Worldcon Schedule

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’m going to Worldcon this year. The full draft programme is now available [pdf]; and if you’re going, should you want to you can find me on these items:

Thursday 17.00-18.30
Bookgroup: Neal Stephenson’s Anathem

Discussion of one of last year’s blockbusters, led by Niall Harrison.
Location: P-523A

Thursday 22.00-23.00
I’ll Be Back

Who could have guessed 25 years ago that “The Terminator” was starring a future governor of California? Having spawned several sequels and a TV series this jarring image of a bleak future that might yet be averted or changed continues to hold our attention. Why have the “Terminator” films been so influential, and what do they say about the times that produced them? How does “Terminator Salvation” fit in?
Jeanne Cavelos, Niall Harrison, Russell Blackford (m), Seanan McGuire
Location: P-511BE

Friday 14.00-15.30
The Hugo Award: Short Form Dramatic Presentation

The nominees: who will win, who should win, who was overlooked? What does it say about the state of the art as of 2008?
James Zavaglia, Lee Whiteside, Mandy Slater (m), Niall Harrison, Vincent Docherty
Location: P-524B

Friday 17.00-18.30
Handicapping the Hugos II: The Short Fiction

Our panellists survey the Hugo-nominated short stories, novelettes, and novellas: they tell us what they want to win, what will win, and why.
Ann VanderMeer (m), Jonathan Strahan, Karen Burnham, Niall Harrison, Bill Fawcett
Location: P-516AB

Saturday 17.00-18.00
Is Blogging an Art Form, or Just a Fanzine by Any Other Name?

Does a blog require a different style? A different layout? A different mode of approach? Do the technical requirements make it more or less accessible a medium?
Cheryl Morgan, Kathryn Cramer, Niall Harrison, Heather McDougal, Tobias Buckell
Location: P-514AB

Sunday 10.00-11.00
Kaffeeklatsch: Niall Harrison and Graham Sleight

Two non-fiction editors answer your questions.
Location: P-521B

Monday 11.00-12.00
Non-Fiction for SF Fans

What non-fiction should SF fans be reading? The panel recommends and discussed recently published books and perennial classics.
Geoff Ryman, James Cambias, Kari Sperring, Niall Harrison (m), Vincent Docherty
Location: P-511BE

If you’re not going, you should feel free to share your thoughts on any of these topics, so that I may steal them and pass them off as my own.

9 Responses to “Worldcon Schedule”

  1. James Says:

    Is Blogging an Art Form, or Just a Fanzine by Any Other Name?

    “Twitter is killing blogging so it doesn’t matter.” etc. for tangential discussion ;-)

  2. Adam Roberts Says:

    If you’re not going, you should feel free to share your thoughts on any of these topics, so that I may steal them

    If I have any thoughts on, for instance, the Hugo shortlists, I’ll surely pass them along to you.

  3. Niall Says:

    Kind of you, but I think I’ve already got the motherfucker angle covered on that one.

  4. Jonathan M Says:

    I suggest shouting “Power to the People!” just as they announce the Best Novel award.

  5. Nic Says:

    My thanks to all concerned, here – but especially Jonathan – for making me laugh out loud in the university library (oops)…

  6. cofax Says:

    I demand a full report on the Terminatory panel, Niall.

    I am also tempted to request you raise the issue of pseudonymous commenting on the blogging panel. But that might be outside your mandate. That said, I think comment-management is an important element of blogging.

  7. Niall Says:

    The problem with the Terminator panel at the moment is that besides a couple of very obvious observations I’m having trouble coming up with ways in which the films (and series) are products of their times. The differences I can think of (and by and large am interested in) don’t seem to follow so much from their times.

    Also, I even re-watched the first two in preparation, and the original Terminator is already sliding out of my brain, despite the fact that this was the third time I’ve seen it. T2 I remember quite clearly; T1, just a few moments. This can’t just be me, surely?

    As for the blogging panel: that’s going to be fun all around, I imagine. It would be nice to have more proponents of on-paper fan writing on there, I admit.

  8. Jonathan M Says:

    I think that there’s a gradual change of tone in the films. The original film is, in many ways, a remake of The Mummy. Yes the Terminator was powerful but what was really terrifying about him was the fact that he would ever stop or slow down or even pause. No matter where you ran. As Adam pointed out, he was a fairly decent stand-in for death himself.

    However, as the films progress, the Terminators themselves become more and more powerful until the final film where there’s an endless supply of hugely varied and powerful robot killing machines with better and better organised humans to fight them.

    I would argue that the original film, despite its SF trappings, is probably best seen as a work of Horror. By contrast, the last film is essentially a work of Fantasy. Brave heroes in an alien landscape fighting gigantic monsters who are implacably evil and psychologically remote in their genocidal desires.

    In terms of being “the products of their times” I think that thematic shift is a reflection of economic realities. Back in the 80s (and the 70s) there was a lot of money in Horror. You could get a relatively inexperienced director with a small budget and make a goodly return. That’s still the case now but the returns to be had from those kinds of films are dwarfed by what can be gained from what are, in effect, endless remakes The Lord of the Rings : A well known IP, a well-known director, a well-known actor, loads of special effects, big epic fight scenes.

    The Terminator films have followed the money as far as genre is concerned and I think that that is reflective of the standing of genre in our culture.

  9. Niall Says:

    No argument that the first film is a work of horror; I’m less convinced that Salvation is a work of fantasy, not least because it’s part of the point that Skynet and the other AIs are *not* psychologically remote.

    I was thinking of them being products of their economic times in a different sense: The Terminator being about the threat of machines in the industrial sense, with T2 and later incarnations being about the threat of computers and software.

    But my main problem is that I want to talk plenty about The Sarah Connor Chronicles, since I think it and T2 are the franchise’s most interesting iterations, and the differences seem to me to have far more to do with simply being made for TV vs film than with being made fifteen years apart.


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