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.”]
I’m excited to be returning as a panelist to Arisia 2017, New England’s largest and most diverse sci-fi and fantasy convention! Arisia is coming up in just a few weeks (January 13-16, 2017)… Grab a membership soon, because the rates go up after December 31.
My panelist schedule is below, and besides these I plan to attend many more in Science, Writing, and Literature.
- What Are the New Questions SFF Should be Asking? – Burroughs, Literature, Fri 5:30 PM: Speculative fiction needs to speculate, as changes in the world pile up thick and fast. News of these new developments – scientific, political, cultural, and personal – reaches a broad audience, sometimes even before the developments have actually developed. Does SF have space to speculate? Should we try to keep pace with the way the world changes? Is that possible? What new questions should we ask?
Panelists: Dr. Pamela Gay (mod), N.A. Ratnayake, John Sundman, Steve E. Popkes, N.S. Dolkhart
- How To Use Real Science In Your SciFantasy Story – Alcott, Writing, Fri 10:00 PM: How can you use *real* science in your science fiction and fantasy stories? What is fringe science? Where do you dig it up? Where does STEM fit into your worldbuilding? And how do you adapt boring JSTOR studies to high-stakes action on a space-battleship or a magic kingdom? Our STEM panelists will teach you how to sprinkle a little science fairy dust to make even the most audacious story sound scientifically plausible.
Panelists: Deborah Kaminski (mod), Timothy Goyette, N.A. Ratnayake, Ian Randall Stock, Stephen R. Wilk
- The Intersection of Art and Science – Adams, Science, Sat 10:00 AM: Astronomical imagery, mathematical music, negative-space theorizing, gaming into data-structures. Panelists will discuss how they integrate their scientific careers into their artistic ventures, and vice versa.
Panelists: Shelley Marsh (mod), N.A. Ratnayake, John Sundman, Sarah Smith, Drew Van Zandt
- What We Know from Juno – Marina 3, Science, Sat 11:30 AM: Juno is a NASA space probe currently orbiting the planet Jupiter. For 20 months the probe will gather a wealth of new information including more details about the planet’s atmospheric composition and core density. Come find out what we’ve learned so far.
Panelists: Jeff Hecht (mod), N.A. Ratnayake, Dr. Pamela Gay, Dan Brian
- 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’m happy to be returning to Arisia as a panelist again this winter! New England’s largest and most diverse science fiction convention will be January 15-18, 2016 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, near the convention center. My panel schedule is below.
Hope to see you there! (Ask for a signed copy of the USB edition of Red Soil Through Our Fingers!)
Edit 1/4/16: I was recently added to one more panel in the Literature strand, as well as a reading. These updates are now included below.
I’m excited and honored to be appearing on four panels at this year’s Arisia 2015 science fiction convention, coming up this January 16-19. I plan to be there for every day of the con, and I’ll post a list of panels that I will be attending as an audience member later, once I’ve had a chance to digest the program.
Below are the panels I’ll be appearing on as a panelist.