M46 Programming

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This is no longer the "Brainstorming Page." Now it's just the plain old "Programming Page." As I (Emily) write this, we are very close to our final publication deadlines.

This page is a chronological list of M46 programming items; you can also access a chronological list on Google docs. There is also a listing of Minicon 46 Programming by Topic.

We are no longer taking suggestions for panel ideas for Minicon 46. To submit an idea for a panel, please post it at the Minicon 47 Brainstorming Page.

While we can still accept panelists, new panelists may no longer be able to get into the publications. To sign up to be a panelist, please send an email to programming@minicon46.mnstf.org. List the panels that you are interested in by title. You may also include requests about when you'd like your panels to be scheduled.


Minicon 46 Programming in Chronological Order

All weekend

Mega Moneyduck


What happens to an ordinary phrase percolated through the minds of science fiction fans? Here's a chance to find out! Also known as Telephone Pictionary, EPYC, or whatever the last group renamed it, this weekend-long game is open to all Minicon attendees. Rules and game supplies are available near the Mega Moneyduck table in Consuite. Stop by any time from immediately after opening ceremonies until ~ 4:00AM Sunday morning to contribute. The big reveal happens on Sunday at 2:30pm in Veranda 5/6, and the scroll will be available for viewing at the dead dog party after closing ceremony. Drawing skills are optional, and everyone is welcome -- from career cartoonists to sloppy scribblers!



The Future Isn't What It Used To Be


Depictions of the world following a lack of cheap energy seem to be replacing the glitzy hi-tech future and post-nuclear holocaust in SF. Will the trends continue? Is this future more plausible than the earlier versions? How much do fictional futures have to say about the times in which they are written?

Panelists: John Scalzi, Laura Krentz, Neil Rest, Greg Johnson, Magenta Griffith

What’s Filk and What’s Not?

Veranda 3/4

...and is the question even relevant?

Panelists: Chas Somdahl (M), Dave Clement, Laramie Sasseville, Thorin Tatge, Amy McNally

The Art of the Snapshot


Appropriate lighting and the use of a flash, catching 'candid' shots, choosing and framing your subject, how to spot the background clutter... All of this, and more, adds up to tips to help preserve and share your convention memories. This panel will include before and after examples, and brief descriptions of how to use simple Photoshop (or similar software) style fixes.

Panelists: David E Romm (M), David Dyer-Bennet, Emily Stewart


Invisible Disabilities

Veranda 3/4

Not everyone's disability is obvious. How can that affect our lives? This panel open to the visibly disabled, invisibly disabled, and even the temporarily able-bodied.

Panelists: Dean Gahlon (M), Peer Dudda, Dave Clement

Not Just for Kids Anymore


It isn’t just the kids buying and reading YA. YA novels are attracting adults like never before and authors such as Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi have written novels aimed at the younger set. Why do adults read and enjoy it? What sets YA apart from other genre novels and is it that uniqueness that attracts adult readers?

Panelists: Laura Krentz (M), Jane Yolen, Laramie Sasseville, Joan Marie Verba, Naomi Kritzer

Art Show Reception: Meet The Artists

Art Show

Cheese, art, and a minimal amount of snootiness*. This is a chance to meet the artists involved in the Minicon Art Show, and get answers to your questions about the art on display.

  • The Minicon Art Show makes no guarantees as to frequency or amplitude of snootiness.

Hosted by Art Show Staff


Opening Ceremony


Welcome to Minicon 46! Meet Guests of Honor John Scalzi and Chas Somdahl. Revel in announcements from the Minicon Committee. See and be seen. Maybe a bit of Shockwave Radio Theater humor, you never know.

Panelists: David E Romm, John Scalzi, Chas Somdahl, Kevin Austin, Joel Phillips

TV on DVD vs. the Nielsens

Veranda 3/4

If we wait until a show is on DVD before deciding upon its "worthiness", we risk its premature cancellation, sometimes without hope of resolution. Do we have a responsibility to support these shows while they're broadcast, or do we leave that decision up to "the average household"? Can industry-sponsored sites like HULU address shifting viewership? Do Bit Torrents help or aggravate the situation? Now that many industries are shifting to electronic formats (i.e. iTunes, Kindle), what insight can be gleaned from how other industries handle digital media?

