M48 Programming Brainstorm

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The following is the list of panels available for sign-up at Minicon 48. We are no longer taking suggestions for panel ideas for Minicon 48. To submit an idea for a panel, please send it to the programming department at programming@minicon48.mnstf.org

To sign up to be a panelist, send an email to programming@minicon48.mnstf.org Your email should include the titles of the panels that you are interested in, schedule limitations, and whether or not you would consider moderating any of the panels that you're volunteering for. If you are an author and would like to schedule a reading and/or signing, send an email to readings@minicon48.mnstf.org

Our schedule is nearly finalized and we're working out the bugs. Assuming that panelists can fit into our existing schedule, we will accept panelists up to the moment of the event, though our publication deadlines are considerably ahead of that moment.

The following panels are most in need of panelists


Costuming Connection

How do I get started with costuming? How do I improve my beginner skills? What can I do with a simple sewing machine? Which features are cool to have on a more expensive, gadgety machine? What are some good costuming resources?

Striking a Pose

Based on this post [1] by Jim Hines. Examining the way women are portrayed on SF/F book covers. In particular - Are these poses realistic? Can they be replicated by a male body? What do such images say about the portrayal of women (even in books with strong female protagonists) in SF/F?

Fandom and Zeitgeist

The Blessings & Curses of Tight-Knit Communities

Though some genre conventions (even some fan-run ones) pull in thousands of attendees, for the most part, our local fannish communities are small and tight-knit – everyone knows everyone and newcomers can find a large group of people with whom they share interests relatively easily. But what happens when the fabric of that community breaks down, when groups (or individuals) can no longer speak to each other? What do you do when you ex is an integral part of your primary social network?

Community in the Information Age

It used to be that all (or, at least, most) fans who attended a science-fiction convention could be reasonably sure that any other person they met would have read and seen (or listened to?) the same body of work that they themselves had – an easy way to bond and form community over shared experience. How do we, as fans, build community in this age of overwhelming choices and information, when you can no longer assume that everyone has seen or read something? How do you stay connected to fandom and the community when there is more out there than you could ever possibly see/read and more is being created all the time?

The Imposter Syndrome -- Do You Belong in the SF Community, or Are You Simply Faking It?

The Imposter Syndrome is the opposite side of the coin that reads, "fake it till you make it." It's the fear that someone's going to call you out, expose you as someone unqualified to belong to the fraternity of creative professionals, or that you're not qualified to be a panelist. It's the phenomenon that causes you to question whether you belong, to wonder what it is that qualifies you to be a part of the community of writers and editors, and whether you have that quality, or if you're simply faking it. How does this force play on members of our community, fans and pros alike?

Is the AARP a Fannish Organization?

NOT another panel about the greying of fandom & the lack of new blood. Instead – it's a fact that we're living longer and the median age of attendees at many fan-run conventions is increasing. What new issues do con-runners need to consider as our population ages? How are our conventions affected by the age of the people working on them and the age of the people we expect to get in the door?

Sports Outside Earth's Gravity Well

How would popular sports and hobbies differ in zero-gee or an other planet? What new sports might develop in such environments? What are your favorite (literary) works that feature baseball, mountain climbing, sailing, and other physical endeavors? [Compare/contrast media portrayals (e.g. Rollerball, The Running Man) to literary (Varley's "Blue Champagne" & "Retrograde Summer", KS Robinson's Mars)?

Twin Cities Ties to Gaming

How much do you know about the role Twin Cities fandom has played in the development of games and the gaming community? From the beginnings of Dungeons & Dragons to local contemporary gaming companies (e.g. Fantasy Flight), what have the Twin Cities contributed to gaming?


Cooperative Board Games

Cooperative games seem to be getting more & more popular. What are some examples of good cooperative games? What makes a cooperative game work well (or not)? How do "traitor" roles influence cooperative gameplay? What role do cooperative games have in training young people for the future, particularly in our competitive society, where reality shows that feature backstabbing & tantrums are ratings-winners? Try to organize scheduled gaming (1-2 games?) to follow this panel in gaming room/space


The History of Terraforming in Science Fiction

Early ideas about terraforming emerged from 1930s-1960s hard science fiction, with Olaf Stapleton's Last and First Men, Arthur C. Clarke's The Sands of Mars, and Robert Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky, among other works. Beginning with a generally positive view of technology and the glorification of engineers, later terraforming stories split into two narratives, the technological narrative harnessing "wasted" natural resources as a natural extension of human activities, and the ecological narrative that "naturally" transformed the planet, and respected natural environments and life.

