This was a session intended to discuss fantasies based on non-European cultures (what they also referred to as “non-Tolkien-esque” fantasies).
Fantasies of this type seem to be much more common outside the of United States and UK.
Two of the writers on the panel, Aliette de Bodard and Saladin Ahmed, had created works based on Aztec and Arab cultures, respectively.
The most interesting and useful bit of writing advice I heard during this panel was related to world-building: Take the iceberg approach to describing your world to your audience. Show the tip–and maybe a few feet below the surface–but enough so that they feel confident that the rest of the iceberg (detail) is there underneath.
This started off as a fairly light-hearted panel. (“My name is Saladin and I have written Tolkien-esque fantasy.” “Hello, Saladin.”) Once audience questions began, it started far deeper and more serious. Still quite interesting, but less light-hearted.
— Sent from my HP TouchPad