Fannish Feud, the pro team, left to right: Thomas (Martin) Wagner (filmmaker and science fiction reviewer), Sigrid Close (a professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and ArmadilloCon 2014 science Guest of Honor), Ted Chiang (SF/F author and writer Guest of Honor), Stephanie Pui-Mun Law (artist GoH), Jacob Weisman (editor GoH).
K. G. (Kevin) Jewell, John Gibbons, Janet Kathleen Cheney, and Ted Chiang at the "Mathematics, magic, and mystery" panel. The panel started out with a discussion of a book by the same name that explored mathematical "paradoxes" (many of them pretty simple and not paradoxical at all). But the larger purpose of the panel was to explore how mathematics influences science fiction. Apparently, there isn't much science fiction -- at least not very well known -- where the central idea is mathematical. Our panelists mentioned these works:
at the "Mathematics, magic, and mystery panel". The panel started out with a discussion of a book by the same name that explored mathematical "paradoxes". Many of them were pretty simple and not paradoxical at all -- for example, the trick where you divide a right triangle into squares, and reshuffle them to make an empty square, thus making a part of the triangle's area to "disappear".
Sigrid Close (a professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and ArmadilloCon 2014 science Guest of Honor), Patrice Sarath (SF/F author), Ada Palmer (historian and SF/F author), and Ted Chiang (SF/F author) at the Remembering The Future panel panel. The panel explored the question, is time real or an illusion?
At ArmadilloCon 2014, Jayme Lynn Blaschke interviewed Ted Chiang, one of the two writer Guests of Honor. Here are some topics they talked about: linguistics, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and "The Story of Your Life", the possibility of it being turned into the movie -- this was 2 years before the story got turned into the movie "Arrival"; is Ted Chiang's fiction influenced by the environment; writing the ending first, his story length, and whether he is going to expand "Liking What You See" into a longer story; does he ever plan to write a novel; the first stories he wrote as a teen; who were his influences; and what appeal does he find in discredited scientific theories, such as preformation (on which his story "72 Letters" is based).
Nebula Awards 2008 took place in Austin, TX on April 24-27. Being in Texas, the award ceremony had to have some Texas flavor, and that was amply supplied by the MC John Moore and the toastmaster Joe Lansdale. Moore started by explaining Texas dialect to the out-of-state folks. He said, "in Texas you don't say 'I'm going to have a glass of wine', you say 'I'm fixing to mosey down to Hospitality Suite and rustle up a Shiner Bock'. And right now I'm fixing to introduce our toastmaster. He's a kick-ass Texas writer, and I mean it literally: he founded a school of martial arts."
Joe Lansdale's speech was the highly anticipated highlight of the award ceremony. Everyone in the Texas fandom knows Lansdale is pretty damn funny. And his speech was funny indeed, although a bit rambling. I managed to remember a couple of anecdotes Joe told; for the sake of brevity, I'll compress the details which, in my opinion, didn't add much to the story. (Though what do I know? Perhaps readers adore Joe Lansdale precisely because of those details I consider rambly.)
His point was that Texas is such a weird place it can't help but inspire science fiction. Here is an incident that happened to him and an even stranger one, to another Texas writer. Lansdale also listed his rules for the attendees of science fiction conventions.
(Later at the ArmadilloCon 2008 Joe Lansdale told more stories from his life on the Campfire Stories panel. They can be found in my blog post.
Michael Moorcock, who was bestowed a title of SFWA grandmaster, had his own funny stories to tell about life in Texas -- and why he likes it here.
Pictures from the Nebula awards can be found in my photo gallery.
Description in the program book: Was there a homoerotic subtext to Lord of the Rings? Is subtext in the eye of the beholder, or is Spec Fic friendlier to GLBT characters and readings than the mainstream? Panelists discuss the perception of alternative sexualities in SF/F.
Panelists: Alexis Glynn Latner (moderator), Lee Martindale, Jess Nevins, Selina Rosen, Mel. White
What was it really about:
The discussion didn't focus so much about a relationship between Frodo and Sam (though there was some speculation), or even whether SF is friendlier to gay / lesbian / bi /transsexual (GLBT) characters than mainstream literature. Mostly it revolved around fan fiction, especially slash fiction.
Pictures from ApolloCon 2007 are in my photo gallery.
Wil McCarthy, a scientist and science fiction author, was the Guest of Honor at ApolloCon 2009. He gave a talk on the work he's been doing in programmable matter. He started off by showing the audience a piece of clear glass. Then he heated the glass with a hair dryer. An irregularly shaped reflective blob grew on the glass -- the heat turned the glass reflective. This was McCarthy's demonstration of materials he's working on in his startup.
Definitions and discussion of programmable matter can be found elsewhere on the web, and McCarthy did not dwell on the theory, but talked about his work in this area. His practical work in programmable matter developed from his nonfiction book "Hacking Matter", which it turn was born from his fiction. He talked about the events that lead to writing of "Hacking Matter", and how it attracted investors' interest, leading to creation of programmable matter startup. McCarthy talked about his company's journey to discovery of viable commercial applications for these materials, and why he avoids the word "nanotechnology" for marketing this technology to investors. He briefly discussed weapon potential and security issues of programmable matter with the audience. Finally, he talked about balancing his science and writing careers, or rather, impossibility thereof.
Pictures from ApolloCon 2009 are available in my photo gallery.
Read more about ApolloCon 2009 in my blog