Sunday and Monday are somewhat lighter than the previous days, so I'm pasting them together into one big post. I know you're all heartbroken not to have this drawn out more...
Sunday 10:00 a
X H206: My Love Affair With JRR Tolkien
When (and how) did it start? Was it a passing fling or eternal love? Who or what is sitting at home waiting for you to come to your senses? Daniel Grotta, Karen Haber (m), Kathy Morrow, Michael Swanwick, Connie Willis
H303: When Did the Future Get So Far Away?
Remember the 1959s and 1960s, when we thought that by the year 2000 we'd have giant orbiting space stations, routine space travel, and human colonies all over the solar system? Stories written today don't talk of such wonders happening within a few decades—instead, they're a century or more in the imagined future. What happened? Did we get more cynical and lose our near-term dreams, or more practical and assume the future would be harder to get to that earlier dreamers imagined? Judith Berman, Steve Carper, D. Douglas Fratz, John G. Hemry, Mike Shepherd-Moscoe (m)
* H312: The Best Books of 2004 (so far)
You know those hateful people who somehow keep up with their reading? They're all on this panel. They'll share which current works of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and slipstream it's a shame you're missing. Charles N. Brown, John Clute, Jonathan Strahan (m)
[It's all about the book recommendations...]
Sunday 11:00 a
H107: Sword and Sorcery: Heroic Fantasy's Punk Kid Brother
Warrior heroes and mighty magicians strutting their stuff across a world of the author's imagination. That can describe both Heroic Fantasy and Sword-and-Sorcery. But why does one sound more up-market than the other? Does it depend on the style of writing—or just the thickness of the book? Peter Morwood
H203: Criticism or Review?
Is there really a difference? Discuss. F. Brett Cox, Gregory Feeley (m), Daniel Grotta, Graham Sleight, Takayuki Tatsumi
H206: Achilles Needs a Heel!—The Problem With Power
Would Achilles have been interesting if he'd been truly invulnerable, or, instead or dying a tragic here would he still have been acting like a psychopathic adolescent thirty years after the Trojan War ended? Can power without vulnerabilities make an interesting story? (Has anyone succeeded?) What sorts of vulnerabilities are needed? How do you avoid the search for the armor's chink turning a story into a puzzle? Alison Baird (m), Carol Berg, Diane Duane, Sheila Finch
H306: DOA: Books that Died Despite Everything
Well-known author, well-developed plot, thorough marketing plan, yet the book fails to thrive. Why? Did it show too much ambition or too little? Was it old-fashioned, or ahead of its time? Were the stars wrong, or the season, or were we simply coming down with the flu? Let us count all the sad ways good books go bad…Our panel will discuss the phenomenon from multiple viewpoints. John Jarrold, Jane Jewell (m), Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Janna Silverstein, Jonathan Strahan, Jacob Weisman
[In a weird way, this looks like it could be really interesting...]
H311: Exotic Mythologies
Tired of fantasy larded with cardboard cut-outs from Celtic mythology? Explore some of the world's great mythologies that fantasy has yet to fully explore. A survey of great ideas from countries and peoples around the world. Suzanne Alles Blom, Anne Harris, Josepha Sherman (m), Vandana Singh
Sunday 12:00 n
H302: The New Weird: What, Who, and Why?
Now that SF has become more mainstream, what has become the new fringe? Who defines what is "weird," and who and what have been declared "weird,"—and why? Paul DiFilippo, Beth Meacham, Delia Sherman, Graham Sleight (m), Jonathan Strahan, Jeff VanderMeer
[I'm not sure I've actually read anything by any of the "New Weird" authors-- China Mieville is the only one I can think of off-hand, and I never did finish Perdido Street Station (not that I didn't like it, I just wasn't in the mood for it right then, and then misplaced it for a while...). I think VanderMeer is one of the canonical examples, as well, but I haven't seen any of his books.]
H304: Hell is Gray: The Banality of Evil
Back, deep in the mists of history, there has always been a sneaking suspicion that evil is more exciting, more fun than good: many writers (from Milton on down!) make evil seem interesting. (Why?)But is it fun? The (fortunately) few times most of us get near a truly bad person, they don't seem to be very joyful or happy—they seen terribly unhappy and frequently pretty dull. C. S. Lewis called this the banality of evil: uncreative, repetitious, and boring. Hell is not fiery-red, it is gray. Who has done a good job, in fantasy or SF, showing realistic heroes combating realistic evil? Barbara Chepaitis, Stephen Dedman, Paula Guran, Elizabeth Hand (m), Tanya Huff, Mary Turzillo
H312: Reading (1 hour)
Sunday 1:00 p
H204: Turning Children's Books Into Film
Putting the Harry Potter books on film is turning out pretty well. Besides Holes, the latest Peter Pan, the recent TV Wrinkle in Time (plus Peter Jackson's promised The Hobbit ) what other kids' stuff would look great on the silver screen? Why? And perhaps most importantly, how? Kathryn Cramer, Susan Fichtelberg, Diana Tixier Herald, James S. Hinsey (m), Kathleen Kudlinski, Bonnie Kunzel
H302: Stories I'm Too Scared to Write
What makes some topics too frightening to write about? Is one person's bane another's delight? Ginjer Buchanan (m), Joe Haldeman, Louise Marley, Robert Charles Wilson
Sunday 2:00 p
H312: Fantasy Noire
Fantasy doesn't have to be sweetness and light, it can be dark without turning into gore-ridden horror. Who is writing dark fantasy today? Are there several traditions, or does it all derive from Lovecraft? Are there motifs in dark fantasy as pervasive as the Quest is in high fantasy? Has dark fantasy gotten clichéd? Jim Butcher, Glen Cook, Faye Ringel (m), Delia Sherman
[A slow couple of hours, here...]
