Category Archives: Appearances

Archon 43 Schedule

My panel schedule for Archon 43 look super exciting this year – I hope you’ll come join me!

Science Fiction vs. Fantasy

5 Oct 2019, Saturday 12:00 – 13:00, Madison C & D (DoubleTree – Collinsville)
Usually lumped into one, but which one is actually more popular? Is it cyclical?
Joey Froehlich (M), Mrs. E Susan Baugh, The Tom Meserole, Rich Horton, Benjamin C. Kinney

Searching for Markets and Writing to Them

5 Oct 2019, Saturday 13:00 – 14:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
An explanation of how writers find markets, build up a pro career, get paid to write (even if it is just a bit).
Kasey Mackenzie (M), Benjamin C. Kinney, Elizabeth Donald, Thomas Carpenter, Brock J. Hanke

The Same ol’ Trope and Dance

5 Oct 2019, Saturday 17:00 – 18:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
Editors want the newest freshest story…right?
Meg Elison (M), Angie Fox, Ms Joy Ward, Benjamin C. Kinney, Daniel Abraham

When to Finish Your Story

6 Oct 2019, Sunday 12:00 – 13:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
How to stop before you ruin your story.
Kasey Mackenzie (M), Mr Mark Tiedemann, Benjamin C. Kinney, Ty Franck, Rich Horton

Myths and Legends

6 Oct 2019, Sunday 13:00 – 14:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
Why are we still drawn to stories and characters hundreds or thousands of years old?
Mr Thomas Stratman (M), Sela Carsen, Benjamin C. Kinney

Dublin Worldcon 2019 Schedule

Three weeks from today begins the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Dublin, and I’ll be on programming!

Here’s where you can find me:

Escape Artists podcast – Live Recording

16 Aug 2019, Friday 13:00 – 13:50, Wicklow Hall 2B (CCD)

Come learn more about free weekly podcast fiction! Join the Escape Artists for an audio fiction show presented by all four EA podcasts — Escape Pod, PseudoPod, PodCastle and Cast of Wonders. There’ll be a Q&A session, swag giveaways, all the latest news, and live readings.

Talk: Neuroscience for writers and readers: the evolved brain

16 Aug 2019, Friday 15:30 – 16:20, Odeon 4 (Point Square Dublin)

The human brain and mind have been topics of fiction since time immemorial, but our stories don’t always keep up with the science. The classic science fictional frameworks of the last fifty years have produced a lot of great stories, but a better understanding of the brain can lead us to new stories and new ideas. How can we, as writers and readers, make sense of the most complex structure in the world?
This will be an updated version of the talk given at the 2017 Nebula Conference and 2018 Readercon.

Panel: What writers need to know: the brain and body

16 Aug 2019, Friday 18:00 – 18:50, Wicklow Hall 2B (CCD)

This is the first of a two-part series of panels designed to help authors on science topics. Join our panel of experts who share the ins and outs about the brain and body. Let’s dive into what’s possible, impossible, and probable at some point in the future. How do you write about medical issues without a medical background? How much do you need to know and how much can you fake, and can a writer ensure that they are getting their body and brain science right?

Kaffeeklatsch: Benjamin C. Kinney

18 Aug 2019, Sunday 10:00 – 10:50, Level 3 Foyer (KK/LB) (CCD)

Did my Friday talk inspire any neuroscience questions? Here’s your chance to pin me down with caffeine and pick my brain!

Panel: Intelligent Others in SF

18 Aug 2019, Sunday 15:30 – 16:20, Stratocaster BC (Point Square Dublin)

The outsiders. Inhuman intelligences. What are they and what do they signify? Let’s explore the concept of aliens, mutants, cyborgs, artificial intelligences, and other cases in which sentience is different to our own. How difficult is it to write from the perspective of a non-human sentience? Will we inevitably insert some humanity into our inhuman creations and what does that make them?

Fourth Street Fantasy schedule 2019

Fourth Street fantasy is this coming weekend, with a fantastic lineup of programming!

In a wonderful little convention packed with smart people & deep ideas, I’ll be on one panel. Since it’s a one-track con, you won’t miss it if you’re attending, but I still want to highlight it here for delight & for the record:

7:00 PM – When Gods Step In

Robyn Bennis, Pamela Dean, Benjamin C. Kinney, Scott Lynch (M), Jenn Lyons

In fantasy, it’s no surprise to see gods taking an active hand in the story—except sometimes, that fundamentally changes all the rules. With stories that can feature beings of unprecedented power, how do we manage stakes and agency? How can gods act as divine intervention without becoming narratively unsatisfying deus ex machina, how can characters do anything that matters if free will is negotiable or fate isn’t, and how do you depict their faith or understandings of magic in a nuanced way when gods are provably real? When we reference gods in our determinations of how the rules of fantasy worlds work, that affects what it means to challenge of any understanding of what has “always” been “true,” and it shades how we read stories about exercising freedom under systems we can’t comprehend or influence. This panel will discuss how we navigate the awesome potential for power and problems of gods literally and figuratively stepping into our stories.