Panelists: Kelly Strait (M), Greg Larsen, Michael Lee, Emily Stewart

Pandora Groks

Veranda 3/4

In the late 1920s linguist Alfred Korzybski proposed a vast senate for humanity run by scientists. Korzybski's term "timebinding" became a signature for First Fandom, and for such writers as Heinlein, Van Vogt, and Hubbard. In 1982 Thomas A Seobok delivered the Korzybski Memorial Lecture to the International Society of Semantics entitled "Pandora's Box: Why and How to Communicate 10,000 Years into the Future." Seobok's re-use of "timebinding" in this lecture shows his awareness of a deep fannish connection to General Semantics. His technical report contains playful tweakings of fandom, along with sercon suggestions for actually implementing a "Bridge to Ten Millennia in the Future." The end of Seobok's report calls for an "Atomic Priesthood" reminiscent of Korzybski's scientist senate. Two years after Seobok's lecture, in 1984, the Office of Energy and Office of Nuclear Waste Isolation published a report entitled Communication Measures to Embrace Ten Millennia-. Coincidence?

Panelists: John W. Taylor (M), Peer Dudda, Beth Kinderman

Whose Sketch Is It Anyway?

Veranda 5/6

Our two teams compete for the most points while creating humorous sketches using themes and subjects chosen by the audience. An improv performance with audience participation. This event will also be open to audience members who want to play.

Players: Richard Mueller (M), Pete Laughlin, Jeff Lee Johnson, anyone else who wants to play

Bedtime Stories With Jane Yolen

9:00PM | Veranda 1

Enjoy stories with milk and cookies. Attendees are invited to put on their snuggliest jammies and bring their favorite stuffed friend.

Presented by: Jane Yolen, Milk, Cookies

Successful Writing In the Digital Age

Veranda 5/6

Our author Guest of Honor John Scalzi has been writing or editing for the online world for more than fifteen years. How does one survive as a writer in the digital age? How does an internet persona mesh with the introverted lifestyle of an author? What's the best way to deal with the trolls and haters?

Panelists: Aaron Vander Giessen(M), John Scalzi, Ctein



Short Stories and the People Who Love Them


What is special about the short story format? What makes a good short story? What opportunities does a short story afford the writer and the reader? What's are some of the positive and negative issues in the short story market?

Panelists: Eric Heideman(M), Michael Merriam, Ruth Berman


Jane Yolen Signing

Veranda 1


Science Literacy Vs. Human Knowledge

Veranda 3/4

The corpus of human knowledge is growing constantly. How can we even decide what the baseline of scientific literacy should be? What's the process by which the baseline changes?

Panelists: Chas Somdahl, Kelly Strait, John Scalzi, Howard Davidson, Rob Callahan

What Happens After The Cure

Veranda 5/6

Science/Medicine/Magic Cures Everything is a common trope in SFF, especially with regard to disabilities. What stories rarely explore are the consequences of these "fixes". What personal and social implications are involved? Are there any works that do a good job of exploring these effects?

Panelists: Scott Jamison (M), Peer Dudda, Beth Friedman, Lisa Freitag

Digital and Analog Painting Techniques


We'll take a painting from traditional media to digital media and add effects to get the best of both worlds. Learn the secrets of the pros in this fascinating presentation.

Presented by: Jeff Lee Johnson

Non Western Cultures In Fantasy


Writing in cultures beyond North America or Western Europe. Working in new geographies offers readers and writers chance to step out of their comfort zones or reclaim their heritage. What are some of the challenges and which writers do this well?

Panelists: Eric M. Heideman (M), Michael Merriam, Adam Stemple, Ricky Foos, Marissa Lingen


Don’t Read What You’re An Expert In

Veranda 5/6

"How can this character be an expert on Chinese calligraphy when he doesn't even know how to pronounce 'Qing'?" Fiction on topics we know a lot about can be cringeworthy. In the extreme, glaring errors can ruin an otherwise good work. What topics set off our expertise alarms, when do we just suck it up and what (beyond infinite research) can authors do to avoid these problems?

