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August 14, 2009

Panels and parlor games
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:55 PM * 119 comments

So all you lucky devils went to Worldcon and I didn’t. And now I get to read panel reports, which are always both fun and tantalizingly vague.

So let’s have a game of it. What fictional characters would you put on a panel, what would you have them talk about, and how would the panel go, do you think? I’ll start off with three.

The Doctor’s Dilemma

Doctors have been part of ships crews and household staffs for centuries. But there is an essential tension between the close involvement in a team, particularly a combat team, and the Hippocratic Oath. Sometimes the doctor’s obligation to “first do no harm” is even in direct conflict with the aims of his colleagues. How does one square the demands of duty and vocation?

  • Leonard McCoy, MD
  • Simon Tam, MD
  • John Watson, MD*
  • Stephen Maturin, MD
  • Wellington Yueh, IC Suk

I went to this one mostly to see Dr McCoy and Simon together. I gather that they met for the first time in the panel, but they have similarly pragmatic approaches.

Unfortunately, Simon is not much of a panelist. He simply couldn’t get any of his points across, and Watson, as moderator, seemed unable to fathom his problem. Dr Yueh was also rather quiet; I think he took the topic of conversation rather personally. In the end, Dr McCoy and Dr Maturin carried the discussion and, inevitably, they drifted pretty far from the topic.

On the good side, they each know some very interesting drink recipes. Unfortunately, they don’t have much of an overlap on available ingredients, and the conversation quickly turned into a chemistry lesson. They left fairly quickly after the panel. I think I saw them heading for the bar.

Telepathy and Coercion

The line between reading minds and influencing them is a thin one indeed. Sometimes just knowing what others think can give a telepath the edge; other times the TP will step across the bounds of the self. Where are the ethical boundaries? Do teeps have a greater responsibility to respect others’ privacy because of their powers, or, alternatively, do their Gifts exempt them from traditional ethics when they have unique ways of pursing the greater good?

  • Jean Grey
  • Col Carl Jenkins
  • Marc Remillard*
  • Telzey Amberdon
  • Talia Winters

I’m a deadhead myself, but I thought it might be interesting to hear an exposition of the issues here. So I went into the room and sat down. And the panel never said a word.

Their body language said they were communicating. The glanced back and forth at one another, nodded, frowned, shrugged and gesticulated. Everyone laughed at Marc once or twice, while he maintained a half-serious poker face.

After a while, I got up and wandered off, disappointed. I’ve emailed the ConCom about the availability of interpreters, but since the contact address was, I don’t hold out a lot of hope of a satisfactory answer.

The Captain’s Lounge

Captaining a space ship is a unique challenge, and each captain has his or her own way of tackling it. Listen to five of the best and most savvy of the breed swap anecdotes and strategies.

  • Miles Vorkosigan
  • Han Solo
  • Malcolm Reynolds*
  • Kathryn Janeway
  • Roj Blake

I wasn’t sure this panel was going to go at all smoothly, since it was made up of two military officers and three rebels. But I was confident that it would be interesting.

Well, it was interesting. Fortunately, Miles seemed to be in Admiral Naismith mode (his Betan accent sounds really strange if you’re used to hearing him be Barryaran), and Janeway is more laid-back than most Starfleet captains. Her first officer was a rebel himself, after all.

Blake was definitely the odd one out of the group. It became clear that he considered himself a rebel first and a captain later; I suspect that all the best stories from that crew would have come from Avon. Oddly enough, it was Janeway, the officer, who seemed the best cushion between him and the rest of the panel. I’d have expected Han to be a better match for him, but apparently he took Blake’s acid comment about “having an asshole of a first officer” as some kind of a slight on Chewie and ignored him for the rest of the session.

I was impressed at Captain Reynolds’ moderation skills. Both Han and Miles tried, at various points, to get him on their side (so he would allow them to talk over the others). But he was having none of it. Although he told the fewest stories, his practical example of captaincy was fascinating. I learned a lot.

However, in the end, even he could not get Miles to slow down and let others have their say. On the other hand, if he had, we would not have been treated to that manic final anecdote about the load of worthless rocks he was paid a fortune to smuggle from one airless moon to another, which he delivered from on top of the table.

Shame they ran out of time and had to cancel questions.

Comments on Panels and parlor games:
#1 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 07:35 PM:

I remember a show called Meeting of Minds, where Steve Allen had talk shows with famous historical figures. I recall one episode had Marie Antoinette, Atila the Hun and Karl Marx.

#2 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 08:04 PM:

#1: And all the female historical figures had a striking resemblance to Jayne Meadows, Allen's wife.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 08:08 PM:

Diana Muldaur's Dr Pulasky and Frances Sternhagen's Dr. Lazarus. Put those two together and they'll burn a hole thru an impervium hull with the concentrated sarcasm.

#4 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 08:32 PM:

The Talkative Familiar

Acerbic sidekicks sometimes seem essential to the successful hero-quest, and they often take the forms of animal companions bent on beating the hero into shape with sarcasm. Hear the stories of how the panelists made their heroes complete the quest and survive!
Note: this panel is being held in the Garden Cafe for the convenience of panelists and attendees.

Blind Seer

I don't know that I've ever been to a panel with a lower humanoid ratio, or had the moderator have to explain why they had no dragonkin or gryphons to offended audience members (*You are immortal, mythical, and rarely secondary characters. Get your own panel*).

Warrl was a deft hand at making sure that each of the panelists got a chance to talk (and that poor human interpreter for Nimitz and Samantha was just about worn out by the end). There were the usual cracks about being 'Hero Support' and 'foils', but these guys all loved their people and it really showed. The audience kept clamoring for more stories, often couched in terms of "So, did your person ever do 'x' and if so, what did you do?" Cloud came in for a lot of ribbing as the only herbivore, but there were an awful lot of equine-types in the audience who protested when it got too bloody-minded.

All in all, I think it was probably one of the better panels on non-human companions that I've been to in a while. I'm just waiting for the one the dragons were cooking up in back *next* year.

#5 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 08:36 PM:

Serge, 3: I'm now imagining the Dr. Lazarus panel with Frances Sternhagen and Alexander Dane. Five curtain calls apiece!

#6 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 08:46 PM:

I didn't go to Worldcon either, but I'll chip one in.

Gender in Society

Are men and women really all that different? Does one's gender influence one's options in life? Equality is a noble goal, but is it a reality yet?

  • Éowyn, daughter of Éomund
  • Genly Ai*
  • Juan Rico
  • Marian Ravenwood

There was quite a variety of experiences by the panelists. Éowyn spoke of having to work at least twice as hard as any man to get ahead in a man's world, but that success could be won with hard work.

Ms. Ravenwood added to that, along with a discussion of the intersection between feminism and exploitation of sex-appeal. She thought that as long as men were going to objectify her, it was acceptable to use it to survive, but she would rather not be objectified in the first place.

Lt. Rico provided a different perspective, although his views seemed a bit muddled at times. He thought that the thick of battle wasn't a place for women, which earned him a sharp glare from Éowyn, but also acknowledged that women were smart and capable in other fields.

Mr. Ai seemed a little quiet for a moderator, although was interested in hearing everyone's story. Most of his comments, however, revolved around the audience and panel members looking rather strange.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 08:48 PM:

Chris Quinones @ 5... Speaking of Rickman... Metatron meets Christopher Walken's Gabriel.

#8 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 08:52 PM:

What the dragons were cooking up? That would be the "Cooking On The Go" panel, on the importance of keeping a varied and interesting diet even while fighting for your life.

Vlad Taltos
*Sixth Degree Hosteler Tu

#9 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 08:59 PM:

sisuile @ 4: Loiosh must have been righteously pissed at being excluded. OTOH, there's only so much of his Boss' he can really talk about openly.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 09:02 PM:

I would attend any panel that included Anansi, though I'd want to sit at the back of the room and very close to the door. On no account should the con inviting him be held in Tacoma.

#11 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 09:40 PM:

The one panel I most wanted to see was this one, but I was double-scheduled and couldn't find my Time Turner:

Interesting Times

What are some of the most interesting places you have time travelled to? When would you like to go but have never made it?