Sunday 3:00 p
H204: LOTR: Looking Back at the Films
The film series is over, the dust has settled, was it all worth it? A look back, and assessment of the series as a whole. MaryAnn Johanson, Laurie Mann (m), Kathy Morrow
H301: The Fermi Paradox: Where is Everyone?
Enrico Fermi asked the question "Where are they?" Everything we know about astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology seems to say that planets with life ought to be common in the universe. If so, where are the aliens? Something is wrong—but what? John G. Cramer, G. David Nordley, Mark L. Olson (m), Stanley Schmidt
H302: Creating Gods
Gods are important characters in fantasy works from mythology to the Silmarillion to Saberhagen's "Swords" novels to Discworld. How does one introduce superbeings into a work without pushing the human characters into insignificance? Gods are often gigantic projections of human characteristics. Can they serve other functions as well? Additionally, why are polytheistic settings so common in fantasy? What are the sources that authors are using, and why? And why do readers find them so compelling? Lois McMaster Bujold (m), David B. Coe, Glen Cook, George R. R. Martin, Tamora Pierce, Jo Walton
H311: My Favorite Novels
Panelists will supply a list of their favorite novels, and the audience will try to match the authors to their lists. Then, they'll discuss their choices. Rosemary Kirstein, Paul Levinson (m), Robert Reed, Robert Charles Wilson
[Followed by another "Let's see you pick between these panels!" block. Evil bastards.]
Sunday 4:00 p
H107: What's New from Tor
A presentation of recent and forthcoming works published by Tor Books, along with a brief Q&A about the books. Come see the pretty pictures (i.e., cover art). Listen to the editors wax rhapsodic. There will be door prizes! David G. Hartwell, Beth Meacham, James Minz, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
H204: This Book Sucks: How and How Not To Write Reviews
What makes a good book review or a good critical piece? What kinds of things should book reviewers do? What kinds of behaviors should they avoid? Tobias Buckell, Thomas A. Easton, Scott Edelman, Janice M. Eisen (m), Steven Sawicki
Sunday 5:00 p
H310: Discoveries That Weren't: Near Misses in Science
Cold fusion wasn't the first. Scientists talk about promising results that turned out to be dead ends. At the other extreme, what experiments might have led to earlier advances of scientific theory if only scientists had known what they were seeing? And then there were the great scientific mistakes…that actually worked! Teflon, Penicillin, post-its…and where would we be without Silly-Putty? A semi-serious look at what science is really all about! John G. Cramer, Ctein, Howard Davidson (m), Robert A. Metzger, W. A. Thomasson
[The Davisson-Germer experiment is my personal favorite mistake-that-worked...]
And then there's Monday:
Monday 10:30 a
XXX H301: The Afshar Experiment: A Farewell to Copenhagen?
Update on Afshar's new quantum 2-slit experiment: does it falsify the Copenhagen and Many-Worlds interpretations of quantum mechanics? John G. Cramer
Monday 11:00 a
* H206: Warping the Classics
Perverse interpretations of classical SF and Fantasy. LOTR as a musical comedy or a Klingon parable? A Christmas Carol featuring Scrooge as a time-traveling mutant? Arrgh! Mike Conrad, John M. Ford, Mark Mandel, John Pomeranz (m), Darrell Schweitzer
[A topic tailor-made for John M. Ford...]
H302: Best Short Stories of 2004 (So Far…)
Short stories are the lifeblood of the field, where new writers build their reputations and established writers do their best to yank the field in new directions. But how do you keep up, or just find the best? A panel of editors of "best of the year" anthologies give an overview of what's happening in short fiction right now, the best stories of the year (so far!), and what just might be on next year's award ballots. Kathryn Cramer, Jack Dann, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Gavin Grant, Jonathan Strahan (m)
X H304: Images of Loss in LOTR
Much of the power of LOTR comes from the deep sense of loss that fills it: the elves' loss of Middle Earth, Men's loss of life, Frodo's loss of the Shire, Arwen's loss of immortality—and there are many others, even Gollum's loss of the Ring. Bittersweet images all. Is this sense of loss essential to the enduring strength of Tolkien's universe? Would we love it as much without the final image of the magic leaving Middle Earth, as the elves (and ring bearers) take the straight path across the sea to the West…? Debra Doyle, Mary Kay Kare (m), Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Jo Walton
H311: It's a Mystery…
Why do so many SF fans enjoy mysteries? In fact, why does anyone enjoy a mystery? And what's the appeal of occasionally crossing genres to dabble in both? Discuss what makes a good mystery and why this sometimes works so well with science fiction. Joshua Bilmes (m), Charlaine Harris, Jay Caselberg, Toni L. P. Kelner, Wen Spencer
H312: The Serious Side of Terry Pratchett
Other writers examine the message behind the merriment in the works of one of our Guests of Honor. What themes occur throughout? How does he combine wisdom with humor? Esther Friesner, Tanya Huff, Peter Morwood, Graham Sleight (m)
Monday 12:00 n
H302: SF: Transcendent Adventure
What is it? How does this term capture the essence of stuff that couldn't possibly be written in any other genre? Jim Frenkel, David G. Hartwell (m), Charles Oberndorf, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Monday 1:00 p
H304: Hard Fantasy
Even in genre circles, fantasy is often dismissed by saying that we can just make it all up. But many fantasy writers go to a good deal of trouble to research and extrapolate their worlds—everything from finding period maps of London to checking the etymology of period words or delving into other belief systems to give their magic a sense of reality. It is the factual underpinnings which give a good fantasy the solidity it needs. How is this best done? Duncan W. Allen, Stephen Leigh, Susan Shwartz (m), Liz Williams
