AD ASTRA Schedule

Hi all –

Well, the final schedule for next week’s Ad Astra convention has been finalized and passed around to the participants. I presume it will shortly be available on the Ad Astra website.

Here’s the schedule of the panels I’m involved with and the UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS launch:

Sat 10:00 AM
Not Just a Fiction Writer
(Panelists: Terence M. Green (mod), Jana Paniccia, Elizabeth Westbrook, Brett Savory, Stephen Kotowych)
What else can a fiction writer do – are there other areas of publishing that might dovetail with writing? Can you still maintain a day job and do more? Does working in the industry help or hinder? What other avenues are out there for those who want to do more than just write?

Sun 11:00 AM
Writers of the Future Anthology
(Panelists: James Alan Gardner (mod), Stephen Kotowych, Jim C. Hines, Mike Rimar, Robert J. Sawyer, Tony Pi)
A discussion about the contest with judges, past winners and participants.

Sun 12:00 PM
Under Cover of Darkness Meet & Greet (and Game Finale)
(Jana Paniccia, Julie Czerneda, Douglas Smith, Amanda Bloss Maloney, Stephen Kotowych, et al.)
Join the editors and authors (this is your one chance to catch the full international flavour) to celebrate conspiracy theory as only science fiction and fantasy can! All secrets will be uncovered. All truths will be revealed. Collect your prize! Unless of course, this is the biggest conspiracy of them all.

Maybe I’ll see some of you in audience! If we haven’t already met, please come and say hello (and if we have met, well, come say hello anyway 🙂

Below, marked with asterisks, are the various panels I hope to attend (and some of the great alternates available at the same time that make it hard to choose!):

Fri 7:00 PM
* Dueling Openings
(Douglas Smith (mod), Mike Rimar, Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Robert Boyczuk, David Nickle)
Aspiring short fiction writers (audience participation required!) take turns reading the opening lines of their published stories, and the audience chooses which opening(s) they like best. Authors discuss what makes a good opening, why they’re important

Fri 8:00 PM
* Birthstones book launch
(Phyllis Gotlieb, Robert J. Sawyer)
Come celebrate the launch of Phyllis Gotlieb’s latest novel, Birthstones, published by Robert J. Sawyer Books. Phyllis’s career is now in its fifth decade, and she’s without doubt the founding mother of Canadian SF. Join Phyllis and her editor for the world premiere of this far-future tale from Gotlieb’s famed Galactic Federation, a brilliant hard SF novel with an afterword by Nalo Hopkinson.

Fri 9:00 PM
* Going to the Moon, Redux
(Paul Roberts (mod), David Stephenson, Andre Lieven, Eric Briggs)
What’s right and what’s wrong about NASA’s lunar program and how would you do it better.

Under Cover of Darkness Info Panel
(Julie Czerneda, Sarah Jane Elliott, Karina Sumner-Smith, Leah Bobet)
The anthology Under Cover of Darkness is not what it seems. Follow the clues. Solve the Mystery. Uncover the Truth. It all begins here. (The Under Cover interactive game will run throughout the weekend, ending at noon on Sunday at the meet and greet finale. There will be prizes.)
– I’m not sure if I have to be at this panel (because I’m participating in the game–come find me for clues!–but have no idea how it is to run) so I may need to skip the Moon panel.

Cool Tools
(Parrish Kilthei (mod), Miguel Sternberg)
Ever wonder about all the different tools used by a comic book artist? Then this panel is for you. An introductory workshop on the tools and techniques of the trade.
– I have a long-standing love of comics and the graphic form, and have even produced a series of comics for my friends based on a long-running inside joke. So I think this would be really interesting and probably very useful…if only I could draw better.

Sat 10:00 AM
* Not Just a Fiction Writer
(Terence M. Green (mod), Jana Paniccia, Elizabeth Westbrook, Brett Savory, Stephen Kotowych)
What else can a fiction writer do – are there other areas of publishing that might dovetail with writing? Can you still maintain a day job and do more? Does working in the industry help or hinder? What other avenues are out there for those who “want to do more than just write?
– obviously I’m going to be here…

Powering the 21st Century
(David Stephenson)
We have health and prosperity because we live in an industrialized civilization, but to do so we consume vast quantities of fossil fuels. The peoples of India and China have seen our life style and they want it. For a host of reasons this will not be possible. This presentation examines our planetary predicament and the challenge of providing a sustainable, and desirable future for the human race.

