Interesting Stuff at Boskone

I usually post something here about what panels look interesting when the Boskone program goes up on the web. This year's program went up over the weekend, and I'm just now getting around to making a list of worthwhile items. This tells you what kind of week I'm having.

Anyway, I looked the program over this morning, and here's what I came up with:

Friday 7:30pm Independence:


Rosemary Kirstein

We won't be able to leave Schenectady until 4pm or so, so the odds of making it to this are pretty slim. I'm really curious to know what the status of the Steerswoman books is, though.

Friday 8pm Griffin:


Jo Walton

This is somewhat more likely. Still a bit og a long shot, though.

Friday 9pm Galleria:

Jane Yolen's Birthday Party

The New York Times called her "a modern equivalent of Aesop"....though there's
no truth to the rumor that this Boskone favorite's career is so long and
distinguished (317 books and probably more awards) that she once dated Aesop.
However, Jane does have a birthday this week. Let's help her celebrate with
treats, games, singing, and maybe even a little dance. And - there will be
chocolate too!

Jane Yolen

This is most likelythe first thing we'll appear at. Depending on her feeding schedule, SteelyKid may or may not be with us.

Friday 11pm Galleria:

Music Jam

Rock, blues, jazz, folk - separately and in combinations....a music jam modeled
after the "Minnesota Music Parties"....we thik you'll enjoy it here in the east

Alan F. Beck, Peter J. Heck, Rosemary Kirstein, Elise Matthesen, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Faye Ringel, Jon Singer, Adam Stemple, Sonya Taaffe

Music is good. But 11pm is really late, especially since we'll be driving down there during the afternoon.

Saturday 10am Burroughs:

Physics: What We Don't Understand

In 1999 John Cramer wrote a column in Analog describing seven big unsolved
problems in physics (including the nature of dark matter, the origin of ultra-
high energy cosmic rays, and the origin of the arrow of time). Today, in 2008,
three of these problems have been solved. We'll talk about the seven problems,
the three which have been solved, our current understanding of the rest, and
perhaps add some new problems to the list.

Geoffrey A. Landis, Mark L. Olson (m), Chad Orzel, Karl Schroeder, Ian Tregillis

What could be more interesting than poorly understood physics?

Saturday 11am Griffin:

Quantum Physics: Many Worlds?

Chad Orzel

On my PowerPoint slides, the title is "Quantum Physics for Dogs: Many Worlds, Many Treats?" It will include a dramatic reading of the dog dialogue from Chapter 4, so if you've ever wanted to see me embarrass myself by doing a silly voice in public, here's your chance.

Saturday 12noon Carlton:

Extra-solar Planets

Once upon a time there were n/i/n/e/ eight planets, but now there are over three
hundred scattered through hundreds of solar systems. What do they tell us about
planets that we didn't know before? What do they tell us about our own Solar
Syetem? Is it typical or is it a freak? How common are planets, anyway? The
Solar System has one habitable planet, one margially habitable (Mars) and
several more (Europa, Titan, possibly Enceladus) than might bear life—does it
seem likely that habitable planets are common in the universe? Talk about the
interesting oddities—what are we finding out there? What are the prospects
for the future?

Noon is most likely lunchtime, but this has an outside chance.

Saturday 1pm Burroughs:

The Fragmented Genre

All the King's horses and all the King's men, couldn't put SF together again!
Once upon a time, SF was simple—it was about spaceships and the occasional
odd fantasy didn't count. Now there is quest fantasy and war porn and
paranormal romance and novelizations of games and magical realism and fantasy
hardboiled detectives and who knows what else. Is SF fragmenting? Is this
likely to be a good or bad thing for the genre? Will it bring in new readers?
Provide new markets for the writers? Or will it sap our precious bodily fluids?

A possibility, or maybe a really extended lunch break/ Dealer's Room trip.

Saturday 1pm Independence:


Debra Doyle

Or there's this.

Saturday 2pm Harbor 1:

AIs and Angels

If an artificial intelligence is powerful enough, might it just as well be an
angel? A god? (Can we worship something we ourselves create—or is that all
we've ever done?) What light do Banks's Minds, Vinge's Transcended Powers,
Clarke's Third Law, or our panelists' work shed on the boundary area between
machine and deus ex machina? And in story terms, don't advanced AIs suffer from
Superman Syndrome? (The more superduperness, the less suspense.) At a certain
level, is there a (firm?) border between the technological and the numinous?

Jeffrey A. Carver (m), Walter H. Hunt, Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross, Shane Tourtellotte

Saturday 2pm Harbor 2:

The Inclue and Other Smart Writing Tricks

Its inventor, our Guest of Honor Jo Walton, defines "incluing" as "the process of scattering information seamlessly through the text, as opposed to stopping the story to impart the information." What other tactics do good writers get up to? We'll discuss fresh ways of looking at how working writers do what they do

Greer Gilman, James D. Macdonald, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Mary A. Turzillo, Jo Walton (m)

Saturday 2pm Harbor 3:

Stories That Changed Everything

Not necessarily the best, or your favorites. But which works of science fiction,
fantasy, or horror changed the paradigm? For better or worse, which actually
took the genre—or the world—in a new direction? How? Why? How have they
influenced your own work?