Promoting Your Own Book

How to make it as a pro when your publisher asks you to handle your own promotion.

P.K. Dick in the New Millennium

Wherein lies the enduring appeal of the life and work of Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)?

Sex in Science Fiction

How does the "pornographication" of culture affect speculative fiction? How does the rise and immense popularity of paranormal romance interact with/influence this effect on the rest of the genre? How vanilla is the "racy" sf of your youth (based either on your worldly experience or in comparison to what is written today)?

The Year in SF, or What Do I Read Next?

Our annual review of the best (or, at least, some of the most interesting) works released in the past year.


Comics for Grownups - Where to Get Started (Again)

Comic books aren't just for kids and aren't just about super-heroes anymore. What are the great titles in (indie) comics today, aimed at a more mature, literate audience? What books make for good (re)introductions to the joy of graphic stories?

Person of Interest

Does this TV show represent (near-future) science fiction? or is this sort of “almost here” technology not really speculative and just fiction? Where do we draw the line between what is "speculative" and what isn't? Are there other examples of this phenomenon in today's popular media (aka where (else) is the general public being exposed to science fiction without their knowledge)?

The Psychology of Batman, a Dark & Stormy Knight

Does Batman have PTSD? Why does he fight crime as a vigilante? Why the mask, the bat, and the underage partner? Why does he have a thing for bad girls? And why won't he just kill that homicidal, green-haired clown?

Unfilmable Science Fiction

How have advances in (special effects) technology changed which books we believe could never be made into movies? What are some good examples of books that we used to think couldn't be done, but now they've gone and done it (for better or for worse)?

Science and Technology

Ask a Scientist

A perennial favorite: come ask your burning science questions to a panel of (semi)experts.

Disability in the Technological Future

In 2008, Oscar Pistorius was turned down as an Olympic runner because he was too fast. Pistorius, a double amputee with carbon fiber prosthetic legs, was deemed to have an unfair advantage. At the same time, Michael Phelps' high tech swim suit was the talk of the television. In 2012, Pistorius may possibly be the first disabled athlete allowed to compete in the able-bodied Olympics and the internet is abuzz. Is there a cultural bias to force disabled people to fit the mold as "less capable"? Is the bias embedded in the definition and usage of words like "capable" and "disabled"? How much influence will technology have on attitudes in the future?

Fairy Tale Physics

Could Thumbelina fly? Could somebody actually climb Rapunzel's hair without ripping her head off? And what do the laws of thermodymanics indicate about the lifestyle of the bears in the Goldilocks story? Discuss children's tales and the underlying science behind the story.

Farmers in the Sky: Growing Food in Space

Growing food in space is currently being researched by NASA. What plants might be best suited for space horticulture? And what animals might be initiated into an orbital or planetary colony?

Wait, What Do You Mean Pluto's Not a Planet?

The changing nature of scientific knowledge is perhaps one of the hardest aspects of the field for lay people (children or adult) to accept. New discoveries continually refine our understanding and sometimes result in a radical redefinition of our worldview. What are some of the most interesting/important conflicts arising from the introduction of new scientific ideas throughout history, and what is it about these ideas that has made them so difficult for so many to accept? What sorts of battles of this kind are we (still) fighting today?

The following panels have enough panelists to be viable, but may have room for more.

Panels that are not taking panelists are marked as such.

Fandom and Zeitgeist

Oh, Canada!

Our Author GOH is not the only Minicon attendee from Canada - do you know who the others are? Come find out what's awesome about our neighbor(s) to the north.

Twin Cities Fandom from the Outside

What is unique about Minnesotan fandom? Could our non-local attendees talk about what is different about MN fandom or how they would characterize it? Are the differences Twin Cities fans notice about non-regional conventions (e.g. Worldcons held outside the Midwest) the same (or corresponding) differences that outsiders would notice about our convention?