The Doctor
The Doctor*
The Doctor
The Doctor
The Doctor

#12 ::: That Darn Satan! ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 09:40 PM:

The panel I want to see:

"Maintaining Arcane Supremacy in a Highly Literary Universe"

Elminster, Sage of Shadowdale
Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor of Unseen University
Gandalf the Grey
Khadgar of the Kirin Tor

Unfortunately ruined by four of the five panelists slumped mutely in acute shared embarassment at having finally been caught together in the same room, while Ridcully ignores all questions and goes on about how "I suppose this is a nice hall for small-scale stuff like this, but where I come from, we've got vast auditoriums, stadiums really, where looking out into the crowd is like gazin' straight into infinity, don't you know. I say, these horse doovers are good, not that I call them proper food. Cheese on sticks? Where's the texture? Are you going to finish yours, old chap? That's a nice hat, by the way. Of course, where I come from ..."

#13 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 10:07 PM:

@#10 Fragano

Simple: just have the panel moderated by Turtle, and everything will be fine.

There are a few stories with Anansi and Turtle, and somehow turtle always manages to make things come out even (or at least escape unscathed). I'm really fond of him... the trickster who never starts anything, but will finish it.

#14 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 10:08 PM:

Fiber Arts as Metaphor

Spinning, weaving, and braiding all have their metaphoric value in examining human (and other) life. What are the implications of composing weaving specifically to that end? What elements of life are most and least amenable to such treatment?

  • Clotho
  • Athena
  • Old Woman
  • Arachne
  • Minerva

Clotho was downright terse, and Athena and Arachne spent most of the time glaring at each other (Arachne had the edge, having four times as many eyes). Athena and Minerva kept finishing each other's sentences, while Old Woman spoke in terms so arcane as to be nearly incomprehensible (samples: "my bones become the loom" and "find me in yourself"). But what was interesting about the panel was not so much what the individual panelists had to say, but the emergent meaning of the entire panel, which can't be put into words.

#15 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 10:18 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 14: I laughed loudest at that one.

Speaking of doctors, the panel I attended and liked the best was this:

"Clinical Case Reports (aka 'What's Your Diagnosis?')", and featured Leonard McCoy MD, Prilicla MD, Alfred Harrington MD, Ethan Urqhart MD, and Amber Geriant PhD*

Dr. Geriant, a medical microbiologist with a wide variety of species in her care (human and non-human) had some good cases that broke the ice and got the panelists eager to top those with their own. Dr. McCoy amazed everyone with the way things "used to be done". Dr. Urqhart had a little trouble getting started, especially when trying to address Dr. Geriant -- it almost seemed as if he couldn't believe she existed -- and I noticed that all his patients were males, which didn't seem right. Dr. Harrington spoke eloquently of wartime medicine, but Dr. Prilicla stole the show and had the most exotic cases of them all. I had to stop myself from taking notes and just look at the pictures s/he presented. Way cool!

#16 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 10:20 PM:

I meant Mary Aileen at 11, of course. Number 14 didn't exist until after I finished the post and realized I'd hit the wrong numbers.

But it's still the funny one.

#17 ::: greening ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 10:23 PM:

On The Putative Presence Of Electromagnetic Ovids During Rest-Cycle Synaptic Restructuring

Curiosity about inner lives different in their very essence from our own has motivated science fiction for decades. In this specialty forum, five well-known positronic citizens will discuss their thought processes, with a special focus on multithreading of social algorithms, transmission protocols specialized for the pace of human verbal communications, and social networking through networking.

Roy Batty
Lance Bishop
Lieutenant Commander Data
R. Daneel Olivaw*

I thought this panel could have benefited from stronger leadership. R. Daneel Olivaw was supposed to be moderating, but he seemed rather preoccupied and I kept getting the feeling he had bigger problems on his mind. Eve and Bishop seemed to have some kind of a professional rivalry going, and the Lieutenant Commander's attempts at lightening up the situation with humor (?) fell awkwardly flat. I don't think Roy Batty was feeling very well; his only contribution was to repeatedly urge the audience to buy his upcoming memoirs, but I'm not sure I even believe he's seen all the things he says he has.

#18 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 10:39 PM:

Good Friends, Good Food, Good Times

  • Titus Andronicus
  • Reverend Armitage
  • Dr. Frank N. Furter
  • Valentine Michael Smith
  • Robert Thorn
  • Vic & Blood

Seeing the list of names in the program, I worried that the panel was overbooked -- too many cooks, and all that. But when I arrived (late), only a few participants were at the table and they didn't seem terribly concerned about the missing bodies.
It was a fairly casual panel: old pros sharing war stories while they shared a meal. A lot of cooking tips, including tenderizing tough cuts of meat and flakier pie crusts.
[Note for the gripe session: they need to turn up the A/C - I was broiling in there!]

#19 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 10:57 PM:

Reincarnation: Does it ever get old?

Sure, reincarnation seemed like a good idea the first few times. But does dying and coming back to life ever get boring? And is the process itself painful? How does having multiple lifetimes worth of memories affect your sanity?

  • Methos
  • The Doctor
  • A Bowl of Petunias*
  • Carter Hall
  • Spock

The panel got sidetracked when Spock explained that logically, reincarnation -- even his own -- was impossible, but in spite of the moderator's best hopes, this did not cause him to vanish in a puff of logic. Methos suggested that he was more of a regenerator, thus fulfilling the quota of the Panelist Who Doesn't Understand Why He's On the Panel. Things finally settled down, but Hall pretty much hijacked the panel, talking about aliens and ancient Egypt until getting into a shouting member with Imhotep, who was sitting in the audience. I had a conflict and had to leave before I could hear The Doctor speak to the topic, which was too bad, as he was the Thirteenth, and seemed quite brilliant from his introductory remarks.

#20 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 11:29 PM:

sisuile, #4: Oh, I wish I'd seen that on the schedule! Warrl has been on my "want to meet" list like forEVER!

#21 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 12:11 AM:

Pawn of Prophecy

Is the future set? What is it like to know that someone has seen in advance your every move, and what are some coping strategies? Is it better to have advance knowledge, or only recognize what's going on in hindsight? Our panelists share their experiences.

Rand Al'Thor
Bilbo Baggins
Laura Roslin (m)
King Oedipus of Thebes

This was a rather contentious panel, with Roslin hard-put to keep Oedipus and Rand in line. A bit odd, really, given that Oedipus was this panel's Panelist Who Doesn't Know Why He's There. The one thing everyone agreed on was that it's better to find out about the prophecies afterwards, since knowing them beforehand doesn't usually give any usable information anyway. Entertaining enough, but I didn't come away feeling like I'd heard anything I hadn't heard before.

#22 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 12:52 AM:

Women and the Grey Market

In challenging times, opportunities can hard to find. It's even more difficult to maintain personal integrity and respectability while operating outside the accepted system. These successful women talk about running their own businesses and breaking down traditional barriers.

Carmen Sandiego*
Selina Kyle
Lina Inverse
Anita Blake

While not terribly talkative herself, Ms Sandiego proved an excellent moderator, managing to subtly introduce new topics of conversation and guide the discussion to interesting new areas. Ms Kyle spoke a lot about the importance of both independence and networking, while Lina explained the basics of building a good team and keeping them motivated through difficult situations. Anita seemed pleased to be on the panel initially, but as time went on she started interjecting comments that implied she felt like a bit of a martyr, appearing on a panel with people whose enterprises were far more questionable than hers. For a while it looked like a fight might break out between her and Ms Kyle, but Lina managed to defuse the situation with some self-deprecating humor and closed the panel out with a few good stories about saving the world.

All in all the panel was a success, but the con is looking to add a few more panelists for next year. (Recommendations would be greatly appreciated.)

#23 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 01:01 AM:

Future Imperfect: The Problem with Prophecy.

Is forewarned forearmed or is the future not set? Why do those with the power of prophecy so often fail?

Paul Muad’dib Atreides
Cassandra of Troy (m)
Hari Seldon (via video link)
Jon Osterman
Hugo Pinero

This panel attracted a large audience despite the announcement from the moderator in the morning bulletin that it had been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

David @ 21: You sort of beat me to the idea of a panel on prophecy. I should have seen that coming.

#24 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 01:15 AM:

Breaking Physics for Fun and Profit

Our panelists discuss where physics goes off the rails and out the window. Attend at your own risk.

Kimball Kinnison
Simon of Jeeha
Harry Dresden
Geordi La Forge
Han Solo*

Han opened the panel by declaring "sound in space" off limits. Good call. He tried to defend his "twelve parsecs" line, with some handwaving about curved space near black holes, but someone made an obscene gesture and he moved on.

Geordi got a lot of ribbing he probably didn't deserve. I mean, he's working with what he has. And he defended himself admirably, pointing out how often he did something that physics would completely vindicate afterward. Han cut him off before he started demanding that everybody go read Lawrence Krauss.

