Interaction Panel Schedule

Interaction (this year’s Worldcon) has mailed me my final panel schedule:

Thursday 5:00pm
How to Participate in and Moderate a Panel

Janice Gelb (M)
Eileen Gunn
Ellen Klages
John Scalzi

Notes: I suppose this is proof people do actually read the InterWeb.

Friday 12:00 noon
The Immortal in Written and Media SF

Ginjer Buchanan
Tanya Huff
Fiona McIntosh
Elaine Nichol
John Scalzi (M)

The immortal characters are a staple of SF and Fantasy. How do the
written and media genres cope with characters who look at the world
without our cultural assumptions.

Notes: This proves someone at Interaction has a sense of humor. When the preliminary panel assignments came out I wrote back telling them they should take me off the panel, since I haven’t written an immortal character nor do I have any plans to. Not only have they not taken me off the panel, they’ve gone and made me moderator. Very cute. But: I accept, and now I’ll read up on the subject and the other panelists’ work so I can intelligently direct traffic as the moderator. I don’t write immortal characters, but I think up of some interesting things to ask the people who do.

Saturday 7:00pm
Is Blogging Helping or Hurting Your Career?

Michael Cobley
Eileen Gunn
Benjamin Rosenbaum
John Scalzi (M)
Martha Wells

Is you blog taking over your life — or your writing? Are you
talking too much about writing and not actually writing, or is your
blog helping you to write better?

Notes: Heh. Yeah, I guess I know a little about this topic.

There you have it.

24 thoughts on “Interaction Panel Schedule

  1. “Immortals” in sf are generally defined as characters who take advantage of technology that eliminates old age and can fix most diseases and injuries.

    So the author of of “Old Man’s War” most definitely fits on that panel. As a matter of fact, OMW is one of relatively few sf stories which deal with immortality from the perspective of someone living out the tail end of what we in the 21st Century would consider to be a normal lifespan. At the opening of the novel, the hero is 75 years old, widowed, with grown children, expecting to die of old age himself relativeely soon (unless, of course, he exercises the option he does choose to exercise).

    I can think of almost no stories about true immortals, offhand, the only one I can think of is a recent one by Greg Egan.

  2. Darnit, in the last sentence of the previous comment, only the words “true immortals” should be italicized.

    John, if you have to-do list of site maintenance, I’d appreciate it if you add to that list: previewing should show how the comment will ACTUALLY LOOK, including paragraph breaks and HTML.

  3. I would love to see someone do a good job of writing immortal characters from a science-fiction approach. I’m not sure I can think of any good examples. My thinking goes as follows – all my life I have been learning, growing, changing. At 41, I’m a whole lot smarter and wiser than I was at 21. My 5-year-old self couldn’t even comprehend most of my current thinking. I expect, therefore, that if I could live to 500 years old, my level of thought, maturity, perception, insight, and motivation would be as far beyond my present self as I am now beyond my 5-year-old self.

    I don’t generally see that in the immortals of science-fiction, though. Usually it’s as if they stopped developing somewhere in their 30s or 40s. It’s understandable, though. How is a writer supposed to potray a character who is hundreds of years wiser than the author?

  4. I’ve always wondered — who pays for your travel to cons? Does it come out of your pocket as a tax-deductible expense, or does your publisher foot the bill?

    In a similar vein, what about expenses around promotional readings?

  5. Authors typically pay out of their own pocket; I suppose a publisher may occasionally pay for an appearance at a convention but it’s not the usual thing. If one is the Guest of Honor at a con, the con picks up the tab, but otherwise it’s all paid for personally.

  6. Not a comment, more of a question, but….

    Weren’t those “assimilators” on Star Trek kind of immortals? I mean, they lived forever (outside of space ships even!) and devoured all other life forms. Is that not the definition of “immortal?”

    Okay, it really was a questions, but I’ve been dying to use the “Not a comment, more of a question, but….” in a Whatever thread since I first read about it, so thanks for this opportunity!

  7. John, I’d love a video of the panel on doing panels. I have to moderate one in September for this year’s Bouchercon (despite filling out a snippy and excessively demanding screed designed to keep me off of panels).

  8. Well, I’ll tell you I’ve bought 5 books in the past month all because the authors had blogs. Yours being the first one (review will be out shortly!). Maybe I’m biased being a semi-professional blogger, but your blog sold your book to me, no doubt.

  9. Scalzi – Thanks, bubbileh!

    Tonydismukes – “I would love to see someone do a good job of writing immortal characters from a science-fiction approach. I’m not sure I can think of any good examples. My thinking goes as follows – all my life I have been learning, growing, changing. At 41, I’m a whole lot smarter and wiser than I was at 21. My 5-year-old self couldn’t even comprehend most of my current thinking. I expect, therefore, that if I could live to 500 years old, my level of thought, maturity, perception, insight, and motivation would be as far beyond my present self as I am now beyond my 5-year-old self.”

