Orycon Wrapup

Here are some entries pasted from the laptop:

Sitting in PDX waiting to board my flight. Still 45 more minutes until
then. I allotted two hours, leaving the Doubletree on the 5:55 shuttle
for an 8:05 plane. Of course, it took nowhere near that long and by
6:30 I was sitting and waiting, even with getting the extra special
wand attention from the security guys. Since September 11th, I have
not once flown without getting that treatment. Even taking evert piece
of optional metal off me, my shoes and wedding ring and blue jean rivets
seem to be enough to warrant the pat down, shoe scanning, wand over
the whole body attention that I so crave. Jesus.

My original plan was to make a few entries as I wait here and perhaps
on the plane, and then briefly dialup from Denver airport to publish
them and check e-mail. However, I realize that the 2 foot phone cord
is still hanging in dataport of the phone in my room in the
Doubletree. Oh well. I have approximately 3000 of these short cords at
my house, but the PDX trip two weeks ago forgot any so bought that to
dial up. Now that I’ve lost it again, I’ll be damned if I once again
pay $2 to buy a thing I have a gazillion of just to use it at that
second. If I spot a likely road warrior, I’ll ask if i can borrow
theirs. Otherwise, it’s wait till I get home. I really need to outfit
the laptop bag better with laptop type supplies.

While I have time, I’ll do a little Orycon rundown. The last night was
fun, seeing the two guys who were my team when I was at Intertrust,
milling around and talking to Mark Bourne, Dave Smeds, Jim Fiscus,
Janna Silverstein and other fun folks. I sort of wandered in and out
of parties, met up with random folks, and eventually parked in the bar
for an hour or so talking to folks. I went to bed about 1:45 PST (and
got up at 4:45 PST.)

I’ve revised my score upwards of the panel I had as a tie after
hearing from other panelists and attendees that they liked it. Perhaps
the panel was good but I was not. Anyway, that leaves us 2-1, which is
a winning record. The first panel was “Are graphic novels literature”
or however that was worded. I was on it with Dave Smeds, Patrick
Younts, and Kevin Andrew Murphy. I had interacted with Dave Smeds
online for quite a while but never met him till Friday. He’s a nice
guy, of the soft spoken type who doesn’t speak so much but it always
good when he does. I’m more of the motormouth type who says a few good
things in a stream of constant chatter. I floated forth the standards
as comic books that are literature – Sandman, Cerebus, Love and
Rockets, Ghost World, etc. In horror, I realized later that we never
even mentioned Will Eisner, a brilliant writer/artist who coined the
damn term! Bad omission, dude!

The second panel (which followed immediately after the other) was
“Luddite SF: Can it be anti-technology and still be science fiction?”
I was the only panelist scheduled for this, and I was sweating it as I
mentioned earlier. I had decided on using a graph to discuss it, and
spent about 1 PM to 1:45 PM trying to find some sort of easel on which
I could graph this damn thing. No such, so I snuck about 10 sheets of
printer paper from the computer room, bought a little thing of scotch
tape in the store, and “borrowed” a magic marker from table of the
Camarilla people (sorry folks, I was desperate – I brought it back
later.) Kind of resourceful, thought I. When I walked into the room
at 3 PM, there were already four other panelists sitting up there –
turns out programming had filled it out with people looking for extra
stuff. Other panelists included writer Richard A. Lovett and Sara
Mueller and two dudes whose names I never caught. There was a moment
of bemusement as I whipped out my laptop to read the definition of
“Luddite” I had copied off dictionary.com – good comic relief at the
irony. I had the conceit of wanting to put a number of works on an
graph with an X axis of “Luddite to Technophile”, and a Y axis of
“Dystopic to Utopic”. While the rest of the panel did introductions, I
was quickly taping together pieces of paper to make a piece about 2′
by 3′ and then taped it to the wall (to the consternation of some
staffers who had visions of ripped wallpaper dancing in their heads –
no worries if I could have had an easel, folks.) Then I started
mentioning stories and graphing them, asking for input on building the
consensus of where we would put them on the grid. I had some notes
sketched out, but I wasn’t married to it. If someone disagreed with
me, I would generally take their answer. I solicited the audience to
shout out story suggestions, and things like that. Folks came up with
some really good ones. The problematic quadrant was the upper left
which was the “Luddite Utopia”. Richard Lovett came up with
Canticle for Liebowitz, which I gladly accepted since
we had nothing else. Turns out Louise Marley, who I talked about the
other day, had a great suggestion that she never brought up, which was
Jack Finney’s Time and Again for that corner. As a
background blank, I put the Amish at the origin of the graph, as their
society is neither utopic nor distopic, and they are completely value
neutral about tech – they use it if it seems to add more than it
subtracts to their society, but have neither love nor hate of tech for
its own sake. It was kind of a rip-roaring, fast moving discussion and
I tried to act as ringleader or perhaps carnival barker. The room was
nearly packed, most people spoke up at some points and the final
conclusion was that the graph actually showed us more scatter than we
would have expected and that Luddite fiction not only can be SF, but
in most cases must be SF. Larry Niven was in the audience, and spoke
up at some point. Dr. Niven remains the only person for whom I’ve ever
really signed an autograph at an SF con, god bless his grey
beard. This was not just a clear win, but one of the most fun panels
I’ve ever been on, maybe the very most fun one.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.