Worldcon Schedule 2020

2020 Worldcon (CoNZealand) is just around the corner! They’ve had some scheduling and related issues, but it looks like most of those issues have gotten sorted out, through lots of behind-the-scenes help from the Hugo finalist crew and other volunteers. Here’s my final lineup!

This event belongs to Alasdair and Marguerite, co-owners of Escape Artists, but I’ll show up for sure to say hi to Escape Pod fans!

Brain-machine interfaces are currently in early clinical trials, and they’ve proven the ability to let a human brain control a robotic limb. Sometime in the coming years, this technology will move from the laboratory to the public. How might society respond to the option of becoming a cyborg, and the presence of cyborgs among us? Many factors will influence this, including media, fiction, aesthetics, and what kinds of organizations drive the rollout. What responses do we expect, and how will these  responses vary in different cultures and communities?

Panelists: Benjamin C. Kinney (M), SL Huang, SB Divya, Errick Nunnally

Coffee time for New Zealand’s timezone, beer for me in the US. Have any questions about Escape Pod, or want to discuss a bit of neuroscience for your fiction and/or curioisity? Come hang out!

Is corporate control of research and the drive for short-term profit crippling scientific innovation and basic research? Do established companies always feel threatened by new technology and lobby for legislation to restrict it?

Panelists: Benjamin C. Kinney (M), Raymond Sheh, Keith Kato, Diane Kelly

Human rights are a contentious issue – while many nations signed the UN Declaration on Human Rights, that consensus only formed because the Declaration doesn’t specify where rights come from. How can the definition and origin of “universal” rights grapple with the rise of general artificial intelligence? What rights are inherent to people made of small, sub-sentient devices scattered across an asteroid belt, or to algorithms of commercial origin? Will the AIs think we deserve rights, or will they resent slow meatbrained humans passing judgment on them?

Panelists: Dr. Hirotaka Osawa, L.J. Kendall, Barbara Howe, Mikko Rauhala (M), Benjamin C. Kinney

Thalience and sentience. Is there really a difference? How do we tease it out?

Panelists: Karl Schroeder (M), Benjamin C. Kinney, Eli K.P. William, SB Divya

Want to help me pick which of my stories to read? Poll forthcoming on twitter early next week!

Fourth Street Fantasy Podcasts

In-person conventions may be canceled this year, but the community has prepared all kinds of remote options for you to enjoy. Fourth Street Fantasy is one of my favorite conventions, known for its tight-knit community and high-level discussions. This year, 4th Street is bringing those discussions straight to you in four panels, presented in podcast form (with transcripts).

This year’s panels are:

  • “In Which We Consider the Role of Hospitality in Stories”
  • “The Fantasy Feast, or the Same Old Immediate Road Stew”
  • “This is Fine: Making Art While the World Burns”
  • “Systems of Communication”

I’m especially excited about that last one, because you can hear Yours Truly on it, in discussion with Django Wexler, John Appel, Arkady Martine, and Sherwood Smith!

2020 4th Street Programming – Podcast Edition

 

Publication: The Gentry

My short story, The Gentry, is live in the Summer 2020 issue of Kaleidotrope! Alongside 6 other excellent stories and five poems, you’ll find my tale of the diner with the portal between worlds… after the owners have retired, and condos have gone up in its place, and one last fairy chevalier is still stuck on Earth.

This story has gone through a long and twisty history – it once killed the professional magazine PerVisions. But the chevalier has made it back to New York at last.

Some notes and background on the story below the fold. Contains spoilers.

Continue reading

Time Cookie Wars in Drabblecast

Time is cyclical, and so are the wars over the perfect snack. My story The Time Cookie Wars has appeared in Drabblecast, as part of its episode 426 Flash Trifecta! The episode’s theme is “Friends close, enemies closer,” which is a perfect fit for this story. Sometimes the enemy is very close indeed.

Whether this is your first time reading/hearing Time Cookie Wars, or you want to hear a wonderful new narration alongside a pair of fresh weird stories, go check it out!

If you want to learn more about the story’s inspiration, check out the author notes I posted alongside its first publication.

Story Sale: Weights and Measures

I’m delighted to announce that my short story Weights and Measures will be appearing in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly in November 2020!

