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Posts Tagged ‘Kerry Nietz’

PhilCon

November 18, 2017 1 comment

Hello, dear readers!

This will be a quick post covering the single day of PhilCon I managed to attend. Unfortunately, my fiancee Anastasia became ill and I didn’t really want to go to the rest of the convention without her. There’s not really that much to talk about, so this will be a rather brief post.

The day we attended was the first day, Friday the 10th, and we made it to three panels. The first one was called “Writing for Aliens: Anatomy and Biology,” and was presented by people who had expertise in biology. The topic of discussion was alien anatomy, evolution, and physiology in science fiction. It provided fascinating insights into how xenobiology might work in the real world, and how it could work (but doesn’t necessarily have to) in science fiction. I was able to comment, at one point, that I would be willing to sacrifice absolute verisimilitude in favor of an interesting story, or the exploration of a theme within the story. That is to say, I would be willing to accept something that’s not scientific about alien life–say that they are able to reproduce with other aliens or that they may be a lot like us–if it makes for an interesting story or explores an interesting idea.

For example, I love Star Trek Discovery. I plan on writing some thoughts about it later, but I think it really takes the Star Trek franchise in a really good direction. But the entire conceit with the spore drive and the quantum mycelium and all that jazz is just nonsense. When I first heard the in-universe explanation for it I winced and dismissed it as the worst kind of Star Trek technobabble. But the spore drive, as a focus for the way that the story unfolds, is a fascinating idea and it serves a greater function than a mere Macguffin.

The second panel was one which Anastasia moderated, and it was called “Fandom and Identification.” This one delved into topics that would be considered political, but that’s really hard to avoid when you’re talking about how people are portrayed in the media. Make no mistake: this is a very important conversation to have and this panel delved deeply into some of the panelists’ personal experience. In all honesty, it was an absolutely fantastic discussion, and it produced some interesting perspectives on the visibility of minorities and women in the media.

The final discussion was a late one, beginning and eleven and going until midnight. The topic was ostensibly about writing crisis scenes, and the panel was called “How to Write a Crisis for a 21st Century Audience.” The conversation veered off topic for a fair portion of the panel, but the parts of the discussion that did relate to the topic were interesting. For instance, we explored the idea of what really makes a crisis–does it involve physical damage, immediate threat, or something else?

My two favorite parts of the evening was meeting Tom Doyle, author of the American Craftsmen series of books, and meeting David Walton, author of books like The Genius Plague (which I’ve reviewed here). I first met both Tom and David at the Escape Velocity convention in Washington, D.C., and I feel like our conversations are always fascinating and insightful. Tom even participated in a panel that I had suggested called “The Role of Antiquity and Myth in Science Fiction.” I regret not being able to attend that panel because I was really looking forward to a thorough exploration of that idea.

As a final note, on the table of freebies given out of a first come, first serve basis was a book by Kerry Nietz called Amish Vampires in Space. Apparently Jimmy Fallon did a short riff on it a while ago on his show.

This was the first time I had ever heard of it. I flipped through it and…well, I’m not entirely sure how to respond to it. It has 96 reviews on Amazon.com, with a 4.2 out of 5 rating, so someone thinks it’s worth reading. I might put it on my very lengthy “to-read” list, but with everything that I have going on I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to get to it. Kerry Nietz, if you’re out there, this has to be one of the craziest ideas I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Well, this is a thing that exists.

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