    Of course, then you run into the problem of the author trying to write a character smarter than he is.

    And wisdom might peak, anyway.

  10. Tonydismukes writes:

    “I would love to see someone do a good job of writing immortal characters from a science-fiction approach. I’m not sure I can think of any good examples. My thinking goes as follows – all my life I have been learning, growing, changing. At 41, I’m a whole lot smarter and wiser than I was at 21. My 5-year-old self couldn’t even comprehend most of my current thinking. I expect, therefore, that if I could live to 500 years old, my level of thought, maturity, perception, insight, and motivation would be as far beyond my present self as I am now beyond my 5-year-old self.

    I don’t generally see that in the immortals of science-fiction, though. Usually it’s as if they stopped developing somewhere in their 30s or 40s.”

    There’s plenty of evidence that human capacity is not on a curve like you think, including the basic theorems of information processing. There are real physical limitations that define how much data our brains can handle and process, and the real thinking on this point is that unassisted or unaltered humans (other than having the aging mechanisms paused or halted) would not continue growing more intelligent as time went on. They’d just accumulate more mental clutter. We can see this demonstrated by the difference in learning potential between toddlers and late adolescents; toddlers, having such an empty cache of knowledge, seem to grow and change so fast because each new bit of knowledge they gain can be rapidly and efficiently linked to most of their existing experiences — a process which has gotten far from simple by the time we’re in our late teens.

    Indeed, aging might be nature’s own garbage collection system. Those bits of memory and storage we have tied up with things we never use eventually drop out of our conscious recall. Experience in discriminating the chaff from the wheat may not be just a function of time; it may very well depend on the physiological changes brought about by aging.

    Probably one of the best looks I’ve seen at this process comes in the latter parts of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy; the characters start having to deal with the consequences of the anti-aging treatments.

    Unlimited potential curves don’t appear in most science fiction because it seems that the science behind them is suspect at best.

  11. Scott Westerfeld’s take on immortality in Risen Empire and Killing of Worlds is spot on. People living forever leads to stagnation of ideas and ultimately the society. It is a very very bad thing. (If I can’t spruik my husband’s work, who can?)

  12. Some time ago, after you wrote a hopeful entry after the Iraq elections, I posted a link to a London article about the bleak situation in Iraq and got dinged for admittedly iffy voting numbers. But I stand by that POV, if not the figures:

    http://www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

    : a blog by an Iraqi girl, about Iraq.

  13. Mitch,Until the preview function works for carriage returns, you can type “” in place of a carriage return and it will show up in the preview.For example, the source for the end of the last paragraph and the beginning of this one is:…in the preview.For example…

  14. Argh. But, beware! Previewing multiple times may make you look like an idiot. Should be:Mitch,Until the preview function works for carriage returns, you can type “<br>” in place of a carriage return and it will show up in the preview.For example, the source for the end of the last paragraph and the beginning of this one is:…in the preview.<br><br>For example…

  15. Devin L. Ganger: “There’s plenty of evidence that human capacity is not on a curve like you think, including the basic theorems of information processing. There are real physical limitations that define how much data our brains can handle and process, and the real thinking on this point is that unassisted or unaltered humans (other than having the aging mechanisms paused or halted) would not continue growing more intelligent as time went on. They’d just accumulate more mental clutter.”

    So eventually I’d forget my own name, my wife’s name, and my address — but I’d continue to remember the complete lyrics of every song that was popular when I was in high school.

    “Indeed, aging might be nature’s own garbage collection system. Those bits of memory and storage we have tied up with things we never use eventually drop out of our conscious recall.”

    Aging … and, for the species, death. We pass what’s worth knowing to our descendants, and the useless knowledge dies with us.

    Justine Larbalestier: “Scott Westerfeld’s take on immortality in Risen Empire and Killing of Worlds is spot on. People living forever leads to stagnation of ideas and ultimately the society. It is a very very bad thing.”

    I think that Patrick Nielsen Hayden had the last word on that argument: I agree that this is a serious problem, and I will personally commit to working as many millennia as it takes to solve it.

    Thanks, Justin.

  16. Cough, cough … hell, I could work that panel!

    (My next SF novel after ACCELERANDO, GLASSHOUSE, deals with very long-lived people. Every century or two they have to have surplus memories excised from their brains, lest they get too clogged-up and overloaded. Whereon hangs the entire story …)

  17. Charlie, they already have you doing, like, 43,000 different things at Interaction. When will you sleep?

  18. What is this “sleep” you speak of, mortal?

    (Actually, they’ve got me doing only 66% of the workload Noreascon 4 threw at me. As one or two panels will die a natural death anyway, I don’t expect to be overworked.)

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