Harry was the Doesn't Know Why He's There. Which, given that he was arguing that his was an issue of a complementary system to's probably fairer to say that he did know why he was there and objected to the characterization. He was kind of sulky, really.

Kim was of non-engaging. He simply said that as he understood physics, he was consistent. Geordi spent some time letting Kim know about all the physics he didn't understand. This left him further confused and muttering about going back to yell at Mentor...

But everybody stood in awe of Simon. He shrugged and said that physics, like everything else, was a barrier to break through.

Interesting stories, but they didn't really gel. And the questions just confused people further. John Sheridan, from the audience, got into a shouting match with Geordi, but Han threatened to kick them both out. And Hachi Hoshino was just confused. He'd come along to try to understand, and once he heard about Simon's war stories he ended up practically a gibbering ball in the corner.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:05 AM:

Tony Stark meets Eureka's Stark. The world implodes under the weight of the 2 egos.

#26 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:09 AM:

Wow, the modern version of Van Loon's Lives. Cool.

#27 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:18 AM:

Serge, #25: We've been saying that it would be way cool to have a snatch of conversation along these lines between Stark and a Eureka visitor:

"So, how's Tony doing these days?"
"Fine, as far as I know. We don't talk much."
"Sibling rivalry?"
"Trade secrets."

#28 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:25 AM:

Serge @ 25: Why not throw Farscape's Stark into the mix as well?

#29 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:29 AM:

(Someone has to moderate, after all.)

#30 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:32 AM:

Boys and their Shinigami

The border between the world of the dead and the world of the living has never seemed more porous. We speak to experts past and present about their experiences crossing that ultimate border.

*Ichigo Kurosaki
*Light Yagami
*Duo Maxwell
*Yusuke Urameshi

Belldandy-sama acted as moderator, and did her best to maintain decorum and civility among all participants. She did, however, evince a small crush on Yagami-san.

Yagami-san was, of course, his usual charming self, despite his seeming obsession with both a small bag of potato chips to his left and a large bowl of apples to his right. The apples disappeared slowly during the panel, although I cannot recall who ate them or when, nor did I see cores in the nearest rubbish bin.

Mr. Maxwell seemed to be asleep for some of the panel, having confessed early on to not knowing quite why he'd been asked to attend. His shinigami, he explained, was both "a lot bigger" and "a lot cooler" than his fellow participants'. (Kurosaki-san immediately stood, knocking over a chair, and demanded that that last remark be withdrawn, on pain of death. The fight was broken up by a slender boy in tight black shorts and a green tank top. No one knew who he was; there was some confusion about his name)

Kurosaki-san and Urameshi-san had quite a bit to agree about, mostly having to do with the temperamental, bossy nature of their shinigami. Midway through the panel, their mobile phones rang simultaneously, and they looked very downcast and apologetic, then mildly panicked. The world of the dead has apparently pioneered 5G networking.

On the whole it was quite a good panel, although marked by frequent interruption. It was very late at night, however, and I was very tired -- at one point I could almost swear I saw a plush lion toy talking.

#31 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 04:28 AM:

Power and Social Responsibility

What kinds of responsibility does power carry with it? Is there a moral nature to possessing power, and does it always involve leadership and authority? Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

Ariane Emory
Antryg Windrose
Obi-Wan Kenobi*
Brandon Corey
The Doctor

Well, this panel was interesting for sure. I guess you could say Brandon Corey was the "I don't know why I'm on this panel" guy: he kept protesting that we might better ask one of his brothers, except that he kept getting caught out making interesting and highly cryptic remarks on the philosophies of the other panelists. Something about the auspices of true power and the seeds of aesthetic truth and the nature of reality underlying reality, to which morals were apparently irrelevant.

I'd have to say his input definitely added something, although when Kenobi would try to re-direct the conversation during one of his monologues, he got steamed and would sit there giving others the stink-eye while muttering about what would come to be in his universe.

Antryg Windrose and the Doctor got along like old chums. They pretty much took over the panel for large sections of it. Kenobi (who kept his comments concise, dignified and sort of fortune cookie-sounding) should have stopped them but I think he approved of them too much. I liked one of Antryg's remarks; it was a lot to chew on -- something to the effect that power did not corrupt morality, rather, that morals corrupted the essence of power, and wasn't it wonderful that they did!

Anyway, it was a great remark and really well-placed -- Sera Emory was making a point that was clearly one of those things that was kind of wrong, deep down, just so perfectly entrenched in reason that it would be impossible to argue with. She'd say something ethically dodgy that was phrased in such a way that it was clearly apparent to all reasonable people, but Antryg kept knocking her points down by being totally unreasonable (yet charmingly right.)

The Doctor -- the young one with the tan overcoat and the sneakers -- backed Antryg up most of the time (in between looking at him like he was seeing something familiar*) but I also caught him wistfully listening to Brandon Corey and at one point sort of nodding his head when the guy said something to the effect of wouldn't it be better if someone with brains ran the universe?

Food for thought, but I hope they don't get too hungry. This panel was a real powerhouse, pun intended. I saw Sera Emory walking up to Mr. Corey afterwards, no doubt to discuss more on the subject -- at least, I think it was him; caught the flash of red hair bobbing off into the crowd.

#32 ::: Jon R ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 05:56 AM:

Ginger @15: The proper pronoun for Dr. Prilica is of course "it", unless you happen to be a Cinrusskin (or, I suppose, you could be carrying appropriate Educator tape, in which case you could argue that you are Cinrusskin).

(It's far from rude; Prilica sees us DBDGs as "it" as well.)

#33 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 07:22 AM:

David Goldfarb@21

You know, if you're going to have a "Pawn of Prophecy" panel, Garion should really be on it...

#34 ::: Melody ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 08:37 AM:

Leah Miller @22:

Given the...err...appetite of your last panelist, my brain keeps trying to "enliven" the proceedings.

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 11:47 AM:

Adam Lipkin #19: Why isn't Gandalf on that panel?

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 11:50 AM:

Leah Miller #13: Well, at least you didn't suggest either Asunu or Lion! Especially not Lion (though I know a different story about Lion, which does not involve Anansi, but which would count as a Nancy 'tory).

#37 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 12:52 PM:

The Doctor's Dilemma panel might have been more controversial if the originally suggested panelist Andrej Koscuisko* had been able to attend.

* the Internets think this is the correct spelling. In any case, it's far from his biggest problem.

#38 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Ginger (15/16): Thanks. I'm hoping someone who attended the panel can flesh out some details.

Paul Duncanson (23): I love the prophecy panel being cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

#39 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 01:19 PM:

Abi @ #0: But there is an essential tension between the close involvement in a team, particularly a combat team, and the Hippocratic Oath.

There's a cute take on this question in Aaron Allston's novel Doc Sidhe. It features a team of adventurers in a pulp-fiction-inflected alternate universe, and the team doctor is as willing and able to knock heads together as any of them. At one point a character from our world asks him if he has trouble reconciling his activities with the Hippocratic Oath; he explains that his world doesn't have the Hippocratic Oath as such, and its equivalent isn't as wide-reaching: "I can't intentionally harm my patients. But the sort of men I point the gun at can't even be my patients until I shoot them."

#40 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 01:23 PM:

Incidentally, do I just have double-vision or are each of Abi's three panels listed twice?

#41 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 01:23 PM:

You want me to seek the WHAT?
Epic quests really only make sense when viewed retrospectively. Get the ground-level view of all the craziness as it happened from the people who lived some of the biggest world-saving, world-destroying quests of all time.

Fiver *
Thomas Covenant

I was impressed by the amount of nonhuman inclusiveness shown in the panel selection, though I wish there's been at least one female panelist. Fiver tried, but had basically lost all control by halfway through; it didn't help that Tailchaser (who kept eyeing him) was seated adjacent.

Link certainly tried, and all of his contributions were really interesting, but Thomas Covenant and Issun basically derailed the panel into an anything-you-can-do-I-already-did-more-heroically one-upsmanship match. I wish I'd taken better notes, but -- viewed as camp -- the whole thing was so damn funny I couldn't write straight for laughing.

I do feel bad for Link and Fiver, though; they were the only panelists who seemed at all interested in addressing the assigned topic.

#42 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 01:35 PM:

Paul@23: Nice choice of panelists, including a few that I hadn't thought of and should have.

Michael@33: I had Belgarion on originally, but then I decided I wanted a more equal balance in regards gender and fantasy vs. SF, so he got booted in favor of Delenn.

