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

Withdrawing from Writers of the Future

Earlier this week, I received a phone call informing me that my final submission to the Writers of the Future contest (first quarter 2018) had been selected as a finalist. However, after contemplating the information1 that past winners have shared about the contest in recent weeks, I have withdrawn my finalist story from consideration.

I would not judge anyone for their past (or future) decisions to be involved in the contest, whether or not they act(ed) out of ignorance. After all, many writers – myself included – have long treated this contest as a normal fixture of our community. I hope my choice will help encourage others to reexamine that assumption.

For myself, no award is worth supporting an organization that has hurt and misused so many friends, fellow authors, illustrators, and human beings.

[Updated April 25 with more links in the footnote.]

SoCIA 2018

This past weekend I attended the 2018 Social & Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology conference, an academic gathering for the discussion of social, ethical, and theoretical ramifications of humankind’s interactions with space.

Only about a hundred people could attend, but I’ve gathered my livetweet notes here so you can read up on all these amazing topics! I covered ~40% of the conference, so you should be able to find more notes across the internet via the #SoCIA18 hashtag.

All notes are in Thread Reader form. To read/comment in the original twitter, just click through. For a quick tour, * indicates my personal favorites.