Dudcon 3, 49th Australian National Science Fiction Convention, 2nd - 6th September 2010*
Fan Guest of Honour: Jacob Blake
As befits our not-quite convention, Jacob Blake is entirely fictitious. That didn't however stop him winning a Best Fanzine Ditmar in 1989 for his work on "Get Stuffed". Although he never again tasted Ditmar glory and memories of him have since faded it is fair to say the he embodies the larrikin spirit that was so common in Australian fandom during the 1980s and 1990s.
Australian Guest of Honour: Helen Merrick
"I was born in Perth, Western Australia, the second-most isolated city in the world (we used to be first, but apparently Honolulu beats us). I was always a reader, in a family of readers, where books were allowed at the table at breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. From an early age I pursued fantastic literature, settling down in teenage-hood to an almost exclusive passion for SF (although friends have persuaded me in recent years to read fantasy every now and again). I was a music scholarship student at high school and played the oboe, which along with my tendencies to do my homework, enjoy maths exams and compete with boys academically marked me out as what we then called a 'square’. (Perhaps with sufficient exposure to computers at that time I might have become a fully-fledged geek). I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I studied classical music at university before dropping out to sing in a '80s electronic dance band. After 3 years living in the UK trying to get a record deal, I returned to Perth and ended up back at University for a second try, and somehow ended up studying history. There I discovered women’s history, feminist theory and a passion for research. I decided I wanted to be in publishing when I grew up. About this time I had stopped reading SF, as the standard old white bloke’s fare I had been consuming clashed terribly with my newly raised feminist consciousness. Luckily I was saved by reading Donna Haraway’s 'Manifesto for Cyborgs’, which revealed to me the perfect solution to my dilemma: feminist SF! I never looked back. I completed a PhD on feminist SF and somehow became an academic (something I never thought I’d be when I grew up). Although my teaching career has been in other areas, most of my research and writing continues to focus on feminist SF. Publications include the co-edited collection Women of Other Worlds: Excursions through science fiction and feminism (1999) and chapters in The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction (2003), Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction (2008), Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009), and On Joanna Russ (2009). I am currently working on articles about sf and sustainability, and a co-authored book on Donna Haraway with Margaret Grebowicz (forthcoming from Columbia U.P). I share my precious 1/2 acre slice of urban bushland with one grown-up and three youngish humans, and a host of 'Earth Others’ including possums, snakes, blue-tongue lizards, kookaburras and a multitude of native parrots, as well as chickens, guinea pigs and a cat. I garden for the apocalypse by planting lots of local native plants, vegetables and fruit trees. When I grow up I hope to have more time for baking bread, making preserves and fighting global warming". Helen's latest book, The Secret Feminist Cabal, has been nominated for a Hugo and she also has an essay in another Hugo nominated work, On Joanna Russ. Helen is also working on the academic program for Aussiecon 4.
International Guest of Honour: Peter Watts
Peter Watts (www.rifters.com) is an uncomfortable hybrid of biologist and science-fiction author, known for pioneering the technique of appending extensive technical bibliographies onto his novels; this serves both to confer a veneer of credibility and to cover his ass against nitpickers. Described by Canada's Globe & Mail as one of the best hard-sf authors alive, his debut novel (Starfish) was a NY Times Notable Book. His most recent (Blindsight)— a philosophical rumination on the nature of consciousness which, despite an unhealthy focus on space vampires, has become a required text in such diverse undergraduate courses as "The Philosophy of Mind" and "Introduction to Neuropsychology"— made the final ballot for a whole shitload of genre awards including the Hugo, winning exactly none of them (although it has, for some reason, won multiple awards in Poland). This may reflect a certain critical divide regarding Watts' work in general; his bipartite novel Behemoth, for example, was praised by Publisher's Weekly as an "adrenaline-charged fusion of Clarke's The Deep Range and Gibson's Neuromancer" and "a major addition to 21st-century hard SF", while being simultaneously decried by Kirkus as "utterly repellent" and "horrific porn". (Watts happily embraces the truth of both views.) His work has been extensively translated, and both Watts and his cat have appeared in the prestigious journal Nature. After a quiet couple of years (he only published one story in 2009, although he managed to publish it five times thanks to various Best-of-Year anthologies) a recent foray into fanfic, and a more recent foray into the US judicial system, Watts is back at work on State of Grace (the sidequel to Blindsight) and another project he's not quite allowed to talk about just yet. If you can find him at this con, it means that the US Border Patrol and Homeland Security haven't yet got around to putting him on one of their terrorist watch lists. It's probably only a matter of time.
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