Panelists: Rachel Kronick (M), Marissa Lingen, Magenta Griffith

Geek Social Skills In the Workplace

Veranda 3/4

What frustrations are common to geeks in the workplace? What are some of the best techniques geeks have to communicate with non-geeks? What are some tips and resources for improving communication skills with non-geeks? What are the benefits and detriments of working in a technology field, or a non-technology field?

Panelists: Aaron Vander Giessen (M), Pat Scaramuzza, Laura Majerus, Rob Callahan, Liza Furr

Twenty First Century Westerns


After nearing extinction, Westerns have bounced back like the buffalo in the past decade with one great TV series (Deadwood), several mini-series, and a surprising volume of films displaying substantial creative range (including the animated Rango). Sponsored by Con-Sarnit, a Western convention.

Panelists: David Christenson (M), Eric Heideman

Arts Vs. Crafts

Veranda 2

For those who produce works of both sorts, what distinguishes art from craft? When does craft transcend its defining characteristics to be counted as art? Why do we distinguish art as a separate category? For those who specialize in one area or the other, how does craft improve art, art inform craft?

Panelists: Laramie Sasseville (M), Bonnie Somdahl, Elise Mattheson, Neil Rest, Becca Leathers

Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple Reading

Veranda 1

Live Model Drawing

Art Show

Bring your sketchbook and pencils and learn techniques for quick sketching, and improve your observation and drawing skills.

Hosted by: Pete Laughlin


Pamela Dean Reading

Veranda 1


John Scalzi Reading and Signing

Veranda 1

In addition to reading from his own work, John Scalzi will also read from Charles Stross’ upcoming — and excellent – novel, Rule 34. This is a very special sneak peak at a work that will not be available until July of this year.

John Scalzi, Anton Peterson assisting

Book Repair Basics


A restoration worker from the University of Minnesota's Wilson Library demonstrates book repair. Starts with an explanation of appropriate materials and where to find those supplies. The demonstration will cover how to replace the cover and spine of a hardcover book, how to insert pages that have been removed, and how to repair pages that have been torn. There will be time for questions and answers at the end of the demonstration.

Presented by: Diane Stewart, Charlotte Nickerson assisting

Shakespeare In The Bush


Suppose you were swapping stories with a group of friendly extraterrestrials. How hard would it be to come up with a story that resonated for an audience with a very different set of cultural expectations? Consider how well it worked for an anthropologist trying to share the story of Hamlet with an audience that agreed with her that human nature is pretty much the same everywhere, but somehow came up with a radically different interpretation of the Bard's great play.

Panelists: Sharon Kahn (M), Naomi Kritzer, Ricky Foos, Peer Dudda

Common Misconceptions About Science

Veranda 5/6

How has Science Fiction affected popular understanding of Science? What (mis)understandings are pervasive? Let's take this beyond just the "CSI effect".

Panelists: Kelly Strait (M), Howard Davidson, Ctein, Lisa Freitag

Unemployed and Geeky

Veranda 3/4

This is a pretty bad economy, and a lot of us are unemployed or underemployed. How have we coped? How can we help each other?

Panelists: Kevin Austin (M), Laramie Sasseville, Joan Marie Verba

Malazan Book of the Fallen Recap

Veranda 2

The tenth and final volume of Steven Erikson's epic, Dark Fantasy was just released on March 1, 2011. The Malazan books are almost thirty years in the making, and more than a decade after the publication of the first in the series. These books take place in a world originally created with Ian Cameron Esslemont as the surroundings for D&D and GURPS roleplaying campaigns. What are some thoughts on this final installment, and on the series as a whole? What about the Ian Cameron Esslemont's Novels of the Malazan Empire?