H306: The Abuse of Biology in SF
How does SF stack up when it deals with the biological sciences? Grievous errors and how writers might avoid them. Bad examples and good examples. Zara Baxter, Perrianne Lurie, Samuel Scheiner (m), Ronald Taylor, W. A. Thomasson
* H309: Hitting "the Wall"
The inverse of "the singularity" is "the Wall," a technological barrier that can't be surmounted and imposes fundamental limits on progress. The Wall for interplanetary travel is the speed of light; SF writers either accept it or tunnel through it by waving their hands about hyperspace or the Infinite Improbability Drive. The Wall for commercial aviation is the sound barrier; with the demise of the Concorde, airline passengers can fly no faster than they could in a 707 40 years ago. Physicists and engineers talk about ultimate limits to things like information density and the smallest possible transistor. What Walls are coming up? Can we dodge them and what can we do if we can't? Thomas A. Easton (m), P. J. Plauger, Charles Stross
H312: How Stories End
Happily ever after? Well, perhaps not always. But—what makes a satisfying ending? And, in fact, does a story really need to have an ending anyway? And does it need to have a "happy" ending to leave the reader feeling good? Discuss favorite endings and why they work so well. Suzanne Alles Blom, Suzy McKee Charnas, James Patrick Kelly (m), William Tenn, Charles Oberndorf
Monday 2:00 p
H305: Force Fields: what can electromagnetism do for us?
What can electromagnetism do for us? Are there any other forces that might be used? How do new materials, potential superconductors, or ultra- fast computer reactions create new possibilities? Dave Clements, Howard Davidson (m), Jordin T. Kare, G. David Nordley
H306: 2024: Technology that We Can't Imagine Being Without
Twenty years ago it was hard to imagine what it was like before copy machines. They had changed the work environment a lot and had gone quickly from being a novelty to such an essential part of business that nobody could imagine what it would be like if we didn't have them. The pace of such "essential" inventions has quickened. How did we ever get by without computers? The Web? VCRs? (Kids today—and adults, since we've changed as we've gotten used to things—can't imagine the days when you had to eagerly scan the TV listing for late-night movies, hoping that somebody would soon re-run the movie you hadn't seen in years or had always wanted to see.) And we're beginning to feel that way about our DVD players. What things that we don't have now will be considered so much a part of life that they'll fall into the "can't imagine life without them" category? Kenn Bates, Marc Gordon (m), P. J. Plauger, Shara R. Zoll
* H310: All I Learned about Science I Learned from SF
Like what? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Can we trust the science in SF…do we want to? Jane Jewell, Steve Miller (m), Rebecca Moesta, Jo Walton
H312: How Do You Know When You're Dead?
The movie The Sixth Sense was not the first fiction to feature a character who is dead. Niven's Inferno, Connie Willis' Passages, and Philip José Farmer's Riverworld series all have protagonists who are dead or die and continue to be featured players. What other fiction features dead people? (And we don't mean vampires—but why not?) Are there any restrictions on the actions of dead people? What are some of the reactions of the characters who find themselves dead? Are there advantages to having a dead protagonist? Should we always fear the walking dead? What do they have to tell us? (Must we listen? Do they lie?) Do they return to harm or advise us? Do they come to warn or blame, comfort or prophesize? Do they offer us forgiveness or courage, or perhaps death itself? Discuss the use of the returning dead, and explain why they are such fascinating subjects. Scott Edelman (m), Neil Gaiman, Larry Niven, Terry Pratchett, Uncle River, Connie Willis
Posted at 7:47 PM | link |
The Dresden Files
We interrupt this series of Worldcon schedule updates to talk about some actual books. Six of them, in fact: the "Dresden Files" series by Jim Butcher (Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, and Blood Rites). The books follow the various adventures of Harry Dresden, Chicago's only openly practicing wizard. Yes, wizard-- he even advertises in the Yellow Pages:
Lost items found. Paranormal investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No love potions, endless purses, or other entertainments.
This is probably an inevitable concept, given the popularity of the hard-boiled private eye genre, and fantasy in general. Numerous people have written about ordinary (and often skeptical) private eyes facing supernatural evil in the modern world, where nobody believes in magic, and Glen Cook has gotten something like eight books out of the idea of a hard-boiled private eye in a fantasy world where magic is an accepted part of life-- it was only a matter of time before someone flipped this around, and wrote about a magic-using PI surrounded by non-believers.
Happily, these are well-done examples of both serial PI novels and urban fantasy. Harry's no Vlad Taltos, but he does a credible First Person Smartass, and he's got a typical array of PI novel acquaintances: Karrin Murphy, the tough cop with a heart of gold; Susan Rodriguez, a crusading reporter who's always looking for a new story, a series of by-the-book cops who hate his guts. He's also got the collection of unusual sidekicks you'd expect in an urban fantasy novel: various faeries and familiar spirits, the wizards and Wardens of the White Council, a crusading knight with a magic sword. He faces both ordinary criminals (crime boss Gentleman Johnny Marcone) and rampaging demons, vampire madams, and a variety of evil sorcerors.
