Note: This is a preliminary schedule. Times and participants are subject to change!
Writers agonize over this to an amazing degree. Now you can get the jump on all of them Come to this panel and discover the true, closely-guarded secrets of publishing.
Maureen F. McHugh Patrick Nielsen Hayden Katya Reimann Jane Yolen (m)
Chances are there's a whole section devoted to it in your local Barnes & Noble. It was the subject of the most popular mini-series ever aired on PBS. More alternate histories have been written about it than about any other event. And somehow, arguments about it never run out of steam. All you have to do is make one little inoffensive statement like "It was Lee's fault the South lost," or "Minnesota ought to give back that flag," and...
Steven Brust (m) Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Not Star Trek, not X-Files, not Buffy or Babylon-5. Let's talk about the shows and movies that get less ink and have fewer fan pages. Like, did you know there's a cool genre show on CBS on Friday night, of all things? If you're having a hard time following syndicated and made-for-cable series, we'll talk about misplaced shows, too. Because you can only watch =Star Wars= or =The Matrix= so many times. (Okay, that's not true; but =Pi= and =City of Lost Children= are definitely worth watching. )
Robert Blackwood Beth Friedman Bill Higgins Laurel Krahn Priscilla Olson (m)
So many of us have been doing nothing but. It's big, it's juicy, it's a secret history of the 20th century, it's so full of the topical discussions of this exact moment in history that it just about bursts its boards. Is it SF? Do we care? Should you read it? (That one's easy: yes.) Bring your own deck of cards.
Lenny Bailes Janice Bogstad James Minz (m) Bruce Schneier
The author of the Dorsai novels and The Dragon and the George series talks =ad libitum= about the art and craft of writing, and the life of the writer.
Gordon R. Dickson
It's obvious that some periods are just Cool and some aren't. There have been roughly 5,271,009 dashing novels set during the English Regency, but very few set against the thrilling backdrop of the War of 1812. Why? Why not? And which ones?
Suzanne Alles Blom Lois McMaster Bujold (m) Ellen Rose Kuhfeld Jim Mann Jim Young
SF notions that don't make sense: A number of sf ideas that have become standard background elements make no sense at all when examined. Example: the use of cryonic suspension as a form of jail. This doesn't punish, doesn't rehabilitate, doesn't do anything except produce an ex-con with -really- severe social disorientation -- not likely to turn the subject away from his criminal habits. We'll discuss a bunch of these, and the process by which they get established. Is it just that People Don't Think, or does it have to do with the particular ways our culture thinks about science and technology?
David Dyer-Bennet Jim Frenkel Russell Letson Tom Whitmore (m)
Stories about an intrusion of the Weird into conventional life are common (The Twilight Zone offered a steady flow of them). But some writers have offered a view of "conventional life" as -already- Weird, if one only bothered to look -- Avram Davidson ("The Sources of the Nile"), Ted Sturgeon (VENUS PLUS X), Fritz Leiber ("The Button Molder"), and to stretch the point, Charles Addams. Arguably, these stories required a society with a particular consensus view of itself as stable and normative, which no longer seems to be dominant (not, as Alfred Kinsey pointed out, that it was -ever- accurate). Is this an obsolescent form in the post- Simpsons era? Has the broader acceptance of "mimetic fantasies" (THE X-FILES, the "Anita Blake" books) left no room for a tale whose main point is that the Weird is Out There, and it ain't even trying to hide? Or is it that the New Consensus View, and therefore the New Weird, aren't yet recognized for what they are, meaning that it may be just about Difference Engine Time for a new such cycle? Or what?
Maureen F. McHugh (m) Lydia Nickerson Kristopher O'Higgins Neil Rest Vicki Rosenzweig
Live from the digital noosphere, our Fan Guest of Honor and a few other well-informed souls talk about what's recently struck them as new and interesting.
Lenny Bailes Gordon Garb (m) John Ladwig Jon Singer
A Participatory Forensic and Archaeological Enquiry ::: With the help of audience members, distinguished expedition leaders Geri Sullivan and Jim Young will attempt to identify -- and perhaps explain -- the contents of the famous box of ancient jumbled Minicon records found in Margo Bratton's basement. Note: The expedition's report will be featured at Closing Ceremonies.
Geri Sullivan Jim Young
This is where it all starts. Come see the Guests of Honor introduced. Find out what's afoot this year. Hear some inspiringly brief opening remarks. Catch the early announcements. And stick around, because "Ask Dr. Mike" will follow directly after.
