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Conning: Day 2

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A full day at FogCon! Getting down the notes quickly while it's still in my head...

  • A panel on the speculative fiction canon: is there a spec fic canon? Should their be? A thoughtful discussion, building somewhat on discussion around this topic that we had at ConTention the night before (the two panels had the same moderator, and one of the other mods was also there). One interesting thing about this panel, which I wish I had thought of in time to articulate, is that we seemed to be using "canon" to stand in for three different things -- the foundational texts on which the specfic genre and its subgenres are based, lists of recommended reading, and reader advisory ("what book should I read next?") These types of "canon" are related (although I might argue that the word should really only be applied to the first one), but there are distinct differences between them, and we tended to shuffle among them a lot when we were talking.

  • Anarchists! In! Space! -- This panel wasn't sure whether it wanted to be about non-hierarchical collectives or separatists, which is in part because the word "anarchist" is used to describe both philosophies. I got the sense that the moderator would have really preferred to focus on the first meaning, but the second was the one more implied by the panel description, so that seemed to be the expectation a lot of the time. Still, it was a thought-provoking discussion, and I picked up some book recommendations and a free publication on anarchism, which is a philosophy I ought to know more about.

  • Alternative crimes and punishments, which covered a lot of ground regarding the changing nature of crime and philosophies of punishment -- is it for rehabilitation? deterrence? revenge? some balancing of the three? The moderator presented a fascinating thesis that Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics provide a description of all types of crime. More book recommendations, more discussion.

  • My copyright panel! It was me, two software people, a musician, and a lawyer, which made for a pretty good balance. The moderator (one of the software folks) mostly let audience questions direct the discussion, which I think was a good choice, but since the audience was largely writers, we ended up with the focus on practical nuts and bolts of protecting your own work. And that's an important topic, but we didn't spend as much time on the rights and future of the consumer. Afterwards, I was chatting with other panelists, and we agreed that we wished the balance had been a little different, because there was so much more interesting philosophical ground to cover. I overheard one person in line ahead of me at dinner who said that the panel was good, but she didn't feel like she'd learned anything new, and I can certainly see that being the case for someone already pretty familiar with the how-to side of things. Overall, though, I'm pretty happy with it, and with how I did, given that I'm not a very good extemporaneous speaker (I express myself much better in writing, or when I'm able to give the same presentation multiple times). Would panel again.

  • The Liar's Panel, which was just fun. Five panelists, answering ridiculous questions as ridiculously as possible. Somewhere between storytelling and performance art with audience participation. I hope they make this one a tradition.

  • Also attended a reading and had all kinds of random discussions with random people, which is still a bit nerve-wracking for me, but I'm always glad when I make myself do it. Dropping by the con suite when I have nothing else planned is definitely the right decision, and I need to make myself remember that.


One more day. Now to decide whether to go back out there or crash a little early. Right now I am leaning toward the latter, but we'll see! Maybe a second wind will present itself.

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