Panel Appearance at Worldcon, August 17, 2011–Stretching the Mind While Thinking Outside the Box

This is a panel I was on at Worldcon 2011 in Reno, about innovative ways teachers at all levels can integrate science fiction into their courses. This was part of the AboutSF program, which is a great outreach program out of the University of Kansas and a joint project of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Science Fiction Research Association. I had been asked to participate in the program a couple of years ago, but schedules didn’t match up until this Worldcon; I was pleased to be able to do it this year with people like Maurine Starkey, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, Stephen Potts and Gary Wolfe. We talked about a number of things related to the teaching of science fiction and fantasy, and I got a few ideas myself from some of the panelists’ suggestions here.

Worldcon, August 19, 2011–Reboots of TV and Movie Series

My third panel at Worldcon 2011 and second one as moderator, this one about the increasing trend of reboots in TV shows and movies. Lawrence Person, A.C. Crispin and I took around an hour to talk about franchises from Superman to Star Trek and everything in between, alternating between admiration and despair at various attempts to take another bite of the apple. This was both good fun and instructive, with some surprising information I didn’t know about reboots currently in the pipeline.

Worldcon, August 19, 2011–Consistent Magic Systems in Fantasy

A second great panel at Worldcon 2011, this one with some serious star power. I’m not usually intimidated by these things, but I’ll admit to having been a little awed at the prospect of sitting on a panel with Jo Walton, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Pat Rothfuss and Tim Powers. As you might expect with that kind of group, the discussion on magic in fantasy was both illuminating and entertaining, and having a phenomenal turnout (probably close to two hundred people in the room) helped too.

Worldcon, August 18, 2011–The Lord of the Rings: Assessing the Movie Trilogy

One of a number of interesting panels I was lucky enough to be on at Worldcon in 2011, this one asked the panelists to assess the impact of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy ten years later (without being overly staggered by how much time has already passed since then) on the genre of fantasy specifically and film more generally. Since I’m on record as being both deeply influenced by the books, which first fired my imagination as a child and has continued to do so ever since, and a huge fan of the films, which did such a good job of bringing the spirit of the books to the screen, I was really excited to be moderating the panel. It didn’t disappoint; Arthur Chenin, Stephen Potts and Norman Cates all had interesting things to say during the discussion, and having someone in Norman who actually worked on the films (and the upcoming Hobbit movies) talk about how moving he still finds them was, for me, worth the price of admission by itself.

Gen Con, August 7, 2011–Writers’ Symposium–Business of Writing-Agents, Query Letters and Pitches

This is some of the nuts and bolts kind of stuff which I think Gen Con does best–here on the subject of pitching agents and editors, with Don Bingle, John Helfers and Brad Beaulieu. Interesting information, even if John was so horrifically exhausted at this point in the convention I wasn’t sure he was going to make it through the panel…

Gen Con, August 6, 2011–Writers’ Symposium–Worldbuilding-Geography

Another good panel at Gen Con, this one about geography in worldbuilding, with Paul Genesse, Ramsey Lundock, and Sabrina Klein. Particularly interesting here are Ramsey’s (who lives in Japan) comments on how Japan’s geography influences its culture, especially in light of the recent tsunami.

Gen Con, August 6, 2011–Writers’ Symposium–Make It Steamy-A Look At The Steampunk Genre

One of my favorite panels at Gen Con 2011, this one about the steampunk genre, with fellow “experts” Anton Strout, Paul Genesse, Lawrence Connolly, and Maurice Broaddus. This panel was a lot of fun, and I did what I could not to deserve the quotation marks around the steampunk “expert” part.

Readercon, July 16, 2011–Science Fiction for Today’s Undergraduates

My first of two appearances at Readercon this year, this panel dealt with teaching science fiction to the typical college student–how has it changed, how has it stayed the same, and how has our teaching impacted our writing and vice versa? There were some interesting insights that came out of the discussion here, partly because of the panelists’ varied teaching environments (from large state school to large private university to small liberal arts college to community college, from rural to suburban to urban areas) and specific backgrounds and partly because of the different approaches each of us took in our own courses. Besides me, the panel also included Joan Slonczewski (with whom I was also on an “academic” panel at Readercon last year, in the same room…seems to be a popular spot for these sorts of topics!), Michael Cisco and Leigh Grossman (who teaches at UCONN, my old stomping grounds).

Ad Astra, April 10, 2011–What Makes a Hero?

Throw a bunch of speculative fiction authors and editors on a panel and ask them to define a hero and you’re likely to get a lot of different answers. Add Ed Greenwood into the mix and you’re almost guaranteed to have something different! But with a few vocal exceptions, on this panel we actually had a lot of similar thoughts about the construction, development and appeal of the hero, and the result was an interesting journey through heroism in the world of speculative fiction. I served on my final panel for Ad Astra 2011 with David Clink, Gabrielle Harbowy, Tamora Pierce and, of course, the irrepressible Mr. Greenwood. (Sorry about the audio in this one–there was a lot of ambient noise outside and inside the room which wasn’t easy to filter out in post production.)