Worldcon Miscellany

The "Philosophy of Science" panel I moderated was surprisingly well-attended, and got some decent discussion going. Kate took notes, at least for a while, and I'll post a link if she writes it up on LiveJournal.

The "Knights who Say Fuck" panel was in a very remote room that was much too small to contain a panel with Guy Gavriel Kay, David Anthony Durham, and Patrick Rothfuss on it. Well, ok, it contained them just fine, but there wasn't really room for the hundred-odd people who showed up to see them.

I was one of about a dozen people who went to thie "Cross-Genre Hard SF" panel, probably because it got moved, and the time change was not well advertised. It was worth it, though, just because the panel was mostly dominated by Karl Shroeder and Peter Watts trying to come up with slightly silly ways to describe other genres of literature as "Hard SF." Watts made a good effort at explaining The Lord of the Rings as science fiction (It's all really about the world, and the stuff with plot and characters is an incidental side effect of working out the consequences of the languages), and Schroeder offered the idea that mystery is the only genre that really reflects science, as it's the only place you see a fully worked-out investigation.

My own contribution was to suggest that you don't see cross-genre hard science fiction because "hard science fiction" is a subgenre defined not in terms of some element of the story, but by eliminating other works from the category. The whole point of the label "hard science fiction" is to be able to point to other works and declare that they are not hard enough to count.

Our evening plan to go out, just me and Kate, and have dinner in a nice restaurant was completely undone by some sort of stomach affliction. Kate spent the evening sick to her stomach, which I devoutly hope was the result of something she ate, rather than some communicable disease. She's a little wobbly this morning, but feeling at least somewhat better.

And now I see that I have wasted enough time typing this that the hotel breakfast buffet will be open, so I am off to get food, and then face the day.

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"Guy Gavriel Kay" is just about the perfect name for anyone discussing knights who say just about anything.

I imagine a tiny baby reaching the head of a queue marked "names" and saying, "I'd like something Norman, please."

Let me approach Erotic SF by first asking one to consider the notion of Panmixia. It is vaguely related to fans hoping to "get lucky" at a worldcon. Random mating within a breeding population.

ETYMOLOGY: New Latin : pan + Greek mixis, act of mingling (from mignunai, to mix;
The American Heritage(R) Medical Dictionary Copyright (c) 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

panmixy, panmixia
n. interbreeding without limitation. panmictic, a.
(c) From the Hutchinson Encyclopaedia.
Helicon Publishing LTD 2008.
All rights reserved.

Panmixia is a theoretical extreme in the same way that porn is science fiction describing an alternate universe where creatures who appear quite human (or slightly exaggerated and lacking refractory period) have utterly different motivation, such that any sexual suggestion from anyone is accepted passionately by anyone else. In physiology, a refractory period is a period of time during which an organ or cell is incapable of repeating a particular action, or (more precisely) the amount of time it takes for an excitable membrane to be ready for a second stimulus once it returns to its resting state following an excitation.

Cf.
http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S499.htm