I’m on some amazing panels with amazing human beings at the next Worldcon, in London:
Friday 11:00 AM
Settling the Alien World
Friday 12:00 – 13:30, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)
Here are three star systems, each with a planet potentially habitable by humans. One is Mars-like — probably lifeless, and needs warming and water before we can live there (or we need to adapt ourselves). One is Earth-like, with similar biochemistry even (score one for panspermia theory), but so far as we can tell, no sentient organisms. And one is Earth-like but with early industrial cities. What narratives do we imagine for humans arriving in each system? How might humans be shaped by the life and landscapes they encounter? And how might questions of contact, colonisation or cohabitation be tackled in each scenario?
Imagining Fantasy Lands: The Status Quo Does Not Need Worldbuilding
Friday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 11 (ExCeL)
Fantasy world-building sometimes comes under fire for its pedantic attention to detail at the expense of pacing or prose style. Do descriptive passages clog up the narrative needlessly, when reader imagination should be filling in the gaps? Where does that leave the landscapes and cultures that are less well represented in the Western genre: can world-building be a tool in subverting reader expectations that would otherwise default to pseudo-medieval Euro-esque? If fantasy is about defamiliarising the familiar, how important is material culture – buildings, furnishings, tools, the organisation of social and commercial space – in creating a fantasy world?
SF: What It Is, What It Could Be
Friday 19:00 – 20:00, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)
SF as a genre is both loaded and contested, bringing with it decades of controversies, assumptions, prejudices, and possibilities. What do the genre’s various practitioners and consumers think SF is? Are we speaking the same language, or talking past each other? How do perceptions of SF – in terms of who can write it, who can consume it, and what kinds of stories can find a market – create or reinforce realities? Is ‘core’ SF still about space exploration and colonisation, or is there room for other types of stories? If SF is ‘dying’, as we’re frequently told, what does that mean and in whose interests are the preparations for its funeral?
Reading: Tobias Buckell
Saturday 20:00 – 20:30, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)
Monday 12:00 – 13:00, London Suite 4 (ExCeL)