Lenny Bailes John Berkey John M. Ford Maureen F. McHugh Geri Sullivan Teresa Nielsen Hayden Jim Young
The Mark Time Radio Hour will begin with the announcements of this year's Mark Time and Ogle Award winners, and the Grand Master Award. We'll follow that with two new original radio plays, featuring David Ossman, Orson Ossman, Jane Yolen, and others. * Cyber Bob and the Silicon Kid, by Brian Price * Drummer's Dome by Jerry Stearns
David Ossman Jerry Stearns
Where can the franchise go from here, and should it try to get there?
Joseph Agee Beth Friedman (m) Laurel Krahn Priscilla Olson
It's fun, it's fast, it's ballistic. To enter, just walk in the door. Our panel of master trivialists asks the questions; the first person to call out the answer gets a piece of chocolate candy thrown at him-or-her. When it's all over, the largest stack of uneaten chocolate wins. Let's get trivial!
Mark L. Olson Priscilla Olson Jon Singer
Never let it be said Minicon doesn't tackle the big metaphysical questions. Does evil exist for its own sake? Is it an autonomous force in the universe, or a worm at the heart of all that's good? How do we credibly portray evil in fiction? When we give our evil characters motivations, do we tip our own individual beliefs about evil and good alike? Is to understand all really to forgive all? And, of course, why are the most evil characters often the most fun? Our panel of learned consuite banterers will scale the steep slopes of these questions. Bonus special guest appearance by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Steven Brust (m) Pamela Dean Tom Whitmore Jane Yolen
You know -- Filking.
Some books by some authors get called "magic realism"; others, for no obvious reason, get labeled "fantasy". Is it just a matter of who publishes the book and where it gets reviewed, or do these labels actually mean something?
Alan DeNiro (m) Eric Heideman Peter Johnson Philip E. Kaveny Joel Rosenberg
More than words can tell -- on the subject of lost-wax casting techniques.
John M. Ford
Weird crackpots! Geeks and UFO nuts! People at conventions wearing funny ears! Right -- we all know that's how they think of us. In fact, we know it so well, and cleave to that belief with such fervor, that it may be time to ask whether it's true.
Laurel Krahn Elise Matthesen (m) Maureen F. McHugh Kristopher O'Higgins
Is there a comics fan in the world who hasn't imagined uses for a favorite character's superpowers that are undreamt-of in the stories that actually get published? Come and see our panelists swap notes on some of these long-cherished notions, as well as swapping theories about why mainstream comics don't often explore new possibilities.
Bob Berlien Dave Howell Priscilla Olson (m) Kathryn J. Routliffe
Once again, the Lady Poetesses from Hell don their best hats, buff up their best manners, and read their exceedingly unladylike poems.
Terry A. Garey (m) Rebecca Hubbard John Rezmerski Laurel Winter Jane Yolen
Patricia C. Wrede
Maureen F. McHugh
Some people -- most notably Vernor Vinge -- have argued cogently that human technological progress is more and more a geometrical progression, and that beyond a certain near-future event horizon we literally cannot know what the human condition will become. It's a beguiling idea, much seized upon by radical Extropians and the like (and the unlike). Is this the ultimate Dangerous Vision, or just millennialism for geeks? Fight about it.
Jim Frenkel Ellen Rose Kuhfeld Mark L. Olson Patrick Nielsen Hayden (m) Bruce Schneier
As you know, Bob, for much of the twentieth century it's been widely believed that lengthy "infodumps" are a sign of bad writing inside the genre and out. Yet if readers hate undigested expository lumps so much, why was James Michener (for instance) one of the most popular authors of the century? Really, is it readers who dislike this stuff, or is it our gatekeepers of culture? In fact, isn't a certain enthusiasm for Explaining The Facts one of those things that makes SF permanently infra dig for some people? How on earth did we wind up with a mainstream literary culture like this, and what would our ancestors have made of it? Here, let us read you this brief passage from the ENCYCLOPEDIA GALACTICA...
Pamela Dean Teresa Nielsen Hayden Patricia C. Wrede (m)
An hour of great SF art, with commentary by a great SF artist.
John Berkey Lisa Freitag Greg Ketter
Philip E. Kaveny
Author of CHINA MOUNTAIN ZHANG, HALF THE DAY IS NIGHT, MISSION CHILD, "The Lincoln Train," "Protection," and a great deal more of the best SF of the last decade, Maureen F. McHugh is provocative, polemical, and yet hard to pin down. But for all that she casts a cold eye on the genre's dreadful simplicities, there's a lot of warm life and humor in her work as well. We could talk about McHugh's SF all day, but we'll try to cover the high points in an hour.
Eric Heideman Patrick Nielsen Hayden (m) Tom Whitmore
How does thinking happen? Multi-intelligences, creativity? How do we learn?
