I was going to save this post until closer to the weekend, but I figure that folks to the south might want something to distract them from voting machines that tally up Obama votes in the Romney column, and election officials who helpfully fill out other people’s ballots with a clean sweep of Republicans. So here it is, something utterly trivial but hopefully less likely to make the blood boil, the face palm, or — more likely — the head simply shake in rueful, unsurprised acknowledgement of fulfilled expectation.
Here is my schedule for SFContario this weekend:
SF as a Stealth Delivery Platform Everybody knows that science fiction has inspired legions of young people to grow up and become scientists: half of NASA was weaned on Star Trek. But does SF’s influence with these people end with their choice of career? Might science fiction actually serve as a legitimate means of transmitting scientific ideas between working scientists in different disciplines? Might it, in certain circumstances, be more effective than the usual technical publications? (Madeline Ashby, Susan Forest, Brett Savory, Neil Jamieson-Williams, Peter Watts- Moderator) Friday 8:00 PM, Ballroom A
Automaton World Philosophy and mountains of neurological evidence are converging on the same disquieting endpoint: not only is there no such thing as “free will”, but the very idea is logically incoherent. We release a hypersexual pedophile from jail once it’s discovered that his behavior was caused by a brain tumor over which he had no control, while conveniently ignoring the fact that *nobody*, tumor-ridden or healthy, has any control over the way their brains are wired. Does this mean that social systems ranging from religious to legal are all predicated on a logical fallacy? What now? (Madeline Ashby, Richard Baldwin, Peter Fitting, Peter Watts) Saturday 11:00 AM Ballroom BC
Come out and play with Big Brother Our panelists discuss trends in dystopic novels and what they might say about the cultures and writers that produced them. Dystopic SF tends by its nature to be bleak. Huxley emphasized the shallow, hollow nature of the pleasures offered by his Brave New World. In more recent dystopic novels characters do have the occasional bit of fun while the world burns. Julian Comstock gives us rollicking adventure alongside its political warnings while heroes of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games learn they can challenge oppressive governments. (Jeff DeLuzio, Lynna Merrill, James Nicoll, Alex Pantaleev, Peter Watts) Saturday 1:00 PM, Ballroom A
Will we ever stop being human? From the cyberpunk desire to transcend the flesh to speculative fiction’s monstrous bodies, when does the category “human” cease to apply? This panel will explore what the terms “human,”"transhuman,” and “posthuman” really mean and, through the lens of science fiction, imagine what the future of humanity might look like. (James Bambury, Alex Pantaleev, David Stephenson, Peter Watts-Moderator) Saturday 4:00 PM, Gardenview
The Future of Privacy Fourteen years ago, on The West Wing, Sam Seaborn opined “The next two decades are going to be (about) privacy.” Technology has made it easier for people to find and share information. Yet in our increasingly online world it has become much more challenging to protect privacy. Is privacy a right to be protected our an outmoded concept? Will the future bring a further erosion of personal privacy? (Kari Maaren, Michael Mattheson, Matt Moore, Peter Watts) Sunday 2:00 PM, Courtyard
Holy shit. That’s five panels, which I guess I can’t complain about seeing as how I proposed two of them. Don’t really know what I’m doing on the dystopian panel, though. Also they’ve got me moderating at least two of these things.
I’m told I’m supposed to donate some used underpants or something for some kind of raffle, too. I should probably pull them on and start sweating. I’ve only got three days.