#43 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:06 PM:

I rather think that Wesley Windham-Price should be moderating Paul Duncanson's panel at #23, although possibly he was in charge of scheduling it in the first place.

#44 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:11 PM:

(Jack Aubrey was seen in the bar after the Captain's Lounge panel, camped at a table with all of the panelists, explaining to them the intricacies of winning a battle when your ship and your enemies are confined to a small portion of the surface of a sphere, and imagining what he could have done with a flying ship.)

Apocalypse Now & Later: Living in the End Times
What can you do when you know the world is ending? Can you save civilization, or just yourself?
Tyler Dupree, MD*
Yorick Brown
Elwood Ralston, Ph.D.
Glen Bateman, Ph.D

Tyler asked Kee to start. She got into almost immediate discussion with Yorick about the feasibility of human cloning and the differences when men still run the world. Ralston put forth his theory on the causes of biological events in both Kee's and Yorick's worlds. Bateman laughed cynically and clapped Ralston on the back. He said maybe a good dose of penicillin would be best after all -- but then sobered, and said the resistant strain of humanity was worthwhile, so long as it was the less deadly strain.

From the audience, a General Turgidson could be heard shouting about a mineshaft gap. Bateman glared at him and said that was exactly what he was talking about. Tyler Dupree asked for him to be removed, as he was creating quite a disturbance.

Tyler and Bateman then got into quite a discussion about the role of eschatological religion.

The panel ended when Kee excused herself to go rescue the babysitter.

#45 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 02:45 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #35:

Don't ask me; I'm not on Programming. ;-)

#46 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 04:54 PM:

Comic books and the importance of timing:

- Dr. Jon Osterman
- John Constantine
- Steve Rogers
- The Joker
- Kang the Conqueror

Our guest of honor, Dr. Osterman, who hadn't appeared in public for quite a long time, opened the panel by stating he was sorry for not being able to prevent what was going to happen. He was almost immediately interrupted by the Joker, who proceeded to steal every tie worn in attendance - and shoot down the couple people who hadn't taken seriously the "Wear a tie or Die" sign left at entrance - before leaving the reception hall, laughing, as one should expect. He reportedly shouted "Oh, yes ! It's all about the timing" on his way out.
Mr. Constantine arrived fashionably late around ten minutes after that, during a heated (at least on that later's part) exchange between Dr. Osterman and Kang the Conqueror on the relationship between the nature of time and "spaces of artificially limited dimensions". His main contribution mainly consisted of chain smoking sometimes interrupted by an interjected "bollocks" or an ostentatious look at his watch.

After a long and fascinating debate, irate at his inability to convince Dr. Osterman of the possibility for one to change history when one was not part of the reality based community, Kang summoned heavy-armored troupes from the future, declaring he would prove his point by actions rather than words.

None were wearing ties.

They all died laughing, slowly disappearing in a puff off green smoke and throws of cackling pain. I can still hear that laugh now, the laugh of legions laughing as one till the collective jaw breaks, revealing the oblivion that lies beneath the skull - I even think I saw its eyes staring back at me.
The government has ordered quarantine over House Number 5. The people around me are changing, their skin growing protuberances of emerald green and deep crimson. I can still feel the laughter itching at my brain. No one has seen Mr. Constantine since the attack.

We are still waiting for Steve Rogers to return.

(It almost seemed to work when I thought about it this afternoon... well, hope some will find it enjoyable.)

#47 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 06:40 PM:

I wanted to go to these:

"Engineering your way out of trouble"

Lt. Fritz Van Noon
Jason DinAlt
Cdr. Ginger Lewis
Princess Nell*
Dr. Richard Seaton


Diziet Sma
Calvin Morrison
Jaime Retief
Havelock Vetinari(*)

Unfortunately, this moose is prohibited from entering the USA.


#48 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 06:52 PM:

Cadbury...WorldCon was in Montréal. That's in Canada, last I looked. You missed those panels for nothing.

Just thought I'd rub it in.

#49 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 08:13 PM:

Xopher @48: I'm forgetting details, but hadn't there been someone during the GWB era on an international flight (origin Europe, destination Canada) who had been picked up off the plane by Homeland Security when it stopped in the US for refueling? The airline didn't consider the US airport a 'destination'; no passengers were planned to de-plane, and no others were going to be taken aboard.

#50 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 12:03 AM:

Back Through the Wardrobe: It's one thing to discover a new world. It's quite another to return to the old one. What adjustments must be made? What role does scientific thinking and rationality play in a magical land? Could the Dark Lord have been defeated in our own world? Was it all a childhood game?

Jesse Aarons
Sue Pevensie
David Martyniuk*
Patrick from The Secret Country
Will Parry

I was really looking forward to this one, not least because I'm the kind of geek who would be transported and demand scientific testing of the magical system until I understood at least the basics. It didn't disappoint so much as turn into a weird support group, and I think as much discussion happened in the hallway and bar afterward as in the panel.

For starters, there weren't any consistent lines between the panelists. Sue and Jesse both seemed to think that their childhood imaginations were very vivid, but she wasn't exactly consistent. David, Patrick, and Sue all talked about why they didn't stay in their worlds, and Will chimed in a bit there. There wasn't as much about scientific thought as applied to non-Earth places, but I think that was David's doing, though Susan backed him up.

The sad part was talking about the lost friends. Will and Jesse took a while to say anything when the subject came up. David and Patrick seemed okay; Patrick took a picture of the audience to send to friends "from Ruth". Sue went back to talking about childhood games and how she saw her godchildren's children playing the same way, and then it turned into a weird anti-Disney Princesses thing on her part.

I was glad I went, definitely. And once they started exchanging drinking/going-to-war songs in the bar... well, it wasn't just the Tor(.com?) party that got shut down for noise.

#51 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 12:08 AM:

Effective Policing in a Multi-Species Environment
*Samuel Vimes
John Stewart

The moderator and Khaavren focused mainly on effective force management and policy, while Mr. Stewart and Ms. Sasahara mostly related anecdotes from their work as officers on the beat. Unfortunately, the moderator had to repeatedly ask Khaavren to refrain from anti-H.Sapiens comments.

Long Term Planning: Getting Things Done, Eventually
*Sethra Lavode
Vandal Savage
Adam Pierson

Discussion ranged across "active" versus "reactive" plans of action, long term investment strategies, techniques for keeping count of generations and track of the current year, and how to pass the time between phases of prophecy, crises, rising heroes, or attempts on your life.

#52 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 12:44 AM:

The Chosen One: Blessing or Curse?
Anakin Skywalker
Elizabeth "Buffy" Summers
Harry Potter
Thomas Anderson, aka Neo

The panelists for the most part agreed that while the powers were cool, the whole destiny thing was not what it was cracked up to be. Jesus and Neo tended to wander off into philosophical territory, but Buffy and Anakin brought things back to the present pretty fast with not-so-subtle commentary on the value of philosophy when faced with people trying to kill you. Harry didn't say much, but he made a friend for life when he explained the concept of Quidditch to Anakin.

Raising Super-powered Teenagers
Rupert Giles*
Martha Kent
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Charles Xavier

The time was split fairly evenly between discussions of parenting strategy and discussions of home repair techniques. There was some compare and contrast between the difficulties of raising a single gifted child vs. a group. Giles helped navigate this pretty smoothly, since he dealt with a Slayer and her friends. Martha Kent got the last word, though, with her story of how Clark knocked the barn over one night by accident.

#53 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 01:02 AM:

Luthe, I laughed at Jesus and Splinter.

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 02:34 AM:

@ #47

There was a late change to the panel on Intrigue. Havelock Vetinari arranged for somebody else to be moderator.

#55 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 06:59 AM:

Xopher @48 and Rob @49

Indeed, but I've been on the "Wanted" list since 1997 [1], and do not intend to take any chances. (Quite apart from which, I'm not sure of the Statute of Limitations as applied to Moose. There's also the existence of The Palinator to worry about.)

They've got my number: 27217770.



#56 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 08:23 AM:

David Goldfarb@42

So is the next panel going to be "Queen of Sorcery"?

(Followed, of course, by the panels "Magician's Gambit" and "Castle of Wizardry".)

#57 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 08:29 AM:

Dave Bell@54

Well, when Klaus Wulfenbach (a late addition to the panel) decides he wants to be moderator, anyone intelligent is going to get out of his way....

#58 ::: Springtime for Spacers ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 10:12 AM:

@ #54 That would be Vimes who drew the short straw then.

