Ted Chiang, Thomas A. Easton, Carl Frederick, Paul Levinson (L), Louise Marley.
A reader might easily think that physics (and specifically quantum mechanics and relativity) and biology (and specifically genetics and neuroscience) are the only fit subjects for hard sf. But Hal Clement based most of his fiction on chemistry, and Kim Stanley Robinson has made wonderful use of geology (planetary science) and climatology. We'll discuss the best exceptions to the seeming rule, and talk about scientific fields that deserve more attention (anyone for rheology)?
10:00 am ME Extreme Brain States and Brains.
Eric M. Van.
Talk / Discussion (60 min.). Recent research now puts the prevalence of synaesthesia not at .05% of the population but at an astonishing 5%, 99% of whom were unaware that everyone's brain didn't work that way. Van's own interest in neuroscience began when he discovered that he personally falsified one of the leading theories of personality traits. A brief, informal talk about unusual brain states (including myriad states of consciousness) and brains leads into a free-for-all discussion where audience members are invited to share their own unusual experiences and characteristics. How many different states of consciousness have Readercon attendees had among us?
See why I'm torn?
I'll duck into the Louise Marley signing at 11 - wish I owned more of her books! - and then...
11:00 am ME Molecular Self Assembly and the Origins of Life.
Talk / Discussion (60 min.). Life didn't begin with DNA (or even RNA). Before macromolecules began to catalyze and codify, other molecules had to compartmentalize. The chemical reactions of life cannot proceed without unequal concentrations of reactants in different places. What are the thermodynamic forces that lead to this un-thermodynamic situation? And what does this mean to the search for life on other planets?
Because, you know. Sciencegeekery.
12:00 noon NH Interfictions Group Reading.
Theodora Goss (host), Vandana Singh, Catherynne M. Valente, with Tempest Bradford, Michael DeLuca, and Joy Marchand.
catvalente and ktempest!
1:00 pm H I Have a Truly Marvelous Proof of This Proposition Which This Story is Too Commercial To Contain.
Michael A. Burstein (L), Jeff Hecht, Donald Kingsbury, Louise Marley, Peter Watts.
Actual calculations are generally excluded from sf—they're not what the reader is looking for. But hard sf often requires that the writer do the math and / or the physics and chemistry, and many stories are backed up by thick sheaves of notes that the reader never sees. Our panelists discuss examples from their personal experience. Should the "technical appendices" be published more often? Isn't the Web the natural place for them?
You guys have no idea how much research I do for Shayara that you're never going to see. Because this stuff has to have internal logic. I need to grok it in its fullness, or it's going to seem hollow and disjointed to you, dear reader.
Sometimes I think I'm writing Maggie's still-untitled story just to show you all my sciencegeekery, all the Cool Shit I keep finding that doesn't fit on the public face of Shayara. That, and Shayara is, at the core of it, an optimistic story. Maggie's? Um, no.
2:00 pm ME How I Wrote Blindsight.
Peter Watts. Talk (30 min.).
Then home. And sleep.