(As always, any mistakes are likely mine due to crappy notes and a faulty memory.)
1. Generation Dark -- The concept here that there is anecdotal evidence that horror is skewing young. The reality is that everyone on the panel and in the room thought the topic was stupid and wrong. The extra reality is that one panelist pulled stats out of her ass (damned-near literally -- I fully expected her to bend over and lube up to grab some of the numbers she tossed out there) about safety and the like, and actually uttered the question, "have you heard of this game called Grand Theft Auto," as if it was some fresh unholy evil whose very existence would break our puny brains.
The discussion that actually ensued wasn't bad; they rightly noted that the presence of creatures like vampires and werewolves does not necessarily make a book horror (dismissing Twilight explicitly here), That said, given the silliness of the topic, the discussion never gelled into anything really solid, either.
2. Economics as the S in SF:
In his con report, Matthew Cheney writes: I didn't attend too many panels, because after seeing a few, I began to get immensely frustrated with people who didn't know when to shut up. Panels are almost always unbalanced, since it's difficult for everybody to speak for equal amounts of time, but it wasn't unbalance that bothered me -- it was hijacking. In one case, it involved an insufferable moderator who thought the entire point of being moderator was to pose questions to himself.
Worth noting: Cheney was sitting in the row in front of me for this panel. I'm not saying that Ernest Lilley, this panel's leader, was the person in question (especially for reasons that will follow), but he was definitely the wrong person for this panel. That's not so much a critique of his knowledge of the category as it is of his personality as it meshed with those of the other panelists. He was just the wrong sort of extrovert to bring out the knowledge that some of the other (more introverted) panelists had. He did try (repeatedly, in the case of David Louis Edelman), but nothing seemed to gel, much to the frustration of much of the audience.
3. Triumphing Over Competence:
A response to Jeff Vandermeer's essay, this was a great panel to attend, but not one with a lot that I can boil down to bullet points. The major points of interest were the idea of the importance of authorial voice and the fact that for some editors, a story that's perfectly "publishable" isn't enough. Cecelia Tan noted that the competence level is rising; whereas previously, 50% of her rejections were utter trash (bad grammar, hokey plots, and other stuff that could be rejected on page one), at least 80-90% of current rejections were "competent," and that's without a rise in the overall rejection rate. Theodora Goss noted that, when editing Interfictions, there were often stories that she loved, but Delia didn't, and vice versa. Carl Frederick in turn noted that he knew a story had succeeded when his critique group responses had two peaks, one that loved it, and one that hated it. Someone (not sure who) then suggested that the mixed reaction was the sign of a great story, a theory I'm naturally wary of, as it removes the possibility that the vocal minority could actually be on to something. I suspect it does tend to be true, but I'm not inclined to take it to its logical extreme (and that opens up a greater discussion on personal aesthetics that I'm just too tired to think about).
4. The Critical Review: Griffin, Gorgon, or Sphinx?:
Correct answer: It's actually a Hydra with a Minotaur on its back. No. Wait. This panel was actually a good discussion of critical reviews, not necessarily organized or with any particular conclusion to reach, but a good panel with mentions of some classic pieces of criticism, discussion of M. John Harrison, the use of political and literary agendas in criticism, and more. John Clute made the point that the fear of spoilers often cut into the quality of the review, and that many critics and reviewers had serious problems with endings. Good, entertaining panel, just not one that I've got a lot of notes for.
More panels, readings, etc to come in the next report (tonight or tomorrow).