Fourth Street Fantasy convention’s schedule is up! and on it the specific panels I’ll be participating in. In addition, I’ll be one of the workshop leaders for Friday morning, but if you’ve signed up for that, you’re already stuck with me, and if you haven’t, it’s too late. Otherwise, here’s where you can see me on panels:
Saturday 2:00 PM: You Don’t Own Me: Concepts of Freedom in the Work of John M. Ford
Pamela Dean, Marissa Lingen, Elise Matthesen (M), Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Distilling the work of the late John M. Ford down to a few key points is a mind-bending and questionably plausible endeavor, but there are some recurring themes we can at least pretend to conclusively discuss in our too-short time together. One subject that peeks out from the fog of invention over and over again is that of freedom in multiple aspects. Whether it’s freedom of identity and freedom from imperial conquest (The Dragon Waiting), freedom from erroneous stereotypes and cultural traps (The Final Reflection), freedom from colonization and from the boundaries of parental control (Growing Up Weightless), or even authorial freedom from every established constraint on the demeanor of a franchise (How Much for Just the Planet?), Ford was on the case. We miss him and it’s been awhile since we talked about him deliberately. Let’s fix that.
(Note: I think that this discussion will actually be a really good intro to Mike Ford’s work if you haven’t had one–it’s a deep dive, but on theme rather than plotting. I think everyone on it will be motivated to try to make it a conversation everyone can understand rather than going into the weeds with details that will lose you unless you’re a hard-core Mike fan.)
Saturday 5:00 PM: Talking Across Ten Thousand Years
John Appel, Elizabeth Bear, Casey Blair, Marissa Lingen (M), Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Time is big. Really, really big. You might think it’s a long anxious wait to get to the bathroom after a 4th Street panel, but what about gulfs of time longer than the recorded history of our civilization? SF/F deals frequently with the concept of Deep Time, but how astutely? Can a human society really hold a consensus cosmogeny together for a million centuries? Can a wall of ice really be manned by the same order of guards for 8,000 years? We already look at the people of just a century or two ago as something akin to aliens. This panel will also address the essential challenges of communication and interpretation across vast spans of years— for example, the U.S. Department of Energy has a mandate for the permanent warning signs and symbols in place at its deep bedrock nuclear waste storage facilities. They need to somehow work ten thousand years from now, when the assumption is that our culture, languages, histories, and data will be gone… but our hazardous atomic waste will still be dangerous. How can we talk when only our words are left, and even the words have no context?
Useful Reading: This Place Is Not a Place of Honor by Alan Bellows