In addition to all of the July 4th fun around here, I spent the morning building a catapult. As one does. The initial firing did not go as planned, sadly, when the arm snapped off because I tensioned it too tightly.
But we will rebuild! Better! Faster! And Stronger!
In other news, I'll be at Readercon this coming weekend. Should any of y'all also be there, here's my schedule for your stalking convenience.*
Thursday July 11
8:00 PM G The News and the Abstract Truth. Robert Killheffer, Adrienne Martini, James Morrow, David G. Shaw (leader), Gayle Surrette. The controversies surrounding Mike Daisey's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and John D'Agata and Jim Fingal's The Lifespan of a Fact arose when art and truth collided. While fiction can play fast and loose with facts in order to tell a compelling story, monologues and essays are held to a higher standard. The authors of these books were surprised by audience reactions to the discovery that their "factual" accounts were fabrications; they claimed that their work was more "beautiful" or "lyrical" than the truth. But which are more important: true words, or beautiful words? Why do some writers think it necessary to take liberties with the truth in order to create great "nonfiction"?
Friday July 12
11:00 AM ME The Fannish Inquisition. E.C. Ambrose, F. Brett Cox, Jim Freund (moderator), Adrienne Martini. Many writers have had the experience of being asked, at a panel or at a signing, to elucidate some minor plot point of a barely-remembered story or novel written years earlier. Many panel moderators have dealt with audience members who see the question period as an opportunity to deliver their own elaborate theories or critiques. From the point of view of the author or moderator, how should such lapses of politesse be most tactfully handled? Which questions do you wish someone would ask? From the point of view of fans, how can you be sure you're asking meaningful questions that might interest other audience members besides yourself?
3:00 PM ME Knit One, Print Two: Handicrafts, Replicators, and the Future of Making. E.C. Ambrose, Natalie Luhrs, Adrienne Martini (leader), Eric Schaller, David G. Shaw. Take your average 21st-century American knitter on board the Enterprise and the first thing they'd do is replicate a heap of yarn and some needles, or roving and a wheel to spin it with. The replicator might obviate the need for real plants and animals as sources for raw materials, but not the desire of people to create beauty out of those raw materials, or just to do something with their hands on long trips. Given this, why do we almost never see handicrafts in SF futures with replicators? What can futurists learn from the recent simultaneous booms of 3D printers (which are arguably proto-replicators) and handicrafts, both under the header of "making" and often employed and enjoyed by the same people?
Saturday July 13
11:00 AM F A Visit from the "Suck Fairy": Enjoying Problematic Works. John Benson, Cathy Butler, Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Yoon Ha Lee, Adrienne Martini, Kate Nepveu. Encountering problematic elements within fictional works isn't uncommon. As readers develop awareness of racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism—development that occurs on both a personal and a cultural level—they may be appalled to stumble across bigotry in childhood favorites or long-lauded classics, or struggle to appreciate a book that everyone around them is enjoying. Can you still love a work after you've seen something horrible within it, or does continuing to enjoy it mean tacitly approving of not only that specific work but problematic works in general? How can we make room for complex reactions in conversations among critics and readers?
* I'm also putting it here so that I can find it quickly - and make sure that I wind up where I need to be. Also, if anyone has any comments/ideas about any of these panels, please share. I'll do my best to work them in.