Last year has passed and all of us are likely winding down. There was the post-Con high, the post-Con low, a few days of trying to figure out what kind of people we want to be (work in progress), and now we need to look ahead. To be honest, I have already had those discussions, small ones, with Nancy, the SF Track Manager, and my bosses in programming.
Next year is coming quick, and that means we have to digest what we learned this year and roll it forward into next year. One of the biggest lessons is that there is an interest in the psychology of SF and that is something we will continue to work with . There are tons of potential panels in that vein alone. I also think that, with a few exceptions, the zeitgeist of SF is more interesting to people than specific works. I want to honor this idea, but I also want to re-emphasize the literary nature of JordanCon and talk more about books. We have a few ideas along that line too. A comparison of religions in various works might be a good one.
And we may see the return of the Wheel of Time tie-in panel. It has been a few years since we did The Wheel of Space Time and talking about WoT as a space opera or potential space opera could be fun. Finally, I intend to get us out of our seats in out-of-traditional panels at least once. Of course we will always be accessible in our content, but having a more dynamic panel is an experiment I want to try.
But as always, I am open to your ideas. The inbox for email@example.com is always open.
Next week we will get back to books and talk about contemporary authors.
JordanCon’s SF track has been around for seven years now, though I have only been running it for six of those years. It has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to do so. I think I have mentioned this before, but my intention was to only run the track for three years. Three years would be a good run, yeah? Well they keep asking me back and I keep saying yes. I know quite a lot, but I am hardly what one might call an expert. I have not read or seen all the old classics or all of the new classics. Which brings me to the stars we had as panelists this year. I have a hard time picking just one, though the Cryptids panel and the Psychology of Fear panel were both very well attended. Standing room only in one case.
Also, thank you to the members of the Cult of Murder Lizard Spy Perplexed. You know who you are. #thecultgrows
However, there were times when I imagined the track as one of the eponymous cryptids that we talked about in our track. The growth of the track has been noticeable and our small group of SF track groupies has grown as well, but there is room for plenty more. I will talk about next year’s plans in the next blog. But I want to say that what works for the membership is not always what we offer. Some panels are hits and some are misses, and even when I or the crew are passionate about a particular subject, it may not be something you have interest in. And that is okay, because we are learning and experimenting and finding a good audience. Thank you for those who drop in and for those who have not yet, the door is always open. Except that one panel because we had room limits and it was full.
Part III will be about next year and Part IV will talk a little about why we SF.
Are you greedy for content from some of your favorite JordanCon track directors and guests?
Well then do we have the panel for you! From the good offices and fertile imagination of Tiff, the JordanCon fantasy track director, and John Hartness, the publisher at Falstaff Books, who joined me in a recorded discussion of Wandavision, which debuted earlier this year. Wandavision picks up the story of the MCU’s Wanda Maximoff as she tries to move on with her life in the wake of the events of Avenger’s: Endgame and the death of Vision, with whom she had a relationship.
The following is a tiny bit of spoiler:
Tiff, John, and myself discuss Wandavision, focusing on the aspects of grief, trauma, and how it affects those around you. We all share our thoughts on the series and the characters, discussing our impressions and the moments that spoke to us as individuals. It is not a spoiler to say we all enjoyed the series, and we hope that you will enjoy our discussion of it. The talk does touch on trauma and loss, so a heads up if you are dealing with similar issues in your personal life.
We hope you enjoy this taste of what is to come. See you in July!
Welcome back to the first Weirdsday blog for Jordancon 2020. It also happens to be the first week of October, which means SF HORROR tropes. One of these days we might have to do a panel specifically on SF & Horror. Today I want to talk about the machines that we fear, but first let’s talk about April of 2020.
One of the things we are going to strive for this upcoming year is a sense of asymmetry in our panels. While I do not have an exact plan and we are limited in what we can do (sorry, no VR panels yet) each year I want to make changes in our presentations to make the track unique. This year we are looking at more interactive panels, giving you more things to do and more ways to interact with the content. Don’t expect leaps and bounds, but keep an eye out for some differences. As always we love your feedback.
