Part of being a good panelist is being a good listener. Here, K. J. Russell and I listen to K. S. O’Neill’s opinions about the topic of our panel: Is Hard Science Fiction Dead? Everyone on the panel agreed that it is most definitely NOT dead. While this sort of hand-wringing title/topic can be annoying in articles and blog posts, it generated a fruitful conversation. We discussed how labels like “hard science fiction” can be difficult to pin down when they are used in ever-evolving book marketing strategies. Individual readers also have different tolerances for the amount of actual science in what they might call hard scifi. To see what I mean, check out TV Tropes’ Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness.
I tend to be pretty forgiving as far as what I can enjoy when reading science fiction. Whenever a writer is extrapolating from known facts there is going to be a parting of the ways between reality and what he or she imagines, and that’s the fun of science fiction, right? As long as you tell me a good story and don’t break any promises as far as scientific rigor, I’m along for the ride. A great contemporary example of a book that promises and delivers a scientifically faithful tale is Andy Weir’s The Martian. Another excellent example is Nancy Kress’ Beggars in Spain, which is about what would happen to our society if we could make one tiny genetic change in some people.
Science itself is a big tent, some readers tend to think of hard science fiction in terms of what I would call engineering fiction, but I tend to seek out and enjoy books that feature biology, and yes, even the social sciences, which uses math-intensive game theory to hypothesize and test ideas about human behavior.
I’ll write up my other panels more thoroughly soon. I’ll just note that I also moderated the panel Discussing Dystopias with Raymond Feist, and got to sit next to the lovely Diana Dru Botsford on the panel, Star Trek: Evolution of a Franchise. She’s written and produced for both Star Trek and Stargate SG -1 and had all sorts of amusing tales and fascinating insights.
I got to chat with Steve Bein, traveller, philosopher, and writer, and I had a chance to spend some time with the lovely Stina Leicht, who will be this year’s Toastmaster at Armadillocon. Go to her site to read about her latest projects and adventures (including getting back to Austin from Comicpalooza)!
By returning home Sunday evening instead of Monday, I dodged a bullet – and by bullet I mean the torrential rains and flooding that hit Central Texas on Monday.
|Stevie Ray Vaughan walks on water during the 2015 Memorial Day Texas Flood|