Where I’ll Be at Worldcon

The Worldcon program has been posted, but only as a giant, confusing PDF. I was getting cross-eyed trying to figure things out, so I ended up creating my own blank grid sheets, and making notes on those.

The following is a by-no-means comprehensive list of things I think look interesting enough to attend. There are only a handful of thing that I’ll definitely be at (I’ll mark those in bold), but I’ll probably choose many of the rest from this list:

Thursday

15:30: Re-reading

Graham Sleight, Jo Walton, Kate
Nepveu, Larry Niven

There is a school of thought that re-reading
is a juvenile habit, something children
demand as a way to gain comfort. Yet most
fans re-read. All critics do. What is it we
gain from re-reading, do some texts bear
more re-reading than others? And does
this notion of comfort reading have any
validity?

(We’ll be arriving not long before this starts, so nothing earlier is likely.)

17:00: The Life and Work of John M
Ford

Neil Gaiman, David Hartwell, Jo Walton,
Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Patrick Nielsen
Hayden

John M Ford, who died in 2006, is
acknowledged as one of the semi-secret
masters of the field, an incredibly versatile
novelist, story writer and poet whose work
has influenced Neil Gaiman among others.
Here, some of those who knew him and
his work gather to celebrate his achievements.

(Maybe. I might need food/rest at this point)

19:00: That was the Noughties, That
Was

Carl Fink, Helen Gbala, Michael Skeet,
S.C. Butler, Virginia O’Dine

We’re four months off the end of a decade
- time for a retrospective. What were the
best sf/fantasy novels of the last ten years?
What will the decade be remembered for?

(Book recommendations are good.)

19:00: The World is Large and Strange

Ada G. Palmer, Henry Spencer, Teresa
Nielsen Hayden

And there are boojums out there. Are our
worlds sometimes a little too familiar, a
little too cosy? Do we really make use of
the full range of human experience?

(Could be fun, quirky stuff)

19:00: Canid Ethology and Evolution

Richard Crownover, M.D., Ph.D.

Richard L. Crownover is the author of
_Breeding Violence_ which documents
the scope and practices of professional
dogfighting in North America.

(The history of canid evolution is a long, slow process of incremental improvements leading to Emmy. According to her, anyway.)

20:00: Who Pays for Science?

Chuck Walther, John Park, Mark L. Van
Name, Michael Sestak

In harsh economic times who should pay
for blue skies research? Should governments
foot the bill for big telescopes or
should we rely on rich benefactors? Are
there any alternatives?

(A good topic, but kind of late. I may have lost interest in panels by this point.)

Friday

10:00: How to Effectively Talk about
Science to Non-Scientists and
Why it Matters

Chad R. Orzel

Presenting one’s ideas is ever more crucial
for scientists. If we don’t do it well, you can be certain someone else will do it
badly.

(Duh.)

11:00: Breath-catching, Dealer’s Room, Early Lunch

12:30: Snobs R Us

Emma Hawkes, Jane Carnall, Paul
Cornell

What kinds of fiction in our *own* world
do we ignore, put down or exceptionalise?
Why do we dismiss YA books and tie-ins?

(Paul Cornell is really entertaining.)

12:30: The New Media

Melissa Auf der Maur, Tobias Buckell,
Cory Doctorrow, Neil Gaiman, Ellen
Kushner

How has turn of the millennium technology
affected the arts? Books, Music, Film,
Comics and the Web — are they all in the
process of merging into one mixed media?
What media will the artist of the future
work in?

(What an interesting assortment of people…)

12:30: Legal Systems, Past and Future

Bradford Lyau, James Morrow, Kate
Nepveu, Charles Stross

A place’s legal system tells us a lot about
its values. Laws are made by culture and
make culture.

(Spousal loyalty…)

14:00: From SF Reader to Economist

Paul Krugman

Economist and current Nobel recipient
Paul Krugman talks about why science
fiction lead him to entering the field of
economics. Q&A follows.

(That’s not your usual Worldcon program item…)

15:30: Anatomy for Writers, Heroes
and Tavern Brawlers.

Darlene Marshall, Jetse de Vries, Sean
McMullen, Kristen Britain

Author, karate instructor, fencer and first
aid officer Sean McMullen provides a tour
of how the human body can and cannot
be damaged. Want to know where a hero
can be punched without any effect? Worried
about his vascular dilation? Curious
about the real-life version of Mr Spock’s
nerve pinch? Not sure whether a really
long sword fight is three hours or seven
seconds? Wondering why readers are
laughing because your hero has microsecond
reactions? Come along and find out in
complete safety

(I’m puzzled by all those other names, when McMullen is the only one mentioned in the description…)

17:00: Tall Technical Tales

Bill Higgins, Chuck Walther, David Clements,
Mark Olson

True, humourous and occasionally
educational stories from the front lines of
science. Just what should you do if you
swallow Liquid Nitrogen? Listen to our
panel’s stories then share your own.