There will also be more science focused panels. And they will be fun! At least I think they will be. We have a great resource of science focused members and those who can converse in the language of technology, that we want to take greater advantage of that. Again if you have any ideas that are feasible, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Deadly Machines
I thought we would kick off our SF Horror Month with a discussion of the machines that we love to fear. Science Fiction is full of machines that prey on people and in such antagonists we find much entertainment. Machines plague the human psyche in ways that are different than say, a face stealing alien. Robots and mechanization are something we deal with every day. These machines lesson our load but they also take away jobs and lack the human touch associated with good customer service. Now Alexa and her machine tribe can run our homes and order our groceries, giving a great deal of power to the machines and those who control them.
Who are these murder machines? Science Fiction is full of them. It could be argued that Frankenstein’s monster is a machine of sorts, but we won’t count Mary Shelley’s seminal masterpiece. Instead let’s concentrate on a few well known and not well known members of this particular club.
As I was thinking about this week’s blog, Ash from Alien is the first robot that came to mind. Ash is more android than robot with is human like appearance. This makes Ash very dangerous as he is able to hide his nature and the nature of his programming from the rest of the crew. We can give a shout out to Michael Fassbender’s David as well. Of course we cannot fail to mention the Terminator in all of its different guises. Although I think the original machine is the scariest, the others are remorseless in their own right.
My own favorite SF murder machine is Maximilian from Disney’s The Black Hole. Max is legitimately scary and one can imagine its creator making sure there is not an ounce of humanity in the machine, so that it can be the perfect foreman. That said, I think Maximilian is a great character in a movie that is widely underappreciated.
What are your favorite SF murder machines? Feel free to comment!
I am sitting here the Monday after Jordancon 2019, trying to get real life started again in a way that does not feel too abrupt. So far so good and with the musings from the 2019 Jordancon still in my head, I wanted to take a few minutes and roll them out.
Gratitude is too slim a word to express how I feel towards the panelists and the members who attended the panels. This year was a complete success for the SF Track from beginning to end. Every panel had good attendance and some the discussions spawned were interesting, to say the least. I want to mention a few folks by name whom made the track as good as it was this year.
Want to start off with Nancy McCullough my track XO. Nancy was there, asking how she could help, moderating panels, and doing a great job as always. Her presence allows me to leave the track room and engage other parts of Jordancon. When you see Nancy at Jordancon or if you know her, give her a high five, because Nancy more than earned it.
I am starting to get a few track regulars and I wanted to give a shout out. Gerald L. Coleman, Milton Davis, Amy DuBoff, Darin M. Bush, and JD Jordan: you were all amazing. Of course Billy Todd made our Star Trek panel awesome along with track newcomer Mark McCray. Between the two of them there is a metric ton of Star Trek knowledge. Quinn Howard delivered great insight and Jenn Lyons (and her husband) showed off her genre chops and enthusiasm. Will Kenyon and Valerie Lauer made for a great Hyperion panel on Saturday night. Danyelle Denham has been at every Smackdown and makes them fun even when I make a mess of it.
Speaking of the Smackdown… This year was great. I think the new format worked out pretty well and next year we will choose some different categories as well. Again, feedback is great both now while it is fresh in your heads and right before the Con when we are making things happen. There will be some tweaks next year to tighten down the rules.
As mentioned, all of the panels were good. Every. Single. One. Maybe not perfect but the energy and the discussions were A+. The SF Indie Authors round table was fantastic and the panelists networking during and after was fun to watch. The Expanse was popular and the Rise of the AI (thanks Darin) had some great conversations.
But there is no doubt that my favorite panel was the Dune for Wheel of Time fans panel. I love the WoT tie in panels I run and this has got to be my favorite of them so far. Honestly, I am not sure how I am going to top it next year.
So Say We All & Terror in 2020
Like many (or all) of you I am already thinking about next year. All I can say right now is:
Think about what inspires you
Think about what scares you
Think outside the box
…and tune in next week for out total unofficial track preview.