I’ll be appearing at Boston SF&F con Arisia, Jan. 13-16. Here’s my weekend schedule, for my convenience as well as everybody else’s. I’m glad that they didn’t put me on any fiendishly early panels, despite my being naive enough not to specify one way or the other.
Fantasy Before Fantasy, SF Before SF. Griffin. Saturday, 11:30 a.m. *The Odyssey,* *A Midsummer Night’s Dream,* *Frankenstein,* *Gulliver’s Travels,* and *Journey to the West.* A look at classic works of world literature that, while not written as science fiction and fantasy, have been co-opted in the 20th and 21st centuries by speculative fiction readers and used as inspiration by the writers. Hildy Silverman (mod), Esther Friesner, Tim Lieder, Sonya Taaffe, April Grant, Gareth Hinds. [I plan to talk a lot about ballads, nineteenth-century medievalists in general and William Morris in particular, and The Golden Ass.]
The Moral Aesthetics of Steampunk. Douglas. Saturday, 11:30 p.m. From the program: Steampunk is frequently realized as an idealized, shiny version of the Victorian era, with quite a few of the nasty bits missing or obscured. The real Victorian age was a mix of great wealth and progress with poverty, workhouses, and more. What does it say about us when the latter are left out? April Grant (mod), James Cambias, Margaret Ronald, Israel Peskowitz, JoSelle Vanderhooft. [Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get hold of and read Steam-Powered in time for the con, but it's not my task to talk about it anyway. Look at all those names. My job is to ask some thought-provoking questions, then sit back and let everybody have at it, with perhaps some intervening to keep order if it comes to blows.]
Traditional Stories, Modern Audiences. Douglas. Sunday, 10:00 a.m. When retelling a traditional story for a modern audience, what are some of the changes that may have to be made? What compromises come up between authenticity and modern thinking? Vikki Ciafone (mod), Meredith Schwartz, April Grant, Alexander Jablokov, Bob Kuhn. [Blah blah Tatterhood, blah blah A___a C____r, blah blah Robin McKinley, A Dark Horn Blowing, Fire and Hemlock. Only I'll try to be a little more entertaining and eloquent than that.]
Speculative Poetry Slam. Quincy. Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Elayna Jade Smolowitz, Shira Lipkin, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Sonya Taaffe, April Grant, Julia Rios, Erik Amundsen. [WOO I GET TO READ ALOUD AGAIN! There seems to be an underworld theme, thus far, so I'm going to read "Wallpaper" and something else to be determined later.]
Food Communicating Culture in Literature. Douglas. Sunday, 5:30 p.m. Trisha Wooldridge (mod), Greer Gilman, Stephanie Clarkson, April Grant, Tchipakkan. How do writers communicate things about their cultures and characters via the food they use? What can you discern about cultures based on if they get their food in pill form or if they are vegetarian/vegan, omnivores, or carnivores? How does the anatomy and physiology of your aliens or magical creatures dictate their food requirements? What about the terrain? Does the diversity of food culture–and what it communicates–on Earth get shown in literature? [Too many options! Must prepare some notes.]
Ethics of Science Fiction. Douglas. Sunday, 10:00 p.m. As science is perceived in the future (through science fiction) how are ethics, lifestyles, and philosophies perceived? What social organizations would we like, and why? How can we achieve them? How has the idea of a utopia or dystopia changed as science fiction evolves? Will the concept of “we” change? Are “right” and “wrong” eternal concepts, or have they changed over time? Meredith Schwartz, Grant Carrington, Justine Graykin, April Grant, Steve Kanaras. [Damn it, I meant to reread A Canticle For Leibowitz before Arisia.]
Among The Ruins. Douglas. Monday, 11:30 a.m. In many works of fantasy, characters come across the ruins of “The Elder Race” or “Those Who Came Before.” How did they get there? How do they influence the characters? Let’s talk about the archaeology of fantasy — why aren’t some stories about finding out who these elders were, and why they had better architecture and tech than Our Heroes? Vikki Ciafone (mod), John Costello, Shira Lipkin, April Grant. [Again, too many options. I'll probably focus on the way antiquity and ancient ruins happen quickly--something on the lines of "We did this before, it's traditional.]
Baby Vamps: The New World of Teen Vampires. Griffin. Monday, 1:00 p.m. Ed Fuqua, Elayna Jade Smolowitz, Hildy Silverman, April Grant. [None of us are named as mod, perhaps because it'll be a circle discussion instead of a panel, so I expect a lot of participation and much fun at the expense of Twilight. If I have any brain left by then, I'll talk about My Friend the Vampire and its sequels, a book series by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg that I enjoyed as a kid. Actually, I think Tony (the human) and Rudolph (the jaded vampire kid) are preadolescents, but so what? They're still fun, gross, and gritty.]
Whew! And I think that’s quite enough for one weekend! See you there!