This story takes place in the same world as my unpublished Conquistador Dragon Novel (and even shares a character with it). It’s a fantasy world where the only source of magic is gods and religion. Our main character, Prelate Agnella, is a banker-priestess of the globe-spanning Church of the Trader. For all the church’s flaws, theirs is the god of trade, exchange, and fairness. Sometimes, the only justice in this world is what they bring to it.

I’m so glad this story has found a home after its long journeys. It was a Writers of the Future finalist in 2017 (prior to the piece I withdrew in 2018), and was accepted by the ill-omened Spectacle Magazine, though the latter folded before publication (or payment). Now it’s going out into the world, with original art!

FenCon Postponed

In sad-but-necessary news, FenCon XVII has been postponed from 2020 to 2021.

If you were looking forward to my appearance as Science Guest of Honor (like I was), fear not: I plan to be there in Dallas/Fort Worth next year  (September 17-19 2021), alongside all the rest of the excellent GoH list!

Neuroscience for Writers: The Slides

Thank you to all the 80+ people who attended my “Neuroscience for Writers: The Evolved Brain” talk at Flights of Foundry! Lots of attendees asked for the slides, as did some of you out there who hadn’t been able to attend. So I’m happy to provide: you can download the slides here. I may take the slides offline in a week or two (i.e. early June 2020), but if so I’ll update this post.

Slides aren’t everything, of course. I like to hope that my ramblingcharming presence adds something beyond the mere powerpoint. I hope I’ll get the privilege to share the talk again at future conventions, online or in person. This was the 4th time I’ve given the “Neuroscience for Writers” talk, but no two deliveries are alike. Every year I update and improve it – and more importantly, share it with a new audience.

Flights of Foundry

Are you stuck at home this weekend and looking for the experience of a science fiction convention? Come on over to Flights of Foundry, an online convention for people interested in the speculative arts! It’s run by Dream Foundry, the world’s only organization dedicated to supporting early-career creators in the speculative genres. If you’re interested in speculative writing, art, game writing, or anything else, this weekend is your chance to come learn from the best! Guests of Honor include Ken Liu, Liz Gorinsky, Suzanne Walker, Grace Fong, Andrea Phillips, and more.

Registration will be open through the weekend, but if you want to get in the lottery for limited-entry sessions, deadline is tonight (Wednesday May 13). Registration cost is pay-what-you-can, with recommended donation of $30.

I love what Dream Foundry does, and I’ll be all over the convention. Here are the programming items I’ll be on: a kaffeeklatsch (hangout), a reading, a neuroscience talk, and two panels.

UPDATE: Sunday 1-3pm will be the Escape Artists Room Party. It’s open to everyone, so please come hang out with a bunch of staff from Escape Pod and all the Escape Artists podcasts!

Ben Kinney's Flights of Foundry schedule

All times are Central Daylight Time.

I hope to see you there!

 

Escape Pod Turns 15

Today is Escape Pod’s 15th birthday! That is approximately 2.5 entire internets. To celebrate, we have a whole host of announcements.

I’ve only been Escape Pod’s assistant editor for about 3 of those years, but it’s glorious and humbling to remember that is a mere 1/5th of the Pod’s lifespan. I’m proud to help helm ths ship ever onward, to the finest heights of science fiction. It’s been such a joy the last few years to get award recognition for our years of work bringing free, listener-supported science fiction stories and readings to the world.

If you want to give a birthday present to Escape Pod AND yourself, pre-order our upcoming print anthology! It’s got stories from Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Scalzi, and more, including nine works of original fiction.

I’ve also heard tell that Escape Pod co-editor Mur Lafferty and publisher Alasdair Stuart are co-writing a new a new adventure for the Zombies, Run! app, coming out this August. Special offers will be available for Escape Artists fans and supporters!

2020 Hugo Award Finalist

So this happened. And by “this,” I mean Escape Pod receiving its second nomination as a Hugo Award finalist.

List of Best Semiprozine finalists in 2020 Hugo Awards

Thank you to all our listeners, readers, and supporters who make all this worth doing! And extra thanks to the rest of the Escape Pod crew. Divya and Mur, our incomparable co-pilots; Adam and Summer who assemble the pieces into magic, Tina and Alasdair whose smooth and sonorous voices help us guide the ship in every week, and most importantly the entire crew of Associate Editors who do the work day in and day out to keep stories read & the pod flying: Kay, Jen, Sandy, Darusha, Ryan, Premee, Kevin, Izzy, James, Phoebe, Jen, Shiv,1 and Karlo!