#59 ::: Christian Severin ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 03:51 PM:

A.J. Luxton @ 31:
"Power and Social Responsibility"

I guess Sparrowhawk would have had some enlightening anecdotes to tell, wouldn't he?

#60 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 05:12 PM:

Being Evil

The concept of pure evil is not well-accepted in the modern world. A panel of highly-respected practitioners of the Dark Side will discuss the purity of their motives, and the difficulties encountered in convincing a jaded world of their existence. Also, why is it so hard to find good help these days?

Mr. Frost
Sith Lord Vader
Sorainya of Gyronchi
Gharlane of Eddor
Ernst Stavro Blofeld*
Neil O'Herit Brain

Herr Blofeld put the topic in perspective very articulately, but then the panel descended for awhile into a three-way boasting match as Gharlane, Sorainya, and Lord Vader tried to one-up each other with stories of cosmic badassery. Blofeld didn't intervene until Gharlane and Vader got into a duel of mental power, and Sorainya ripped open a portal to her empire and started pulling her giant ant troops through. At this point Blofeld spoke briefly into his bluetooth mike, and Vader's breathmask suddenly stopped working, while the noxious atmosphere contained in the force bubble around Gharlane turned a lovely chartreuse. The two of them settled down quickly, but it took several minutes for Blofeld's henchmen to subdue the ants, and the smell of formic acid lingered into the next panel session in that room.

When order was restored, Brain accepted the position of "Panelist who shouldn't be here", pointing out that he wasn't really a representative of evil in a global sense, merely the nemesis of a particular group of 4 people. He nevertheless claimed an award for "egregious escalation" in going so quickly to nuclear weapons versus residential property.

Mr. Frost was quiet for most of the discussion, only getting loudly snarky when Sorainya insisted on moving her chair to the other side of the stage from him, complaining of the smell. His insistence that "There aren't any flies on me" was considered disingenuous by everyone I talked to after the panel.

Toward the end there was an interesting discussion of henchman, in which Blofeld, Gharlane, and Lord Vader all agreed that the key to getting good help was a thorough screening process in hiring, and continual weeding out of failures accompanied by pithy comments to onlookers to motivate their own success. Sorainya insisted that growing henchman in bioculture tanks was the only way to ensure quality.

I thought this was a good panel, overall, though the final body count in the audience exceeded that of last year's panel on zombie group dynamics, even with the yeoman efforts of Kimball Kinnison and Luke Skywalker in keeping order. I fault the Program Committee, which should have known better than to put so many megalomaniacs on a single stage.

#61 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 05:28 PM:

A Warrior's Life is the Life For Me

Panelists discuss the heroic virtues in a military context. Is there a place for cultural relativism? Can the Trickster ever be a true Hero? Is "Peace Through Superior Firepower" a villainous creed, or simply good policy?

Kensie Graeme
Peaceforcer Elite Sergeant Mohammed Vance
Colonel Richard Colin Campbell
Dominic Glyndwr*

The moderator opened by declaring himself the Person Who Shouldn't Be Here, and vanished. Vance announced his intention to assume the moderatorship. Benedict reached behind Vance and did something which rendered the cyborg unconscious; Campbell applauded politely and sincerely.

Graeme and Benedict proceeded to dispose of the panel description over the course of a few minutes by agreeing with each other, leavened with a few stories on each side. Questions from the audience were entertained, though some answers were dismissive. They closed with a rambling and improbable story from Campbell, and as they walked out, I heard something about comparative whisky-tastings.

#62 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 05:30 PM:

A Warrior's Life is the Life For Me

Panelists discuss the heroic virtues in a military context. Is there a place for cultural relativism? Can the Trickster ever be a true Hero? Is "Peace Through Superior Firepower" a villainous creed, or simply good policy?

Kensie Graeme
Peaceforcer Elite Sergeant Mohammed Vance
Colonel Richard Colin Campbell
Dominic Glyndwr*

The moderator opened by declaring himself the Person Who Shouldn't Be Here, and vanished. Vance announced his intention to assume the moderatorship. Benedict reached behind Vance and did something which rendered the cyborg unconscious; Campbell applauded politely and sincerely.

Graeme and Benedict proceeded to dispose of the panel description over the course of a few minutes by agreeing with each other, leavened with a few stories on each side. Questions from the audience were entertained, though some answers were dismissive. They closed with a rambling and improbable story from Campbell, and as they walked out, I heard something about comparative whisky-tastings.

#63 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 05:58 PM:

Pitfalls of Intercultural Relationships

Romantic attachments between sentients from different cultures (and, in some cases, biological species) are beset by many hazards, including conflict between the peer group or family and the significant other, and in some cases, outright bigotry.


Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan*
Dag Bluefield
Zerika IV

Cordelia's moderating ability notwithstanding, both Sarek and Dag were initially quiet to the point of taciturn. Delenn's opinions were somewhat disregarded by several other panelists, who felt that the cultural divisions she had to face were relatively insignificant compared to their own. Zerika's point that even people with considerable power and influence in society can be bound by its prejudices was well taken, and led to an interesting discussion on the merits of the various political systems each of the panelists was familiar with, and how each of those addressed the issue of individuals making controversial lifestyle choices, with particular attention to the issue of whether society is justified in enforcing conformity upon its members and if so, by what means. As moderator, Cordelia eventually closed this line of discussion by observing that it would be an excellent subject for a panel in its own right, but was off topic.

Zatar's observation that rifts between the two cultures (and associated political entities, if any) could spill over and endanger the relationship itself, and that intercultural relationships do not always lead to happy endings, seemed understandably unwelcome to the other panelists (and some of the audience - it was at this point that Inu-Yasha had to be escorted from the room by nervous-looking security personnel). Dag's impassioned rebuttal that the culture could be changed by people sufficiently determined to do so was unfortunately interpreted as a personal attack by several of the other panelists and the panel had to be wrapped up.

#64 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 07:10 PM:

@ #58: strangely, he was replaced by an A. Spangler, hitherto unknown, who insisted on running the panel according to Robinson's Rules of Order. When challenged on this, he was able to produce not only said Rules, but also notes from the other panel members' mothers, reminding them be polite, wipe their noses, and abide by the Rules.

#65 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 07:29 PM:

The Nobility of Crime

Michael Geste
Simon Templar
Selina Kyle
Dr. Peter Blood
Willie Garvin*

Quite why Mr. Garvin had been chosen as moderator, none of the panel were quite sure, but at several points his personal reminiscences, and apposite quotes from the Bible, defused the looming explosions of conflicting views. Dr. Blood and Mr. Geste were agreed that sometimes there was no choice but to follow a criminal path. Mr. Templar disagreed in some parts, and suggested it might be better to act alone, outside the law, rather than risk others.

At this, Miss Kyle and Mr. Templar debated the merits of romantic entanglement, which seemed inevitably to lead to Mr. Garvin telling a story about a Spanish barber's daughter.

It was clear that Mr. Geste felt himself the outsider in all this, saying that everything in his case arose from one bold, if foolish, move. "Perhaps foolish, sir," observed Dr. Blood, "But necessity knows no wisdom."

After the panel, Mr. Garvin was heard offering to introduce Ms. Kyle to "the Princess", but it sounded like a bad chat-up line.

#66 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 09:06 PM:

Learning to Let Go
The untimely death of a loved one can cause deep anguish. But does it justify bending fate to your will and breaking the laws of nature in an attempt to bring them back?

Gendo Ikari
King Elias of Erkenland
Victor von Frankenstein
Willow Rosenberg*

Victor wasn't entirely certain why he was there unless the Branagh movie was accepted as canon, but on general principles he agreed with Willow about the moral hazards of returning the dead to life.

Finwë came under attack from the others for not having tried hard enough, but defended himself by pointing out that it was Míriel's choice to remain in Mandos, so he had no proper right to violate her wishes in the matter and had anyone else even asked? (This made Victor look cagily uncomfortable again.) Gendo accused Finwë of fickleness for remarrying; when called out for hypocrisy, he stubbornly maintained that his fidelity to Yui's memory was a virtue in itself that fully justified his cynical manipulation of the Drs. Akagi, and he ended up sulking behind his folded gloves for the rest of the panel.

Elias somewhat salvaged the topic by segueing into the importance of finding trustworthy allies (although this drew another sideways snark from Gendo about Elias's lack of intrepid do-it-yourself spirit). Surprisingly, Elias also broached the subject of the potential damage to children who might become neglected or alienated by the remaining guardian's withdrawal into mourning, making them complete emotional orphans.

