Well, Balticon ended up being a bust, as I (possibly, with irony) came down with an awful respiratory plague in the 24 hours prior to the con starting. Which amounts to Pre-Con Crud, perhaps? I was medicated aplenty and manage to soldier through my Skeptical Journal Club talk Friday night, but afterwards slunk back to the hotel, febrile, and ended up not meaningfully making it back to the con all weekend. No good. To top it off, Laura came down with the same thing as well shortly after her Women In Science panel, and then entered quarantine with me for the remainder of the con.
That said, my Skeptical Journal Club seemed well-received (with some lessons on my end to tweak things for future iterations), and Laura’s talk had rave reviews, so that was a win.
Not being Patient Zero at Balticon due to self-isolation? An even bigger win.
Fast forwarding to the present, we have just arrived at Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, which is in smokey downtown Spokane in Washington state. Neither of us are on any panels this time around, which means we can relax and enjoy the festivities unfettered, especially the Hugo Awards ceremony, which should be… interesting. If you are unfamiliar with the situation surrounding the Hugos this year, I’ll point you to this post from John Scalzi, which will tell you of and link you to plenty of details. In very brief summary, given that the Hugos are based on popular voting, this year a group of folks gamed the system to ensure a specific slate of finalists made the final nominee cut; the people who engineering this slate have a certain specific vision of what themes should be more represented in science fiction and fantasy literature; that vision appears to be rather negative towards the emphasis of diverse gender and racial topics, in many cases; the general SF&F community is rather upset the finalist list; this has led to people of “both sides” of the issue behaving very badly online; the result could be the first Hugo Awards where the general voting public may vote No Award in multiple categories instead of voting for the candidates associated with the slate. So, it will be… interesting… to see how all this plays out.
The trip to Loncon, which included my first-ever visit to the United Kingdom, was truly outstanding. No sooner have I returned and attempted post-trip recovery and reorientation at work, however, and I am shortly off to even more entertaining madness at Dragon*Con. I have much to say about this lovely jaunt, but for now I will merely note that it spanned the the most beautiful place on earth, the Isle of Skye (which no picture can do justice to):
…to the rich history of London:
…to the usual odd entertainment of a Worldcon:
More to come when I arrive at that city that Mr. Van Damme was questing to in Cyborg.
Communicating Risk and Uncertainty – Thursday 20:00 – 21:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL) – The risks of crossing the road are much higher than the risks that the LHC will make a black hole, or that your plane will crash. But we don’t worry about crossing the road. How can we improve our ways of thinking about and analysing risk?
Allergies on Alien Planets – Friday 19:00 – 20:00, London Suite 1 (ExCeL) – Planets that have aliens with big teeth, volcanos and poisonous atmospheres present obvious hazards, but what other trouble might be lying in wait for those visiting alien planets. Will the local microbes lunch on us and our food, pollute our water supply, ignore us or give us allergies? Diseases killed more colonists on Earth than animals or the colonised, but will this work elsewhere? Just why are our planets so safe?
Podcasting Science – Saturday 10:00 – 11:00, London Suite 2 (ExCeL) – What makes a good science podcast? Who is making them, how are they made, what’s out there that our panel can recommend? What are the advantdages and disadvantages of having them done by professional scientists and by people acting more as journalists?
The Bugs Are Coming Back – Monday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL) – Will we soon look back on the 20th century as a golden age of disease free living? How did we get to this state of affairs and what can be done about it?
Title: Cough and Sneeze: The Science of Epidemiology Time: Fri 02:30 pm Description: From “con crud” to zombie viruses, come discuss the science – and likelihood – of a world ending plague.
Title: I (Do Not) Want My HPV Time: Fri 08:30 pm Description: An update on the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): the virus, cervical cancer & other diseases it causes (with pictures!), & the vaccines that prevent it.
Title: Read All About it: Zombies in the Media Time: Sat 11:30 am Description: From New Jersey to Miami and beyond… zombies are not just a thing of fiction and fantasy anymore, or so it would seem.
Thu 16:00 – 17:00, Space and the Biological Economy: How does space exploration drive the United States’ biological economy? What do the advances in telemedicine and the biological sciences driven by NASA mean to our nation’s long-term economic and physical health? – David W. Goldman (M), Nick Kanas, H. G. Stratmann, John Cmar, Greg Bear
Thu 17:00 – 18:00, Infections and Viruses that Could Doom Humankind: What could create the next pandemic? A virus from animals? Food-borne illness? An engineered retrovirus? – John Cmar (M), Vylar Kaftan, Tom Lehmann, Jim Fiscus
And so it came to pass that I find myself on the other side of the planet for several wonderful reasons, one of which is to attend The 68th World Science Fiction Convention, being held this coming weekend in Melbourne, Australia. This is a no-work jaunt, so my official con schedule is as follows:
I have never been to Oz before, but I am put in mind of Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out Of Time, and so I am constantly on guard against flying polyp attacks and body jacking attempts by Yithians. Fortunately, thanks to the tireless efforts of Propnomicon, I am well-equipped for the Miskatonic University 2010 Australian Expedition.