New (I)Cons in Old Bottles; My SFContario Schedule.

portia-wine-cropped

I didn’t make this up. Honest.

A robust, full-bodied, highly adaptable wine that goes right to your head, with cryptic overtones and just a hint of arachnid. Grown in strong sunlight and arid, mineral-rich soil, this modest-yet-ambitious vintage pairs with pretty much anything. Warning: excessive consumption may result in loss of consciousness.

Personally, I think it’s too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. Of course, given the timing they must’ve really rushed it into production. Hopefully August was a good month; I haven’t yet got up the nerve to pop the cork.

*

I’ve got a fairly busy weekend lined up, starting on Thursday the 19th at the Merrill Collection where I’ll be reading along with Saladin Ahmed (assuming he can even get across the border, given the latest outbreak of kneejerk hypertribalism sweeping the neighborhood; I wish him luck). I’ll be reading from the Russian (only in English): “Insect Gods” in its entirety, a piece that heretofore has only appeared as a couple of isolated fragments on the ‘crawl. At least, that’s the expectation as of this writing; depending on mood/circumstances/audience, things might change at the last moment.

Starting Friday, I’m at SFContario as GoH, except not exactly; that honor actually goes to Saladin (again, assuming availability) as author GoH and Tom Smith as Musician GoH. I’m actually GoH for some sort of simultaneous shadow con called Canvention— think of an intestinal parasite, coexisting as a distinct entity in the body of a larger host and feeding off its dietary stream. Except this particular parasite runs the Auroras, which I’m told I’ll be MCing on Sunday. (Maybe it’s more of a symbiont.)

There will also be panels, not all of which I feel especially competent to sit upon. If you’re interested in when and where those will be, you’ve come to the right place:

Space Weather – The Latest Forecast (M)- Friday 6 PM, Room 209: Earth, satellites, and astronauts are constantly bombarded by a drizzle of radiation from cosmic rays and the Sun that can change into a deadly downpour. High-energy particles in the solar wind carry a magnetic field powerful enough to destroy electric power systems on Earth. The panelists will talk about space weather and what we can do about it. Eric Choi, David Stephenson, Ian Stuart, Peter Watts(M) (This is the one I don’t feel competent to sit on. So of course they made me the moderator.)

Opening Ceremonies – Friday 7 PM, Courtyard: I don’t know if I’m competent to sit on this one either, but it’s kind of mandatory. At least I won’t have to say anything.

Reading – Saturday 11:00 AM, Room 207: Probably a mix of the Secret Project I have/n’t been working on all fall, a bit of the in-progress Intelligent Design, and maybe a bit of “Insect Gods” from the Merrill reading, depending on timing and degree of audience overlap. I’m sharing this slot with the estimable Alyx (aka Lexus) Dellamonica, so we may have to mud-wrestle to settle the reading order. No promises.

Consciousness in Non-human Life Forms – Saturday 12 PM, Room 207: Great apes, whales, dolphins, elephants, and parrots have all been supported as being sentient. What does that mean to SF? Should they be uplifted a la David Brin? (Finally, something I can actually witter on about. Although given the recent falling-out on this very crawl, I don’t know if I’d advocate anything being anythinged a la David Brin.) Cathy Hird, Herb Kauderer(M), Jane Ann McLachlan, Peter Watts.

First Contact in Real Life – Saturday 2 PM, Gardenview: It looks so easy in Star Trek but how could we really establish a common conceptual base to communicate with another species? Sure, we have numbers and the hydrogen atom in common, but how far would that get us with a world of beings who share none of our sensory apparatus. Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Alyx Dellamonica, Neil Jamieson-Williams(M), Peter Watts.

New Philosophies in Science Fiction – Saturday 4 PM, Courtyard: Looking at the values of the past, it is unrealistic to think that people in the future would think the same way we do and hold our values, yet looking at old SF it’s exactly what you do see. How do we get beyond that and come up with new ways for people to think about their new worlds? Neil Jamieson-Williams, Kelly Robson(M), Ian Stuart, Jo Walton, Peter Watts.

Aurora Awards – Sunday 12:15, Ballroom C: I’ll be introducing these. I should probably think of something to say.

Closing Ceremonies – Sunday 3 PM, Courtyard: For those who value choice in their social events, I’m guessing this is where you’ll find the con’s greatest range of available seating.

So there you go. If you’re in town this coming weekend, there are worse things to do.

Be warned, though. There’s no bar on the premises— which is, to my mind, kind of a glaring oversight, even if the neighborhood is rife with decent pubs (we’re especially partial to Hair of the Dog, very nearby on Church & Wood).

