Interaction: Worldcon 2005

[Armadillo ... by day ... and by night] [Souvenir Book]

The 63rd World Science Fiction Convention
4-8 August 2005, Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow

GoHs: Greg Pickersgill, Christopher Priest , Robert Sheckley , Lars-Olov Strandberg, Jane Yolen .

My third Worldcon, and the second at the Glasgow SECC. Ten years on from the previous Worldcon at the same location , this time many programme items were held in a purpose-built conference suite, and not four little noisy open-topped rooms as then -- leading to the slogan "once more, with ceiling". The items were run to a strict timetable, with gophers running around with STOP signs, which were amazingly obeyed. This made for smooth transitions between items, which were spread between the main hall, the Moat House hotel, and the surreal Armadillo itself. Not everything was so perfect: the catering was abysmal, with the only hot food available being hot dogs, bacon rolls and jacket potatoes: I survived on (expensive!) sandwiches and chocolate for the entire time.

As well as the Souvenir Book with its wonderful Jim Burns cover and fascinating internals, we were graced with a CD, containing 500MB of great stuff, including among other things, historic photos from Loncon 1957 and 1965, PDFs of the Progress Reports, Souvenir Book and Convention Guide, mirrors of various worldcon websites, mini-biogs of all the programme participants, the entire Ansible Web site (up to May 2005), zillions of other efanzines, artwork, and more.

Programme highlights

Panel -- The Portrayal of Science and Scientists on TV

Scientists on TV and in movies are often stereotypes, or are portrayed with no real understanding of science or what real scientists do. But there are exceptions -- for example Scully, in early seasons of the X-Files, was a reasonable scientist.

Andrew Adams, Genevieve Dazzo, Therese Littleton

[Jordin Kare]

Jordin Kare -- There Must be 50 Ways to Leave Your Planet

Ways of getting off the planet, concentrating on the more exotic tech

Panel -- The Limits of Open Source Knowledge

Wikis are touted as a huge success, but are they useless for practical work? What happens to data integrity in a world where people can effectively vote on the documented value of pi?

Amy Sisson, Alison Scott, Renee Sieber, John Bray, Karen Traviss, Andy Sawyer

Panel -- Hans Christian Andersen & the Dark Side of Fairy Tale

Fairy tales really aren't very nice; they encode the fears and prejudices of adult society. By the time you leave this panel you might have doubts about the red shoes you wanted so much.

Edward James, Greer Gilman, Jo Walton , Faye Ringel, John Clute


Panel -- Physics and Astrophysics Year in Review

Guy Consolmango, Dave Clements, Mark Olson, Jordin Kare


Panel -- Room 101 with the Guests of Honour

According to George Orwell, Room 101 contains "the worst thing in the world", the thing you most hate and fear. Our guests will provide some pet hates and argue why they deserve a place there; the devil's advocate will try to argue them out.

Bridget Bradshaw, Greg Pickersgill, Christopher Priest , Connie Willis

Panel -- You Can't Copyright My DNA, Can You?

Genome, appearance, personality -- what happens when you CC licence them? Can you assert moral rights over your DNA?

Alastair Reynolds , Andrew Adams, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Ken MacLeod , Richard Morgan


Panel -- The Military: Making it Authentic

Does it matter if we don't get the equipment right? Is there a military ethic that we have a duty to get right? What matters to readers in uniform?

Richard Morgan , Paul Chafe, Simon Bradshaw, Karen Traviss, Scott Westerfeld


Panel -- You've Plugged What into It?

Hardware Hacking is an increasingly popular pastime. Also the advent of computer control has revolutionised many hobbies, e.g. amateur astrophotography.

Jordin Kare, Martin Hoare, Cory Doctorow


Panel -- Character vs. Science in Hard SF

It is sometimes said that in hard SF, the science is a character too. What does this mean, and can or should it be reconciled with a traditional understanding of character?

James P. Hogan , Justina Robson , Stanley Schmidt , Patrick J. Gyger, Greg Bear


Panel -- Aesthetics of SF

How do we write the sense of wonder?

Ian McDonald, Robert Silverberg , Ian Watson , John Clute


Panel -- How Mediocre Movies Can Become Good TV Shows

What do Stargate SG-1 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have in common? They were both mediocre movies that became good TV shows. Poor TV shows get remade as good ones e.g. Battlestar Galactica. How can this happen?

Cindy (Huckle) Mohareb, James Swallow, Jim Mann, Chris O'Shea


Panel -- Is Genius Gendered?

One lone genius and an attractive assistant (fill in the genders) save the world. Our panel gives media and literary SF examples, and discuss how changing the gender might change other things.