These aren't Great Literature by any means, but they're fun reads. Butcher does a nice job of balancing dark psychological material with comic-relief moments exploiting the essential absurdity of Harry's situation. Each book has a self-contained plot, but there's enough of an overall story arc to the series to make you want to read the next one. And while there are elements of formula to the story (almost every book contains at least one potion-making scene, and at least a cameo appearance by all of the major characters), these are more comforting than annoying.
There are a few rough spots here and there-- I've spotted continuity goofs in a couple of the books, and the third book introduces a major new character in such an abrupt fashion that I wondered whether I'd gotten the fourth book bound in the third's cover by mistake. The sixth book may also spring at least one big revelation too many (I'll have to think about it more to be sure). But on the whole, they're good, fun, comfort reads. Probably the highest praise I can give them is to say that I read all six in the span of about three weeks that, professionally speaking, have been utterly miserable, and I still enjoyed them all.
Posted at 7:49 PM | link |
Various Saturday events that look interesting. You can also get useful recommendations from checking the appearance schedules of Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi, as well as Kate's list of interesting things (which has remarkably little overlap with mine-- I don't know what she sees in me...).
Saturday 10:00 a
H302: Doorstops: Truly Enormous Books and Series
Huge books... a never-ending series. Why are these herniators so popular? Why does it take so many words to tell a good story? Does anyone edit anymore? Daniel Abraham, Kevin J. Anderson, William C. Dietz, Beth Meacham (m), Martha Wells
[This one's a tough call. It may well be nothing but a bitch-fest about how long books have gotten, which would be annoying, as I actually like a lot of the long books and series.]
H303: Imaginative Fiction: A 3rd World Perspective
Why are science fiction and fantasy important to the Third World? And in what way could the Third World be important to science fiction and fantasy? Fans, readers and writers around the world are embracing imaginative fiction, and adapting and transforming it to reflect upon their societies and their possible futures. Much Anglo-American SF glorifies humans colonizing other worlds, but writers from post-colonial cultures are more likely to identify with the conquered aliens. As imaginative fiction crosses national and cultural border, how can we-Anglo-Americans and others-sample, learn from, and enjoy the resulting rich brew? A personal take on the subject from a writer born and raised in India, with discussion to follow. Vandana Singh
[Also a tough call. Maybe I'll just sleep in...]
* H304: Reading (1-hour)
[Probably the best bet if I decide to wake up. I've heard him read before, and he's very good.]
Saturday 11:00 a
H302: Reality Ain't What It Used To Be: Secret Histories and Urban Fantasies
Science fiction has always challenged conventional notions of reality, but recent years have seen a growing interest in speculative stories that dwell on ancient conspiracies and secret histories, parallel dimensions which interact in strange ways with our own and hidden corners of great cities in which lurk creatures of myth and legend come to life. Panelists can explore these cracks in consensual reality and their implications for the future of SF itself as a genre based largely on developments in science and technology. There are more and more books where the author, such as Tim Powers, re-examines the past and reveals the "real" secrets hidden there. Supernatural conspiracies may explain what we might have always thought of as dull historical trivia, and underlying connections between the most disparate events are elucidated with great verve. What the hell is going on here? Are secret histories gaining on alternate ones? Why are they so addictively enjoyable? How might the fantastic reinterpretation of history practiced by such authors relate to current events? And, in a world where Mae West slept with Ho Chi Minh, what even stranger connections might make intriguing reading? Paul DiFilippo, Daniel Hatch (m), Alex Irvine, Steven Sawicki
[I'm a sucker for a lot of this stuff, so it could be very interesting, and a good source of book recommendations. But it's opposite Pratchett...]
H305: Sweat and Blisters: How Much Reality Can We Stand in Fantasy Quests?
Why do people on quests in fantasy literature never sweat? How do you handle all the inconveniences like potty breaks, rain, bugs, rocks under your blanket, carrying enough food and water, etc.? Does it matter? Kage Baker, Glen Cook, Sean McMullen, Peter Morwood, Josepha Sherman (m), Andrew Wheeler
H310: Space Opera Noire
Space opera used to be all about optimism, excitement, and fun. Now it's about darkness, danger, and fun. How and why have modern masters such as Banks, Vinge, MacLeod, Reynolds, and Hamilton driven so far into the dark? (And why are they mostly British?) Jim Frenkel, David G. Hartwell, James Killus (m), Toni Weisskopf, Scott Westerfeld
* Grand Ballroom: Terry Pratchett GoH Speech
Our Guest of Honor became Britain's best-selling author by writing funny fantasies. He once said, "We are trying to understand the fundamental workings of the universe by a language devised for telling another where the best fruit is." Come by and he'll probably say more things like that. Terry Pratchett
Saturday 12:00 n
H203: The One-Foot SF and Horror Film Reference Bookshelf
There are many film reference books, some general, some aimed specifically at genre films. The panel examines film reference books and tries to decide the truly essential ones are for a fan of SF and horror films. After all, you can't get ALL your info off the Internet or in the gutter… Bob Devney, MaryAnn Johanson (m), Daniel Kimmel, Mark R. Leeper
H301: What is the Rock's Motivation in This Scene?
How do you keep control of your cast of characters and explain them to the reader without stopping the story? Theodora Goss, Stephen P. Kelner (m), Chris Moriarty, Martha Soukup, Jo Walton
[More likely, lunch...]
