Programming ideas for Minicon 44

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Contents

Minicon 44 programming items

Okay, it's no longer a brainstorming page. This is the list of scheduled items, subject to only minor changes between now and Minicon.

[Laurel Krahn added times/days and panelists as listed in the program book on Friday afternoon of Minicon 44. Also added music programming items.]

(backup mar14).

Links

Science

Ask a Scientist

This panel is always so popular we just have to do it again. If you're a scientist of any type, please volunteer! The participants always have a great time.

Sunday at 2:30pm.

Panelists: Chas Somdahl (m), Matt Strait, Sue Smith, Dave Buth.

Astronomy with Children

Note: this item has a single presenter, not looking for panelists. This class is for parents or teachers looking for easy, cheap astronomy projects to do with children. Topics will include how to create a solar analemma on the ground in a sunny yard or on a ceiling in a sunny room; how to use the wonderful planisphere; and how to find a person's real sun sign; plus various types of telescopes, where to buy telescopes, and where to go for a free astronomy experience. I will also give my take on how to get into amateur astronomy (go to a free star party, join a club, before spending money!) Children accompanied by an adult are welcome.

Saturday at 11:30am.

Panelist: Michael Kauper.

Confessions of an Alien Hunter / Book Signing

Our science GoH discusses his new book and talks about what extraterrestrials might really be like when we finally find them.

Sunday at 1pm.

Panelist: Seth Shostak.

Current Trends in Science

The life of a scientist isn't filled by doing experiments – just as much time, if not more, is spent writing grant proposals to get funding to do those experiments. Part of the trick to getting the money is knowing what buttons to push, what keywords to include. What topics are hot in science right now? Where is the money going? What new avenues of scientific exploration could (or should) be the next big thing?

Friday at 8:30pm.

Panelists: Pat Scaramuzza (m), George Flentke, Sue Smith, Seth Shostak, Chris Beskar.

First Contact

Many depictions of Earth's first contact with alien races rely on the idea that this first message will be transmitted via radio waves and will consist of some easily identifiable mathematical idea, usually prime numbers. But are there other ways that far-off civilizations might choose to communicate to the universe? Are we limited to the electromagnetic spectrum? Are there other messages that might be universally understood?

Saturday at 8:30pm.

Panelists: Kelly Strait (m), Seth Shostak, George Flentke, Ctein.

Intelligent Balloons

Seems like one long-term science fiction meme is intelligent jellyfish-like creatures living in the atmosphere of a Jovian planet. How plausible are such creatures, and why are they such a fixture of xenology?

Saturday at 4pm.

Panelists: Chas Somdahl (m), Rachel Kronick, Mark Richards, Sue Smith.

SETI Fact vs. Fiction

How does the real-world endeavor of SETI compare with how it is portrayed in speculative fiction? Many portrayals of SETI show us a highly dedicated (and maybe slightly obsessed) scientist that the public tends to write off as a little nuts. What is it like to really work for SETI? Do the SF writers get it right? Does the public perception of SETI really match what they do?

Saturday at 4pm.

Panelists: Kelly Strait (m), Seth Shostak, Pat Scaramuzza, Howard Davidson, Michael Kauper.

Secret Underground Physics Labs

What's going on in the old Tower Soudan mine (and why does it look so much like a Half-Life game)? What's this DUSEL thing anyway? What else have scientists hidden under the earth, and what are they doing with it?

Saturday at 5:30pm.

Panelists: Matt Strait (m), Howard Davidson, Bill Higgins.

Science in the Public Eye

Scientists have held a strange iconic place in the popular imagination ever since Mary Shelley introduced us to the Frankenstein Trope in the early 19th century. Alternatively, scientists in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries were often presented as the ultimate hope of humankind. More recently, the public consciousness has swung back to a demonization of science, with scientists often presented as (at best) amoral and (at worst) agents of the devil. With the Obama presidency will we see a swing back in the other direction?

Saturday at 7pm.

Panelists: LIsa Freitag (m), George Flentke, Sue Smith, Graham Leathers, Mark Richards.

