Five Must-See Panels at Denvention 3

Thanks to Denvention 3 for posting the pocket program on line well in advance of the convention. I’ve been able to pick out what I want to see – and grieve over the things I will hate to miss because I can’t arrive until Friday afternoon.

Program organizers deserve credit whenever they think up a compelling new panel idea, and I can be drawn by a provocative question whether or not I’ve heard of the panelists. But experience has tempered my expectations: it’s not often a panel stays focused on the question they’ve been assigned, so the alluring topic may never be developed.

In short, don’t play the cards, play the people. An irresistible combination of panelists can turn an hour into a cherished memory.

1ST PLACE

FRI 4:00 PM

383 The ages of a writer’s life: writing to get published, writing for fans, writing for posterity

CCC – Korbel 2BC/3BC

As writers mature and gain experience, their work may change, and their motivation may evolve. The panel explores how their focus has changed over the course of their careers.

Connie Willis, Larry Niven, Lois McMaster Bujold, Robert Silverberg, (m) Suford Lewis.

This is a terrific match of thoughtful, witty panelists with meaningful subject matter. Willis and Silverberg in particular play off one another very well.

2ND PLACE

THU 1PM

144 Bleeding Heart Liberals & Military SF

CCC – Korbel 4AB

Military SF is very popular, even among the politically liberal. Why is that and will it change their views?

Adrian Bedford, (m) Elizabeth Moon, Joe Haldeman,John Hemry, John Scalzi

When I read Scalzi’s The Last Colony that very question crossed my mind: How did such a political liberal wind up writing military SF? It’s not actually inconsistent to be liberal and willing to use armed force (take the example of Bill Clinton). I’m just intensely curious about how the writers will answer the question.

3RD PLACE

THU 1 PM

134 People who Knew Heinlein

CCC – Room 506

People who knew and worked with Robert Heinlein discuss the man behind the genius.

Ben Bova, Bill Patterson, Eleanor Wood, (m) Joseph Martino, Pat Cadigan

“Eyewitness” panels are an underrated treasure. They probably work best if the subject is somewhat controversial, and there’s no doubt Heinlein is that. (You may have already spotted that the second and third place panels on my list are scheduled at the same time. If you’re annoyed at having to pick between them, well, I envy you because I have to miss both of them.)

4TH PLACE

THU 4 PM

203 Breaking into SF: The Big Guns

CCC – Korbel 4CD

Major New York publishers tell us why the big publishing houses can still be the key to success for new writers.

Ellen Datlow, James Frenkel, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Sheila Williams (m) Stanley Schmidt, Toni Weisskopf

I can’t stay away from the “big guns” editorial panels. There’s something about being in the same room with the people who can pull the trigger and make you a published writer. Never mind that I haven’t even written a novel. For an hour I feel I’m this close to seeing my name on a cover by John Picacio.

5TH PLACE

FRI 11:30 AM

303 Quantum Mechanics, Future Technologies, & Parallel Worlds

CCC – Korbel 4CD

How quantum mechanics intersects and interacts withfuture technologies and parallel worlds. What if the current theory of quantum mechanics is wrong? What catastrophes might we awaken in experimenting with parallel worlds?

Kay Kenyon, (m) Todd Brun, Wil McCarthy

I’d want to sit in on this panel because it’s an important subject I’m frankly not especially well-equipped to understand. I figure they would have to discuss the subject using words, instead of math, and at a level nonscientists have a fighting chance of understanding. (The late Dr. Robert Forward was a favorite of mine, for his ability to gear explanations to a fan audience.)