Just the highlights. :-D I am, after all, more than a week late getting this up.
Religion in Fantasy, Otis, Lobby Level
Judith Berman (M), Debra Doyle, Walter H. Hunt, Jane Yolen
One of the biggest complaints aired in this panel was the superficial treatment of religion--the churches don't have Ladies' Altars Guilds, there's no budget, and so forth. Loved Debra Doyle's description of bad fantasy as having "evil-priest-in-red-robes" syndrome.
Judith Berman had a good point about discussing personal morality, not just salvation.
Hal Clement Science Speaker Talk: The New Horizons Mission to Pluto, Otis, Lobby Level
Richard BinzelNew Horizons Website
Great talk about how knowledge about Pluto has advanced over the years, about how objectives were set for the mission, about orbital resonance.
Fantasy, Folklore, and Myth, Stone, Lobby Level
Elizabeth Bear (M), Tobias Buckell, Esther Friesner, Greer Gilman, Gary A. Lippincott, Josepha Sherman
Great write up done here
Is the British Revolution Over? Hancock, Lobby Level
Kathryn Cramer, Vince Docherty (M), Patrick Nielsen Haydenpnh
started off by saying that the differences between British and American literary culture are oversold--it's just books. He also pointed out that everyone has influences from all over.
From the 1940s to the 1960s, there is no question that there was a difference because the world experiences of Britain and America were very different.
British book publishing is more academically oriented--not only do you have to be a university graduate to be employed, but it depends on where you graduated from.
Kathryn Cramer noted that big forces like war deform genres more than little forces.
Also some discussion of the breakdown of division of markets, moving toward more centralization in New York, which is amusing since almost everyone's owned by a German conglomerate.
How to Make This Made-up Stuff Believable: The Plausible vs. the Possible
Lou Anders (M), Alexander Jablokov, Karl Schroeder, Wen Spencer
Started off with three-word summaries of the authors' work: talking military dolphins, air balloon pirates, Pittsburgh with elves.
Jablokov said he relies on verisimilitude: he used Russian military behavior in his novels, based on what he knew and people he knew. He tried to show how practices would change but not too much.
Plausibility needs to be behavioral and cultural. For example, why do swords make sense when the culture has guns? Jablokov also mentioned the need to explain motivation and pointed out that real people have daily goals.
Lou Anders said that believability is more important than accuracy.
Wen Spencer said genius is in the rewrite: put in what's cool and nifty, and then go back and make it logical.
Karl Schroeder said local consistency trumps global consistency. It's more important that the story you're writing right now works than that it fits in the larger story.
Judith Berman, Debra Doyle, Walter H. Hunt, Paul G. Tremblay (M)
Debra Doyle said you can build plots; you have to hang out with characters to get to know them.
Judith Berman said that although she's occasionally written straight idea stories, the most successful tend to be a character in a situation.
Paul Tremblay said that where stories fail is when the characters don't react to the setting or the problem.
Walter H. Hunt said characterization by quirk fails. Also, "If all your POV characters sound the same and you're not writing a series, you need to take a step back."
The Genre Slide: The Mechanics of Horror with Cross-genre Fiction, Commonwealth A, Concourse.
Craig Shaw Gardner, David G. Hartwell (M), John Langan, Paul G. Tremblay
David Hartwell discussed a difference between category and genre, and said that labels are useful mostly as knowledge of what you can transgress.
Craig Shaw Gardner mentioned that in cross-genre, the audience tends to be where two different audiences overlap, not everyone in both audiences.
John Langan said "Excellence is the cross-genre thing we're all supposed to be striving for." To which Hartwell replied that true excellence is rare. He also said that if quality goes down just a little bit, half or fewer of books will sell and the market will crash.
The Literary Tradition: How SF Fits (and Doesn't Fit) with American and European Literature
Lou Anders, F. Brett Cox (M), David G. Hartwell, Michael Swanwick
David Hartwell started with a history lesson on how things got defined out of literature. No one can read everything and be an expert starting in the 19th century. Also, no major American writer of the 19th century *didn't* write an SF story.
Michael Stanwick said, "All I want is to create something really, really cool. Genre boundaries don't matter. I just want to write as well as possible."
Literary Beer, Elizabeth Bear
From Urban Fantasy to the New Weird: Trends in Fantasy over the Last 20 Years
Mark Del Franco, Laura Anne Gilman (M), Christopher Stasheff, Michael Kabongo
Some good discussion on how world-building is different in urban fantasy. Christopher Stasheff described it as "building underneath the real world." Michael Kabongo said that it's mostly about character building and showing what's different and why. Laura Anne Gilman said she does "world unbuilding"--removing things so there's mystery. She said just because people live in the modern world, they bring a lot more of the detail to the books than for a quest fantasy, say.
Christopher Stasheff commented that the story has to be drawn out of the city that you're using.
Mark Del Franco said that plots and themes are different than they were twenty years ago.
Laura Anne Gilman described three important questions: what am I getting into? how can I get out of it? how can I make money from it?
Best New Writers: Recent Campbell Award Winners Talk
Elizabeth Bear (M), John Scalzi, Wen Spencer
Discussion of a resurgence in military SF, which matociquala
described as becoming less jingoistic. More cost of war stories are being written.
Scalzi discussed what's going with short stories and novels in terms of TV and movies. Movies are more mainstream, least-common-denominator. TV shows are where people do things that are adventurous now. Large market SF publishers are more like major movie studios.
With blogs and people being more open about having written fanfic, more emergent writers will come to the table with already established fandoms.
Science, Faith, and Society
Ctein, Janice Gelb (M), Paul Levinson, James D. MacDonald
What makes the genre susceptible to religion as an underpinning? Science and religion both try to explain man's place in the world.
Some discussion about relative rates of participation in organized religion in major English-speaking countries (very uncommon historically in Australia, for example).
Ctein commented that in the 50s and 60s, polite manners dictated that you didn't ask people what religion they were or how they voted. That's clearly changed in both.
Janice Gelb said that your beliefs might inform your works, but not everyone will get it.
An audience member commented that port cities tend to have more of a blend of religions, and the more inland you get, the purer the religion tends to be.
Applied SF: Consequences of the Video Cellphone
Walter H. Hunt, Alexander Jablokov, Shariann Lewitt (M), Steven Popkes
Jablokov commented that fiction is about creating constraints for your characters while reality is about removing constraints from life.
Walter Hunt said that technology introduces plot complications, such as intercepting messages along the way without anyone knowing it happened.
Good deal of discussion on signal/noise--so much material easily accessible, but sorting through it is the issue, whether it's listening to cell phone conversations or finding something interesting on YouTube.
Jablokov mentioned there's a constant flow between what's public and what's private. He also said there are different levels of what people accept as real. You believe what you're told, often. Shariann Lewitt said that hasn't changed, and Steven Popkes said that what has changed is the phase delay--how long it takes for the information to spread.
Literary Beer, Tobias Buckell, John Scalzi