My final Norwescon panel was kind of an odd one. It was a late addition to the schedule, so the only way for people to find out about it was from word of mouth or just walking by the room and poking your head in. (In retrospect I could have tweeted about it or something. I should have checked to see if there was a panel on self-promotion.) It also took a look at fantasy — interesting ground for me, as I haven’t been primarily a fantasy reader since I was a kid getting bedtime stories from my mom. (My mom was reading The Lord of the Rings to me in preschool. I had kind of an awesome childhood.)
One of the unsettling things about The Lord of the Rings and other fantasies of this type is that the Orcs and Dark Lords are flat, 2-dimensional evil characters with no hope of redemption. Is there an argument for making things at least somewhat black and white? If we reject the 100% evil creatures, what do we use for the all-encompassing threat?
My short answer was to say I think The Lord of the Rings is a problem only insofar as people take the wrong lessons from it.
That’s not actually the title of my next Norwescon panel, and the difference is an important one. In fact, I’ll be answering the question, “Can You Write Hard SF Without a Science Background?” And the description complicates the issue even more.
Is it easier to write a hard science fiction story if you have the technical or science background, or does it get in the way? How do you fold in the science without making it an info dump?
My simple answer is that yes, you can write hard SF without a science background, and I don’t have a frame of reference to say whether it’s easier if you have one. But — allowing for differences between individuals — I’d guess not.
Well, I didn’t get run out of town last night, so Norwesconers (that’s a word now) can find me at yet another panel tonight. This one’s on Supernatural versus science fiction, the epic struggle of our times:
More and more, the entertainment industry is producing television shows and films that are supernatural in nature, but are calling them science fiction. Are they really? Or is the industry “copping out” and trying to get around having to come up with legitimate science fiction shows? Why are the directors and writers skirting around the science issues instead of addressing them?
What do I think? Well, it’s complicated.
Couldn’t resist. My first panel for Norwescon this year will take a look at how Series Five of Doctor Who compares to Series One through Four, and the 26 seasons that came before it. Summary: I’m not sure I’d say the new series is returning to the traditional mode, but it is a departure from the Russel T Davies years — and, in my view, a welcome one.
So I’ll be sitting in on a few panels for this year’s Norwescon, starting with two tonight — one on the future of Star Trek, and one on the present of Doctor Who. Given the likely odds I’ll become completely tongue tied when I have to actually talk in front of people, I figured I’d outline my thoughts here for you.
First off, here’s my assessment of Star Trek after the jump. Short version: I’m cautiously optimistic.