Future of Computing
(Cory Doctorow (mod), Marcel Gagne)
– no description with this one, but I’d love to hear Cory Doctorow’s thoughts on the topic

Sat 11:00 AM
* How to Get Published in 21 Languages
(Douglas Smith)
Discussion of foreign markets for short fiction in SF&F genres and the dos and don’ts of selling to them.

Guest of Honour Hour: Ed Beard
(Ed Beard, Jr.)
Step by Step AV presentation – watch the process of a how a sketch becomes a finished painting. Topics include book covers, games, novelties, myths and legends.
– again, my love of graphic art. I just think this would be really cool to see.

The Afterlife as a Fantasy Setting
(James Alan Gardner (mod), Derwin Mak, Ian O’Neill, Kelley Armstrong, Timothy Carter)
Is the afterlife a viable setting for a fantasy world? Are there concerns the author needs to address? Or are all aspects of it “fair game” as in any other fantastical world?
– an interesting topic. Jim Gardner is a great guy, great panelist, and really funny and any panel he’s on is the better for it. It’s going to be a real kick to be in the WotF panel with him.

Polaris book launch
(Julie Czerneda, Emily Mah, Anna Paradox)
Take part in the International Polar Year and celebrate new original science fiction! Join Editor Julie E. Czerneda and contributors to POLARIS, A Celebration of Polar Science, for its debut launch at Ad Astra. Meet the winner of the IPY’s Youth Committee’s International Student Writing Competition, Sarah Neidoba. And enjoy something a little chilly!
– my that Julie Czerneda keeps busy, doesn’t she? 🙂

Sat 12:00 PM
* Guest of Honour Hour: Stephen Jones
(Stephen Jones, Interview by Michael Rowe)
– Stephen Jones: three World Fantasy Awards, three Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards and three International Horror Guild Awards as well as being a sixteen-time recipient of the British Fantasy Award and a Hugo Award nominee. ‘Nuff said. Time to pick his brain about how to become such a successful F/SF/H editor.

Sat 1:00 PM
* Security vs. Privacy
(Marcel Gagne (mod), Cory Doctorow, Anna Paradox, Kevin Brewer)
In computers, security is often considered a prime concern. Equally important and often ignored (or confused with security), however, is the notion of privacy. As the average user’s internet “data trail” grows, privacy is increasingly threatened both by calls for national security and through corporate data-mining. This panel is a discussion on the tradeoffs of security versus privacy, and on the future of security and privacy.

Ongoing Settings, Recurring Characters
(Rick Wilber (mod), Jim C. Hines, Violette Malan, Karin Lowachee, Alice Cooley)
Sometimes writers return time and again to a particular character who appears in various short stories, sometimes years apart in the publishing. Do writers feel constrained by what’s gone before for instance, or can you use the same character and change things around to suit the new story?

Sat 2:00 PM
* Extrasolar Planets
(Pat Hall (mod), David Stephenson, Eric Briggs)
Over 200 planets orbiting other stars have been discovered in the past twelve years. What are they like, and what impact do they have on science and science fiction?

Horror Stories from the World of Publishing
(Violette Malan (mod), Stephen Jones)
Hear tales of major screw-ups and problems in publishing, and how these mistakes were resolved.

Sat 3:00 PM
* Creating Geographically Accurate Worlds
(James Alan Gardner (mod), Shirley Meier, John Allen Price, Jeffrey Veber)
One of the perks of SF/F is that writers can dream up entire planets, but plunking jungles next to an ice cap might make it hard for readers to suspend disbelief. Come and join a discussion of how to make your imaginary world seem as real as possible by grounding it in geographic facts.