Saturday 1:00 p
H301: Technological Cusp Points and Alternate Histories
Many alternate histories focus on political and/or war aspects, or some form of "what if this great man/woman's life were different?" But much of the great sweep of history has been due to technological events. What are they? Consider what would have happened if they had been delayed, discovered elsewhere, or usurped by other methods. Movable type…the assembly line…the telephone…MS- DOS? All fair game… Duncan W. Allen, Michael Dobson, Sean McMullen, Robert A. Metzger, Isaac Szpindel (m)
H304: The Next Fifty Years: Where Will the Next Big Things Come From?
In December 2003, the Sunday New York Times identified "some developments today that could have profound effects tomorrow…the causes of the next big things." These included a growing elderly population in developed nations; unanticipated epidemics; pressures on democracy from religious fundamentalism and the campaign against terrorism; the Internet and the rise of movement politics; high tech warfare; and the spread of global capitalism. What wild cards and longer-term trends should be added to this list? With what consequences? Leading SF authors are invited to explore key factors expected to shape society over the next fifty years. Gregory Benford, John G. Cramer, Thomas A. Easton (m), Larry Niven
* H311: Reinventing Genre Fantasy
With so much genre fantasy being published, what can be done to refresh our jaded palates? Hilari L. Bell, Debra Doyle (m), Elizabeth Hand, Alex Irvine, Katherine Kurtz
[At the last few Boskones, Alex Irvine has been a fairly reliable source of recommendations for oddball things to read, so this looks like it might be good.]
Saturday 2:00 p
H301: What Do You Passionately Read?
Besides Fantasy and SF? Of course you want to finish that new trilogy (which has suddenly expanded to five books), but even the most devoted fans have other interests. Bibliophiles get together to discuss the non-SF/F books they love, from historical fiction to murder mysteries to biographies, and other stops in between. Chris Barkley (m), Laura Anne Gilman, Mary Kay Kare, Toni L. P. Kelner, Lawrence Watt-Evans
? H304: Great Cliches in SF and Fantasy
Hidden powers, quirky sidekicks, true names…bookish teens, rebel cops, sexy robots, haircut aliens…Devils' bargains (quashed by lemon laws), and Dark Lords without impulse control…splitting up to look for the monster!…Dueling till the death (or, the sequel?). Take a look at the really good (well, maybe in the eye of the beholder?) cliches of the field, and tell us what makes them so popular. Don D'Ammassa, Craig Gardner, David Levine (m), Josepha Sherman, S. M. Stirling
[Good topic, bad panel...]
H305: Lies I Learned at the Movies
Let's discuss at least a few of the thousands or scientific facts that movies teach us-that turn out not to be true. Our favorite: the title of the 1969 "historical" epic about a volcano disaster, Krakatoa, East of Java …um…it's WEST… Bob Devney (m), Tamara Jones, Peter Morwood, John Pomeranz, John Scalzi
H306: Alternate Prehistory
Do new discoveries in paleontology offer ideas for alternate history? Is this prehistory an untapped resource for alternate history? Robert Buettner, David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Robert J. Sawyer (m), Michael Swanwick
Saturday 3:00 p
H206: Tough Love for New Writers
Give it up: there are already too many writers. Let's face it, even with a lot of help, the best to be expected from most new writers is that they will produce a lot of mediocre sludge. In fact, most people who attend "how to" panels at conventions won't even do that well. Moreover, there are is already so much good to read that the field doesn't need such sludge. The panel's advice to wannabe writers: give it up now and get a real job. (An honest appraisal of the new writer's chances.) Gavin Grant, David G. Hartwell, Steve Miller, Priscilla Olson (m), Teresa Nielsen Hayden
H302: Novels You Write/Novels You Talk about in Bars
Well, first of all, are they your own or someone else's? And if they're your own, are you just talking instead of actually writing them? Will the story you end up writing be as good as the one you talked about? Ellen Kushner (m), James Macdonald, James Morrow, Charles Oberndorf, Charles Stross, Robert Charles Wilson
[A toss-up between this and "Tough Love."]
? H305: Alternate History Challenge Match
Panelists get a weird alternate present, and have to reverse-engineer how it came about... Michael Dobson, Mitchell Freedman, Peter J. Heck, Evelyn C. Leeper, S. M. Stirling, Toni Weisskopf (m)
Saturday 4:00 p
H107: Eos Presents Upcoming SF/F Titles
Eos Senior Editor Diana Gill and Jack Womack present the upcoming titles of interest from Eos and HarperCollins, including books by Neal Stephenson, Terry Pratchett, Dave Duncan, Sean Russell and more. Join us for handouts, contests, and candy, plus the best new science fiction and fantasy for Fall 2004.
[With very few exceptions, I'm just not aware of who publishes what, so it's nice of them to list some authors. I have no real clue if this will be useful or interesting.]
X H206: Speculative Physics and Space Travel
Wormholes, quantum teleportation, and other ideas on the edge of modern physics are all fair game! Dave Clements, John G. Cramer, Les Johnson (m), Henry Spencer
? H301: Why is Everyone So Scared of Genre Poetry?
Or is it just that people are scared of poetry? John M. Ford, Joe Haldeman, David C. Kopaska-Merkel (m), Janna Silverstein
[My first answer is "Because 90+% of it is very, very bad." The other 10% is mostly by John M. Ford, though, so it might be interesting to hear what he says.]
