackass.
The director of Pathfinder came out and showed clips from his movie in which Vikings bearing a curious resemblance to orcs fight Native Americans, captured by a cinematography resembling spinach smeared on a kleenex.
At last, there came the Stardust panel with Neil Gaiman, Jane Goldman, and Charles Vess.
The clips from Stardust looked promising. Michelle Pfeiffer comes across very well, and the young man playing Tristran seems charming and cute.
Neil Gaiman seemed extremely tired, Jane Goldman's hair was a cheerful sort of red neon, and Charles Vess just sat there, silent and smiling. Someone asked if Tori Amos is going to play the tree in the movie and both Gaiman and Goldman said they very much hope she will, though they've not yet reached the phase of production where that will be decided.
The panel, which was technically the Paramount panel, concluded with the Paramount rep. relaying a message from Optimus Prime on his cell phone, thereby revealing that Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime in the old series, will be the voice of Optimus Prime in the new movie.