Finwë ruefully admitted that Fëanor never really accepted Indis as his stepmother or her sons as his brothers, so that parental mourning wasn't the only factor; children still have to deal with their own grief on their own terms, no matter how their parents may help or hinder them.

Willow ended the panel with some alternate-reality anecdotes about how it feels to *be* undead; while she refused to actually recommend the condition to anyone, she did admit that if coerced into a choice, vampirism was far more entertaining than ghostly incorporeality.

#67 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 09:29 PM:

Julie L. @66: It might have been interesting to see what Edward and Alphonse Elric could have brought to that panel.

#68 ::: ppint. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 10:38 PM:

cadbury moose@55:

ttbomk, moose are unlimited by statute: they are permitted free passage across the alaskan-canadadadadadian border, and also across the border with the lower forty-eight, entirely without passport, cash, cheque, visa or mastercard - indeed, without any visible proof of support - so long as they are unaccompanied by any human not directly dependant upon them, or intimately acquainted with them. i believe the same is true in yeurrp, including across the [ex-soviet] russian border, of the allegedly indistinguishable elk.
whilst i do not know what your relationship[s] with the rcmp - or lumberjills'n'jacks - may be like, from here the palinator does seem excessively pythonesque.

panels i will've loved to've attended include one composed of lato, ariane emory, eunice/joan eunice, mike/michelle/adam*, valentina and ari II, upon "the nature of identity."

#69 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 10:43 PM:

Family Curses
(Is it really a heroic quest, or are they just out to get you?)

*Frodo Baggins
Harry Potter
Scott Crane
Luke Skywalker
John Connor
Frenesi Gates

There was some tension and lack of spontaneity due to the tight security, as some of the panelists had legitimate needs to protect themselves from pursuers.

Baggins, Potter, and Skywalker all got into a discussion of sports and the art of aiming and throwing things, as they found that casting a ring into a pool of fire, aiming a bomb down a smokestack, and aiming a ball toward a goal were similar.

There was discussion of logistics in the need to keep your family safe when fleeing your home.

Somebody said life isn't fair but you've just got to play the cards you're dealt. This metaphor seemed to make Scott Crane uncomfortable.

John Connor discussed the role of time travel in the family dynamic, and how to take evasive action in high-speed chases.

Frenesi Gates wanted to video the panel, but some objected because they feared she was gatering evidence against them.

#70 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2009, 11:38 PM:

Julie @ 66: Were you as disturbed as I was by the guy in the lab coat and goggles sitting in the back row, taking notes and laughing maniacally to himself?

#71 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 12:46 AM:

Paul @70: But was he planning to involve the control group?

Rob @67: Maybe Ed; Al might've been cross-booked for the Adjusting to the New You panel with Kikyo, Angel, Peter Parker, and Henry Jekyll.

#72 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 12:51 AM:

I'm not well-versed in the ways of con panels, but one possible group of panelists keeps nagging at me. Will someone hipper than I am please tell me what this panel was called and how the discussion might have went? The panelists are:

Alice Liddell
Dorothy Gale
Lucy Pevensie
Chihiro Ogino
Coraline Jones

#73 ::: Bruce Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 01:59 AM:

Rob T.:

I'm not sure, but I suspect that if Coraline Jones was a panelist than Harvey Swick should have been there as well...

#74 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 02:05 AM:

Ethical and Practical Pitfalls of Participatory Journalism

Lois Lane
Peter Parker
Sarah Jane Smith (moderator)
Raoul ("Uncle") Duke

I'm not sure whether the fifth member of the panel had actually been invited to participate, or whether he simply showed up. In any case, the smaller version of himself that popped out of his head was a great deal more lucid than he was, and regaled the audience with stories about parties he had thrown while writing for Rolling Stone and governing Samoa. The moderator, always keenly sensitive to matters of time, eventually had to cut him off in order to allow the other panelists to speak. While Mr. Parker rather diffidently talked about the usefulness of mirrors in photojournalism, Mr. Duke made several passes at Ms. Lane. This continued until Mr. Duke was accosted by a wire fox terrier brought by another of the panelists; the dog tugged vigorously at Mr. Duke's trouser leg, eventually dislodging a rather impressive selection of controlled substances. Mr. Duke was arrested on the spot, not without difficulty, by two detectives in bowler hats and bushy moustaches, whereupon Ms. Lane was able to speak unmolested about her experience with workplace relationships and kidnapping.

I subsequently learned that the moderator had been simultaneously participating in a panel on virology, where she had been asked at the last minute to fill in for her aunt.

#75 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 02:15 AM:


A Girl's Guide to Interdimensional Travel

Alice Liddell
Dorothy Gale
Lucy Pevensie
Chihiro Ogino
Coraline Jones

The panel was a bit muddled to start, since no one was entirely sure who was meant to be running things. Coraline complained about the panel title, saying they should rename it "A Guide for Dangerous Explorers." The next few minutes were a bit awkward and unfocused until Lucy remembered something about being a queen and took over as moderator. After that things began to go a bit more smoothly.

I think Coraline was a little surprised when Dorothy introduced herself; she obviously wasn't what was expected. There was a little tension between the two initially (it's possible Coraline may have thought that OZ was easy mode for explorers), but then Alice brought up the subject of cats and the three of them bonded for a bit.

After that the panel became a collaborative discussion on how to tell whether the world you've stumbled into is good or bad and what rules worked the same for both. After hearing everyone else's stories, Coraline seemed relieved that at least the FOOD in her world hadn't been actively dangerous.

Coraline and Chihiro talked a bit about the safety of one's family as motivation for escape, while Dorothy and Lucy talked about the challenges of adjusting to changing family roles and culture shock in long-term extraordinary habitation. Alice was a bit quiet during all this, but in the end made a few very piquant remarks about total isolation and independence.

Unfortunately the panel went long, and Chihiro (who had been fairly quiet thus far) was cut off just as she was starting an interesting thread about how her trip hadn't just been about what she did to the world, but what the world did for her. I think most of the audience would have liked to let her finish, but the panelists for the next sitting were congregating at the back of the room, and Peter and Huck would not stop throwing things.

I hope they put it together again next year... either give it a double block or at least some flex time at the end. I'm not sure what happened in the chaos between panels, but I think I saw all the panelists slipping through an unmarked door in a disused hallway, one after the other.

#76 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 03:27 AM:

Rob @ 67:

Ed was asked to be on the short-list for the panel, but somehow the conversation went downhill at that point.

#77 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 05:12 AM:

Julie @ 71: Oh... I was thinking Doctor Horrible sequels.

#78 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 06:48 AM:

Dave Bell #65: The absence of Raffles from that panel needs to be explained.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 09:52 AM:

Fragano @ 78... And what about Arsène Lupin?

#80 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 11:23 AM:

Second Fiddle - Lives overshadowed by super friends.

What is it like to be an ordinary person with a superhero in your life? When your friend can leap tall buildings in a single bound, does riding the elevator seem like a bit lacklustre? Or is there something to be gained from second-hand fame?

This panel was not helped by clueless moderation. Rather than try to gain some psychological insight, the audience just kept badgering the panellists for hints as to the absent heroes' true identities. Answers were, of course, not forthcoming and everyone left frustrated.


Peter Parker (Spider-man's photographer)
Clark Kent (reporter of Superman exclusives)
Lance Hunt (benefactor to Captain Amazing)
Diana Prince (friend of Wonder Woman)

John Watson, MD (moderator)

#81 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Leah @ 75: Thank you!

#82 ::: februaryfour ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 12:32 PM:


Panel 1: Sweets For The Soul
* Azuma Kazuma (Yakitate!! Japan)
* The Swedish Chef (The Muppet Show)
* Stephen Chow (The God of Cookery)
* Juliette Binoche (Chocolat) *
* Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

Panel 2: Haunting the Living
* Fujiwara Sai (Hikaru no Go)
* Dr Malcolm Crowe (The Sixth Sense)
* Kanna Ashihara (Dennou Coil)
* The Bloody Baron (Harry Potter) *
* Ryuuk (Death Note)

Panel 3: It's Not Easy Being A Genius
* Ryoma Echizen (The Prince of Tennis)
* L (Death Note) *
* River Tam (Firefly)
* Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
* Dexter (Dexter's Laboratory)

Details here:

#83 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 12:40 PM:

Famous Felids of Fantasy (ok, of Science Fiction, too):

Pyanfar Chanur
The Patriarch
Hrruban Representative (TBA)*

I thought this would be more interesting than it actually turned out to be. Spot immediately scooted into hiding, and never said anything. Jonesey hissed at several people in the audience, who then were escorted from the room by armed personnel and we could hear some noises from the hallway after they left, but none of us wanted to go check it out.

