Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Ytterbium Con Report

A very sunny and warm Easter weekend.
Well I'm home after a weekend at the 70th British National EasterCon: Ytterbium. We had a good time and went and saw a bunch of panels that, all bar one, were entertaining.

Briefly met John Scalzi who turned out to be more human than his online persona, and had a whole bunch of interesting conversations with people, though I singularly failed to meet up with long time friend Geoff Ryman to talk about my novels that he so kindly expressed an interest in hearing about.

GoH: DC, Frances Hardinge, and John Scalzi (Sydney Padua not present) being introduce by the Con chair and moderator.
The opening ceremony kicked off the convention, though we felt that Friday's programme was a bit thin on alternative choices, the rest of the weekend had plenty of things to choose from.

Made some new friends too. Shout out to Daniel M. Benson, Emil Minchov, and Kimberley Moravec who we went to dinner with.

Daniel Benson, myself, Karen Furlong (moderator), and Aya Eloise (Gareth L. Powell unable to attend).
The first panel I was on was the Mental Health: Fiction vs. Reality, which seemed to go down well.

We discussed various misconceptions in the portrayal of mental health in fiction and film. In short, multiple personality disorder is bogus, Freud was a "bad dad" who left a lot to be desired when he founded psychotherapy, and very few films and or books are an authentic portrayal of mental health.

Virginia Preston (moderator), Dr. Bob, and myself.
The second panel I was on Military SF: Good, Bad, and Ugly.

By this point of the con I was totally brain dead (I hadn't slept well the night before as I was mulling over how to address the negative assumptions of the panel blurb). However, I was able to steer the topic away from the underlying assumptions by presenting a quote from a friend:
"Look, there's a question as to whether these wars (or some other set of wars) are justifiable or not, and almost regardless of the answer, isn't SF one of the best means of exploring the question and having the debate?"
And on that note, we had a fruitful discussion of Mil-SF. We discussed what made the genre good, what might be bad, and the occasional ugly parts. I emphasized that a lot of Mil-SF is mildly military, and about the only misstep was our failure to talk more about space battles, as both myself and Dr. Bob are aficionados of "boots on the ground" stories.

This panel was very much a dead dog item, being at the very end of the weekend. But despite that the room was pretty full, which actually made a pleasant change from when it was totally packed to the gunnels, which tested the air conditioning to its limits.

 So, after it finished we made our weary way home.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Ytterbium British National Convention

EasterCon is coming this weekend. I'm on two panels.

Mental Health: Fiction vs. Reality
Sunday April 21: 16:30 - 17:30 (1 hour)

Have you ever read a book and thought “is it really possible to have 25 completely different personalities”? Well if you have then this is the panel for you. Whether you’re living with mental health issues, just interested or simply walked into the wrong room.

Join us as we discuss the difference between how mental health is portrayed in stories and what it’s like to live with a mental illness and consider the challenges of writing about mental health. We will be exploring what it’s like to live in a world where mental health is a priority but where our entertainment industry considers it a commodity.

Military SF: Good, Bad, and Ugly
Mon, Apr 22: 12:45 - 13.45 (1 hour)

We are used to thinking of military SF as gung-ho jingoism, as the last bastion of the glories of space opera, as the one place where we can destroy aliens without moral qualm. But there have always been analytical and critical voices from both left and right: authors such as Ursula LeGuin and Joe Haldeman challenged the motivation for military adventure, David Drake and Karen Traviss asked us to consider how we treat the troops.

Military SF has often reflected the polarisation and anguish about the latest overseas adventures as newer authors seek to construct a moral high ground in a politically ambivalent and complex world. This panel considers what authors we think rise to the challenge of writing complex, believable military SF while avoiding the traps of jingoism and imperialism... or not.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

A Journey to the End of Time

Found this while meandering around the internet. It runs a little under half-an-hour, but the visual representation of going forward to the end of time is stunning. Truly awe inspiring.

It's existential stuff like this that drives my fictional scientific extrapolation behind my stories, which probably makes me a bit weird.

In the meantime I've been busy. First with a presentation on anxiety and depression for Imperial College, London. The talk went well, and as it was recorded it may even appear on YouTube at some point.

Writing is progressing slowly.

I've taken the running total of Two Moons from 14,856 to 16,494 words, over the last couple of weeks. A combination of distractions: the presentation, hospital tests, and researching information to be able to write convincingly about astrophysics and archaeology, which I enjoy for the simple pleasure of learning new stuff.

One final thing, I have an author GoodReads page here. That's all for this week, catch you on the bounce.


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