Monthly Archives: January 2017

My Boskone 54 Schedule

I’m honored to announce that I’ll be appearing as a panelist again at Boskone 54! The con will be held February 17-19, 2017. Below is my panelist and reading schedule.

Inspiring the Next Generation of STEM Leaders Through YA Fiction, Saturday 10:00 – 11:00, Harbor II (Westin): Science fiction has inspired countless young people to become astronauts, engineers, and scientists. We’ll discuss current science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics in YA fiction — and our favorite must-reads from today’s authors. Panelists: Christine Taylor-Butler, Rob Greene, Brenda Noiseux (M), N.A. Ratnayake

Immersive Technology, Saturday 13:00 – 14:00, Marina 3 (Westin): The first computers took up entire rooms; we had to invent whole new languages so we could “talk” to them. Now we control mobile phones through hand gestures. Will virtual or augmented reality become common in our daily lives? Will the next phase be a direct human/computer connection? Will we lose ourselves within our technology? Panelists: Dan Moren , Daniel P. Dern, N.A. Ratnayake (M), Karl Schroeder, Flourish Klink

Earth 2.0: Manned Space Flight in the 21st Century, Saturday 15:00 – 16:00, Burroughs (Westin): From SpaceX orbital jaunts to interstellar travel, the practical boundaries of 21st-century manned space exploration are expanding with each new technical advance. What space flight possibilities have we got in the works today? What more might we achieve in the not-so-distant future? How about a little later out? What are our chances of reaching any of the potential New Earths? Panelists: Ian Randal Strock, Jordin T. Kare, Janet Catherine Johnston, N.A. Ratnayake, Allen M. Steele (M)

The Year in Astronomy and Physics, Saturday 16:00 – 17:00, Burroughs (Westin): An annual roundup of the latest research and discoveries in two sciences that matter. Our experts will share what’s new and interesting, cutting-edge and speculative. From planets to particles, and beyond! Panelists: Mark L. Olson (M), Jeff Hecht, N.A. Ratnayake, Janet Catherine Johnston

Reading by N.A. Ratnayake: Sunday 13:30 – 14:00, Independence (Westin)

And there’s a lot more nerdery to be found in the Boskone Program. Hope to see you there!

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Panel Postmortem: Is Optimism Just Nostalgia in Disguise?

This post is the first in what I intend to be several recaps of some of the most thought-provoking moments during this weekend’s Arisia science fiction and fantasy convention.

First of all, I have to thank Andrea Hairston. As a panelist and audience member, moderators have consistently been the most significant factor affecting the experience of con panel. Andrea was our fearless leader during this panel and I think we all owe her thanks for her energetic and positive management of the conversation.

Panel Description: Is Optimism Just Nostalgia in Disguise? – Marina 2, Literature, Sun 11:30 AM: We are hearing, after a long sojourn in dystopia and postapocalypse, that optimistic SF is making a comeback. Is it really the case or is the optimism of yesterday just another type of nostalgia? When climate change, postantibiotic medicine, and resource depletion are major factors in our lives (topics that are not always as well addressed in optimistic SF), is there a way to temper our optimism and inspire those who might be able to face these problems? Panelists: Andrea Hairston (mod), N.A. Ratnayake, Matthew Kressel, T.X. Watson, M.J. Cunniff

I was happy that the conversation could begin with every panelist answering the titular question in the negative: no, optimism is not just nostalgia in disguise. We had different perspectives as to why and how to move forward, but it was great to have that connecting thread. I won’t (and really can’t) give a transcript or summary of the conversation as it happened, but here are some of my key conclusions that I took away.

[SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t yet seen Star Wars: Rogue One, skip the section “Positive Stories in Negative Spaces.”]

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