(AKA True Lab Stories: The Panel. I may be going to dinner, though.)

20:00: Mad Social Scientists

Alison Sinclair, Sparks, Shariann Lewitt

Why do the chemists get all the fun? Why
do you have to be a physicist to destroy the
world? The panellists discuss the possibility
of using social science to destroy the
universe.

(Step 1: Start a hedge fund…)

Saturday

10:00: The Philosophy of Science

Chad R. Orzel, Greer Gilman,
James Morrow, Jeff Warner, Richard
Crownover, M.D., Ph.D., DD Barant

To what extent does SF explore the meaning
of science for scientists and create the
ideas that our culture has of science?

(Greer Gilman appears to have dropped off this in the latest revision. I’m moderating, which is good because I don’t have to have anything interesting to say…)

11:00: Writing Textbooks about the
Future

Julie E. Czerneda, Geoffrey A. Landis,
Steven R. Boyett

Can you describe the future? Can you
prepare people for futureshock?

(Geoff Landis is reliably fun.)

Abby Normal: Comedy and SF

James Zavaglia, Joe Pearce, John Scalzi

The 35th anniversary of the Mel Brooks
spoof “Young Frankenstein” is a good
excuse to look at movies that treat sciencefiction,
fantasy and horror not with reverence
but for laughs. How difficult is it to
balance the genre with the comedy? Movies
like “Galaxy Quest” and “The Princess
Bride” get it right, while recent spoofs like
“Epic Movie” get it horribly wrong. Do
you have to love the genre to laugh at it?

(Pro: Funny is good. Con: Over-analyzing funny is excruciating.)

12:30: How are We Getting on Towards
the Singularity Then?

Jo Walton, Robert Charles Wilson

The rapture is beginning to feel a bit like
the Second Coming. Any moment now!
Do we live for it? Do we live in hope? Are
we learning to think of it as a future we
desire only in theory?

(Old topic, but really sharp panelists…)

12:30: We are the Knights Who Say
f***!

David Anthony Durham, Guy Gavriel
Kay, Marc Gascoigne, Pat Rothfuss

Diction in fantasy used to be pretty formal,
and, indeed, this can be a problem for the
contemporary reader in getting on with
The Lord of the Rings. But more recent
epic fantasies have had their characters
speaking more demotic language (and with
a fair bit of Anglo-Saxon thrown in). What
are the costs of doing this? Does it really
make things easier for readers?

(What, no George R. R. Martin?)

14:00: Real World Nanotechnology of
Spintronics

Kevin Roche

Kevin Roche, an advisory engineer/scientist
in IBM Almaden’s Magnetoelectronics
and Spintronics group, gives us a short
tour.

(How dorky is it to go to a SF convention and listen to talks about real science?)

15:30: Canadian Space Agency Presents:
Exploring the Red Planet

Victoria Hipkin

The Mars Exploration Rovers have been
exploring Mars for more than 5 years. The
Phoenix mission landed in the Mars high
arctic at the Mars latitude and longitude
equivalent of the Yukon. What are we
learning and what does the future of Mars
exploration hold?

(Seriously, is that too dorky? I don’t want to be too dorky.)

17:00 Is Blogging an Art Form, or Just
a Fanzine by Any Other Name?

Cheryl Morgan, Kathryn Cramer, Niall
Harrison, Heather McDougal, Tobias
Buckell

Does a blog require a different style? A
different layout? A different mode of approach?
Do the technical requirements
make it more or less accessible a medium?

(Or, more likely, dinner.)

19:00: Naming Pluto – The Venetia
Phair Story

David Clements, Geoffrey A. Landis,
Henry Spencer, Jordin Kare

Screening “Naming Pluto” a 13 minute
documentary about Venetia Burney Phair,
who named the planet Pluto in 1930 when
she was 11. Followed by a panel discussion
with Astronomers.

(Everybody’s favorite not-really-a-planet…)

19:00: Getting It Right: Warfare and
History

David Anthony Durham, Dawn Hewitt,
L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Mike Resnick

Panelists discuss military history around
the world and how to get it right in your
work, whether you’re writing fantasy, science
fiction or alternate history.

(“This isn’t really a question, but more of a comment. Mike Resnick, I hate your Hugo-nominated stories…”)

21:00 Fireworks: South Africa

The entry from the Republic of South
Africa for The Montréal International Fireworks
can be viewed from the food court
area on the East side of the Palais. The
area will be opened starting at 21:00. The
fireworks themselves begin at 22:00.