Guest of Honour Hour: Cory Doctorow
(Cory Doctorow)

What’s in a Name?
(Karin Lowachee (mod), Tony Pi, Jana Paniccia, Violette Malan, Hayden Trenholm)
Challenges and trends in naming characters, locations, races, etc. Where can you find names? Do more fantastical names turn some readers off? Is there a push for more realistic-sounding names?
– This panel is interesting because, for me, names are very important in my writing. The names I choose almost always have a deeper significance than simple nomenclature. I also keep my Dad in mind when I choose names. He doesn’t read a lot of fiction (he’s more a history and biography kinda guy) but he’s especially wary of SF & F because of the “weird names”. I try and keep them simple and unique, rather than long, complicated to pronounce, or too many that begin with the same consonant or vowel sound.

It’s the End of the World as We Write It
(Alan Katerinsky (mod), Glenn Grant, Allan Weiss, Scott Mackay, Marcos Donnelly)
What are the realistic chances of various end-of-the-world scenarios? How likely is it that anyone could survive? What kinds of themes and characters fit best into this kind of story?
– I’ve often wondered about the real-world possibilities of people surviving the various apocalypses that sci-fi has set upon fiction over the years. And Marcos Donnelly is a really neat guy, who I’ve met a couple of times now.)

Sat 4:00 PM
Alt.Space – The New Space Companies
(Paul Roberts)
Who are the players in the recent surge of small space companies, what do they do and what are they hoping to accomplish.

Aurora Awards: Fandom’s Choice for the Best Canadian SF&F
(Robert J. Sawyer (mod), Dennis Mullen)
Come and learn about the Aurora Awards, discuss past winners and find out how you can make nominations and vote.

Screenwriting: How It Can Help Any Writer
(Kelley Armstrong (mod), Ian O’Neill, Herb Kauderer, Isaac Szpidel)
Screenwriting involves a three act structure, dialogue, pacing, visualizing scenes and much more. It can improve your skills, no matter what kind of writing you do; this panel will show you how.

– I honestly can’t decide which of these panels I want to see most…Hmm…Thoughts?

Sat 5:00 PM
Video Games and Fiction
(Jeffrey Veber (mod), Declan Dennehy, Mark Ladouceur, Tony Pi)
Will videogames have an effect on fiction, as children who grew up playing them start to publish their own stories? Are we already seeing the effects? Is it confined to the more visual medium of comics?

Geopolitics as Entertainment
(Elizabeth Dubec (mod), Timothy Carter, Hayden Trenholm, Alexander von Thorn)
A discussion of how politics and science influence the stories of their time

– Again, these both sound really interesting…

Sat 6:00 PM
* Where Did This Go in the Future?
(James Alan Gardner (mod), John Mierau, Marc Mackay, Marcos Donnelly, Caro Soles)
In many SF works, a future is shown where aspects of our current society no longer exist. Some portray a world where poverty and hunger have been eradicated. Others seem to have limited cultural, religious, and sexual diversity. How well are these changes explained?

Sat 10:00 PM
* Astronomy in the Parking Lot
(Marcel Gagne, Pat Hall, Francois van Heerden, Eric Briggs)
A return of our popular stargazing panel. As an extra incentive to join in the fun, this Saturday March 3rd is the night of a lunar eclipse.
– this would be really neat, and I missed out last year, but it depends on two things: first, what’s the weather like and is the sky clear?; and second, I foolishly bought tickets to see Shout Out Out Out Out play at Lee’s Palace that night before I realized Ad Astra was so early this year. I can’t decide if I should stay and schoomze in the con suite and/or green room, or if I should see the show…Hmm…

Sun 10:00 AM
* Editing Tips and Tricks
(Anna Paradox (mod), Stephen Jones, Violette Malan)
Editing tips for authors who want to be published, people who want to edit for a living and even quick tricks for hobby/fan fiction writers who don’t necessarily want to be published but want to present their work well.

The Serial: More Than Just Magazines
(Alan Katerinsky (mod), Rob St. Martin, Lorne Kates, Robert J. Sawyer)
From Bram Stoker’s Dracula being posted chronologically on a blog, to online stories and comics, to podcasts, serialized fiction is being presented to audiences in a variety of new ways. Is the serial undergoing a revival, or has it always been going strong?