Panelists: Beth Kinderman(M), Steven Halter, Greg Johnson

Making it in the Art World

Art Show

Working artists talk about the world of professional art and how to make a living. What avenues are available for artists these days? What skill sets are most valuable?

Panelists: Jeff Lee Johnson, Richard Mueller


Chas Somdahl Interview

Veranda 5/6

Music Guest of Honor Chas Somdahl has been a guitarist and songwriter on and off for many decades. You have heard him in filk circles and as part of Riverfolk. He has paid his dues, sometimes with liquid nitrogen. This interview will explore his journey as a musician and other aspects of a varied and eclectic life.

Chas Somdahl, David E Romm interviewing

C S Lewis and Fantasy and Christianity


Readers who loved Narnia in their youth often feel betrayed, years later, when they discover the Christian content in the series. Why is this? Don't (for example) Tolkien, Orwell, Vonnegut, L'Engle, LeGuin, and Pratchett draw on their personal views when writing fiction? Sponsored by the Rivendell Group

Panelists: David Lenander (M), Eric M. Heideman, Liza Furr

Ask A Writer

Veranda 2

Always wanted to know how a novel is born? How does a writer structure their day? Is it all glittering parties and intelligent company? Come ask a panel of working writers anything!

Panelists: Michael Merriam (M), Jane Yolen, Pamela Dean

Rapid Fire Readings

Veranda 1

Various readings by members of the MinnSpec writer's network, sponsored by MinnSpec.

Presented by: MinnSpec members


John Scalzi Interview


John Scalzi chose not to pursue other career options principally because "use more mayonnaise" does not apply as universally as one might hope. This interview will focus on the path that he chose instead. Questions from the audience are strongly encouraged.

John Scalzi, David E Romm interviewing

GLBT History & Contemporary Views in SF/F Fandom

Veranda 3/4

An inter-generational panel/discussion about GLBT(etc.)/queer culture in SF/F fandom over the decades. How does the past inform the present? What it was like earlier on, what it's like now (from various viewpoints)? What kind of language is and is not appropriate ("queer" is a word to reclaim for some people, mostly younger, while for others it's still a slap in the face). What does all of this mean in the context of modern SF/F?

Panelists: Rachel Kronick (M), Peer Dudda, Ctein

Photo Manipulation and Digital Collage


Create spectacular and bizarre photo-realistic scenes using stock photography.

Presented by: Richard Mueller

Geeks on TV

Veranda 5/6

Big Bang Theory, Chuck, The IT Crowd, and Bones all feature great, geeky protagonists. Even reality TV has fingers in this pie, with shows like Mythbusters and Stormchasers. What do we love about geeks on TV? What do the creators get right or wrong?

Panelists: Rob Callahan(M), Jeanne Mealy, Michael Lee, Mary Bertelson

BSG Board Game

Veranda 2

The Battlestar Galactica Board Game. What's it all about?

Panelists: Beth Kinderman (M), Thorin Tatge, Matt McMillian


The Story Behind The Song

Veranda 3/4

Why do performer's choose the songs they sing? What kind of connections do they make with the music? This panel explores the stories behind why we sing what we sing.

Panelists: Chas Somdahl(M), Adam Stemple, Graham Leathers, Becca Leathers, Teresa Chandler

Time Traveler’s Conclave

Veranda 5/6

Okay now listen up! We've got a lot to cover tonight, so let's finish up by going over the rules of time travel. 1)Don't create a paradox. 2)Don't worry about paradoxes, the universe will stop you before it becomes an issue. 3)Don't worry about the universe, there are plenty more where that came from. Next on the agenda: Where is last month's meeting going to be? To put it more specifically, where will you go to meet other time travelers? And first things first, we need to define the responsibilities of the Time Agents. If everyone is trying to kill Hitler, who's going to handle crowd control in early 20th century Germany? Let's work out a plan to solve some of this mess, or at least discuss some of the more clever ideas.

