Concussion: Eastercon 2006

[Souvenir Book]

The 57th British National Science Fiction Convention
14--17 April 2006, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow

GoHs: M. John Harrison • Brian Froud • Elizabeth Hand • Justina Robson • Ian Sorensen.

Back to Glasgow (and the same, but now renamed, Moat House Hotel, the main hotel of the Glasgow Worldcon ), next to, but not in, the Armadillo. An excellent con, with many new varied, interesting, mainly on-topic, panels, good lectures, and great GoHs.

Programme highlights


Panel • How do New Things Happen?

Peter Weston, Eddie Cochrane, Dave O'Neill, Phil Bradley

What is the process by which gadgets get into the real world?

[panel] [book cover]

Panel • There Ain't No Such Thing as Free Speech. And a good thing too!

John Jarrold, Lisa Tuttle , Peter Harrow, Farah Mendlesohn

Just where should SF writers avoid going, and what are the consequences when they go there anyway?

[panel] [Buzz Lightyear]

Panel • To Infinity and Beyond

Gus McAllister, Jack Deighton, Stephen Baxter , Huw Walters

How does a writer get across a sense of scale? Do you always want to?

is about a change in spacetime -- steadily expanding sphere of different physics -- much bigger on the inside -- several months, have ravelled a few centimetres
  • my work gives for of a "sense of claustrophobia" -- a colleague went to Africa and came back saying they had never realised how big elephants were, and had slides to prove it, but with no scale! -- need something to compare or measure against -- eg, the human characters
  • similar joke in a Buffy episode -- a picture of a horned demon, but it turns out to be one foot tall -- the picture says "actual size"!
  • in one of my Mammoth books, there's a catastrophic flood being watched by a mammoth -- no matter what I tried, I couldn't get across the immensity of the event -- then I put in a deer being overwhelmed, to give a sense of scale
  • Larry Niven is a master of Big Dumb Objects -- Ringworld with its carved out seas -- very plain language, short direct concrete sentences -- flowery language doesn't do it
  • Bob Shaw , Orbitsville -- a plane journey, with a sense of the scale defeating the engineering -- everything wears out before they can reach the next hole in the wall
  • mistake can be trying to be too descriptive -- use suggestions to get the right image in the reader's mind
  • scales in time -- in Evolution , had the rise of primates over 65M years, then into the future for a few more million years -- zoom out, zoom in again for an episode, zoom out again -- copying what Olaf Stapledon did in Last and First Men -- the Earth itself becomes a character, ageing
  • Kim Stanley Robinson, The Years of Rice and Salt -- reincarnated characters help to give continuity over time -- but it ended up being a novel about reincarnation
  • these scale changes are probably unique to SF
  • time is dealt with very nicely by Vinge in Marooned in Real Time -- time lapse view of Earth as the continents change -- people live at different rates, coming out of stasis for different amounts of time, comparing their experiences
  • the whole of Last and First Men is a line in Star Maker !

  • [panel]

    Panel • Desert Island Geeks

    Clare Goodall, Mike Scott, Charlie Stross , Nojay, Zara Baxter

    Which gadget would you want to be marooned with on a desert island?

    [panel] [John Calvin]

    Panel • The New Calvinism: how hardwired is the soul?

    Hannu Rajaniemi, Richard Morgan , Huw Walters, Mike Gallagher

    Does posthumanism mean uploaded salvation for the lucky few?

    [hanging chads] Panel • How Much Hangs on the Chads?

    Chaz Brenchley, Kate Solomon, Paul Kincaid, Jon Courtenay Grimwood

    What Alternate History will we be writing about the timeline where Gore got elected?


    Panel • Aesthetics and Ethics in Children's Literature

    Farah Mendlesohn, Amanda Hemingway, Liz Wein, Frances Hardinge, John Jarrold

    "A little bit of metaphor, a Sunday school lesson or two, and lots of misery". Does children's fantasy have to be like this?


    Panel • Not the Clarke Award

    Liz Batty, Claire Brialey, Tony Cullen, Andy Sawyer, Edward James

    The panel give their own verdicts on the 2006 Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist

    [ Air did subsequently win the 2006 ACC award]

    [Alice Jenkins]

    Alice Jenkins • George Hay Memorial Lecture

    The Interaction of Science and Literature in the early Victorian "Age of Mind"


    Panel • Twelve Monkeys and a Chicken

    Mike Gallagher, Sarita Robinson, Sabine Furlong, Jon Courtenay Grimwood , Liz Williams

    Global epidemics are a perennial theme in SF, and thanks to Bird Flu the topic is more relevant than ever. How would we really cope with a pandemic?

    [John Bunyan] Panel • All Quest Fantasies are basically Pilgrim's Progress rewritten

    Farah Mendlesohn, Juliet McKenna, John Clute , Deborah Miller, Paul Barnett

    Is this true? Is so, is there anything that can be done about it?


    Panel • Defining Sentience

    Richard Morgan , Justina Robson , Andrew Wilson, Chris Beckett, Colin Gavaghan

    How will we recognise self-awareness? Will it recognise us? And when does 'which is the real me' stop being a meaningful question?


    Panel • Up Close and Personal

    Justina Robson , Brian Froud, Elizabeth Hand

    The Fantastic in the High Street: SF and fantasy about everyday life


    Panel • Philosophy and SF

    Liz Williams , Paul Cornell, Justina Robson

    SF often has pretensions to philosophical thought, but how rigorous is it really?


    Panel • Harrison, Harrison, and Clute

    M. John Harrison , Niall Harrison, John Clute

    [panel] [single cover]

    Panel • Won't Get Fooled Again

    Hal Duncan, Justina Robson , Graham Sleight, John Berlyne

    Why don't we just completely trash the whole tired SF genre and try to take the discourse somewhere genuinely new?


    Panel • Writing Other Cultures

    Jon Courtenay Grimwood , Liz Williams , Geoff Ryman, Johanna Sinisalo

    Writers frequently want to explore or present unfamiliar cultures, be they human or alien. Can you do this convincingly, and if so, how?


    Panel • Staging the Fantastic

    Brian Froud, Mat Irvine, Judi Hodgkin, Andrew Wilson

    What are the challenges of depicting the fantastic on stage and screen?


    [Mat Irvine]

    Mat Irvine • Space as it should have been

    A talk copiously illustrated with slides and models

    [Sarita Robinson]

    Sarita Robinson • Victim or Survivor?

    Human responses to alien invasion


    Panel • Does anyone watch Broadcast TV any more?

    Paul Cockburn, John Toon, Morgan Gallagher, Judith Proctor, Niall Harrison

    Between downloading episodes and buying DVD compilation, does anyone actually watch the original broadcast of SF series any more? How might this change the culture of mutual appreciation of a show?

    [panel] [NO 2 ID]

    Panel • Does your towel know where you are?

    Mike Scott, Doug Spencer, Lillian Edwards, Dave Clements

    RFID chips to track our shopping, and wireless video cameras in every mobile phone: what happens when global communication becomes global surveillance?