H302: The Numinous in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Okay, we know that "numinous" isn't a noun, but there is something, well, noun-like in the way some authors can invoke a feeling about stuff beyond our everyday experience. But the numinous does seem to show up more in our genre than in most others. Why? Why can some authors do this so effortlessly, while others try to get us there and don't quite make it? (And it is so often missed!) And why would a bunch of rational, science oriented people care about that kind of thing in the first place? Is this because SF is at its roots interested in the same things as fantasy and fantasy has a particularly close relationship with the numinous, or is it just that the numinous is a great way to get a Sensawonder fix? Lois McMaster Bujold, James Macdonald (m), James Morrow, Deborah Ross
Saturday 4:30 p Exeter: Reading
[Having missed the chance to read his novel while it was on the web...]
Saturday 5:00 p
H205: How Does SF Portray Islam?
What portrayal of Islam? The religion and culture of the Muslim world are infrequently the subjects of SF stories, which says something about the parochial nature of much of the genre; and when they do come up, it is in stereotypical ways. Yet Islam has evolved and diversified in as many ways as Christianity; there is no reason to think it won't continue to do so, on this world or others. Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Shariann Lewitt, Harry Turtledove (m), Sarah Zettel
H206: Pulp Eye for the Art Guy
Wherein the Rubber Science Guy, the Stereotype Guy, the Bad Prose Style Guy, the Twisty Plot Guy, and the Fan Guy all offer advice to the hopeless artiste! Keith R. A. DeCandido, Alex Irvine, Matthew Jarpe, Kelly Link, Allen Steele (m)
[Could be horribly lame, but some of the people involved are pretty funny, so...]
H302: The Monster in the Maze
There is a monster. It's lurking in the shadows, waiting. There is always a monster. It might be the Minotaur in the Labyrinth of Crete or an alien aboard a deserted spaceship, but it is always there. Why? What is the monster, if it's more than the dark shadow of the self. Explore the monsters that haunt our sleeping and waking hours, and how we may (with luck and wisdom) find and defeat them. Discuss some works that did this (and examine if they did it successfully) Stephen Dedman, Neil Gaiman, Simon R. Green, Yves Meynard, Robert Sheckley
Saturday 8:00 p Auditorium: The Hugo Awards
Bestowing the most famous honor in science fiction, the Hugo ceremony is indeed The Big One. Come watch some of our most towering talents endure hours of squirm in hopes of one magnificent minute of squeal. Neil Gaiman, William Tenn, Terry Pratchett, Jack Speer, Peter Weston
Posted at 5:54 PM | link |
Here's a listing of interesting-looking panels for Friday, with the same annotation conventions as the previous post, plus a ? for those panels where I'm sort of torn about whether it'll be good or not (for example, things where I like the topic, but have concerns about the panelists). These are, of course, even more subject to change than the Thursday listings, as I'll actually see some of these people in action on Thursday.
Friday 10:00 a
? H204: New England in Science Fiction and Fantasy
The locale of SF stories is often an important element of plot and style. LA, New York, London, New Orleans-these and other cities have served as the distinct locations in many stories. What about Boston and other places around New England? A lot of writers live in this region, but how do they use it in their stories? Does locating a story in Boston, Providence, rural Maine and so on make a distinct contribution to the look and feel of SF & fantasy plots? Or would a story set in this region have the same grounding if it was located anywhere else? Elizabeth Hand, Faye Ringel (m), Allen Steele
[I sort of like the topic, but I'm not sure about the panel. Also, why is this opposite the NYC in Fantasy panel? Is this a Yankees/ Sox thing?]
H205: A Group Reading from The Thackery T. Lambshead Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases
Join Drs. Cory Doctorow, Jay Lake, Paul DiFilippo, Liz Williams, and presiding physician Jeff VanderMeer for a brief "medial conference" on outlandish and ridiculous diseases, including props and giant microbes. Paul DiFilippo, Cory Doctorow, Jay Lake, Jeff VanderMeer, Liz Williams
H305: Dr. Seuss Appreciation
The late Springfield, Mass. writer/illustrator Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, created fantastic worlds where the Grinch stole Christmas, the Cat in the Hat could disrupt a household, Horton heard a Who, and Sneetches worried about whether they had stars on their bellies. How do his surreal and amusing stories prepare young readers for the world of SF? Kathryn Cramer, Susan Fichtelberg, John F. Hertz, Beth Hilgartner, Kathleen Kudlinski (m)
H311: The Enchanted Apple: New York in SF and Fantasy
The very first history of New York City, written by Washington Irving (under the name of Deitrich Knickerbocker) in 1809 was a work of fantasy. Since that time, NYC has appeared repeatedly in works of science fiction and fantasy. How has The City been portrayed? What makes it such a perfect locale for the fantabulist? Michael A. Burstein, Esther Friesner, George R. R. Martin, Madeleine E. Robins, Susan Shwartz (m)
H306: Continuing the Series: A Dialogue
Suzy McKee Charnas, P. C. Hodgell
[What, Daniel Keys Moran was busy?]
Friday 11:00 a
H301: What is Genre?
Ellen Kushner has informed us about the recently formed website of the Interstitial Arts Foundation A browse shows lots of great reading and fiercely intelligent discussion on a range of topics that span literature, art, music and performance which cannot easily be classified by conventional genre boundaries or any boundaries at all. We will skip the paradox of such "interstitial arts" forming its own genre and cut to the chase. What does it mean to be part of a "genre"? If you don't fit comfortably in SF or fantasy or horror or mainstream or fiction/nonfiction, where do they file you in the bookstore? What is the larger cultural significance of crossover material? What does it imply for the future of SF literature? Who is writing stories that fall between the cracks? Ellen Asher, Jay Caselberg (m), James Minz, Takayuki Tatsumi, Carrie Vaughn
H311: What Should Good Fantasy Do?