 

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday November 16 2015at 06:11 am , filed under misc, On the Road, public interface . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

23 Responses to “New (I)Cons in Old Bottles; My SFContario Schedule.”

  1. So, what is the story with Brin? I seem to have missed it… I know he has a somewhat pathologically strong self-regard, but I do admire a fair chunk of his work, though I do not believe in his belief that _Glory Season_ ought to have garnered a Tiptree.

  2. kneejerk hypertribalism

    Security theater, kafkaesque bureaucratic rules are entirely distinct from ‘kneejerk hypertribalism’. Ethnic or nationalistic bigotry isn’t tribalism. If you can’t see the difference, go visit say, Africa.

  3. Great apes, whales, dolphins, elephants, and parrots have all been supported as being sentient. What does that mean to SF? Should they be uplifted a la David Brin?

    Maybe. But first we should make order in our own house. The amount of dysfunctional behaviors worldwide is staggering.

    The afore-mentioned tribalism, which had been stamped out in Europe in the middle ages through a blanket ban on cousin marriage. Who in Europe even remembers their clan name? Some Scots, and possibly people from Montenegro or Albania. .

    Nah. Once we get rid of the dumbness and idiocy in our own species, maybe then.

    Also, there is an interesting idea. Spell-checking the human genome. Supposedly, mutational load is also responsible for the large variation in human capabilities. So why not do away with it?

    Scott Alexander has a post on it here:
    http://squid314.livejournal.com/345414.html

  4. Huh, I live a brief walk from Hair of the Dog (off Jarvis), I had no idea there was about to be a convention around here…

  5. Will these events be recorded and posted online? Or if not, will you be putting your speech and comments up here?

    It’s been a year without your books pickling my brain man! I need my fix!

  6. Jason M. Robertson: So, what is the story with Brin?

    It’s a long tale, and it unwinds way back here— not so much in the post itself as in the aftermath. Brin kind of melts down in real time during the comments.

    It’s kind of a bummer. I always liked his stuff.

    Y.: Security theater, kafkaesque bureaucratic rules are entirely distinct from ‘kneejerk hypertribalism’.

    Well, since I invented the term (or at least reinvented it, if someone got there first— I was just looking for a more species-wide, general-anthropological term than “islamophobia” or “xenophobia” or what have you), I get to say what it means.

    Ian Mathers:
    Huh, I live a brief walk from Hair of the Dog (off Jarvis), I had no idea there was about to be a convention around here…

    It’s not a huge con by any means, and it’s not heavily promoted. Really, it’s biggest draw is that you don’t have to travel all the way out to the fucking airport to attend…

    Mister_DK:
    Will these events be recorded and posted online?Or if not, will you be putting your speech and comments up here?

    I do not know and I doubt it, respectively. I’m not really giving a “speech” per sé; I’m just introducing the awards, and the people who hand them out.

    It’s been a year without your books pickling my brain man!I need my fix!

    You and me both. I’ve been spinning my wheels all fall on a project that was supposed to be all breakneck-deadlines and time-is-of-the-essence, so I put my next novel on hold waiting for the other guys to pick up the ball. I’m still waiting. But I finally figured fuck it, and started working on my own stuff again.

  7. I’m tempted to show up for the Merrill reading since it’s actually on a night that I don’t either have work that night or obscenely early the next morning. Is it a “just show up, it’ll all work out” event or is there a signup-in-advance thing?

    And yeah, that’s a weird coincidence with the wine. Are we sure that this isn’t a plot by an alien superintelligence to get some bio-contaminant into the population that will stupefy any potential threats to it?

  8. Peter Watts: It’s a long tale, and it unwinds way back here— not so much in the post itself as in the aftermath.Brin kind of melts down in real time during the comments.

    It’s kind of a bummer.I always liked his stuff.

    Well, since I invented the term (or at least reinvented it, if someone got there first— I was just looking for a more species-wide, general-anthropological term than “islamophobia” or “xenophobia” or what have you), I get to say what it means.

    Can you blame them, those apes for their phobias?

    They see their fellow WEIRDoes getting blown up or shot, tens of thousands on swarthy aliens on the march in Europe. No wonder they’re afraid.

    I recall oldsters saying how everyone was shit-scared of commies too, back in 1930’s. And all for nothing. When they took over Czechoslovakia, those who died because of maltreatment or execution numbered only about 4.5k..

  9. > Looking at the values of the past, it is unrealistic to think that people in the future would think the same way we do and hold our values, yet looking at old SF it’s exactly what you do see. How do we get beyond that and come up with new ways for people to think about their new worlds?