Panelists: Sharon Kahn(M), Emily Stewart, Richard Tatge

The Life and Works of Diana Wynne Jones, 1934-2011

Saturday Krushenko’s

On the author of the distinguished teen and children's fantasist, author of Enchanted Glass, Howl's Moving Castle, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Unexpected Magic, Dogsbody, and much more. Sponsored by the Rivendell Group, a Twin Cities fantasy-book discussion group that has met regularly since late 1973 or early 1974.

Presented by: David Lenander

Recommend an RPG for Me

Veranda 2

My interests are marmalade, weasels and ninjas. What game system do you think I would enjoy? How about game systems for people who don't like marmalade?

Panelists: Rachel Kronick(M), Scott Jamison, Aaron Vander Giessen

Yoga Quest

Veranda 1

This hybrid of gaming and yoga is the first of its kind. Come in comfortable clothing (no chain mail or kilts) and get your exercise on while you step inside an adventure story: become warriors on a mission – the fiends and friends they meet along the way – even the modes of transportation they take! Your spritely yoGeekie guide Justine will lead you through an adventure. Open to ages 10+ (under 18 needs parental permission). Some mats are available for $1 rental fee.

Presented by: George Richard, Justine, Amy


Parade and Fentasia Awards

The main costuming events of Minicon 46 will begin with the Fenfare Parade, pause for the Fentasia Awards, and continue on with more Fenfare parade. All geek garb is welcomed! If you wear anything other than your normal street clothes, please join us for any and all costuming events. Prizes will be awarded after the parade. We want YOU!


Creation Museum Slideshow


John Scalzi shares photos and stories from his visit to "the very best monument to an enormous load of horseshit that you could possibly ever hope to see." Hilarity ensues.

Presented by: John Scalzi, Rob Callahan moderating

Who Needs a Real Computer Anyway?

Veranda 3/4

With the expansion of offerings in tablet and sub-tablet electronics, can you meet your computing needs without a normal computer? What's available now? What are the pros and cons of each?

Panelists: Dean Gahlon (M), Jay Curry, Neil Rest, Sharon Kahn, Ctein


How to Destroy the Earth

Veranda 3/4

No, not just how to destroy the ecosphere. That's easy. We're talking how to pulverize the entire planet. Drop a black hole through it? Dump it into the Sun? Cover it in peanut butter and let the space bugs lick it to pieces? Which way is really the most practical?

Panelists: Matthew Strait (M), Howard Davidson, Pat Scaramuzza

Atlanta Nights Reading


Because Eye of Argon readings are so last con. Come and listen to a reading of Atlanta Nights. To quote Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s review, "The world is full of bad books written by amateurs. But why settle for the merely regrettable? Atlanta Nights is a bad book written by experts."

Panelists: Roy C. Booth (M), Cynthia Booth, Teresa Nielsen Hayden



The Year in SF


Our annual confab about what's good and (mostly) new in (mostly) science fiction and fantasy.

Panelists: Russel Letson, Greg Johnson


Sunday Morning Singalong


Does all the music at Minicon this year make you want to sing out? Maybe you don’t play an instrument but like to sing. Come join us for an hour of acapella music. All types of sing-a-longs are welcome.

Hosted by: Decadent Dave Clement, Peggy O’Neil

Common Misconceptions About Publishing

Veranda 5/6

How is the publishing industry structured? What exactly does an author sell to a publisher, and what do publishers want to see? Why are books the length that they are? Published authors and editors talk about their experiences and share their "If I knew then what I know now..." stories.

Panelists: Michael Merriam (M), John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Ask A Scientist

Veranda 3/4

Panelists from various science disciplines answer questions about working in their industry, and new and upcoming discoveries. Ask a scientist anything that isn't about global climate change.

Panelists: Chas Somdahl (M), Matt Strait, Mary Bertelson, Ctein, Pat Scaramuzza

The End of the Space Shuttle Program


As of January, 2011 the last Space Shuttle mission is planned to take off in June of 2011. Where do we go next? And how do we get there?

Panelists: Eric M. Heideman(M), Paul F. Richards, Pat Scaramuzza, Jay Curry

Geek Partnership Society Update

Veranda 2

The Who, When, and Where of What's Up with G.P.S.! This is an informational panel about the Geek Partnership Society. Who are we? What is GPS all about? How can we grow our community? How is the new community center doing? How can you get involved?

