Day 3! Already! CoNZealand is flying by!
Started today off with another meditation/yoga session with Erin Wilcox. Just what was needed. One of the really weird things about a virtual convention is the sitting in one spot without moving for long periods of time. There’s usually loads of moving around during an in-person convention – between rooms, between buildings, walking the large exhibit hall, finding food and drink and restrooms. These sessions are a great start to the day, and I can watch the conflicting panels later on replay.
Next I’d signed up for a workshop with M Evan MacGriogair titled Òrain nan Gàidheal: Gaelic Song in Scotland. I warned the cats and my boys that there’d be horrific sounds coming out of the office as I tried to sing along, but luckily for everyone, for most of the hour she sang to us and we just got to listen to her amazingly lovely voice. Some of the links she gave us:
She offered to keep us late to teach us one of the songs, but I needed to jump to the masquerade.
Unfortunately, the masquerade was super glitchy and unwatchable live. I’ll need to go back and watch the replay, which I understand runs just fine. That’s okay, though, it gave me opportunity to get a bite to eat and paint a canvas black for tomorrow!
Today’s DIY Stroll With the Stars (through my own neighborhood) included the stars Fran Wilde, Russell Kirkpatrick, Max Gladstone, and Yugen Yashima discussing Terrain of the Heart: Landscapes that Influence Story: “The geographical setting of a SFF story can be just as vital a part of the worldbuilding as culture and languages. What real-world landscapes have inspired memorable fantastical settings? Who are the modern authors working in unique ways with landscape, and how does it affect their stories?”
I was walking during this panel and couldn’t take notes, but it was super interesting to listen to. There was discussion of landscape and place names and how colonizing peoples appropriate the indigenous cultures and erase the indigenous peoples. Lots of discussion of maps and what they tell us, what we choose to map and what we choose to leave out.
Then it was time to open the next bottle of New Zealand white wine, and for a kaffeeklatsch with Karl Schroeder! I like this wine. It’s very grapefruity, and I really enjoy grapefruit.
Karl Schoeder is a science fiction author and a futurist. I’ve only read a few of his works so far, and I’ve loved every single one. I need to pick up the rest of the things he already has out, and keep an eye out for his new work. The works of his that I’ve read are optimistic, which is my favorite type of science fiction. He was one of the authors I loved from the anthology that came out of the Hieroglyph Project. His short in that anthology was “Degrees of Freedom”, which explored a new technology of governance, and was both really interesting to think about and something I want. I’ve read another of his shorts somewhere, which I can’t find at the moment, about a potlatch currency which is fascinating and an awesome idea. His latest novel, Stealing Worlds, is a near-future (like within the next 10 years) pre-apocalyptic novel. Unlike most pre-apocalyptic novels, however, it ends on a note of intense hope. It started a little slow (for me at least), but give it a chance. By the time we got to the end of the novel, he’d explored some really interesting ideas that I *really* want to be true in our world right now.
He said he’s been super busy during the pandemic – he has four short stories, two novellas, and a novel in the works as well as some consulting. Some of the places to watch for his upcoming work:
- Jo Walton’s Decameron Project
- MIT Technology Review
- A Foresight Group in California has commissioned a story for an anthology – I’m not sure what this is
He incorporates into his works a lot of concepts from Canada’s First Nations peoples, and he’s particularly interested in exploring different forms of governance and near future economics. I’m definitely going to make a point to read more of his works, and I recommend that you do too!
Next was a panel on Climate Fiction / Climate Fact with Octavia Cade, Alex Acks, Arkady Martine, Katrina Archer, and Tim Jones: “What’s the relationship between fiction about climate change and real-world actions? Does where authors live and work affect their perspective, as they write about climate?”
They began by discussing why it’s so hard to get people engaged. And, I’m only just seeing why this is funny now, I was still thinking too much about the conversations in the kaffeeklatsch to focus on this panel, so I wandered off to check out the new 3D Exhibits Hall, and to find friends to chat with for a little while.
Next was a panel on Access to Space with Dave Taylor, Suzanne Casement, Courtney Schafer, Bill Higgins, and Stephen Dedman. “It’s hard to go into space … but it’s getting easier. With reusable boosters, increasingly capable robots, better space suits and now the first steps toward asteroid mining, is the tomorrow of yesterday’s sf finally just around the corner?”
This was a super interesting panel, and I learned a ton I hadn’t know before. I thought access to space was still fairly exclusive, but learned there are probably a dozen countries that are players in Mars, the moon, the asteroids, and Venus. And way more involved in Earth orbit – so much that it’s probably easier to list the ones that aren’t. There are still a lot of hurdles – expense for anything higher than low Earth orbit, and safety requirements being big ones.
A good summary by DAve: Access to space is opening up. It’s around the corner but it’s a very big corner. It’s important to keep the public involved and excited, keep kids excited with education and the like so we have a continuing supply of engineers who are excited and want it to happen, and to keep science fiction strong for the same reasons.
I wandered around through a few parties, and I finished the Cupcake. Then one more panel had caught my eye:
Looking Up! New Zealand Astronomy with Matthew Pavletich and Keith Smith. They showed us the night sky as it would be visible from New Zealand. I had forgotten, until they started pulling up star views in this panel, that I’d have been able to see stars on this trip I’ve never seen in my life. And there I was crying again.
This is the money shot – the night sky as we might have seen it with the naked eye (outside of city lights). The south pole is approximately where the hand is, in the picture.
They explained that the Māori use the Milky Way and the dark patches to describe the sky, and I’d love to hear more about that. Someone asked what are the coolest things you can see from the southern hemisphere that you can’t see from the northern, and here are some screenshots (I think these are mostly shots from the Hubble, but some of them I believe you can see with binoculars or a low power telescope):
So, that’s it for me tonight. Tomorrow, I have a workshop in which we’ll finger paint a quasar, and the Hugo Awards Ceremony is at 11:00 am NZST (GMT+12). I have a whole 10 minutes between the two, so there will have to be a lightning-fast wardrobe change! Then, of course, there are a ton of panels, readings, and other programming events to choose from for the rest of the day. And again, if I’m lucky, I’ll find and get to spend some time with friends, and maybe meet some new ones!
Good night. Look, the convention made virtual badges for we volunteers!