    The econ professor, Robin Hanson’s new (nonfiction) book, The Age of Em [http://ageofem.com/] does a humdrum extrapolation of human behaviour and technology to predict what the future will look like ~100 years from now. That humdrum extrapolation produces results that are wackier than what even you come up with, Peter.

    His work might give you more fodder for the panel: there are tidbits strewn all over his blog. I got a preprint of his book just by asking.

  10. I say strike back at the Spaniards. Somehow work this into your next book and put the three-pointed star on the cover. And ‘Triennia’ is just begging to be used as some kind of alien/vamp/whatnow? unholy trinity reference.

  11. It’s a long tale, and it unwinds way back here— not so much in the post itself as in the aftermath. Brin kind of melts down in real time during the comments.

    It’s kind of a bummer. I always liked his stuff.

    Eh, you can still enjoy his writing. Everyone has some deeply rooted beliefs of somekind, both scientific and religious, even if it a lack thereof. And even for my own convictions, I have a great sense of doubt that I am right. That is what makes the world great, seeing everyone’s point of view and mashing it and your own into something like understanding.

  12. @Peter Watts who wrote in-part: […] Warning: excessive consumption may result in loss of consciousness.

    Perhaps if you drink enough of it, you can also devolve from sapience. It does seem awfully coincidental… but as a company, Portia has evidently been around for some time. You may have inspired them, as a review of the winery tells us:

    […] should we praise Portia for building a walloping, massive,
    space-age complex designed by Sir Norman Foster and
    costing more than money than Croesus ever dreamed of?
    The building is big, impressive and imposing – walking into it is
    a bit like walking under a massive version of Darth Vader’s helmet and into the reception area of the Death Star.

    My goodness, it seems that this wine writer may have aspirations to writing SF!

    Yet we have to wonder about the size of that factory… all the more space for the Portia line to expand into, should it become popular.

  13. Just got back from the reading. As expected, Watts is as an entertaining a storyteller in person as on the blog. And now I don’t have to go on a secret mission to Russia to get them to allow Insect Gods to be printed in the US (I’m sure that’s probably not the easiest or even wisest way to approach that goal, but it is only the one that occurs to me), since I’ve heard it read aloud. Though I’ll still happily read it again if it gets printed here somewhere.

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  15. Assuming there’s a deadline and/or some major post appearance stuff coming our way.

    Hm?

  16. Hey Peter, I know this is incredibly off topic but I wanted to post this here so that you and others could see it, as this is your most recent blog post, and the article pertains to some of your themes of consciousness.:
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329762-700-consciousness-on-off-switch-discovered-deep-in-brain/?full=true#.U7QV08dWjU

    One of the most interesting pieces to me is that although the subject lost consciousness, she did not fall asleep

    Edit: Woot first post! Even tho this is my first, I’ve been a lurker since some time in 2012 when I discovered the Sunflower Cycle shortstories

  17. FYI – my close Spanish source says that Ribero del Duero is a very good regional label, probably better on average than the mighty Rioja itself. Ergo – open that sucker and neck it forthwith!

  18. Hello, just flying past with a note about a recently published paper in PNAS about ants performing a cost-benefit calculation making “living bridges”. Shades of the “Scramblers”, or at least it’s one more recent finding Our Gracious Host can lay out, should any Blindopraxia questions come up about “how can intelligence exist without sentience”. There is also a more layman-friendly analysis here.

  19. Peter Watts,

    You neglected to post a warning about that whole Brin thing. Back in the day, it burned an evening of my time. Had another look yesterday, thinking I must be remembering something very, very, wrong. Nope. Same old train wreck, just as I remembered. Same raging ego, personified, that thought he knew more about societal security issues than Bruce Schneier, etc. Damned near burned another evening of my time verifying that it was as horrible as I remembered. It has a strange ability to mesmerize the unwary.

    Will never buy another word from that guy. Never that impressed with his work, and I read very little fiction these days. I think I bought three novels this year. _Mars_ (still think Mars, as a SciFi topic, was completely mined out by KS Robinson), some entirely forgettable airport thing, and just now, Echopraxia. Was holding off on that for a 2015-12-25 treat. But reading the crawl again, just couldn’t stand it any longer. Even security guys are human. Arguably.

    So bite me very much. Now I have to cast about for a replacement treat.

  20. “Giants” is in this anthology.

    ‘Imaginaruim 4’ edited by Sandra Kasturi and Jerome Steuart.

  21. The usual caveats. Appears to solve the grandfather paradox is all, I think. OTOH, you can’t help wondering if PKD wasn’t only seriously burnt out.

    Physicists send particles of light into the past.


  22. Blindsight: the strangest form of consciousness
    via BBC Future.

  23. Off-topiciness. Neuroscientists have found a way to read the mind of a fly.