You'll Have No Idea How Fast I'm Moving

The preliminary Boskone program has been posted, and I'll soon be adding another tag with a "Participant" ribbon to my Wall of Name. (I have a big collection of nametags from various meetings hanging on a wall in my office.)

Excerpts of the schedule will appear below the fold, with scattered commentary, for those who would like to know exactly where I'll be next weekend.


Friday 5:00 pm Gardner: Five Things You Should Never Say to Your Favorite Authors When You Meet Them

People blurt out the most amazing things when tongue-tied. Here's a chance to think about what to say before you meet your favorite author, and to chuckle about what other people have said (and done!) For example, while "here's that check we talked about" rarely comes amiss, other topics should never arise. And are there different rules for the autograph line, the ladies' room, the bathtub of lime jello...? Jess Hartley, Parris McBride, Mike Resnick, Edie Stern (m), Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Very much a maybe. It's fairly likely that I'll do dinner here instead.

Friday 6:00 pm Republic A: Great Space Opera

One can argue that space opera is the foundation of SF, but does it still have a place in SF today several generations removed from the foundation? The term "Space Opera" is pejoratively used to describe a story set in space which could just as well have been set ion Earth. Are there stories which can only be told when set in space or is the epithet just? What makes great space opera great? Besides Ken MacLeod, who else is writing great space opera today? David G. Hartwell (m), Walter H. Hunt, James D. Macdonald, Steve Macdonald, Ken MacLeod

I'm a sucker for this stuff.

Friday 7:30 pm Dalton: Reading Debra Doyle, James D. Macdonald

Probably Mist and Snow, which I heard a bit of at... Readercon? Something last year. I like pretty much everything they do, though, so this is fairly definite.

Friday 8:00 pm Hampton: Scotty, I Need More Bandwidth: Managing Information Streams

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink?! Many of us are already drowning in a sea of information (and misinformation) when we really just want the good stuff.... Does having more bandwidth help or hinder? How do you keep tabs on the information industry's output? What if you had a direct neural connection? â Would it help you to manage all those online information streams before your brain explodes? John McDaid, Naomi Novik, Sheila M. Perry (m), John Scalzi

Mostly because I'd like to know where Scalzi finds the ridiculous stuff he links for his AOL gig.

Friday 9:00 pm Republic B: Grimm's Fairy Cabaret

Some of our favorite fairy tales reconsidered in songs comic to torchy. Lyrics by John M. Ford Performers: John M. Ford, Tom Courtney, Dave Grubbs, Chip Hitchcock, Ellen Kushner, Suford Lewis, Elise Matthesen, Gary McGath, Delia Sherman, Kip Williams John M. Ford, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman

Could be very good (John M. Ford!), could be excruciating. Tough call.


Saturday 10:00 am Hampton: How Much Science Should SF Contain?

Hugo Gernsback made SFexist to teach science. Is this a foundational idea for of all of SF or a horrible error from which we're still trying to escape? Why do we care if the science is right if the story is good? Much of SF seems to get along quite nicely with no discernable reality in its physics, yet there is also the occasional masterpiece which is a masterpiece *because* of its science content. Is the issue the technical details or is it a general approach to the universe that is important? And what do SF authors typically get right or wrong? William Hartmann, Geoffrey A. Landis, Chad Orzel (m), George H. Scithers, Ann Tonsor Zeddies

This seems like a relatively easy topic to generate conversation about, though there's a danger of it turning into "The science in Star Trek/ Star Wars/ Firefly sucks!" I'll do my best to prevent that, because, frankly, I'd rather gouge my eyes out with a grapefruit spoon.

Saturday 11:00 am Republic A: Is Science Fiction Necessary?

Haven't we won? Aren't science-fictional ideas, vocabulary, themes and predictions now deeply embedded in the popular culture? Aren't a disproportionate percentage of popular movies from our genres? Don't mainstream authors at all levels of seriousness dip into the slipstream every day? So, what's our mission now? What worlds are left to conquer â and why? Tobias Buckell, Rosemary Kirstein, Chad Orzel (m), Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross

This one, on the other hand, I have no idea what to do with. I'm not even sure this is a sensible way to think about a "purpose" for SF. Also, I find it strange that the description isn't parallel to the "Is Fantasy Necessary? panel.

I'll think of something. I hope.

Saturday 12:00 noon Gardner: The Singularity: Vernor's Turd?

The singularity is possibly the most interesting single idea to come out of SF and yet it also may pose a challenge that SF is incapable of overcoming â for if there is a singularity in our future, then how can we hope to write about it? How can we ever hope to set a story in a world which is, by definition, incomprehensible? Assume for the duration of this panel that a singularity does lurk within a hundred years after the invention of the computer: does this mean that hard SF is a contradiction in terms once it get outside the near future? How can SF stories cope with it? Or should they just ignore it and move on? (And what is this title about, anyway?) Mark L. Olson (m), Karl Schroeder, Edie Stern, Charles Stross

Or, more likely, going off somewhere to get lunch, and catch my breath after the previous two panels...

Saturday 1:00 pm Hampton: Reading Cory Doctorow

Another maybe. I haven't been wild about the stuff of his that I've read, but I think it might come off better in person. Or I might just take a long lunch, and troll the dealer's room.

