Missing SF conventions? Michigan’s Penguicon, a meeting of SF/Fantasy Fandom, Techies, Open Source Coders, Hackers, and general nerds-at-large goes online this year, with a cost of only $10:00. It actually opened yesterday, but it really doesn’t take off until tonight, and there’s still a lot of virtual space available.
I’m on a handful of panels, and I will be doing a reading from my forthcoming (January 2022) collection, Live Nude Aliens and Other Stories.
Friday April 23:
Sub/Urban Folklore and Online Mythology
I’ve given variations of this one many times before, as a solo presenter or part of a duo. Audience involvement, slides, and video play key roles. It’s a skeptically-leaning discussion that examines the role of contemporary folklore in life, literature, and media. Depending on audience inclinations, we might cover anything from misrepresented news stories (see: Kitty Genovese, James Dallas Egbert III, or the Columbine Shootings) to Bigfoot and Michigan Dogman and Slender Man to online conspiracy theists. In recent years and months, that last topic and the pervasive influence of folklore have displayed their more sinister aspects
Saturday April 24:
Building Better Aliens
Kathryn Sullivan runs this one. I’ve created an extra-terrestrial or two, and I’m sure we can have an interesting discussion. One of my co-panelists is Stephen B. Pearl, with whom I share a publisher.
Reading (I share the slot).
To Boldly Seek Discovery in the Expanse: The Voyage Continues
I’ve run this one at a Toronto con and at last year’s ad hoc online Penguicon. I’ll be joined again by aerospace engineer/author Eric Choi and GoH Larry Nemecek, and by author/polymath Derwin Mak, who attended last year but was not a panelist. This panel will discuss the various space-related series that (more or less) carry the legacy of the original Star Trek, and what each of us might include if we were running such a series.
Sunday April 25:
Fandom as an Opera
Three panelists will examine the depiction of fandom in books and other media. Novels such as Among Others and Bimbos of the Death Sun, (and my own The Con) for example, have attracted readers inside and outside of fandom. We’ve seen the savaging-from-within of the subculture’s worst aspects in The Eltingville Club and Comic Book Villains. Free Enterprise gave us a fannish comedy flick (“Love Long and Party!”) while One Con Glory, a nerd romance novel. We’ve also had documentary efforts, such as Trekkies, and memoirs, including Trina Robbins’s Last Girl Standing.
Was the popularity of The Big Bang Theory a positive or negative thing? Does media and literary exposure create understanding for fandom or turn it into a public spectacle?