How Antimatter Became a Plaything of Science Fiction

Antimatter, a bizarre family of particles first discovered by physicists in the 1930s, eventually became commonplace in science fiction stories. Bill Higgins traces the path from science to fiction, which passes through astronomy and the study of meteorites before falling into the hands of such SF writers as John Campbell, Robert Heinlein, and Jack Williamson.

Saturday at 1pm.

Panelist/Presenter: Bill Higgins.

Art, the Arts, and Craft

Costuming Roundtable

What sort of costuming-related activities do we want to see at future Minicons? Panels, hall costume awards, a prade, a fashion show, a return of the masquerade . . . something entirely new and fabulous? Please come and join the conversation. Spiffy duds encouraged, but not required.

Sunday at 2pm in the Bar.

Co-hosts: Bonnie Somdahl & Seven.

Popup Books and Paper Engineering

Come and see some resplendent examples of the popup book art form, and learn what goes into the construction of these little masterpieces. We may also throw in a little paper craft fun for everybody - learn a little origami, cut out a snowflake, or make a folded-paper fortune telling machine customized for Minicon.

Friday at 5:30pm.

Panelists: Laura Krentz (m), Jeanne Mealy, Laramie Sassevill, Bonnie Somdahl.

Social Issues, Internet, Fandom

Etiquette for Social Networking

Regardless of platform, awkwardness abounds in online social networks. What situations have we encountered? What methods work in avoiding or dealing with these situations?

Sunday at 1pm.

Panelists: Rachel Kronick (m), Emily Stewart, Emily Alter, Josh More, Alison Sommer.

The Legend of Forry Ackerman

In memoriam for Forrest J. Ackerman, one of the founders of science fiction fandom. This sounds like a good Krushenko's item.

Sunday at 2:30pm.

Panelists: Eric M. Heideman (m), Bill Higgins.

F/SF Literature and Skiffy concepts

The Works of Karl Schroeder

Come and talk with the Author GOH about his work! Sponsored by Second Foundation, an SF-book discussion group. Discussion sponsored by Second Foundation, a Twin Cities book-discussion group that has met regularly since 1983.

Sunday, 11:30am in Krushenko's.

Panelists: Eric M. Heideman (m), Karl Schroeder, John Till, Greg L. Johnson.

Steampunk: the Romance of Science

What is Steampunk? Attitude or merely fashion statement? Or is there something about the buoyant spirit of the late 19th century that speaks to our feelings about technology today? Who else is defining the genre? Check out this incredible video: Steampunk meets Maker Movement.

Saturday at 2:30pm in Krushenko's.

Panelists: Sharon Kahn (m), Karl Schroeder, Richard Mueller, Dorf, Ceridwen Christensen.

Which singularity is it?

SF has dealt more and more with the Singularity, Vernor Vinge's concept of the point beyond which we cannot predict, but which singularity is it? The post-scarcity singularity, when no one has less than they need? The post-scarcity singularity where everyone gets everything they want (an important difference)? Or the one where artificial intelligence is cheap and frequent? Or the one where we all upload ourselves and our intelligences are no longer limited by flesh and blood. Transhumanism is a kind of singularity -- humanity evolving to the next stage, whatever that is -- as are Christian "left behind" narratives. Which singularities seem likely, which ones do we actually hope for, and what does that say about us?

Saturday at 11:30am in Krushenko's.

Panelists: Greg L. Johnson (m), Karl Schroeder, Pat Scaramuzza, Rachel Kronick, Dave Romm.

Humor With An Edge: Mixing The Silly With the Profound

What is it about the writings of humorists (like Terry Pratchett) that allows them to work on controversial issues that other writers won't touch? Does humor give more license for subversion? What about depth? How does humor allow writers to strike deep emotional chords with their readers?

Saturday at 10am in Krushenko's.

Panelists: Michael Merriam (m), Karl Schroeder, Rob Callahan, Greg L. Johnson.