(Kate has this marked with stars and exclamation points…)

Sunday

9:00: How Not to be a Jerk Online

Catherynne Valente, Kate Nepveu, John
Scalzi, Michelle Kendall

Is there an equivalent of Miss Manners for
this modern age? How to avoid flamewars
and actually learn something.

(Kate may be the best person on the Internet to moderate this panel.)

10:00: SF Graphic Novels: Recommended
Reading

Dominick Grace, Eric In the Elevator
Zuckerman, John C. Wright, Scott Edelman,
Stephen H. Segal, Stephen Saffel

They’re not your dad’s comic books anymore.
What are the classic graphic novels?
What’s currently on the cutting edge? So
much stuff gets turned out that sometimes
some really good stuff slips between the
cracks. What graphic novels are worth
tracking down even if it wasn’t turned into
a Hollywood blockbuster? What’s out there
from the stars of the future?

10:00: Science for SF Writers

Julie E. Czerneda, Alison Sinclair, David
Clements, David D. Levine

Where can you get crash courses on
science for science fiction writers? Is it
actually useful?

10:00: Realism in Science Fiction

Chris Howard, kyle cassidy, Pascale
Raud, Fernandes, Joel Polowin, Tobias
Buckell

A lot of near-future SF novels duck the
problems we read about in the news – climate
change or energy shortage – in favour
of problems which look more solveable.
We all know that SF shouldn’t be pure
prediction, but how much of a duty does it
have to be based on realistic assumptions?

(A whole bunch of maybes. The science one is the most likely.)

12:30: Is Privacy a Thing of the Past?

Jason Bourget, Steven R. Boyett, John
Scalzi

Governments spy on us, we photograph
police officers, and our children broadcast
their sex lives on the internet. Does privacy
matter any more? What is it for?

12:30: Lots of Planets have a North

Bob Sojka, Camille Alexa, Eric Choi,
Jack William Bell, James Cambias

Too much SF depicts a planet-wide civilization
as being one homogenous unit. We
know how diverse human civilization is;
shouldn’t alien worlds be the same?

12:30: SF Graphic Novels You may
have Missed

John C. Wright, Tom Stidman, Stephen
Saffel

So much stuff gets turned out that sometimes
some really good stuff slips between
the cracks. What graphic novels are worth
tracking down even if it wasn’t turned into
a Hollywood blockbuster? What’s out there
from the stars of the future?

(Another big group of maybes.)

14:00: The Invention of the Canon

Evelyn Leeper, Graham Sleight, M. D.
Benoit, Mike Resnick

How do we as a field decide that a work or
an author is a “classic”? Do all the awards
we give out help? What about Year’s Best
books/lists, reviews, and indeed panels
at conventions? And what about authors
whose reputations fluctuate over time?

(“Hi, Mr. Resnick. I still hate your stories…”)

14:00: Gateway Drugs

Fiona Patton, Regina M. Franchi, LeAmber
Kinsley, James Bacon

Paranormal romance, Harry Potter, and
movie tie-ins, all are often the first SF and
fantasy books that readers encounter. We
often sneer at them, but they really do
seem to provide a new crop of readers.
Why? What do they change about the
expectations of genre?

(Much more likely.)

15:30: Locus Interviews Tom Doherty

Tom Doherty, Gary K. Wolfe

Locus staffers Liza Trombi and Gary K.
Wolfe talk to Tom Doherty about his life in
science fiction.

(Doherty has some good stories, and tells them well. Why isn’t Trombi on the participants list?)

15:30: Economics of the Star Traders

James Alan Gardner, James Cambias,
Steve Miller, Larry Niven

How do you keep an interstellar economy
going?

(What, no Karl Schroeder?)

17:00: Science Blogging – The New Science
Journalism?

Ben Jeapes, Daniel P. Dern, Mur Lafferty,
Sumitra Rajagopalan

Touted as a new way of reaching the public,
has science blogging matched its initial
promise? Has it caused more problems
than it solves?

(Now with more me…)

19:00: Why Do We Read Fantasy?

Peter Atwood, Toni Lay, Sarah Smith,
S.M. Stirling, George R. R. Martin

Arguably, fantasy is a more diverse genre
than science fiction. Is there such a thing
as “a fantasy reader”? If not, are there any
things in common between the pleasures
that readers of different kinds of fantasy
get?

19:00: Lasers and Rockets and Bugs,
Oh My!

Jordin Kare

Jordin Kare talks about some unusual applications
of lasers: power beaming (he’s
a founder of LaserMotive, which recently
competed in the NASA Centennial Challenge
for Beamed Power), space launch,
and ..bug zapping? Find out what you can
do with a 5000-watt laser system besides
cook hotdogs, and how Star Wars research
led to Weapons of Mosquito Destruction.