Discussion of the Works of Julie Czerneda

Come and talk about the fiction of our Author Guest of Honor. Sponsored by Second Foundation, a Twin Cities speculative and science fiction book discussion group that has met regularly since 1983.

The Hero(ine)'s Quest

How three letters change the way we visualize the sword-bearer. Or should there be different rules/goals/spells for males and females on adventures? Or does asking this question make my butt look fat?

Iron Plot

In a similar vein to Iron Chef, the audience proposes plot ingredients and the panelists work collaboratively to tell a story with them.

Which Came First

The chicken or the egg? The story or the world? Does the story you want to tell determine the setting, or does your chosen setting demand a certain kind of story to be told in it? Are there some types of stories that simply cannot be told in a particular setting? How do creators balance these seemingly opposing forces in imagining their tales?


Aliens Invade! (But Why?)

From "War of the Worlds" to the new TV series "Falling Skies," Earth is always getting invaded by aliens. But why? What, if anything, does Earth have that you can't get somewhere else? And, if you really wanted to get it from Earth, how would you go about doing it?


Magenta owns a full set (?) of Betty Boop cartoons & is interested in doing a showing/discussion. Does not require panelists.

The New Pony Phenomenon

A new fad has swept the internet, amassing a huge fanbase in an amazingly short time. My Little Pony has been retooled into a work of epic fantasy that appeals to both men (Bronies) and women (Pegasisters), with extensive fanfics that delve into science fiction, romance, and horror. How did all this happen and where is it going? What is the ponies' secret?

Next Gen Photo Workshop

A two-part event (one Friday, one Sunday). Maybe it actually still needs panelists?

Science and Technology

Communicating with the Animals ... and Aliens

How do human languages compare with other bioacoustic communication systems? How would other senses be used for communication, would such communication be considered language, and how might it shape alien cultures (e.g. if chemical messages like smell are used for communication, how might the persistence of odors affect a sense of privacy)?

The Future is Here...

...It just isn't evenly distributed. Many technologies that seem like they should only belong in science fiction are actually available today – just not widely available or affordable. What sorts of nifty things are out there, if only we had the money to acquire them for ourselves? What is it about this technology that makes it only available to the 1%?

Science Fiction for Science Literacy

Especially with the upcoming publication of the Next Generation Science Standards, science education is focusing ever more on creative problem solving and analysis. How can science fiction serve as a useful resource for teachers in approaching “non-content” skills and concepts?

Trip of a Lifetime: Launching the LandSat Satellite

Pat Scaramuzza works in some sort of scientific capacity this project, and last month his project of the past four years wrapped up with the successful launch of the LDCM satellite. Other Minicon attendees had the opportunity to attend the satellite launch. They looked forward to this trip for years, referring to it as their "Trip of a Lifetime," and they would love to share the experience.

Might include some slides and talk about the scientific side of the project. Others could share their personal experience with the launch.

GOH Events

Breakfast with Julie

For the very early risers – come have breakfast with our author GOH, Julie Czerneda. An early riser herself, we'll meet for breakfast at 8:30. This event will be open for sign-up at the convention on a first-come, first-served basis.

Developing Believable Aliens & Their Ecosystems

This is a hands-on "creating an alien" activity, developed by Julie. A two-hour slot in the Rumpus Room – open to all ages 8 and up.

GOH Interview: Author GOH

The Making of Marrowdell

Julie Czerneda will do a slide show presentation related to her upcoming fantasy novel, A TURN OF LIGHT (to be published by DAW in March, 2013). She built a scale model of the setting of the village, Marrowdell, and has been blogging about in on Facebook.

Beat Richard at His Own Game

GOH Interview: Fan GOH

Visit the Original Mpls Dungeon

Though the original developers of the game are no longer with us, some of their gamimng friends are still here. Here tales of the original Minneapolis D&D campaign and possibly play from the DM's notes.


Aimee Kuzenski

Blake Hausladen

Dana Baird

Elizabeth Bear

Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

Jason Wittman

Julie Czerneda

Ka Vang

Lady Poetesses From Hell

Marissa Lingen

Michael Merriam

MinnSpec Rapid-Fire

Pamela Dean

Scott Lynch


Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

Michael Merriam