Panelists: George Richard(M), Matt Savelkoul

Lady Poetesses From Hell

Veranda 1

Lady Poetesses From Hell is a poetry performance group. They dress very nicely and have wicked senses of humor.

Panelists: Terry Garey (M), Cassandra O'Malley, Ruth Berman, John Rezmerski, Elise Mattheson, Jane Yolen


SF Poetry Association Grand Master Award Ceremony

Veranda 1

Immediately after "Lady Poetesses From Hell," the SF Poetry Association will present the SFPA Grand Master Award to Jane Yolen, after which Jane Yolen will read an additional selection of her poetry.

Presenters: Ruth Berman, Deborah P Kolodji


Building A World With History


Nothing springs to life fully formed. How does history affect cultures, and how can this be used in creating strong stories in strong settings?

Panelists: Rachel Kronick (M), Jane Yolen, Pamela Dean, Ruth Berman

Slide Show: Science Fiction Art History


See the evolution of science fiction art and design from 2011BCE to 2011CE, encompassing everything from woodblock prints to video games.

Presented by: Richard Mueller

Encore Game Show

Veranda 5/6

Two teams compete to come up with song lyrics. Prompted by a word, phrase or idea, the teams must act quickly to satisfy the audience.

Panelists: Chas Somdahl, Music Department Staff

Annual Doctor Who Panel

Veranda 3/4

Where's a good place to start with classic Doctor Who? Depending on your count, there have been eleven, or twelve, or twenty-two, or twenty-eight... Who's your favorite Doctor? The first half of this panel will focus on the classic series, the second half will focus on our thoughts from the 2010 series and what we'd like to see in 2011. How does our panel feel about Steven Moffat's first year in control? Are red fezzes really cool?

Panelists: Aaron Vander Giessen(M), Rob Callahan, Michael Lee

My Kind of Con, Chicon 7 is

Veranda 2

The 70th World Science Fiction Convention, aka Worldcon, is being held in Chicago in 2012. The folks in charge are dedicated to bringing the flavor of our great regional conventions to the Worldcon stage. What would you like to see there? Talk with people who are actually working on the convention. (more of a Q&A than panel discussion.)

Panelists: Kelly Strait, Neil Rest, Jeff Orth, Diane Lacey, Ruth


Michael Merriam Reading

Veranda 1

Michael Merriam, author of Should We Drown in Feathered Sleep and The Horror at Cold Springs, reads from his new novel, Last Car to Annwn Station.


Dana Baird Reading

Veranda 1


Marissa Lingen Reading

Veranda 1


Mega Moneyduck Runthrough

Veranda 5/6

"This is the big reveal on the big screen! How far did our original phrase evolve? What's that supposed to be a drawing of? What?!?!"

Presenters: Patricia Zetelumen(M), Andy Hickmott, Thorin Tatge, Rachel Kronick

Keeping It Alive

Veranda 3/4

A lot of us love works that haven't been current for a long time, but we try to keep them fresh (at least in our minds) by seeking out like-minded fans, creating fanfic, etc. What works do we choose, and how do we keep them alive?

Panelists: Neil Rest(M), Beth Friedman, David Dyer-Bennet

Works of John Scalzi


John Scalzi is best known for his Hugo Award-nominated science fiction novel Old Man's War, released by Tor Books in January 2005, and for his blog Whatever, at which he has written daily on a number of topics since 1998. He has also written a number of non-fiction books, several other novels and several shorter works.

Panelists: John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden


Closing Ceremony


Final thoughts from Guests of Honor Chas Somdahl and John Scalzi. The Assassination of the MN-StF President. Wind down the con. Art show and Medallion Hunt winners, reporting of the Hugo and John W. Campbell nominees as announced concurrently in Reno, among other announcements. Final thoughts from Concom.

Panelists: David E Romm, John Scalzi, Chas Somdahl, Kevin Austin, Joel Phillips