Theodora Goss, David G. Hartwell, James Patrick Kelly, Sarah Langan (m), Farah Mendlesohn

2pm is Exhibit A in the "All of the good stuff is on at the same time" case.

Saturday 3pm Harbor 2:

The Year in Astronomy and Physics

So what happened in astronony and physics in 2008? Old mysteries solved? New
mysteries found? Join us for the annual panel on the wonders of our universe!

Jeff Hecht, Geoffrey A. Landis, Mark L. Olson

This generally tends to involve more astronomy than physics, but it's the best 3pm has to offer.

Saturday 4pm Harbor 1:

Is Setting in SF Limited?

Is the near future mined out? (Is it even possible, anymore, to write exciting
SF about a trip to the moon?) Have all the exciting things in the universe
already been overused? How can fresh and exciting backdrops for fresh and
exciting fiction be created? Give examples!

Michael F. Flynn, Glenn Grant (m), Geoffrey A. Landis, Karl Schroeder, Allen M. Steele

This has some potential as a source of story recommendations. And both Landis and Schroeder are great idea guys.

Saturday 4pm Harbor 2:

How Underwear Reflects Sexuality in Cultures

From boxers to bikinis, girdles to corsets, what does our underwear—or lack
thereof—say about our culture? Is it wrong for senior citizens to sport G-
strings under their pantsuits? For pre-teens to invest in push-up bras? A
(somewhat) light-hearted look at what out unmentionables (and why, we ask you?)
mention about us.

Beth Bernobich, Katherine Macdonald (m), Elise Matthesen, Josepha Sherman, Edie Stern

Here's the WTF? panel of the convention.

Saturday 5pm Harbor 1:

The Destruction of Hope

When Pandora let the ills out of the box, hope was left. If you destroy hope
there will be nothing....true/false? So, how/why if you take away everything
from a character would anyone care about the character? What can be salvaged (or
learned) from the wreakage of an individual or society when nothing remains? Why
bother writing about such

Suzy McKee Charnas, James Morrow, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Mary A. Turzillo (m), Jo Walton

This sounds cheerful...

Saturday night features a variety of drmatic type things, which I may make it to. Or I may go to bed early, because damn, I'm tired.

Sunday 11am Harbor 3:

Is Science Addicted to Randomness?

Well, is it? If so, why? And when is "random" not so??

Greg Bear (m), Jeff Hecht, Geoffrey A. Landis, Chad Orzel

I'm not even sure what the title question means, so this ought to be interesting.

Sunday 12noon Lewis:

Global Warming: Facts and Myths, (and all that jazz)

Last year the sea ice grew, reversing a trend. Global warming is proven, but how
bad can it be, really? And would it be so terrible to someday have no snow for

Vince Docherty, James Morrow, Mark L. Olson, Chad Orzel (m)

I'm still looking for ways to avoid the many pitfalls of this topic. If you know anything useful that might help keep this from being soul-crushing, please, leave a comment.

Sunday 1pm Harbor 1:

Disease and Pestilence and Population

Most people are familiar with Thomas Malthus' depressing theories: as population
increases, food and other resources decrease, and the likelihood of disease
increases, resulting in a population crash. How true are his theories today? Is
population increase inevitable? What about disease, in this age of medicine?

Debra Doyle, Matthew Jarpe (m), Robert I. Katz, Jon Singer, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

After back-to-back panels, I'm going to be looking for lunch. This is loaded with interesting people, though, so if you're not in danger of faiting from hunger, it's probably worth a look.

Sunday 2pm Harbor 3:

Space Propulsion: a Dialog

See just how many ways there are to leave the planet....and find out which ones
are feasible and/or under development. (And why the other ones aren't....yet?)

Jordin T. Kare, Geoffrey A. Landis

Actual Rocket Scientists speak.

That's pretty much it, at least based on my cursory examination of the program. I'm not saying I'll definitely be at any panel other than the ones I'm on, but these are the things I'm most likely to attend while I'm there.

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"Destruction of Hope" Look at Grave of the Fireflies. This can certainly be a release.

I have given talks to older folks in assisted living and to some small groups on Greenhouse stuff, and it always helped to go over and have available Real Climates answers and then some simple data about what areas of the world would be underwater or at risk from a surge when the oceans are a half or one meter higher, which no ice needs to met to get to - just thermal expansion. There are a lot who will get their houses and all damaged or destroyed. We are talking damage like a war ... specific examples worked. You are moderating though so you could try to focus of just looking at effects or something... good luck. Greenhouse Gas effects are like the Monte Hall problem, people somehow get their backs up right away. (Even disregarding the politics).

"Last year the sea ice grew, reversing a trend."

I hope that's one of the "myths", because while the first part is true, I would hardly call this "reversing a trend".

By Ambitwistor (not verified) on 12 Feb 2009 #permalink

My husband David (Hartwell) drove up to Boskone this morning with a carload of books. I still have some hopes of getting there, but keep running a %##@* low fever.

Any report on when Kirstein's next book will be out would be appreciated.

I've been hearing more about Boskone via Facebook than via blogs. Change in dominant media for professional Science Fiction authors? Wouldn't I have learned more via Twitter? Wondering...