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Monday, August 22, 2016

Worldcon 2016: Kansas City, MO

No recipe review this week!

I've been off in Kansas City, MO for the 74th World Science Fiction Convention: MidAmeriCon II!

Tuesday (Travel day) - I left Duluth bright and early...okay, it was early but not so bright out - at 5am.  Arrived in Hudson at 8.  Picked up the rental car and we were on our way!  Ten hours later we arrived in Kansas City with only a modicom of rush hour traffic to contend with.  Once we checked in, we attempted to register and found there was a snafu - we weren't in the system. At all.  Not cool.   Luckily, both of us saved our registration slips and were able to show proof of payment.

Wednesday - Kansas City Zoo!   This was a pretty amazing zoo, with walking paths, a sky-gondola, pontoon boat, and train.  We spent about 3 1/2 hours wandering around.  In 95* heat and humidity.  It was...toasty.   A very late lunch at LC's Barbeque.  Folks, Kansas City BBQ doesn't get much better than this.  Smokey, moist, filling...yup.  Da bomb!   (In interest of full disclosure, my traveling companion didn't like it at all.)

Gorilla at the Kansas City Zoo - some days ya just gotta kick back and relax.

I finished the day with an Led Primary class (Ashtanga sequence) at Maya Yoga Studios.  It was, simply, awesome. 

Power and Light District

Let the convention begin!  Off to the panels:

Reviewing the Reviews  The internet makes it easy to find reviews of just about any book published.  How do you find reviews of value, that offer depth and analysis?  Which review sites are better than others?   Nuts and bolts of panel - it all depends...

The Future of Forensics Experts discuss what is current in the methods and technology of analyzing scientific evidence, and suggest where it might go next.   Nuts and bolts - life isn't CSI, and forensics in space or on a planet is going to be challenging.

As You Know, Bob...the Fine Art of Exposition  Exposition is writers giving readers information they need to understand a story.  Is it possible to convey the necessary but not at the expense of the enjoyable?  We try not to lecture.   Nuts and bolts - It's important to establish world setting, but don't bore the hell out of your readers.

The Year in Astronomy  Join us for a lively roundup of the latest research and discoveries from the final frontier.   Discussed gravitational waves, black holes, Tessa's Star, pluto, and some odds and ends.

Business Planning for Writers  You've sold your first novel (or not) and now have o figure out how to make a living as a writerBudget, incorporations, taxes.  A guide to planning the business aspect of your career.   Nuts and bolts - don't quit your day job until you have some money in the bank, pay your taxes, read the fine print on the contracts, pay your taxes, use the resources around you (accountants, agents, lawyers, etc).


Oceans: The Wettest Frontiers  Although science fiction tends to focus on strange environments, there are also strange environments (with aliens) here on Earth.  Discus fiction set in oceans - on Earth and elsewhere.  Nuts and bolts - a water environment offers its own sets of challenges and strange creatures.

Yoga class - "Ashtanga Power Hour" at Maya Studios.  Whee!

Feminism in Science Fiction: When it changed  Susan Wood's "Women and Science Fiction" panel at MidAmeriCon (Big Mac) in 1976 was the first of its kind.  Women from Big Mac discuss the session, the changes that came from it and where we are today.  Nuts and bolts - Historical look at women standing up and saying "I have a Voice" in the scifi world and what it means today.

Forgotten Masterpieces of 19th Century Fantasy Art  Discover the rich and wonderful world of fantastic art from the 19th Century with award winning artists Richard Hescox.  Nuts and bolts - A look non-mainstream scifi art that depicts aspects of fantasy.

The Joy of Cookbooks  Nigella Lawson has said that if a cookbook has one amazing recipe you return to again and again, it is a keeper.  What is it about them that make cookbooks so addictive to collect and how many do you really use.  Nuts and bolts - a discussion about cooking as cultural cohesion.

Dwarf Planets and Beyond the Kuiper Belt Automated space craft have finally visited Ceres and Pluto.  What are the high points of what we've learned.  What are the implications for the settlement of the solar system and beyond?  Nuts and bolts - discussion about Pluto, Charon, Ceres, Vespa, space missions, asteroids, and technology.

Yoga class - "Led Primary Series"   Whee!  Got a bit warm and humid in the room tho...

Bogus Science in TV Shows TV procedurals like Numbers, CSI and Scorpion use fake science to solve their cases.  We discuss the implication of this and how it could be different with real science.
Nuts and bolts - that about sums it up.

This Year in Bad Science  A discussion about pseudoscience and poorly conducted research that has been doing the rounds the last year.   Nuts and bolts - combination of bad science and even worse reporting.  Ie - Study about farts preventing cancer.  Bad reporting. 

Know Your Immune System  A biology lesson for all ages.   Nuts and bolts - a discussion of what your immune system is and how it works, or doesn't.

Medical Myths and Errors in SF  Medical errors in SF.  Nuts and bolts - where the author got it wrong.  John Wayne getting stabbed/shot in the shoulder; Arya Stark getting stabbed in the gut; character walking out of Louisiana Swamp with a broken femur, then hiking to California.

And, we met up with high school friend Jeff!    He took us to The Bricks, a great little hole-in-the-wall.  Very cool to catch up after so long.

Astronaut Stan Love presenting - Mars is Hard
Two Suns in the Sky  Come learn the latest about multiple star systems, their planets and what they've taught us about the rest of the universe.  Nuts and bolts - Kepler and exoplanets.

Mars is Hard Astronaut Stan Love discusses why Mars is hard to get to, land on and build a livable space on.   Nuts and bolts - 1) Low earth orbit  2) The Moon  3) Mars is a very long way away...

Terra-forming for Climate Change  What can we do in terms of really big engineering projects to change or adapt to what looks like a hot, wet, stormy future?   Nuts and bolts - stop creating excess CO2, get rid of extra CO2, beef up vulnerable systems, reflect sunlight back into space.

The State of Feminist Fantasy  Panelists discuss whether there is a difference viewing feminism through a fantasy lens, and whether there are fantasy feminist equivalents to Russ, Tiptree and Butler.  Nuts and bolts - It is the individual who decides if a work is feminist or not.

Can Scifi be too Hard?  Is it possible  that there can be too much science in Hard Science Fiction?  Nuts and bolts - It can be too hard for some readers, and not hard enough for others. 

Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts

Restaurants we visited:
LC's Barbecue
Yard House
The Brick (I had a burger!) 
Flying Saucer

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