Should it inspire, teach, intimidate, educate? How about divert, relax, amuse, or awaken? The panelists will choose their own verbs-and in the process, explain how good fantasy differs from not-so-good fantasy. Daniel Abraham (m), John Clute, Justine Larbalestier, Laura Underwood
Friday 11:30 a Hampton: Reading
P. C. Hodgell
[Depends on what she's reading...]
Friday 12:00 n
H203: Novel Educational Approaches
In the past three academic years, a group of second-grade students have been taught a mixture of karate and science. What was tried and how well did this mixed instruction seem to work? Student notebooks and other items will be available for view. Keith G. Kato
[This makes it on the list just due to the "Huh?" factor.]
? H205: The World Map of 2100-What Does it Look Like?
The map of Europe has been redrawn several times in recent decades; many people have the experience of being born in one country, growing up in another and dying in a third without ever having moved. There is no reason to think this process will stop. If you could see a a world map of 2100, what's familiar, what isn't? united Europe? disunited US? Canada still there? rearranged Africa? internet/virtual communities more important than geographic ones? regional ecotopias? corporate empires? David McMahon, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, S. M. Stirling, Scott Westerfeld, Jim Young (m)
[I've encountered S. M. Stirling on Usenet, where he's an ass, which makes me think that I probably don't want to see this. On the other hand, though, Will Shetterly uses the medium of online argument in mystifying ways, and yet in person is a very nice soft-spoken kind of guy (based on seeing him at Boskone once). If Stirling is similar, this might be interesting...]
H306: Archetypes in Fantasy: The Princess, Alone
Who is she, and why is she alone? How can she ever find her way out of the Tower? Diane Duane, Justine Larbalestier, Michelle Sagara West (m), Jo Walton, Paul Witcover
Friday 1:00 p
H203: The Two Cultures in F&SF: Science Confronts the Humanities
Decades ago, C.P. Snow defined the "Two Cultures" of technical intellectuals and literary intellectuals. The split is still with us. How does it influence our fantasy and science fiction? What works, what authors manage to bridge the gap? What works or authors make it deeper? Ctein (m), Matthew Jarpe, Nancy Kress, Justine Larbalestier
[As a scientist at a small liberal arts college, I've heard C.P. Snow cited so many times, that I almost have to go to this. Either to see whether SF fans put a different spin on it than humanities professors, or just to throttle everyone involved for bringing this up again...]
H301: 15 Years of The Simpsons
It's now one of the longest-running TV shows, and shows no sign of slowing down. (Maybe that's because someone always seems to be chasing them, for something they shouldn't have done. There are still a few states that haven't yet run the family out.) How does the show manage to stay fresh? Is it the large number of characters? The loose sense of location? The fact that their family looks like ours? (Don't we all have a Homer and a Lisa?) What subjects would we still like them to cover? Should Skinner and Edna tie the knot? And do we think Bart will someday become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Michael A. Burstein (m), Pam Fremon, Daniel Kimmel
* H304: Looking Backward: the 20th Century
It was a time of terrible wars and great evils and unparalleled progress, ending with democracy triumphant, right? Well…It was also the time of Milton Berle and Cheese Whiz&tm;, love beads and Elvis, and…OK, so will the writers and fans of the late 21st century look back on the 20th with nostalgia, with surprise, or with horror? How will people in far future times look at us? Imagine what things about the 20th century that those in the future will look back on in the same way as we view the Roman gladiators… Esther Friesner (m), Craig Gardner, Terry Pratchett, John Scalzi
[Realistically, this is probably the best bet for this hour.]
H310: The Cassini Mission
NASA's Cassini spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn on June 30 and will continue exploring the Saturn system during Noreascon. This is the first spacecraft to visit the ringed planet since Voyager 2 passed through in 1981. What has it already learned? What more will it learn during its four-year mission to Saturn and Titan? What more do we want to know? What's next? It's another neat space stuff panel. Jeff Hecht, Bill Higgins, Geoffrey A. Landis, Larry A. Lebofsky, Carolyn Collins Petersen
Friday 2:00 p
H304: Kennedy Survives Dallas-Then what?