Interview & Signing: Author GoH

Our author Guest of Honor talks about his life and his work. After the interview there will be a book signing in teh same space and a chance to chat one on one with Karl.

Saturday at 7pm.

Panelist: Karl Schroeder, Rick Brignall (interviewer)

Breaking into Publishing in the 21st Century

An update of the perennially popular "Publishing 101" topic. What do you as a new writer need to know to get your big break? How is the process changing with the advent of printing on demand, audio books, and the paperback publishing industry in a state of freefall? Last year's advice on how to break into the business may already be obsolete.

Sunday at 10am.

Panelists: Michael Merriam (m), Karl Scheoder, Scott McCoy, Rob Callahan, Rick Brignall.

Lady Poetesses from Hell

Ruth Berman, Jane Yolen, Elise Matthesen, Cassandra O’Malley, John C. Rezmerski, Eleanor Arnason The Lady Poetesses from Hell write about: Change, Futures, Pasts, Life, Love, Sex, Death, Violence, Manners -- all those volcanic urges. Their joint collection, "Lady Poetesses from Hell," will be published later this year

Saturday at 2:30pm.

Panelists: Ruth Berman, Jane Yolen, Elise Matthesen, K.C. O'Malley, John C. Rezmerski, Eleanor Arnason.

Vampires and Zombies and Werewolves, Oh, My!

The long standing popularity of these three fictional races argues that the stories we tell about them are more than just horror stories to scare children. Is there a cultural reason for this popularity? Can we mine any deep psychological meaning from our interest in these sorts? If vampires are a metaphor for forbidden sexuality (aren’t they?), then lets see what we can make of zombies and werewolves.

Saturday at 5:30pm.

Panelists: Lisa Freitag (m), Scott McCoy, Emily Stewart, C.J. Mills.

“Careful the Wish You Make . . .”

The line is from Sondheim’s Into the Woods, and is followed by the assertion that “wishes come true, not free.” From wishing upon a star to three wishes, we will discuss the techniques, rewards and perils of having one’s wishes granted. What would you wish for?

Sunday at 2:30pm.

Panelists: Ruth Berman (m), Jane Yolen, Patricia C. Wrede, Laramie Sasseville, Marissa Lingen.

Adventures For Young Women

Even young women get to kick a lot more butt these days than they used to, but adventure stories for girls are still different from those for boys. We’ll discuss both female and male young adventurers, with the goal of discovering directions yet to be taken. Feminism may come up.

Sunday at 1pm

Panelists: Sharon Kahn (m), Jane Yolen, Patricia C. Wrede, Laura Krentz, Dorf

The Year in SF/F: What Should I Read Next?

The usual discussion of the best books and stories of the year. It never gets old!

Saturday at 7pm.

Panelists: Greg L. Johnson (m), Russell Letson, David Lenander.

Wikis as Literature

There's a long history of wonderful worlds presented in a reference or non-fiction format -- Pure setting, no plot. One logical extension of this is for authors to create beautiful multimedia wikis (perhaps by a single author, perhaps by collaborative effort) that people can explore, and maybe even expand, without the encumbrance of a plot or main characters -- would people pay for this? What examples already exist?

Saturday at 2:30pm.

Panelists: Rachel Kronick, Patricia C. Wrede, possibly others TBA.

Auntie Jane's Bedtime Stories (with milk & cookies

Acclaimed YA author Jane Yolen reads bedtime stories for all ages. Milk and cookies will be provided.

Saturday at 8:30pm.

Panelist: Jane Yolen.

Rivendell Group Discussion: The works of Adam Stemple

We'll particularly focus on the author's adult fantasy novels Singer of Souls and Steward of Song. Sponsored by The Rivendell Group, a Twin Cities fantasy-book discussion group that has met regularly since 1973.

Saturday at 1pm.

Panelists: David Lenander (m), Adam Stemple (special guest).

Writing and publishing

Note: If you don't see the item you're looking for here, check the "GoH" section at the top. Quite a lot of them got moved up there.

Social Contract: What Negative Emotions is it Okay to Evoke in Your Readers?

