New (I)Cons in Old Bottles; My SFContario Schedule.


I didn’t make this up. Honest.

A robust, full-bodied, highly adaptable wine that goes right to your head, with cryptic overtones and just a hint of arachnid. Grown in strong sunlight and arid, mineral-rich soil, this modest-yet-ambitious vintage pairs with pretty much anything. Warning: excessive consumption may result in loss of consciousness.

Personally, I think it’s too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. Of course, given the timing they must’ve really rushed it into production. Hopefully August was a good month; I haven’t yet got up the nerve to pop the cork.


I’ve got a fairly busy weekend lined up, starting on Thursday the 19th at the Merrill Collection where I’ll be reading along with Saladin Ahmed (assuming he can even get across the border, given the latest outbreak of kneejerk hypertribalism sweeping the neighborhood; I wish him luck). I’ll be reading from the Russian (only in English): “Insect Gods” in its entirety, a piece that heretofore has only appeared as a couple of isolated fragments on the ‘crawl. At least, that’s the expectation as of this writing; depending on mood/circumstances/audience, things might change at the last moment.

Starting Friday, I’m at SFContario as GoH, except not exactly; that honor actually goes to Saladin (again, assuming availability) as author GoH and Tom Smith as Musician GoH. I’m actually GoH for some sort of simultaneous shadow con called Canvention— think of an intestinal parasite, coexisting as a distinct entity in the body of a larger host and feeding off its dietary stream. Except this particular parasite runs the Auroras, which I’m told I’ll be MCing on Sunday. (Maybe it’s more of a symbiont.)

There will also be panels, not all of which I feel especially competent to sit upon. If you’re interested in when and where those will be, you’ve come to the right place:

Space Weather – The Latest Forecast (M)- Friday 6 PM, Room 209: Earth, satellites, and astronauts are constantly bombarded by a drizzle of radiation from cosmic rays and the Sun that can change into a deadly downpour. High-energy particles in the solar wind carry a magnetic field powerful enough to destroy electric power systems on Earth. The panelists will talk about space weather and what we can do about it. Eric Choi, David Stephenson, Ian Stuart, Peter Watts(M) (This is the one I don’t feel competent to sit on. So of course they made me the moderator.)

Opening Ceremonies – Friday 7 PM, Courtyard: I don’t know if I’m competent to sit on this one either, but it’s kind of mandatory. At least I won’t have to say anything.

Reading – Saturday 11:00 AM, Room 207: Probably a mix of the Secret Project I have/n’t been working on all fall, a bit of the in-progress Intelligent Design, and maybe a bit of “Insect Gods” from the Merrill reading, depending on timing and degree of audience overlap. I’m sharing this slot with the estimable Alyx (aka Lexus) Dellamonica, so we may have to mud-wrestle to settle the reading order. No promises.

Consciousness in Non-human Life Forms – Saturday 12 PM, Room 207: Great apes, whales, dolphins, elephants, and parrots have all been supported as being sentient. What does that mean to SF? Should they be uplifted a la David Brin? (Finally, something I can actually witter on about. Although given the recent falling-out on this very crawl, I don’t know if I’d advocate anything being anythinged a la David Brin.) Cathy Hird, Herb Kauderer(M), Jane Ann McLachlan, Peter Watts.

First Contact in Real Life – Saturday 2 PM, Gardenview: It looks so easy in Star Trek but how could we really establish a common conceptual base to communicate with another species? Sure, we have numbers and the hydrogen atom in common, but how far would that get us with a world of beings who share none of our sensory apparatus. Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Alyx Dellamonica, Neil Jamieson-Williams(M), Peter Watts.

New Philosophies in Science Fiction – Saturday 4 PM, Courtyard: Looking at the values of the past, it is unrealistic to think that people in the future would think the same way we do and hold our values, yet looking at old SF it’s exactly what you do see. How do we get beyond that and come up with new ways for people to think about their new worlds? Neil Jamieson-Williams, Kelly Robson(M), Ian Stuart, Jo Walton, Peter Watts.

Aurora Awards – Sunday 12:15, Ballroom C: I’ll be introducing these. I should probably think of something to say.

Closing Ceremonies – Sunday 3 PM, Courtyard: For those who value choice in their social events, I’m guessing this is where you’ll find the con’s greatest range of available seating.

So there you go. If you’re in town this coming weekend, there are worse things to do.

Be warned, though. There’s no bar on the premises— which is, to my mind, kind of a glaring oversight, even if the neighborhood is rife with decent pubs (we’re especially partial to Hair of the Dog, very nearby on Church & Wood).