Saturday, July 31, 2021

Halfling Mythcon, day 1

This was the first of a two-day online Mythcon, something we (the Mythopoeic Society) weren't prepared to do last year, and are doing in a sort of half-baked manner this year, hence "Halfling". Full daytimes of three tracks of programming, each track with its own Zoom link, plus additional conversation rooms which (unlike Zoom chats) can be preserved, in a separate service called Discord. About 160 people signed up, typical for Mythcon, and most of the papers had about 12-25 attendees, typical for Mythcon. Outstandingly user-responsive tech team.

The day began with an informal gathering in one of the Zoom rooms, featuring a lot of discussion of how unexpected spellings threw us as children. Most memorable was one man who confessed that he stopped reading T.H. White because the word sword had a W in it.

I got through 6 papers and discussion sessions before the typical hot afternoon intermittent failures of my internet connection caused me to give up. Learned surveys of the historical philology and of the Christian faith at the root of Tolkien's work and an inter alia demonstration that Gandalf is the result of Tolkien rethinking who Odin ought to be; discussions of the whither of the Society's awards and of favorite fantasy short fiction; and a paper on Superman.

This last was particularly interesting, depicting Superman as constructed out of Jewish legendry - he has the strength of Samson and the origin story of Moses, inspirations which Siegel testified to; he's an immigrant made good, and his alter ego is a cerebral nebbish, and Siegel claims he served as a model for Shuster drawing that character. That was very interesting, but the problem for me is: how much of a model for immigrants can he be if he's presenting himself as a WASP from Kansas?

As for the short story discussion, I posted afterwards a list of 6 favorite stories which had come up in the discussion: 1) "The Cave of Kai", Lord Dunsany; 2) "Smith of Wootton Major," JRR Tolkien; 3) "Direction of the Road," Ursula K. Le Guin; 4) "For a Breath I Tarry," Roger Zelazny; 5) "Flight," Peter Dickinson; 6) "Little Free Library," Naomi Kritzer.

During one post-paper discussion, viewers of the gallery display got to see Tybalt standing on my shoulders and licking my hair for about ten minutes.

Reappeared long enough for the first round of the trivia quiz, before I was kicked offline again. First round was general sf&f, and featured supposedly tough questions like who was the editor of Astounding and Analog from 1937 to 1971? We were given only 5 seconds to answer, which at least for a slowpoke like me is not long enough to read all the answers, pick the right one, and then move my cursor to hit the right symbol on the Kahoot page, so I missed a lot.

More tomorrow, mostly early in the day so I hope I'll capture most of it.

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