WorldCon Hugos & Monday Seminars

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 Were I At WorldCon: Part 4

09-06-04: Hugos and Monday

Winners and the Final Panel

At this point in the proceedings, let's take a moment to reflect on who actually won the Hugo and other awards given last night. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't read many of the selections for the awards. So my comments will be limited to those I am familiar with. Where I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.

The 2004 Hugo Award Winners

Best Novel - Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

The only nominee I had read was Stross' 'Singularity Sky', which I really enjoyed.

Best Novella - "The Cookie Monster" by Vernor Vinge

I find myself shocked that the new purveyors of the novella form -- PS Publishing, Subterranean Press and Cemetery Dance -- are not included in the nominations.

Best Novelette - "Legions in Time" by Michael Swanwick

Best Short Story - "A Study in Emerald" by Neil Gaiman

Great story that he tried to read at last year's Torcon. He was booted out of the room by the minders before he could finish. Note that the anthology this was written for was co-edited by John Pelan, subject of a recent news article.

Best Related Book - The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective by John Grant, Elizabeth L. Humphrey, and Pamela D. Scoville

Damn -- I don't know if Lambshead has it in him to wait for his Pulitzer Prize for Medicine.

Best Professional Editor - Gardner Dozois

Best Professional Artist - Bob Eggleton

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form - Gollum’s Acceptance Speech at the 2003 MTV Movie Awards

Best Semi-Prozine - Locus, Charles N. Brown, Jennifer A. Hall, and Kirsten Gong-Wong, eds.

Best Fanzine - Emerald City, Cheryl Morgan, ed.

Congratulations to Cheryl, who surely deserved this award (though the other contenders put in excellent work as well.)

Best Fan Writer - Dave Langford

Best Fan Artist - Frank Wu

John W. Campbell Award for New Writers (not a Hugo Award) - Jay Lake

Congratualtions here as well, Jay. Lake has been on a roll this last year, and we can look to more and more work from him in the future.

Special Noreascon Four Committee Award (not a Hugo Award) - Erwin "Filthy Pierre" Strauss

Congratulations to all the winners -- all the nominees -- and all those who worked hard to make this event happen (thus far). And now on to more drollery.

Monday 10:00 a H312:

The SF of William Tenn

In about 60 stories published from the 1940s through the 1960s, our Guest of Honor Phil Klass made his pseudonym William Tenn a guarantee of sharp, often satirical, first- rate SF. But they say satire closes on Saturday night. Do these barbs still open wounds today?

Jim Mann (m), Kathy Morrow, Charles Oberndorf, Graham Sleight, Jo Walton

[Comment: I read about a zillion William Tenn stories in various anthologies when I was a kid, and many of them still stick word-for-word in my mind. I've got to guess that's a sign of great writing. And so, a retrospective on his work is called for. And once again, it helps to speak of satire. "See! NOTHING HAS CHANGED!"]

Monday 11:00 a H301:

Ethical Issues in Neuroscience

Over-prescribing for the under-symptomed. Animal testing. Predictive jail sentencing for the "criminal brain protein" gene Employment screening for potential Alzheimer's. Souped-up serotonin. Let's think about these and other moral quandaries before they come to a head.

Elizabeth Moon (m), Shane Tourtellotte, Karen Traviss, Eric M. Van

[Comment: Moon's 'The Speed of Dark', about a functional autistic adult, makes her a particularly good speaker for this panel. The subject offers potential for a rich and enriching discussion. Traviss is the author of 'City of Pearl', a paperback original that one of my readers, Troy, brought to my attention.]

Monday 11:00 a H302:

Best Short Stories of 2004 (So Far…)

Short stories are the lifeblood of the field, where new writers build their reputations and established writers do their best to yank the field in new directions. But how do you keep up, or just find the best? A panel of editors of "best of the year" anthologies give an overview of what's happening in short fiction right now, the best stories of the year (so far!), and what just might be on next year's award ballots.

Kathryn Cramer, Jack Dann, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Gavin Grant, Jonathan Strahan (m)

[Stellar anthologists and editors share their tips with you. What more reason to come here and attend do you need? There is of course a presumption that you spend a lot of time reading short stories, but doing so is an excellent way to find new novelists.]