(Laser bug zapping is cool…)

20:00: Cross-Genre Hard SF

P. C. Hodgell, Peter Watts, George R. R.
Martin

While there are many instances of cross
genre SF – horror/fantasy, romance/fantasy
- hard SF usually isn’t involved. Why
is this?

(The first half of the Hugos is usually boring, anyway…)

Monday

9:00: No User Servicable Parts Inside

C Meeks, Cory Doctorow, Howard Davidson,
Jack William Bell

As more and more items, from cars to
computers to TVs, are filled with computerized,
closed black boxes it becomes
harder and harder for people to tinker with
things or fix their own property when it
goes wrong. Is this a boon for the service
industries or a bane for the enthusiast?
Where is this going to lead? And what are
the challenges to this way of thinking? Can
we reopen the black box?

(Might be skipped in favor of a late breakfast.)

10:00: World Without the Internets– Oh Noes!

Judith Lewis, Laurie Mann, Michael
Citrome, Tom Galloway

We’re now so used to internet everywhere
that it seems the world might not work
without it. What happens if the machines
stop?

10:00: The Inspiration of Failed Art

Alter S. Reiss, James D. Macdonald,
Sonya Taaffe, Emmet O’Brien

Sometimes it’s the really bad, not the really
good, that’s inspiring….

10:00: A Little Learning is a Dangerous
Thing

Amy Thomson, Carl Fink, Christopher
Davis, Karl Schroeder

What happens when physicists try to write
biological SF; or when a writer’s research
goes badly wrong?

(A bunch of maybes. The last is the most likely.)

11:00: The Drake Equation and the
Fermi Failure

Alice Bentley, Ian Tregillis, Thomas
Womack, Jordin Kare, Peter Watts

Recent discoveries have enhanced our estimates
of the number of planetary systems
in the galaxy; recent analysis suggest that
the silence dominating the hydrogen band
may be more an artifact of signal dissipation
than evidence of an empty universe.
Is there any real point in describing the
frequency of technological civilizations
using a 7-variable equation for which 5 of
the parameters are completely unknown?
Do we even know enough to *have* a
reasonable debate?

(As the answer to the final question is “no,” I may pass on this for a final troll through the Dealer’s Room, or checking out of the hotel.)

12:30: Hard SF: Is it What You do, or
How You do it?

Amy H. Sturgis, Marc Schirmeister, Joël
Champetier, Gabrielle Harbowy

Many critics – including David Hartwell -
argue that hard SF is as much defined by
an attitude (how you depict science in an
SF story) rather than to do with detailed
depiction of science. So a story, like Ted
Chiang’s “Tower of Babylon” could be
hard SF whilst being based in a completely
imaginary scientific foundation. Is this a
useful way to see things?

(I don’t know any of these people, so it’s hard to predict what this will be.)

12:30: Technobabble Quiz

Christopher J. Garcia, Kevin Roche, Kij
Johnson, Steven H Silver, Frank Wu,
James Bacon

A quiz show with strong audience participation.
Join your quizmaster and three
panelists as they go through science, technology
and science fiction and do battle
with the audience to see whose knowledge
and comedy will reign supreme.

(Could be fun, could be painful…)

14:00: Fan’s aren’t Slans!: Pathologies
of Fannish Culture

Chad R. Orzel, Kate Nepveu, Patrick
Nielsen Hayden, Steve Green

A long look at the various groups and
subgroups within fandom, and how they
all get along, with each other and with
reality. Evidence may be drawn from this
weekend!

(In which we insult people who have stayed for the bitter end…)

And that’s what looked interesting to me in the preliminary program. So, if you’re in Montreal, and want to say “hi,” those are the palces to look for me.

Comments

  1. #1 Anton P. Nym
    August 4, 2009

    Your list has a lot of similarities to mine… not that I’m stalking you or anything. Honest.

    I’ll definitely be at “Re-reading” and the Ford memorial, and likely the CSA presentation on Mars; I probably should attend “Fans aren’t slans” and “How not to be a jerk” even if there isn’t a court order stating so yet. “Philosophy of Science” and “Legal systems” are wanna-gos for me but they conflict with others I want to attend… why wasn’t I born twins?

    — Steve

  2. #2 Kate Nepveu
    August 4, 2009

    Graham Sleight (not coming to the con at all) & Larry Niven will not be on the re-reading panel. Naomi Libiki and Anne Gwin will–one of whom is *not* a re-reader, which is good.

    Your assessment is flattering, but I am not moderating “How Not to be a Jerk Online.” Scalzi is. (Unless you did that on purpose.)

  3. #3 Skwid
    August 4, 2009

    In case you didn’t know, TNH won’t make the boojums panel. Made me change my lineup, that did.

    Ooo, how did I miss that anatomy panel? Must see!

  4. #4 Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    August 5, 2009

    Teresa won’t be on that “The World is Large and Strange” panel, due to a schedule conflict.

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