Sean McMullen, Cory Doctorow, Connie Willis


Reductio ad Absurdum -- Lucas Back in Anger

Lucas Back In Anger is Reductio Ad Absurdum's latest epic production. Following on the huge success of their previous shows, which include The Matrix: Remaindered , A Fistful of Hobbits and Dune, or The Sand of Music , Phil Raines and Ian Sorensen present their spectacular version of the complete Star Wars saga -- all six movies in 60 minutes. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss an hour goodbye!

Panel -- New British Space Opera (and Other Space Faring Cultures)

Twenty years ago, did you predict that British SF was on the verge of a long-term boom in producing large-scale exuberant space opera? You were laughed at, weren't you? And here we are, in 2005...

David Hartwell, Alastair Reynolds , Justina Robson , John Meaney


Panel -- Byzantium at our Borders in the 21st century: the Future of Europe

Would we have needed a different past to have a different future? What would be the consequences if "recognition of Europe's Christian heritage" is inserted into the constitution.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood , Patrick J. Gyger, Nicholas Whyte, Harry Turtledove , Keith Brooke


Panel -- Hobbits, Orcs & Homo Floresiensis: Build Realistic Creatures

Hobbits were fantasy creatures until recent claims of the discovery of Homo floresiensis, an extinct metre-tall hominid. How do the creations of authors stack up against realistic biology and anthropology?

Jack Cohen , Dougal Dixon , Michael Swanwick , China Miéville


Panel -- Mapping your World: Creating the Back Story

You've made the map of your fantasy world, invented a language or three, chronicled its thousand-year history, and given it a plausible postal system. Is there a danger that you'll write a book about the scenery, not the story?

Susanna Clarke, Esther Friesner , Stan Nicholls , Katherine Kurtz , Anne McCaffrey


Panel -- Alien Anatomy

How to paint and draw fictional beings and make them look real.

Dougal Dixon , Frank Wu, Martina Pilcerova, John Picacio, David Mattingly


Panel -- Why Should We Mind? SF/Fantasy & Consciousness

From telepathy to life-after-death, the Singularity and uploaded consciousness, and into the psychotropic, the mind fascinates SF writers.

Ian Watson , Kelly Link, Justina Robson , Connie Willis


[Ready Steady Sew]

Panel -- AI: the Aliens We Make?

Aliens and AI are both Other, but where one comes from Out There, the other lives Down Here. Are they really the same thing -- and either way, what difference does it make?

Charles Stross , Ian McDonald, Cory Doctorow


Panel -- Genre Killing Ideas

"The Singularity is this enormous turd that Vernor Vinge crapped into the punchbowl of SF writing, and now nobody wanting to take a drink can ignore it". [Charlie Stross] What other ideas have had the same effect on the genre?

Alastair Reynolds , Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross , Ian McDonald


Panel -- As It Happens, We Are Rocket Scientists

What do rocket scientists really get up to? And does being one get you a table in a busy restaurant?

Jordin Kare, Paul Chafe, Gerald David Nordley, Geoffrey Landis


Panel -- Sorting SF After 200 Years

Deciding what is "SF" isn't getting any easier; neither is trying to create sub-genres. And how do we define all those terms we "know" but can't explain?

David Langford , Darren Nash, Peter Nicholls , John Clute


Panel -- Is The Incredibles the Best Superhero Movie Ever?

The Incredibles lived up to its name. Should other caped movie crusaders hang up their suits, or is there more life in the genre? What do other superhero movies do as well or better?

Doug Bell, Rebecca Moesta, Lawrence Person, Simon R Green


Three Weird Sisters

{Mary Crowell, Gwen Knighton, Teresa Powell, Brenda Sutton}

[the players]

Hugo Awards Ceremony

[Hugo winners]

Panel -- Finding the Fantastic in The Baroque Cycle

A much-lauded SF writer and computer scientist writes a meganovel on the emergence of the scientific method. Writes it with a fountain pen! But is The Baroque Cycle SF, or just fiction about science?

Tanya Brown, Paul Kincaid, Charles Stross


Panel -- The Future of Malware

Viruses continue to proliferate and most email traffic is spam. Where are we going -- and is it anywhere other than down? Are phishing and similar scams mind-hacks?

Sally Mayer, Simon Bradshaw, David D. Levine, Bridget Wilkinson


Panel -- Medical Hazards of Space

The health realities of spaceflight, and realistic diseases for other worlds.

Elizabeth Moon , Dave Clements, Jack Cohen , Roy Gray


[Jack Cohen]

Jack Cohen -- Designing Aliens

Our consulting alien designer extraordinaire shows that the possible shapes and habits of life are not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine. And there's more to imagining an alien than giving it a bumpy forehead.