“You Can Never Be Cynical Enough”

…being one of my favorite quotes of the con so far, courtesy of Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman during an 80-minute Q&A on how science fiction led him into economics.  The night before, a couple thousand of us got to be flies on the wall for another hour-and-a-half free-form conversation between Krugman and Charlie Stross.

You gotta love this event.  A science fiction convention featuring three solid hours with a Nobel-winning economist, bestselling author and NY Times columnist.  And what did I see the local media taking footage of?  Furries and people in Star Wars costumes.  So remains the face of fandom to the self-proclaimed Those With Lives.

‘SOkay, though.  I finally met Charlie Stross in the flesh, and Jetse de Vries.  Reacquainted myself with John Scalzi, who is too nice to exist.  Bumped too infrequently into Elisabeth Bear (and hope to rectify that in the following days). Met Kim Binsted (U Hawaii, AI dudette), Kathryn Myronuk (of Sinularity U) and Brad Templeton (of the EFF, and author of perhaps the most articulate critique of BSG’s failed finale I’ve read).  Glenn Grant.  Nalo Hopkinson (who made it after all).  Dave Williams.  Others too numerous to mention.

Panels have all gone down well so far; the reading (with Scalzi and Jon Courtenay Grimwood) was a glorious triumvirate of literary nihilism full of Russian vivissectionists and flayed gods and shapeshifting rapist-missionaries; my contribution was, if anything, the lighthearted comic relief.

Another cool quote:  “Fungi are Nature’s Internet” (although I forget the attribution).  Not to mention the aforemention updated Turing test criterion.

Biggest Letdown so far:  an hour-long event called “Neil Gaiman Reads Cory Doctorow”.  Yes, technically that is what happened— but as Glenn pointed out, I think most of us were probably expecting the man to read aloud

Pictures to follow, but only when I get home.  For some reason my laptop isn’t detecting the damn camera card when I slot it in…

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Saturday August 08 2009at 06:08 pm , filed under On the Road, public interface . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

11 Responses to ““You Can Never Be Cynical Enough””

  1. Just a pet peeve of mine. There are five Nobel Prizes: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. Paul Krugman won the Bank of Sweden’s very prestigious “Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”, which has been effectively marketed as a Nobel Prize.

    I’d love to read more about Krugman’s talks BTW.

  2. Peter, do you have a linky for Tom Galloway’s BSG finale critique? Google isn’t finding it (and the top hit for “tom galloway eff” is this blog post, which can’t be right).

  3. Waaahhhhh!!!! Okay, I think I got those names completely mixed up. The guy who wrote the BSG critique was Brad Templeton, and the relevant post is here.

    Apologies to all misnamed.

  4. Waaahhhhh!!!! Okay, I think I got those names completely mixed up. The guy who wrote the BSG critique was Brad Templeton, and the relevant post is here.

    Apologies to all misnamed.

  5. Peter, your reading awesome. Please, if the legal issues prevent you from finding a paid venue, do consider posting the story for free to your site.

  6. Clearly I need more sleep. I meant to say your reading was awesome.

  7. Since I was in Montreal with my girlfriend, who had never been there before, I only ducked into WorldCon for one panel: “Are We Conscious And Does It Matter?” I enjoyed it — that was the “fungi are nature’s internet” one. I thought it was James Morrow who said it.

    I missed the Saturday morning reading on account of an appointment with the porcelain god on Friday night, but friends who attended expressed similar sentiments to Jeff’s.

  8. For Mike, and others interested in the Krugman/Stross talk, a transcript can be found here.

  9. [Adding to my previous comment which I guess can be removed] Charlie’s own post has a to the transcript as well as an audio recording of the conversation.

  10. “Fungi are nature’s internet” – I would think that is probably from Paul Stamets. He rocks. I listened to one of his talks on youtube the other day and felt almost sports-team like emotions about fungi.

  11. I thought it was totally cool we had Krugman at Worldcon, and even cooler that he so obviously enjoyed being there– maybe part of that was no one there had heard his economist jokes. I missed the conversation with Charlie Stross but I really enjoyed the talk about drawing inspiration from science fiction.