This weekend I’ll be at Windycon, a science fiction convention in Lombard, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago (hence the name). It’s the Windy City’s longest-running SF con, usually with about 1,000 members. Events are mostly centered around science fiction and fantasy literary themes, but lovers of games, costumes, art, music, and media will find plenty to do. And in the evening, there are parties, with prizes in categories including best alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, best food, and best overall party.
I’ll be busy. Here’s my schedule. If you happen to be at Windycon, you know the drill: it’s one big family, so let’s say hi and catch up. Read any good books lately? Let me rave about Babble by R.F. Kuang.
Writers Workshop: Saturday 9:00 to 11:30, pre-registration required.
Common, But Annoying SF Tropes: Saturday 12:00 Junior BC. Science fiction is full of common ideas and repeated concepts that might have been fresh at one time, but now may indicate a laziness on the part of the creator. What are some of the common tropes in science fiction and fantasy that deserve to be mocked and retired? Hear our panelists’ bugbears and share your own. Sue Burke (moderator), Malda Marlys, Justin Matulonis, N. Frances Moritz, David “Ordo” Ordonez.
Fantasy Governments That Aren’t Monarchies: Saturday 15:00 Junior BC. The fallback political system in fantasy is often a monarchy — either a kingdom or an empire. But there are many other types of governments that get mentioned less often. Why aren’t these more democratic types of systems used more often? Do monarchies make for an easy story of saving the world from the Evil Empire or are they just the easiest to write? Why is this so? Geoff Strayer (moderator), A.M. Arktos, Sue Burke, Alexei Collier, Mary Anne Mohanraj.
Creating Rational Characters: Sunday 10:00 Lilac AC. Many SF stories dealing with supposedly advanced civilizations feature characters who act like they have never heard of the scientific methods! Perhaps it’s the fear of creating a Mary Sue; yet, rational characters are not necessarily infallible. Rational characters are interesting to follow — so why don’t we write more of them? Sue Burke (moderator), Mark Huston, Neal Litherland, Charles Ott.
Livable Future or Soft Landings: Sunday 11:00 Junior BC. Negotiating with the future … worldbuilding through the frame of what we imagine good outcomes for the near future to be? Some authors are writing optimistic solarpunk and basically trying to imagine futures that we would all be not only willing but happy to live in … without being too pie in the sky either. A.M. Dellamonica (moderator), Sue Burke, Alexei Collier, Kelly Robson.
Biology of Fantasy Creatures: Sunday 12:00 Junior BC. Panelists discuss how fantasy creatures could develop. It is easy to imagine a minotaur or a selkie, but how do you apply the known theories of biology to make beings in a logical and scientifically consistent way? Should you attempt to understand their biology or just hand wave to allow the reader’s sense of wonder take over? Sue Burke (moderator), Bill Fawcett, Lisa Freitag, Alice Liddell, W.A. Thomasson.
Transitions of Power: Sunday 13:00 Lilac BD. Panelists discuss the transfer of power in modern governments of all types. What are the traditions and what are the modern attitudes? Bill Fawcett (moderator), Sue Burke, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Neil Rest, Mark Roth.