Story Sale: Elegy of Carbon

I’m pleased to announce that my little science fiction epic “Elegy of Carbon” will appear in The Internet Is Where The Robots Live Now, the inaugural anthology from Paper Dog Books. It’s an anthology about the future of human-robot interactions, and my story takes that out to a space-opera future.

The story’s unofficial subtitle is “The Brave Little ToasterMining AI.”

The anthology is due out in late September, so hopefull I’ll tell you all more about it in a month or two!

Worldcon 76 Schedule

Barely a week until Worldcon 76 in San Jose California!

I’m on a bunch of programming, so there are lots of ways & places you can come watch me shoot my mouth off – whether on my own as a writer and neuroscientist, or as a member of the Hugo-finalist Escape Pod team!

Ethical Responsibilities to Alien Life
Friday 8/17, 3-4pm, 210B
Benjamin C. Kinney (M), Gonzalo Munevar, Guy Consolmagno, Eric Schwitzgebel, Ina Roy-Faderman
Extraterrestrial life could be anything from microbes to “advanced” intelligence. How would different forms of life fit into our ethical systems? What responsibilities – or opportunities – do we have when encountering the alien?

Escape Pod – Live at Worldcon
Saturday 8/18, 10-11:30am, 210DH
Alasdair Stuart (M), SB Divya, Marguerite Kenner, Benjamin C. Kinney, Norm Sherman, Setsu Uzume, Mur Lafferty
Come watch us do a live recording of Escape Pod! We’re still brewing up our nefarious/amazing spaceplans, but I promise you a showcase of Escape Pod’s talent from top to bottom.

Alien Minds: What is Possible, and What Can We Do with Them?
Saturday 8/18, 2-3pm, 210A
Benjamin C. Kinney (M), Eric Schwitzgebel, Gonzalo Munevar, Ina Roy-Faderman, SL Huang
Given the different paths that evolution can take, there is no reason to think that extraterrestrial intelligence would look or work like ours. Human intelligence is thought to have developed from evolutionary pressures around deception and detecting deception in troupes of primate. How different would intelligence be if it evolved from other ecological niches? Are there universal constants that define or constrain the nature of intelligence? Can we communicate with something truly alien?

Judaism and the Roots of Science Fiction
Sunday 8/19, 3-4pm, 210A
Rani Graff (M), Benjamin C. Kinney, Moshe Feder, Navah Wolfe, Elana Gomel
The Hugos are named after Jewish inventor Hugo Gernsback, who coined the term “science fiction” and Judiasm has had a big influence on the genre before and since. Jewish stories frequently explore diaspora, almost featuring it as a character or trait with space being the natural extension of that idea in everything from Star Trek to Space Balls. The ultimate displacement, if you will, but this time deliberately, purposefully, to seek out new life, etc. How does diaspora shape fiction? What is the state of Israeli SFF compared to Jewish SFF in the US?

Hugo Reception & Ceremony
Sunday 8/19, 6:30–??
Time to lose to some of the Best Semiprozine category’s excellent competition!

Readercon 2018 schedule

Next weekend I’ll be a guest at Readercon in Quincy, MA. My first time back to my home territory for convention purposes! Here’s where to find me:

Reading (with José Pablo Iriarte)
Friday 11:30am-12:00pm, Salon B
Joe Iriarte and I are sharing a reading slot. Come listen to our awesome projects! I will probably read something about my favorite baby artificial intelligence, but no promises. I only promise awesomeness.

Understanding Neuroscience
Friday 1-2pm, Salon C
“The human brain may be the most complex structure in the universe, but that won’t stop us from learning, thinking, and writing about it. How can we dive into something so impenetrable, and extract stories that are coherent, plausible, and free from the cliches of the past fifty years?”
• This solo presentation is an updated version of the talk I gave at the 2017 Nebula Conference, so if you missed it there, now’s your time!

Lethe and Mnemosyne: Memory as Plot Device
Saturday 1-2pm, Salon 6.
Tamara Vardomskaya, Elizabeth Bear, Yves Meynar, LJ Cohen, Benjamin C. Kinney
“Authors use amnesia and other types of lost and regained memory to reveal information to the reader as it’s revealed to or remembered by the protagonist. How does this type of narrative function? How does it change if a person’s memory can be stored externally, warped, or erased through technology or magic? This panel will explore works that make use of memory and examine its connections to other stories of what’s lost and found.”