Monday 11:00 a H305:

Obsolete High Technology

What was the highest of tech in 1910? Radio and the Titanic. 1940s' Enigma, bombsights and fission. 1960s' IBMs S360 and the pill(?) and a man on the moon. What's your candidate for the past technology that's passé today? What do you think will most quickly become quaint tomorrow?

Cutting edge SF ideas quickly become relegated to background items in the next generation of SF (such as nanotechnology). So, what are those new big science ideas?

Are there really any new science ideas, or just a merging and blending of existing ones?

Bill Higgins, Jordin T. Kare (m), Robert A. Metzger, Charles Stross

[Comment: As an ex-IT Director, I had a lot of experience with obsolete technology. I loved it, and this panel includes some other IT-types. More fun in an old occupation.]

Monday 11:00 a H311:

It's a Mystery…

Why do so many SF fans enjoy mysteries? In fact, why does anyone enjoy a mystery? And what's the appeal of occasionally crossing genres to dabble in both? Discuss what makes a good mystery and why this sometimes works so well with science fiction.

Joshua Bilmes (m), Charlaine Harris, Jay Caselberg, Toni L. P. Kelner, Wen Spencer

[Comment: as a mystery reader and fan, I'd want to see this. Remember that Caselberg has two mystery-SF novels out as well.]

Monday 11:30 a H203:

19th Century Influence on 21st Century Writing

How much of a debt does modern SF/F/H owe to 19th-century writers such as H.G. Wells, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Lewis Carroll? Come and explore the origins of the genre in the "penny dreadfuls," children's literature and popular novels of the Georgian and Victorian periods.

Melanie Fletcher

[Comment: Having just written some 5,000 words on a similar subject, I'd be interested to hear what this speaker (unknown to me) has to say about it.]

Monday 12:00 n H306:


Devoted to the wave of women writing cyberpunk-influenced hard SF. Why now?

Elizabeth Bear, M. M. Buckner, Karin Lowachee, Chris Moriarty (m), Janine Ellen Young

[Comment: An interesting trend, interesting writers. Attend and find new reading material.]

Monday 1:00 p H304:

Hard Fantasy

Even in genre circles, fantasy is often dismissed by saying that we can just make it all up. But many fantasy writers go to a good deal of trouble to research and extrapolate their worlds—everything from finding period maps of London to checking the etymology of period words or delving into other belief systems to give their magic a sense of reality.

It is the factual underpinnings which give a good fantasy the solidity it needs. How is this best done?

Duncan W. Allen, Stephen Leigh, Susan Shwartz (m), Liz Williams

[Comment: Liz Williams is one hell of a writer, and readers can only gain from hearing her speak. Especially on a subject of such imminent interest.]

Monday 1:00 p H309:

Hitting "the Wall"

The inverse of "the singularity" is "the Wall," a technological barrier that can't be surmounted and imposes fundamental limits on progress. The Wall for interplanetary travel is the speed of light; SF writers either accept it or tunnel through it by waving their hands about hyperspace or the Infinite Improbability Drive. The Wall for commercial aviation is the sound barrier; with the demise of the Concorde, airline passengers can fly no faster than they could in a 707 40 years ago. Physicists and engineers talk about ultimate limits to things like information density and the smallest possible transistor. What Walls are coming up? Can we dodge them and what can we do if we can't?

Thomas A. Easton (m), P. J. Plauger, Charles Stross

[Comment: They need to have a singularity con, so they can talk about all singularity, all the time. And this would be one of the interesting panels at said con. Singupunk? I hate the old just tack punk on the end and call it a subgenre method.]

Monday 2:00 p H311:

After the Fall

It's the end of the world…and civilization as we know it has collapsed. We all have different scenarios for what happens after—what's looking interesting these days? Explore this archetype of SF.

Elizabeth Bear, James Morrow, Nick Sagan, Mary Turzillo (m)

[Comment: I'm always up for a good apocalypse. And it seems such an appropriate way to end the convention. No?]

And that's all folks....I hope you had as good a time being there as I did being here and just thinking about being there. As ever, the panels raise a lot of fascinating topics to spur both writers and readers.