How much of a social contract do writers have with their readers? What about making past memories come back painfully?

Sunday at 11:30am.

Panelists: Phyllis Eisenstein (m), Michael Merriam, Rob Callahan, Scott McCoy, Pamela Dean.

How To Not Get Depressed When You Work Alone

There’s something about the writer’s life. For some reason, people are actually jealous. But working alone at home on your own schedule has its own special challenges.

Saturday at 11:30am.

Panelists: C.J. Mills (m), Rob Callahan, Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple, Rick Brignall.

Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writer's Meetup

Welcome to Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers (a.k.a. MinnSpec)! Come learn about this valuable resource for local aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers.

Saturday at 5:30pm.

Hosted by Michael Merriam.



Media and comics

The Many Faces of Batman

Did Frank Miller go too far when he turned a beloved comics icon into a borderline psycho, or was it a return to Batman's 1939 essence? Was there really any point in Heath Ledger redoing The Joker after Jack Nicholson defined the character in the 1989 movie? Did its sequels channel too much camp from 1966? Does the latest cinematic take on the Dark Knight pull its punches, or correct the balance?

Friday at 4pm.

Panelists: Eric Heideman (m), Richard Tatge, Erica Stark, Lisa Freitag.

Pushing Daisies: what comes next?

While we don't *know* how the story works out, and won't until the three finished episodes are aired and the graphic novel wraps up the story (if these things ever happen), we can certainly speculate. Come prepared to discuss Ned's last name, the fate of Lil Gumshoe, the agelessness of Digby, and all those glorious colors.

Friday at 8:30pm.

Panelists: Karen Cooper, Joe Agee, Aliera Brust.

What's New in Old Comics

Comics publishers have had to look beyond publishing periodicals to maintain their bottom line & have dug into the past to reprint classic material in collected volumes. From Marvel's Masterworks, Omnibus & Essential lines, DC's Showcase, Archive & Absolute lines to Dark Horse's reprinting of Gold Key classics (Magnus Robot Fighter, Doctor Solar, MARS Patrol, Tarzan, et al) and the Warren horror line, find out what's available at a fraction of the cost of the original back issues. Also: Titan Books' 007 newspaper strip collections, Gladstone's EC collections & various Irwin Allen & Gerry Anderson properties, 1960s Star Trek, Conan and more.

Saturday at 1pm.

Panelists: Greg Larsen (m), Steve Kempton, Bob Jackson.

The Convenient Comic Book

Now that publishers are regularly collecting multi-issue story arcs into Trade Paperback & Hardcover editions, it is easier than ever to enjoy comics, without spending time looking for individual issues (& discovering you missed a chapter/issue) or trying to remember what happened last month. If you love comics, but gave up on the frustrating weekly pursuit of "floppies" (comic magazines) and just want to read a good stand-alone story of your favorite heroes with a minimum of confusion, find out which TPBs allow you to do just that.

Saturday at 11:30am.

Panelists: Greg Larsen (m), Steve Kempton, Bob Jackson.

Long Live Number 6!

From the wrap of production for The Prisoner until his until his recent death, Patrick McGoohan said little about his most influential work. Do Ice Station Zebra and the Columbo episode "Identity Crisis" tie in to The Prisoner? Was Number 6 actually Danger Man/Secret Agent John Drake? If so, some episodes of the earlier series reveal clues to the question, "Why did he resign?". Why would McGoohan never tie Number 6 to Drake? The answers may surprise you! Plus, news on the 2009 AMC/ITV mini-series with Jim Caveizel as Number 6 and Ian McKellan as Number 2, adaptations & homages of The Prisoner in books, comics and a place you never expected!

Saturday at 2:30pm.

Panelists: Greg Larsen (m), Steve Kempton, Bob Jackson.

Who Watched The Watchmen?