Viable Paradise Alumni Dinner
Saturday Evening
If you’re a member of the Viable Paradise community, I’ll see you there!

Speculative Fiction in Audio: What’s Working and Why
Sunday 12-1pm, Salon C
Victoria Sandbrook, Benjamin C. Kinney, John Chu, Heath Miller, James Patrick Kelly
In 2017, 60 million people tuned in to podcasts, and episodes of Welcome to Night Vale had already been downloaded over 170 million times. Audiobook sales are skyrocketing. Podcast production value and diversity in formats and voices are improving daily. This panel will discuss the radio dramas, short story podcasts, serials, audiobooks, and other listenable forms of speculative fiction, and how they’re influencing storytelling.

Kaffeeklatsch
Sunday 2-3pm, Seven Masts
Want to talk to me about neuroscience, Escape Pod, or anything else? Let’s get a coffee and nurse our hypothetical hangovers together!

Motion Illusions and Adaptation

I don’t care if it’s Tuesday! Linear time bends to my whim, and we have a NeuroThursday on the ubiquitous “motion aftereffect” illusion, and the cellular properties that cause it!

Twitter:

Threadreader page:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1014328050287247360.html

Fourth Street Fantasy 2018

This weekend is the Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minneapolis, and I’m delighted to be a panelist there once again!

You can find the full schedule here, but I’ll be on the following panel:

Saturday, June 23, 8:00 PM: Who Put This $#@!! Balrog Lair in the Middle of a Sewer Line? (Alternate Title: Life in the Temporary Topmost Layer)

Elizabeth Bear, Benjamin C. Kinney, Arkady Martine(M), Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Vivian Shaw

The Balrog, of course, would say “Who tried to drive a &^%#!! sewer line through the middle of my lair?” First principle: We’re not all that excellent at shunning risk even when we manage to identify it. Some of our cities are literally sinking, while others are precariously perched next to volcanoes, and yet we keep buying new furniture anyway, c’est la vie.

Second principle: We’re all living on top of stacked and flattened layers of history. Our nations spread over the bones and borders of the nations they replaced by fair means or foul. Our neighborhoods are named for trades or functions that vanished decades ago, our streets were built for the vehicles of ages past, and they were built atop still older streets and neighborhoods.

Combine these two principles and you begin to construct a fascinating, disquieting picture of how our lives are shaped by the compacted strata of legacy infrastructure, detritus, and danger beneath our very feet. All the layers of history in a place act upon the living. How and when has this been accurately reflected in fantasy fiction? How do you present the secrets and dangers of a fantasy landscape as a vivid influence on its inhabitants rather than a meaningless detail on a map or list? Also, how do we grapple with the notion that we must some day become just another thin line in someone else’s deeply-layered history?

Synesthesia & Evolutionary Psychology

NeuroThursday reappeared this week in a flash of numbers and sound, to tell us about synesthesia! The condition, and its implications for how we think about human evolution.

Twitter thread:

Thread Reader page:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1007413448647561216.html

Story Sale: The Gentry

Earlier this year, I wrote about my Fairy Gentrification Story: how it sold to PerVisions right before the magazine folded. But joy be upon us, “The Gentry” has now sold to Kaleidotrope!

The diner with the portal between worlds closed down years ago, but our last stranded fairy chevalier will make it home in 2020.

This makes 5.5 short story acceptance letters in 2018 (the half is WotF), but the first one that has led to a contract.

Yanni, Laurel, and McGurk: Auditory Illusions

NeuroThursday this week is on auditory illusions, as inspired by Yanni/Laurel!

ThreadReader:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/997278732493746182.html

Twitter:

Two Spaces of Analysis

NeuroThursday took some unexpected (to me) twists and turns this week, as a piece about that silly “two spaces are better!” article turned into an object lesson on the challenges of scientific analysis!

Thread Reader

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/994760033224286208.html

Twitter

Body Position

NeuroThursday is stumbling on through with a second piece on balance: this time, the “proprioceptive” senses your body uses to keep track of its own position.

Threadreader link

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/989660943826202624.html

Twitter thread