The Hrruban representative, who was supposed to moderate, had to cancel at the last moment. Luckily Nimitz was still around after his panel and agreed to fill in as least, until Greebo started making moves on Samantha, after which all three of them left the room. I'm not sure it ended well, but there weren't any noises coming from the hall that time.

That left us with Captain Pyanfar, the Patriarch, and Aslan. At first, the Patriarch wouldn't even acknowledge the existence of Captain Pyanfar, so she got mad and hauled off. Aslan simply laughed at the Patriarch, until *he* got mad, and then Aslan turned him into a mouse. I think it was a mouse. It was small and disappeared quickly. At the end, Aslan indicated that anyone who didn't believe in him would be kicked out of Narnia forever, so we left. Somehow, we ended up in a stable with a bunch of angry short fellows, I'm not sure how.

#84 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 01:05 PM:

Ginger @ 83... What about Krosp?

#85 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 01:34 PM:

Serge @84: I think the panel committee would have loved for him to be there, but they couldn't get the invitation delivered to him. He seemed to be stuck inside a castle where no one was willing to enter.

#86 ::: Fax Paladin ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 02:05 PM:

Paul Duncanson @ 80: By any chance, did Dr. Watson strongly resemble F. Murray Abraham?

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 02:29 PM:

Fax Paladin @ 86... Not Ben Kingsley?

#88 ::: Fax Paladin ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 03:05 PM:

Ambassadors from the Undiscovered Country


The moderator was the lone female on the panel — a personable, dark-haired girl wearing an ankh pendant — and managed things very well, keeping a light touch.

She, the man who variously called himself "Joe" and "Prince Sirki," and one of the two cowled skeletons did most of the talking (the skeleton's microphone seemed to be acting oddly, and the transcriber chose for some reason to render his responses IN ALL CAPS. He and the girl spent much of the panel discussing cats and enthusiastically sharing where to find the best curry).

The other skeleton mostly muttered about two children, while the bald, white-faced man looked inscrutably (and disconcertingly) at the audience.

#89 ::: Fax Paladin ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 04:08 PM:

Serge @ 87: Yes, you're right. I misremembered.

#90 ::: Crossfire ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Reality and Other Crutches

Are we contractually bound to reality? Is there, in fact, a sanity clause? Come dance with us as we explore the central concepts of normality, morality, and egg salad sandwiches.

  • The Joker
  • Delirium of the Endless *
  • Gollum
  • Padan Fain
  • Garth of Izar
  • Bellatrix Lestrange

The panel moderator opened the festivities by declaring the room a "no no-no zone," in an attempt to ensure everyone's safety. However, Gollum and Fain (who had been unwisely seated next to each other) were already arguing about who was a copy of whom, and the Joker wasn't helping matters much by whispering things into Fain's ear. Hostilities were averted when the moderator transmuted Fain's dagger into a goldfish. A 10 minute break was called.

#91 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 05:02 PM:

Q. Pheevre @ 74:

I would have liked to see Spider Jerusalem on that panel. If nothing else, it would have fun to see what he got up to with Duke.

#92 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 05:24 PM:

Fax Paladin @ 86: Serge @ 87 has got it.

#93 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 11:01 PM:

Bruce Cohen @91: Next year we'll have to try to get both of them on a panel with Zeta Vincent.

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 11:11 PM:

The Phantom of the Opera meets the Ghost Who Walks on Space Ghost's show.

#95 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 11:34 PM:

#83 Ginger

You mean you didn't notice Hallan Meras? He backed in, tripped, started mumbling apologetically, and then his crewmates with the Captain saying "Shut up" swooped in and hauled him off without further ado.

#96 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2009, 11:52 PM:

Technical Tall Tales

Richard Seaton
Andrew J. Libby
Hans Bergenholm
Quentin Emett
Dolph Haertel

First there was an argument about exactly who had priority on the invention of spaces drive. Alas, the panel dissolved into a horrible shouting match when someone mentioned the conversation of momentum.

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 12:21 AM:

Alas, the panel dissolved into a horrible shouting match when someone mentioned the conversation of momentum.

When a conversation is dominated by momentum (aka "goes ballistic") a shouting match is a natural consequence.

#98 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 02:20 AM:

@96: No Montgomery Scott? (Love to see him take apart a sonic screwdriver.)

#99 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 05:28 AM:

Some fantastic panels there! Here's one from the adult track.

Coming Unscrewed: When Sexbots go Beyond Sex

Sexbots are part of many science fictional societies, and their interactions with lifeforms go far beyond mere physical service. In this context, it's inevitable that thigs get complicated. We know the stories from the human(oid) perspective, but how do the bots themselves feel about the people they have known?

Lenore Universe
Freya Nakamachi-47*
Alice 27

The panel attended this program item by video link. Freya stated that she would find the presence of so many humans in the room distracting, and tactfully did not mention that the reverse might be true as well.

The panelists all stayed firmly off of explicit mechanical details (as it were), focusing on the social and the emotional implications of their relationships with living beings. Alice 27's story about finally finding a mind that she and her buildsisters found compatible was particularly fascinating. And her account of how his logical path of action was to disrupt their processing would have been the stuff of tragedy if she had told it with any emotion at all.

Then the topic of the death of humans came up. Lenore Universe's halting narrative of her maker's death was powerful and touching...I was not the only one wiping my eyes and trying to sniffle discreetly. (Alice's necklace began to flash at this point.) Following Lenore, Freya talked about species death, and how the painful hope that a single human might have survived kept the grief fresh in her mind.

Alice asked Norman to coordinate.

Silver made a very moving comment to the effect that the natural order of things is that the human goes before the bot, and that when the reverse happens, the effect is even more poignant because it violates that expectation. I wish I could remember the precise wording he used; it struck me as profound and graceful.

Pris, who had been increasingly uncomfortable throughout the panel, kicked over her chair and stomped out of the room at this point. The rest of the panelists sat in awkward silence (except for Alice, who had by this point stopped processing entirely). Freya cut off the video link before anyone could recover enough to ask questions.

#100 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 06:45 AM:

Fax Paladin @88: so that was the death panel I've been hearing about?

#101 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 07:23 AM:

#98 - AFAIK, Scotty isn't credited with inventing the drive, so Zephriam Cochrane would have been the panelist.

I realize that that panel broke down because no one was assigned as moderator.

The other techie panel is

Montgomery Scott
a Motie Engineer
Arthur McAndrew (*)
Richard Arcott
Walter Franks

It was a lot politer, although the Motie engineer didn't say much. She did fix Windows Vista on the computer running the projector. The hotel's a bit miffed at all the drawings and equations on their tablecloths, though. I understand that the results have led to a resurgence of interest in large scale vaccuum tubes under the McAndrew-Franks name.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 09:05 AM:

"Staying on Target"


The absence of a moderator was painfully obvious as the panelists kept responding to questions of the audience by taking verbal potshots at them. Things got worse when Max floated in and tried to join the panel, but the participants refused to grant his wish because he lacked a ballistic-based weapon.

Efforts by My Mother the Car to make everyone behave were shot down, on the grounds that this was a science-fiction discussion, and she and Herbie had achieved self-awareness thru a fantasy cause.

#103 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 04:13 PM:

Point of information, in response to a question:

Maher Arar, Canadian citizen, was removed from a plane making a refueling stop. He had no intention of deplaning.

The US maintains:

1: The plane was in it's territory.
2: Mr. Arar was not in the US.
3: Therefore he had no expectation of Civil Rights in the US.
4: Because the plane was in it's territory, they had the right to remove any person, or object, they saw fit.
5: Because Mr. Arar wasn't in the US, they were not enjoined from sending him to any other place they felt the urge.

They chose to send him to Syria, where he was kept for more than a year and tortured.

They made similar claims about Richard Reid, to wit, he had not cleared immigration, so they could keep him, without charge indefinitely.

They continue to maintain that all planes which enter US airspace must 1: provide a list of names, and 2: land at a a US airport, even if no one is entering the United States.

That is all I'm going to say about it here. The OT is a fine place, should anyone wish to continue.

#104 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 04:16 PM:

Terry, did you mean to post that here? This is kind of a game thread.

#105 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 06:22 PM:

Xopher @104: It was a response to my post @49 (which in turn had been a response to your post @48).