Obstacles beset Watchmen from the start. When DC acquired Charlton Comics' superheroes & had other plans, Alan Moore's idea to grandly reinvent them as the Watchmen had to be reinvented itself, with new, albeit similar characters. Once filmed, "the graphic novel that could not be filmed" for almost 20 years, saw lawsuits over the movie rights threatening to prevent its release. With no on-going characters, realizing Watchmen on film had one chance only. The final hurdle: Did they get it right?

Friday at 5:30pm.

Panelists: Greg Larsen (m), Eric M. Heideman, Steve Kempton.

The Worlds of Blade Runner

Released the same week as E.T., initially critically and financially trounced, Blade Runner became a cinematic phoenix. While last year's DVD release of The Final Cut closes the book on the original film, we'll enlighten you to films and TV shows similar in theme and look to help relieve your withdrawal.

Friday at 8:30pm.

Panelists: Greg Larsen (m), Eric M. Heideman, Tory Stewart.

Who's Your Doctor?

Calling all Dr. Who fans! Who was your favorite Doctor? Is there one you couldn't stand? Or suggest a different offshoot of of this topic. There's a lot of Dr. Who to choose from out there, and fans seem to have a lot to talk about.

Saturday at 8:30pm.

Panelists: Michael Lee (m), Rob Callahan, Aliera Brust, Corwin Brust.

Science Fiction Westerns

These two film genres go back to the start of narrative film (SF to 1902, Westerns to 1903). What do they have in common and how do they differ? We'll focus especially on such hybrids as Westworld, Outland, Battle Beyond the Stars, Back to the Future III, The Postman, Firefly, and Serenity. Sponsored by Con-Sarnit, the Twin Cities Western convention.

Saturday at 4pm.

Co-moderators: David Christenson & Eric M. Heideman

Gaming

Dungeons and Dragons for Girls and Boys

Saturday, 1:30 to 3:30 PM East Ballroom A Hosted by Richard Tatge and Michael Kauper

Ages 6 to 17, no experience necessary, must be able to read some. We will provide characters and materials. All new, exiting adventure, featuring a rare appearance by one of the grand masters of role playing games!! Not to be missed!

NOTE: All players must be enrolled in game by parent or responsible adult. No exceptions. We require contact information. Bring snacks, invite friends and family to watch.

The Secret RPG Gamer

A lot of people are into RPGs but don't admit it, or at least aren't forward about it. Why? What's to be done, if anything?

Saturday at 8:30pm.

Panelists: Rachel Kronick (m), John Till.

Info-dumping in RPGs

In RPGs, there's a great deal of exposition to be done. GMs need to explain setting information, and as a player, it can be frustrating when the GM tells you vital information after you needed it. ("What do you mean there's a lever on the wall? Why have we been trying to bust down this door for the past half-hour?") But exposition can become long-winded and tiresome. How do GMs and players strike a balance?

Sunday at 2:30pm.

Panelists: Rachel Kronick (m), John Till.

Not exactly panels

Popup Books and Paper Engineering

Come and see some resplendent examples of the popup book art form, and learn what goes into the construction of these little masterpieces. We may also throw in a little paper craft fun for everybody - learn a little origami, cut out a snowflake, or make a folded-paper fortune telling machine customized for Minicon.

Friday at 5:30pm.

Panelists: Laura Krentz (m), Jeanne Mealy, Laramie Sasseville, Bonnie Somdahl.

I'll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours

Hey, let's all get together and compare our new mini-laptops, smart phones and whatever other electronic gadgetry we got for Christmas. We can set up our own wireless network right there in the programming room! Does anybody still have one of those cute little Roombas? We could run them through a maze or obstacle course.

Friday at 4pm.

Panelists: Sharon Kahn (m), Dean Gahlon, Laurel Krahn, David Dyer-Bennet.

Music Programming

Jamming 101

What makes a good music jam? What to do and not to do.

Saturday at 2:30pm in the Shipside/Music room.

Participants/Panelists: Chas Somdahl (m), Adam Stemple, Graham Leathers, Teresa Chandler.

Singalong

Group singalong: song sheets provided or bring your own to share.

Participants: Peggy O'Neill, Elise Matthesen, and a host of others.