Saturday 1:00 pm Republic B: Political SF

Real world and utopian politics have informed the writings of some of the best in the genre. Who, how, and why? And does SF require new politics, or can it work with familiar politics in a new setting? (Please check all flamethrowers at the door - this is not a panel that debates contemporary political philosophies, except as they apply to contemporary works of SF) Daniel Hatch, Ken MacLeod, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, John Scalzi (m)

Run awaaayyyy!

Saturday 2:00 pm Dalton: Focus on John Bellairs

A long time resident of Haverhill, Massachusetts, John Bellairs (1939-1991) specialized in works like "The House with a Clock in its Walls" (wry, curiously touching and realistic Gothic tales for young adults) and the 1969 cult novel "The Face in the Frost" (a more adult dark fantasy equally hilarious and terrifying). What's his other good stuff? Why isn't he better know? And just what would Snake Year sherry taste like? Chip Hitchcock, Timothy P. Szczesuil (m)

Interesting. I like his books, but I'm not sure there's enough there to support a whole hour...

Saturday 2:00 pm Jefferson: Forensic Science - On TV and Elsewhere

Like old DNA, the forensics fad is proving peculiarly fade-resistant. It's even the most popular new major at some colleges. But isn't the tech on TV's "CSI" as much science fiction as fact? Do real forensics geeks boss detectives around, conduct interrogations, and draw their guns daily. What's Dr. Grisson got that Dr. D'Amato doesn't? And when can we look forward to "CSI: Marsport"? Thomas A. Easton, Robert I. Katz, Paul Levinson (m), Wen Spencer

I hope they talk about the bit where they use computer enhancement of grainy security-camera video to get the license plate on a car parked around the corner...

Saturday 3:00 pm Republic B: Alternate Futures

We talk about alternate histories, but there are also alternate futures. Talk about some of the futures which might plausibly grow from today. Are some of the traditional SF futures no longer possible? (We're not talking about details here â obviously commercial space flights to the Moon by 2001 didn't happen, but what about tropes like the Mars colony rebelling against the oppressive Earth government?) Is history really at an end? How do you build a future anyway? How about futures based on alternate pasts â do they count? Ken MacLeod, Beth Meacham (m), Steven Popkes, Mike Resnick, Karl Schroeder

This has some potential.

Saturday 5:00 pm Gardner: Blogs, Boing Boing, and Beyond

Our panelists include several leading lights of the SF techno/weblog world. Let's find out about how blogs - those ethereal columns/commonplace books/clearinghouses/journals/digests/linkapoloozas - have evolved since they first befat. What have been their greatest lessons? Failures? Successes? Surprises? What do they replace? Who (and how) do they influence? Where are they going? (Will they get there?) Kathryn Cramer (m), Daniel P. Dern, Cory Doctorow, MaryAnn Johanson, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

This might be interesting, though it risks descending into navel gazing. Cory Doctorow and Teresa Nielsen Hayden are usually terrifically entertaining, though, so it should be good.

Saturday evening looks fairly lame.


Sunday 10:00 am Dalton: Reading John Scalzi

Sunday 11:00 am Republic B: Homage.....or, Stealing(?) from the Classics

Ken MacLeod is having a conversation with classic SF â he clearly has a deep affection for the genre, and incorporates classic phrases that allude to other stories in the canon. Who else does this, well or badly? What makes it fun? When is it more like stealing? John M. Ford, Ken MacLeod, Mark L. Olson (m), John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder

That's an interesting collection of panelists...

Sunday 12:00 noon Kent: SF as Literature?

Is it ever? What makes it so? Does intent matter? Who decides? Why do we care? Lenny Bailes, F. Brett Cox, William Hartmann, James Patrick Kelly (m), Chad Orzel

Finally, a big question panel that I don't have to moderate...

Sunday 2:00 pm Exeter: Weird Quantum Phenomenon

From "God does not play dice" to "Spooky action at a distance," from wave- particle duality to wavefunction collapse.... Quantum Mechanics is one of the strangest and most powerful theories in the history of science. What's all that weird stuff about, and what is it good for? Chad Orzel

I made up that description in about five minutes of actual thought, so the actual content may end up a little different, but that seemed like a reasonable starting point. I'll probably talk about EPR-type stuff, as that's a system that covers most of the weird effects, and actually has some applications, but I could change my mind, too. I might also just recycle the lecture on quantum measurement that I'm giving Monday. Tough to say.


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The term "Space Opera" is pejoratively used to describe a story set in space which could just as well have been set on Earth.

It is? I just thought that space opera was big stories with lots of pathos 'n fighting 'n stuff set across a really big stage. Isn't, say, A Fire Upon the Deep space opera?

Much of SF seems to get along quite nicely with no discernable reality in its physics, yet there is also the occasional masterpiece which is a masterpiece *because* of its science content.

As I've learned more and more science, the less I care about whether something is "hard sf". Frankly, pretty much everything gets something wrong. Give me a good story. (And no appendices claiming the bizarro theory in your text is actually legit.)

As for the weirdness, try quantum eraser experiments. Fun stuff.

By Aaron Bergman (not verified) on 10 Feb 2006 #permalink