Like science fiction? Bicycles? Dragons? Do I have a story for you!

Actually, it’s a whole anthology!

Read The Sound of Home, in Dragon Bike: Fantastical Stories of Bicycling, Feminism, & Dragons (paperback available now, ebook February 2020) —

Also, you can read things I said about writing and reading and cycling and stuff (and also the lovely things Elly says about my writing).

Can*Con 2019: Part 3

As usual, this is taking me longer than intended!

So, now on to the content-related panels I went to.

On Friday morning, I went to the workshop “Medical Mistakes 101” with Melissa Yuan-Innes. I have been reading Melissa’s medical mysteries (the Hope Sze series, written as Melissa Yi) for a while and I really like them a lot. (I wrote about the first book in the series elsewhere on this site.)

Melissa had crowdsourced common errors and misrepresentations that other doctors notice in books and television. This proved to be a really useful approach and I appreciated breadth of detail, ranging from general problems to those specific to particular branches of medicine.

Most useful for my current work were her comments on CPR and resuscitation and current methods.

Geology of the Solar System, moderated by Dylan Blacquiere with Michael Reid and Shirley Meier

This was an interesting discussion not only about the geology of our (and potentially other) solar system, but more broadly about habitability, the problem of single ecosystem planets in fiction, and the importance of being internally consistent within your story.

As with all the best panels, this one gave me various story ideas.

Designing a Planet Live, also moderated by Dylan Blacquiere, this time with Serena Tristen, Geoffrey Hart, Mark Robinson, and Anatoly Belilovsky

This panel was a free for all in the best way. It fit in well with the Geology of the Solar System one, in so far as they both considered the livability boundaries and range of planetary possibilities.

However, in this panel, Dylan took the panelists through the steps of collaboratively designing a planet, starting with the geology and water cycle and how to make choices that would result in an interesting planet.

I particularly liked how well all the panelists considered the implications of the different choices at each step, for example about energy inputs and what kind of life might develop as the result of different options.

Is big data in an arms race? moderated by Kim-Mei Kirtland, with Jason M Harley, Ada Hoffmann, Sarah Parkinson, and NRM Roshak

This panel discussed a broad range of areas including what data is being collected and where does it come from, how are things measured (eg the assumptions about facial display of emotion), and privacy law and consent.

There was a really good bit about facial recognition and its constraints (racial and gender limitations, also health-related facial variations like paralysis) and problems with AI applications like predictive policing.

I went to two other panels, both part of the scientific literacy track, that covered similar issues, Data is the New Gold Rush and Technology-Driven Labor Market Disruption: The New Industrial Revolution. I’ll talk about them, and the other panels on that track I attended later (probably Friday).

See you then!

Can*Con 2019: Part 2

So, continuing with the writing -related panels I went to at Can*Con this year… (part 1 available here).

Who’s our hero anyway? moderated by K.V. Johansen with Éric Desmarais, Kevin Hearne, and Tanya Huff

This was a really interesting panel about having multiple point-of-view characters, particularly in the context of epic-type books/series. I went to this panel because I have an all-but-finished novel with this situation that I really struggled with (I wanted multiple points of view for various plot reasons, but felt it detracted from who I thought should be the main character).

Anyway, the panel raised some good points about how many is too many characters, how to manage them all, and what purpose in particular they serve (giving the reader different characters to identify with, scenes where the protagonist can’t be, including an antagonist perspective, etc).

Writing and resistance, moderated by Millie Ho with Charlie Jane Anders, Craig DiLouie, Kevin Hearne, and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry

This panel discussed whether the participating writers explicitly included politics in their novels or whether the political arose more organically, along with a range of other related ideas (that different genres demonstrate political themes in different ways, the current political situation & the problems that arise with trying to write something dystopian).

Stealing from outside SFF, moderated by Ira Nayman with Marie Bilodeau, Leah Bobet, Lee Harris, Kevin Hearne, and Jay Odjick

This panel was definitely that most fun of any I attended (everyone on the panel was great, but special credit to Marie Bilodeau and Jay Odjick who are both just wonderful).

All of the panelists (and the moderator) gave really thoughtful reflections on their non-SFF influences, ranging from mysteries and thrillers to D&D to film and graphic novels to Masters of the Universe to pro wrestling! There was a strong encouragement to just write your own thing and not worry about boundaries.

Hierarchy and oppression in SFF, moderated by ‘Nathan Burgoine, with Charlie Jane Anders, Terese Mason Pierre, and Elliott Dunstan

This was actually the last panel I attend of the con and, despite it being the end of a busy three days, it was still really compelling and everyone was very into it.

Much of the discussion revolved around how themes of hierarchy and oppression don’t necessarily have to be bleak depending on the characters’ situation. You can have nice people in a horrible setting.

There was also a really good consideration of problematic allegories and how ‘the oppressed’ are represented, and own voices.

I noticed only in writing this up that 3 of these 4 panels had Kevin Hearne on them. It’s a good thing he’s a really interesting guy with good things to contribute!

I’ll write later about rest of the panels (and the other workshop) I attended.