Friday, 9pm: How Much Steam Is There in Steampunk?
Is steampunk destined to remain a distinct subgenre, or will its edges blur into the rest of alternate history? Why does it appeal to us? Are its appeals enduring aspects of the genre? Rosemary Kirstein (M), Margaret Ronald, Stephen Segal, Genevieve Valentine
I have a couple of quibbles with the assumption in the panel description that steampunk belongs with “the rest of alternate history.” I write steampunky stuff that is decidedly not alternate history, and I think the aesthetic as a whole is stronger than just one niche of a niche. However, I’ve also readily admitted that I lack much of the steampunk aesthetic, so it’s possible I’m just rationalizing my use of the relevant tropes. I’ll be interested to see what comes out of this panel.
Saturday, 2pm: The Heroine’s Path
Maureen Murdock’s 1990 study The Heroine’s Journey served as a complement (and sometimes corrective) to Joseph Campbell’s work on the Hero’s Journey. Both put deep store in stories drawn from world myth. But what do working genre writers actually do with these theories or materials? Are they present at the creation, or useful for analysis afterward? Do they affect your characters or their origins, relationships, arcs, or resolutions? Which mythic or theoretic elements have you actually incorporated? What path do — must — your own heroines tread? B.A. Chepaitis, Greer Gilman, Theodora Goss (M), Margaret Ronald, Phoebe Wray
It’s hard to say whether I consciously use these tropes in creation, but I certainly use them in revision, either as touchstone or warning. And while I do enjoy incorporating mythic elements into the story, whether they make it as deep as the story structure itself is another matter entirely.
Saturday, 5pm: Creating Worlds for Online Gaming
How do you start to create a world for online gaming? Is it harder to start a game from scratch, from a book, or from a movie? What’s different about worldbuilding for a narrative that’s meant to be played instead of read? Walter H. Hunt, Margaret Ronald, Melinda Snodgrass (M), Timothy P. Szczesuil, Brianna Spacekat Wu
I actually assigned myself homework for this panel, since I’m coming at it from the perspective of an end user rather than someone experienced in worldbuilding for games. So I played Bastion all weekend (wow), started watching a playthrough of Dark Souls (eek), and have been trying to figure out some of my thoughts on implicit versus explicit storytelling.
Saturday, 8pm: Artifactual: The Warehouse 13 Game
Inspired by Syfy TV’s popular Warehouse 13, this brand-new game show is an SFnal cross between “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Fictionary.” For each round, the MC comes up with a strange new happenstance, such as, “Reports say people have begun turning green.” From the TV show, we know that behind every odd occurrence is some strangely powerful object. So our panel of out-of-the-box thinkers compete to guess that artifact, such as, “It’s the Wicked Witch’s hat from The Wizard of Oz” or “It’s Larry Bird’s Celtics jersey.” Competitors are encouraged to embellish their guesses to the max; audience members clap hardest to get their favorite guess the win! Daniel Kimmel, Bob Kuhn (M), Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Margaret Ronald, Steven Sawicki
Oh boy. I’m much more familiar with Warehouse 23 than Warehouse 13, but for this game I suspect the distinction will be moot. This could go horribly wrong or horribly right. Either way, it’ll be fun to watch.
Sunday, 10:30am-10:55am: Reading: Margaret Ronald
I’m planning to read the lobster story, since it’ll be coming out in Beneath Ceaseless Skies sometime soon. And because it’s a really fun story to read aloud. This does, however, mean I have to rehearse it so that the best part of the story will fit within 20 minutes.
Sunday, 1pm: The Twilight of Twilight: Staking the Heart of Paranormal Romance?
Let’s look ahead to the November 2012 release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, the concluding flick to be made from Stephenie Meyer’s planet-bustingly successful series. How good are these books and movies? Does Twilight fandom serve as gateway fanaticism for similar stories? Or will the end of this crepuscular phenomenon take paranormal romance down with it? Debra Doyle (M), Margaret Ronald, Leah Wilson
Confession time: I have not read Twilight. But I think the mood it captures is not exclusive to paranormal romance, nor to certain strains of YA fiction. I think the id button that Twilight pushes is independent of the paranormal or vampy aspects of the story, and so I’m not sure that the end of Twilight will signal an end to paranormal romance as a whole.
That’s a lot of panels. I think come Sunday evening, I’m going to want to put my feet up and ignore everything for a while.
In the meantime, mmm, half-price candy.