Readercon schedule 2019

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be appearing at Readercon in Quincy MA on July 11-14! Here’s where you can find me:

Friday 6:00 PM
Concierge Lounge – Kaffeeklatsch
If you want to pick my brain about neuroscience stuff, here’s your chance to trap me with caffeine!

xFriday 8:00 PM
Sylvanus Thayer – Reading
Who needs dinner? Come hear me read something awesome! I’m thinking “A Breath of Salt,” the Writers of the Future finalist story I withdrew from the contest. An epic fantasy with religious sorcery pirates, faith journeys in a world of real-but-transcendent pantheistic gods, and a CW for suicidal ideation.

Saturday 7:00 PM
Salon B – The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of Bicameral Models
Ruthanna Emrys, Benjamin C. Kinney, John P. Murphy (mod), John O’Neil
Computer science and neuroscience may each be getting closer to the mysteries of cognition, but they do so from very different directions. How do they inform each other, and how do they get in each other’s way? Are their differences reconcilable? For that matter, is it even meaningful to think of them as being about the same thing? What do their cutting edges imply for our own deep dreams of fantastika?

Sunday 2:00 PM
Salon 4 – From Seed to Story: How to Escape the Slush Pile
Martin Cahill, Scott Edelman, James Patrick Kelly (mod), Benjamin C. Kinney, Kenneth Schneyer
As Ann Leckie explained in a 2013 blog post, even great writers will have stories rejected if they write 7,000 words around an underdeveloped idea. So what kind of research should go into a short story? How much plot and exposition are called for? What questions should the writer be asking and answering before they even start writing? Panelists will explore various methods by which a story seed can be nurtured into something publishable.

Archon 42 Schedule

We’re less than a month away from Archon, the midwest’s most excellent fan-run science fiction & fantasy convention! If you want to find me, here’s my schedule:

Author Reading with Benjamin Philip, Van Plexico, and Daniel Yezbik
Saturday 10:00 – 11:00, Illini A (Gateway Center)
Benjamin C. Kinney, Van Plexico, Prof Daniel Yezbick

Does Science Fiction Still Give Us Hope?
Saturday 12:00 – 13:00, Lasalle (Gateway Center)
Cynthianna/ Celine Chatillon (M), Christine Amsden, Charlie Jane Anders, Mr Mark Tiedemann, Benjamin C. Kinney
Science Fiction has shown us the greatness we could strive for in the future. Is it still capable of that or are we too jaded?

Editing: Behind the Scenes
Saturday 13:00 – 14:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
Cynthianna/ Celine Chatillon (M), Benjamin C. Kinney, Prof Daniel Yezbick, Ms Joy Ward , Edward Stasheff
A chance for new authors to understand what happens to stories after they’re submitted.

Religion and its Place in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Saturday 15:00 – 16:00, Madison C & D (DoubleTree – Collinsville)
Setsu Uzume (M), David Benem, Benjamin C. Kinney, Ms Judi Cook
Plenty of our favorite worlds have their own religion, or have a mix of real world religions. How do they stem from what we know in the real world?

Understanding Non-Human Point of View
Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
Kathryn Sullivan (M), Kasey Mackenzie, Benjamin C. Kinney, Mr Mark Tiedemann
Characters don’t always have to be human. Discuss how to effectively create a POV for an animals or other non-human character.

I’m going to have a busy Saturday midday, but your presence and enjoyment shall carry me through!

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!

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?

Social & Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology Notes (2016)

As part of Storify’s shutdown, I now want to use my website to archive important Twitter threads. So here are some awesome threads from the first Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (SoCIA) conference. These are incomplete, and sometimes abbreviated, but there’s still a lot of fascinating science, philosophy, and theory in here!

If you think these topics look awesome, keep an eye out for SoCIA 2018 this coming April!

“Is talking to aliens like talking to your cats?”, Sara Waller

“Cosmic complexity,” Kelly Smith

“Impossible Friendships: human-alien relationships,” Jonathan Trerise

“The role of worldview in predicting societal impact of discovering ET life,” Connie Bertka

“Anthropocentrism, exoplanets, and the cosmic perspective,” Neil Manson

“The life bias in planetary protection,” Jim Schwartz

Keynote: “Homo Astronauticus: cultural implications of space colonization,” Sheyna Gifford

“Astrobiology research & policy dilemmas in public decision making,” Margaret Race

“Astrobiology education via interactive alien construction,” Randall Hayes

“Astrobiology, ET, and ETI: science & speculation,” Linda Billings

“Replicator Theory: testing evolutionary theories of life,” Lucas Mix

“Toward a Family Resemblance definition of life,” Erik Persson

“Extending the Idea of Wilderness Beyond Earth,” Alan Johnson.

“Human life and ethics in outer space,” Koji Tachibana

“Astrobiology and the precautionary principle,” Mark Lupisella

“Convergences in the ethics of space exploration,” Brian Green

“Ethical obligations between us and extraterrestrial life,” Adam Potthast