It's Boston, it's 40+ years since Dallas, politics abounds-how can we not do this? This panel takes for granted an alternative past to explore an alternative present-what if JFK was not killed at Dallas? What does the present look like? For example: the base on Mars is now 10 years old. Bobby Kennedy was impeached for violating civil liberties. what Vietnam war? Who would the parties be nominating this year? Once you change one fundamental aspect of the past, how do you spell out the ripples through the near future? Or…is history so chaotic that thirty years later much of the detail of life would be unpredictably different?…or not much changed at all? Mitchell Freedman, Joseph T. Major, Mike Resnick, Shane Tourtellotte (m)
H310: The MIT Media Lab: A Visit From the Future
What's cookin' at the Media Lab? MIT's well known research organization has garnered a reputation as a leading-edge center for developments in machine understanding, affective computing, advanced interface design, nanomedia, silicon biology and digital expression, among other fields, that may influence how we use technology in the years ahead - not to mention provide fertile ideas for science fiction stories. This panel features presentations from Lab researchers on a sample of current activities. Bill Higgins, Marvin Minsky, Sandy Pentland
* Friday 2:30 p H301: Physics vs. Fiction
Discussion of the differences between looking at science as a working scientist, vs. looking at it as a science fiction writer. David Stephenson
Friday 3:00 p
H203: Teaching Science With Science Fiction
Many of today's scientists were inspired to start their careers by science fiction, but how effective is SF in introducing science to a non-science oriented student? How effective are SF conventions as venues for presenting science to the public? Which books work best in conveying not only the facts of science, but how science is actually done? What strategies work best in a typical college classroom? Which authors are most popular with the students? Which books just "don't work"? Guy Consolmagno, Bill Higgins, Larry A. Lebofsky
H302: The Character of Death
Death personified appears in a number of works. Just who is this character, and why do writers use him/her/it? Can Death be sympathetic? (YES.) P. C. Hodgell, Tanya Huff, Beth Meacham (m), James Morrow, Terry Pratchett
H306: The Future of the Future
The future looks different to many of us now than it did just a few years ago To what degree is the concept of an open, freely imagined future under attack in our own culture, from either the right of the left. To what degree have larger cultural currents affected the SF portrayal of the future? And how does SF imagine its own future, or is it, too, stuck in a cycle of recurrence, of hankering for a restoration of its own golden Age? What is the outlook for the future? Elizabeth Bear, Judith Berman (m), Daniel Hatch, Dennis Livingston, Walter Jon Williams
H309: Rhythm, Meter, and the Use of Language
Unresolved anapests? Short. Choppy. Sentence. Fragments? Changing viewpoints mid-paragraph? What are some of the ways to vary the "beat" of prose, and how (why?) are these methods used? How can they be used well? Badly? How can particular writing styles attract or repel readers? Greer Gilman (m), Lee Martindale, David Marusek, Martha Soukup, Jo Walton
H311: I Can Explain That!-The SF/Fantasy Challenge
Test the wits of our panel, as they offer the silliest scientific (?) explanations for SF and fantasy cliches, suggested by the audience. Deconstruct the standard tropes (e.g., faster than light travel, trolls, genetic engineering, enchanted objects as so forth)…could that magic sword be created by straight physics, or might there be a reason for a clan of elves to build a starship? Catherine Asaro, Chris French, Jordin T. Kare (m), Robert A. Metzger, Isaac Szpindel, Lawrence Watt-Evans
[In keeping with the iron laws of the universe, multiple interesting things must always be scheduled at the same time.]
Friday 4:00 p
* H305: Rumors at the Speed of Light
The downside of rapid internet communication. Charles Ardai, Sharon Sbarsky, John Scalzi (m)
H306: The Civil War and SF
The U.S. Civil War is a popular theme, revisited by writers time and time again. How has it been represented, both in and out of the subgenre of alternate history? And can we think of something more creative to do than ask the perennial question "What if the South had won?" Duncan W. Allen, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Harry Turtledove, Toni Weisskopf (m), Peter Weston
X H311: The Future of the News Media
Things have changed in many ways over the last year. How is the current political situation affecting the news media, and where will this take us in the future? Sally Wiener Grotta, Daniel Hatch (m), Allen Steele, Rick Wilber
[Again, I am baffled at the scheduling of two panels that ought to draw more or less the same audience directly opposite one another. The choice between the two is fairly clear, at least.]
Friday 5:00 p
H304: Where Did That Story Come From?
History hidden in well-known SF, for the historical illiterati. David B. Coe, Alex Irvine, Mark L. Olson, Harry Turtledove (m), Sarah Zettel
* H310: Drunk on Technology?
We're living in a science fiction world, and its technological magic is getting wilder (and more wonderful?!) by the minute. Are these marvels going to our heads? (In a "good" way?) How do we deal with the intoxication of "present shock"? Cory Doctorow (m), Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Charles Stross
Friday 6:00 p
H203: The Archaeology of the Future: Reading Science Fictional Futures/Learning About the Past
[No panelists are listed on the web page, so this is a provisional listing...]
Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton
On Kate's LiveJournal, Jo adds:
The secret title for the dialogue is "Beyond the Fields We Know", and we're going to talk about fantasy and SF from the starting point of Swanwick's comments in June's Locus "There is a greater freedom in fantasy than SF affords, but it comes at a price. The payoff has to justify that extraordinary license. In fantasy when you've got giants and ogres and dragons wandering around, you've borrowed a great deal of patience from your readers and you've got to pay them back. At the end of the story they have to think, 'That rewards me for having believed in these children's fairy tale elements'."
I think I could probably converse for an hour on just the places where I disagree with that statement...
Friday 6:30 p H206: Technobabble Quiz
We're going to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow of our panelists as they compete to (a) explain in their best technobabble just how to do some SF cliche, (b) catch science errors in published SF technobabble, and (c) determine whether a particular selection of technobabble is real science, published SF, or something made up just for the quiz! Howard Davidson, Bill Higgins (m), Jordin T. Kare
[If the dialogue doesn't pan out, this looks like goofy fun.]
Nothing scheduled after 6:00 really grabbed me, so I've at least got a clear idea of when I'll be getting dinner before going to parties...
Posted at 9:55 AM | link |
Simpsons: It's a bit optimistically delusional to say that it's still fresh. Maybe five years ago, but now... no.
Pratchett and Craig Shaw Gardner: If you go to this panel, DO NOT LET THEM TOUCH, because the collision of humor and anti-humor would unleash devastating force.
Of course, five years ago, people were saying the same thing about the Simpsons, so...
I don't think I've ever read anything by Gardner (or if I have, I don't remember it), so I'm not aware of his anti-humor properties, save by reputation...