Minicon 46 Programming by Topic

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The following panels are listed by category. To find panels listed by time, see the main Programming page or go to the Google doc.

To sign up to be a panelist, please send an email to List the panels that you are interested in by title. It may be too late to be listed in the program guide, however Minicon welcomes participants for any panel that is not yet full.


Arts, Crafts, Costuming

Arts Vs. Crafts

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?

Clever and Creative Photography at Conventions

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. May include before- and after-style examples.

Fandom and Fannishness

Geek Social Skills in the Workplace

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?

GLBT History and Contemporary Views in SF/F Fandom

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?

Invisible Disabilities

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.

My Kind of Con, Chicon 7 is

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?)

Unemployed and Geeky

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?


BSG Board Game

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

Recommend an RPG For Me

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?

Lit Reader

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."

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?

Keeping it Alive

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?

Malazan Book of the Fallen Recap

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?

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?

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.

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?

Time Traveler Conclave

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.

The Year in SF

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

Lit Writer

Ask A Writer

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!

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?

Common Misconceptions About Publishing

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 talk about their experiences and share their "If I knew then what I know now..." stories.

Don't Read What You're An Expert In

"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?

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?

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?

Successful Writing in the Digital Age

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?

What Happens After the Cure

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?

Movies and TV

The Annual Doctor Who Panel

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?

Geeks On TV

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?

TV on DVD vs. the Nielsen Ratings

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?


Music and the Mind

How does music affect the brain? How much of our reaction to music is hard-wired and how much is cultural? What is the relationship between music and memory? Did human beings sing before they spoke? What is the significance of the sacred geometry of music? What's so naughty about the Forbidden Interval?

What's Filk and What's Not?

...and is the question relevant?

Science and Technology

Ask A Scientist

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.

Common Misconceptions About Science

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

How to Destroy the Earth

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?

Pandora Groks: Talking to the 21st Century

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?

Science Literacy vs. Human Knowledge

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?

The End of the 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?

Who Needs a Real Computer Anyway

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?

Other Things That Will Happen At Minicon

These items do not need panelists, but are listed for schedule planning purposes. Please feel free to say to yourself "Oooh! I want to see that!"

Arts, Crafts, Costuming

Art Show Reception - Meet the Artists

Cheese, conversation, art and artists.* 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 snootyness.*

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.

Parade and Fentasia Awards

ALL geek garb is welcomed, nay demanded! If you wear anything other than your normal street clothes, please join us for any and all costuming events. We want YOU!

Performance bits are not required for any costuming activities. These events are meant to be fun, informal, and easy. That being said, we do NOT want to discourage bits. Please contact the Cos Team in advance if possible, otherwise let us know at the Con. We'd like to plan ahead a little for best effect. That also being said, if you show at the parade and say "I want to do a bit!", we won't spank you.

Live Model Drawing

Description forthcoming, but probably a lot like it says.

Making it Work in the Art World

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?

Art Technique Demonstration I

Digital and Analog Painting Techniques

Art Technique Demonstration II

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

Art Technique Presentation

Science Fiction Design

Whose Sketch Is It Anyway?

Fast Paced Game Show format. Thrills! Chills! Feats of bravery as our artists work at death defying speeds.

Fandom and Fannishness

Geek Partnership Society (GPS) Update

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?


Mega Moneyduck!

A weekend long game of Moneyduck, Picture Telephone, EPYC, or whatever you like to call it. Open to all Minicon attendees.


Behind the Song

How do songwriters choose their topics? What goes into setting the mood of the piece? This panel explores the writing process from the songwriter's perspective.

Encore Game Show

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.

Science and Technology

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.


Opening Ceremony, Guest of Honor Interviews, Signings, Readings, Closing Ceremony and much more...