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 06:44 PM:

Ah! I didn't read back that far. Thanks.

#107 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 09:10 PM:

#83 Ginger

You mean you didn't notice Hallan Meras? He backed in, tripped, started mumbling apologetically, and then his crewmates with the Captain saying "Shut up" swooped in and hauled him off without further ado.

#108 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2009, 09:41 PM:

Paula @107: I must have been watching Greebo at the time. I completely missed that.

#109 ::: Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Motivation - Who Needs It ?

Some protagonists set out to have plot. Others achieve plot. And others again have plot thrust upon them. Are the last category unfairly discriminated against ?

Holden Caulfield
Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski (moderator)
Elric of Melnibone
Louis de Pointe du Lac
Hamlet (co-opted from the audience part-way through)

It seems to me that programming should have shown more awareness of the difficulties inherent in the very concept of this panel.

Lebowski opened by asking the panelists to introduce themselves, and it went wrong almost straight away. Caulfield and Elric got into an exercise in competitive whining from the get-go, with Caulfield seeming to scale his own issues with obscene graffiti and Olivier's Hamlet as on a par with Elric's experiences of slaughtering everyone he ever cared about with his demonic sword; this also prompted a furious interjection from Hamlet, in the audience, in support of Olivier.

Louis de Pointe du Lac made a valiant attempt to calm things down by talking about the beauty of the night, and how this served (in an argument I confess to not entirely following) to illustrate the pointlessness of existence as a positive thing. This then led to some debate as to whether being ineffective due to being caught between conflicting motives should be considered equivalent to not being motivated to do anything in the first place, again prompting some interjections from Hamlet (including a very nice snarky sideswipe at Jasper Fforde), after which he was invited to join the panel, and did so.

The panel then moved on to to the question of whether having no motivation only [i]some[/i] of the time counted. Caulfield seemed not to understand the concept; Elric spoke forcefully on the power of a lifelong doomed love to provide some variation in the tone of one's ennui, following which there was a scuffle at the back of the room which I later heard involved Edward Cullen. Elric also spoke about how lack of motivation could come about from being surrounded by beings of lesser races, and having no true peers, which prompted a strong expression of support from Edward Weyland in the audience; Lebowski's somewhat unnerved observation that "there sure are a lot of vampires here" was answered by a cryptic interjection from Jukka Sarasti which appeared to suggest that this had to do with the nature of consciousness itself, but which nobody entirely understood.

Hamlet proceeded to wax rhapsodical, and got into a heated debate with de Pointe du Lac which lasted a good ten minutes before they realised that they were in fact in violent agreement. After that the panel languished ito more of Caulfield's whining, until interrupted by an unexpected prank; the arrival of a glowing grey ring, claiming that the panelists had all shown the capacity for great apathy and had hence been selected as candidates for Grey Lantern for Sector 2814. None of them could be bothered to respond, excelpt Elric, whose attempts to secure the ring, it claimed, disqualified him from further consideration; Elric became somewhat upset at this, and after refusing to heed repeated warnings from Skaffen-Amtiskaw (security staff for this panel) was displaced to the surface of a near-Earth asteroid until such time as his tantrum should subside, and the panel broke up in disarray.

According to the newsletter, the Guardians of the Universe have stated categorically that, despite the recent confusion related to the War of Light, they have no cognisance of a "Grey Lantern Corps" and believe no such thing exists, and are inclined to place the blame on that cabal of Culture Minds that recently discovered 4chan.

I would like to strongly recommend that future panels on this topic be given stronger moderation, Lebowski's attitude being far too laissez-faire for these panelists, and would suggest selecting a moderator from among the ranks of nigh-omnipotent aliens or mythical beings whose familiarity with the topic of the panel derives from having already done everything and being bored now.

#110 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2009, 02:07 PM:

Emmet @109: So *that's* where Edward Weyland was! Gregory von Bayern was looking for him in the hallway-- something about the scheduling for "They Blooded Me With Science" panel with Saint-Germain.

(Actually, Charnas and Yarbro did write a Weyland/Saint-Germain crossover story in the anthology Under the Fang.)

#111 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2009, 05:13 PM:

The "Gadgets for all occasions" panel sounded like they had fun, too:

Major Geoffrey Boothroyd
James DiGriz
Willie Garvin
James Mowry
Stinker Craig*

#112 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2009, 05:45 PM:

So You Want to be Immortal

Most of us would rather not to have to into that good night at all, but we all know that there is A Price To Be Paid for immortality. What happens when your brain fills up? Does immortality ultimately force us to engage in bungee jumping over shark-infested waters just to keep the juices flowing? Our panel of non-lifers will expose the problems of unending life.

The Face of Bo
Conrad Nomikos (moderator)
Dorian Gray
Lazarus Long

The moderator opened the discussion by inviting everyone to call him Conrad, then stated that the major problem with long life was boredom. His solution to the problem was to start revolutions and guerilla wars that often lasted for decades; staying alive and on mission, he said, had kept him entertained more than any other single occupation. The Face of Bo agreed that boredom was a terrible problem, and that sex and violence were often good short-term solutions, then insisted that he had it worse than any of the panel, given a life span of 5 billion years, much of it without a body. Dorian Gray took exception to this remark, insisting that though his life had been much shorter than Bo's, the degradation he experienced was far more painful than any mere boredom. Angel pointed out that he and Gray because of their own forms of immortality, were tempted to excesses of sex and violence that the others were spared. The Face categorically denied that, and started on a rambling series of anecdotes that all began, "when I was ever so much younger, and had a hard body ...". Conrad cut him off; the Face replied with a rant that was cut short by Lazarus Long turning off his microphone and forcing him to remain silent at blaster-point.

The moderator, hoping to restore some semblance of civility to the discussion, called for questions from the audience. Unfortunately, the first question, asked by an obvious member of the Church of Barbie, started a heated argument about whether or not cloning was a form of true immortality, or just a way to fill up the gene pool with duplicates. Conrad finally used his gavel to shut down the rancor and gave what I thought was quite a good summary of the viewpoints of the panel, minus the name-calling.

In my opinion, a good part of the very emotional disagreement was caused by the panelists having different definitions of life, let alone immortality. Angel, for instance, does not even consider himself alive. A little more focus in choosing panelists might allow a similar panel to work out better next year.

#113 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2009, 05:56 PM:

Bruce #112:

I misread "gene pool" as "genre pool". Consider at your own risk, everybody.

#114 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2009, 10:16 PM:

Terry Karney @103: Point of information, in response to a question:

Oh, and Terry: thanks for filling in the details for my vague remory. The particulars are worse than I recalled.

#115 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2009, 10:37 PM:

Bruce #112:

I was going to ask if Will Stanton was there, but then I realized it's a stupid question. If he went to the panel, he was probably in the audience. I bet he sat in the back with a bland expression on his face and didn't raise his hand once, so nobody noticed his presence.

#116 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2009, 01:24 AM:

Bruce @ 112:

Were Methos and Hob Gadling invited? I'm sure they would have some good insights on the nature of immortality, especially Hob, since he actively chooses it.

#117 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2009, 09:21 AM:

On the Intersection of Magic and Science

Agatha Heterodyne (moderator)
Willow Rosenberg
Winifred "Fred" Burkle
Hermione Granger
Dairine Callahan

A last-minute addition to the program. It was nice of Agatha to bring coffee for the panel. Although, looking back, this may have been a mistake. Agatha, Willow, and Fred started talking excitedly as soon as they finished their first cup, calling for all sorts of odds and ends and assigning various tasks to random audience members. Every so often Willow would chant briefly and part of the assemblage would glow. Hermione and Dairine stood aside for a while, but after their second cup of coffee they both got swept up in the enthusiasm.

I'm not entirely sure what they built. It seems to be some sort of magical amplifier and scrying device. Also there's a death ray. And some attachment that throws assorted projectiles. It also makes toast (not sure why Fred added that feature). And the whole thing can transform into some sort of laptop computer. And I thought I even saw it teleport.

It certainly was a fun panel. The problem is we've had to evacuate the adjacent rooms because they're still tinkering with it. And there's this hole in the wall from when they accidentally set off the death ray. Fortunately it was set on low power.

Note to self. Next time, decaf only.

#118 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2009, 09:29 PM:

chris @ 63: Pitfalls of Intercultural Relationships

AKA "Legitimizing the Woo"?

#119 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2009, 09:36 PM:

abi at #99:

You're breaking my heart..
Shaking my confidence daily..

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