NaNoWriMo
(Kelley Armstrong (mod), Marc Mackay, Julie Scott, Jeffrey Veber)
Panelists discuss their experience writing (or attempting to write) an entire novel in one short month, including lessons learned, dealing with burnout, and the chances of producing good work under the circumstances.

Sun 11:00 AM
* Writers of the Future Anthology
(James Alan Gardner (mod), Stephen Kotowych, Jim C. Hines, Mike Rimar, Robert J. Sawyer, Tony Pi)
A discussion about the contest with judges, past winners and participants.
– again, like I’d miss this panel. It’s going to be such a blast being on a panel with Jim Gardner and Rob Sawyer. I just hope I can carry myself well.

Real Issues, Imaginary Worlds
(Glenn Grant (mod), Emily Mah, John Mierau, Mark Ladouceur, Timothy Carter)
In today’s society issue based stories can seem forced or preachy, but SF and fantasy is often used as a medium to discuss real world issues.

What Happened to High Fantasy?
(Violette Malan (mod), Caitlin Sweet, Marc Mackay, Shirley Meier)
This genre used to be very common, and now seems harder to find. What happened to the epic stories? Does it not fit in to our society anymore? Why does it no longer seem as in vogue?
– I used to read mostly fantasy, but then I stopped (right around the time when there was 2+ years between each Wheel of Time book). Maybe it was more because fantasy changed and I just didn’t realize it. An interesting panel which, alas, I’ll need to miss.

Sun 12:00 PM
* Under Cover of Darkness Meet & Greet (and Game Finale)
(Jana Paniccia, Julie Czerneda, Douglas Smith, Amanda Bloss Maloney, Stephen Kotowych, et al.)
Join the editors and authors (this is your one chance to catch the full international flavour) to celebrate conspiracy theory as only science fiction and fantasy can! All secrets will be uncovered. All truths will be revealed. Collect your prize! Unless of course, this is the biggest conspiracy of them all.
– the second launch for UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS. I should be a practiced hand by then… And I’m dying to know how this game works.

Digital Rights Management
(Cory Doctorow (mod), Rene Walling)
Digital rights management(DRM) has grown to become both a central focus of software and media companies; it has also become a lightning rod for controversy. This panel serves as a place for people to learn about the past, present and future of DRM and to discuss whether or not an artist benefits with DRM. Also discussed will be the technologies, developments and implications, both legal and social, of DRM.

Sun 1:00 PM
* Writing for Anthologies vs. Magazines
(Scott Mackay (mod), Mike Rimar, Jana Paniccia, Douglas Smith)
Learn the differences and similarities of writing stories for anthologies compared to writing for magazines. Panelists will give tips on how to break into the field and enhance name recognition.

Optimism vs. Terror
(Lorne Kates (mod), Anna Paradox, David Stephenson, Alan Katerinsky, Andre Lieven)
When we discover new technologies reactions tend to believe it will be a cure all or we fear the worst. Why do we have such extreme reactions? What are some of the extreme views people have taken on new technologies?

Sun 2:00 PM
* Science Fiction and Fantasy Languages
(Karin Lowachee (mod), James Alan Gardner, Shirley Meier, Tony Pi)
What inspires people to create their own languages? How much depth is necessary? Does it add depth to your writing or does it distract the reader?

Building a Better Alien
(Amanda Bloss Maloney (mod), Wilson Chan, Glenn Grant, Sarah Jane Elliott)
Audience suggestions will help create some alien species from scratch. Panelists will lead a discussion about what each alien’s home world, ecosystem, and society could be like. Examples of alien species from fiction will also be discussed.

– why, oh why would the ConCom schedule these one aginst the other! I really want to see them both–how can I be expected to choose?! I’m fascinated by language (I don’t think you can be a writer unless you are) and would love the chance to see fellow Writers of the Future winner Tony Pi (an actual linguist!) in action on the panel…But I want to build better aliens, too!

– S.

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