Gordon Garb (m) Susan B. Levy Haskell Teresa Nielsen Hayden
There's been good writing in some mainstream comics for several decades. But lately there's been a new _kind_ of interesting writing, a new set of techniques for telling stories without losing the effects that comics do best. Alan Moore, Kurt Busiek, Grant Morrison and a few others epitomize these techniques. What's happening here?
Lenny Bailes (m) Pam Fremon
John M. Ford
You've seen the pictures. Now meet the man.
John Berkey Greg Ketter
Kara Dalkey Patricia C. Wrede
Keeping the science in science fiction -- in this case, Physics and Astronomy. Wat's new these past twelve months?
Howard Davidson Bill Higgins Mark L. Olson (m)
A judicious mixture of abstract theories and lurid anecdotes from our opinionated panelists.
Alice Bentley Andrew Bertke Steven Brust Elise Matthesen Tom Whitmore (m)
Maureen F. McHugh
Founder and chief technical officer of Counterpane Internet Security, Inc. Inventor of Blowfish, Twofish, and other algorithms, including the "Solitaire" system used in Neal Stephenson's CRYPTONOMICON. Legendary crypto guy and entertaining Minicon regular. Come early if you want a good seat.
Pamela Dean Katya Reimann
Of course, genres always crossbreed; you can't take your eye off them for a minute. Detective stories flirt with fantasy, SF slips off into the bushes with Regency romance. Maybe it's because, jokes aside, "genre" isn't just about the sets, props, and costumes; it's about different methods of storytelling and, most importantly, getting different effects. Our panel of experts wends its way down these mean slidewalks.
Lois McMaster Bujold Douglas L. Hulick Maureen F. McHugh Jane Yolen (m)
The current plan for a crewed Mars mission (to be launched around 2020) will require a three-year round-trip. During this time, much if not all of the astronauts' lives will be available to almost anyone on Earth who wants to watch or download it, and any crisis will instantly become Our Top Story 24/7. This is a new development in heroic exploration. Magellan's sailors didn't go stir-crazy inch by inch on CNN and Webcam. (Note: This is a sociological panel with an engineering foundation. It's conceivable that the actual flight might wind up taking less than three years--but that's not the point.)
Doug Drummond Jordin T. Kare (m) Laura A. Majerus Lydia Nickerson Kathryn J. Routliffe
If you're an artist, come and do it. Spacetime and working surfaces will be provided; bring your own materials. Onlookers are more than welcome.
Lois McMaster Bujold
If you've listened to high-end academic literary criticism, you know it can sound like it's left the English language behind. But if you listen to a bunch of friends having a really intense conversation about a book or movie they love, you know we still need language in which we can discuss the way we experience art. What's going on? Why have we developed such disjunct modes of discourse? Do they have any underlying similarities? Where did the academic stuff come from, and why is it so weird? And do these critical languages have anything to say to each other?
Steven Brust (m) Jim Mann Elise Matthesen Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Nate Bucklin and Fan Guest of Honor Lenny Bailes discuss the secret history, inner truth, outer garments, shortstop to be named later, ways and means of a fascinating and under-documented period of fanhistory.
Lenny Bailes Nate Bucklin
Galileo, orbiting Jupiter for over four years, has been pounded with radiation and is probably near the end of its life. Most recently, it has delivered close-up glimpses of Io's lava fountains and hints about the oceans that may lie beneath Europa's frozen surface. Bill Higgins presents the latest news from the neighborhood of Jupiter.
Suzanne Alles Blom
A participatory experiment in distributed processing amongst multiple interactive automata. Bring your own, or come alone. Virtual AI. Most scientific. Quant suff!
Jeff Schalles Geri Sullivan
Time was, "hard SF" was staked out as the literary home turf of writers who explicitly rejected all that flaky hippie mainstream New Wave nonsense. Then the cyberpunks came along, and reminded us that technology is as radically transformative as acid or James Joyce. Now, two decades past "Johnny Mnemonic", "True Names", and WEB OF ANGELS, hard SF is exploding, taking on strange and outrageous forms -- both on this side of the water, and overseas in the works of writers like Iain Banks, Greg Egan, and Ken MacLeod. Are we in the middle of a major flowering of the skiffy imagination? Where's all this coming from?
Howard Davidson David Dyer-Bennet Mark L. Olson (m) Patrick Nielsen Hayden
It has been said (specifically by Nick Lowe) that what distinguishes fantasy-epics-by-the-pound is their reliance on an episodic quest structure. As our questing hero follows a twisty path through the mountains and vales of Middle-Map, he goes through an almost ritualized set of travails and challenges, for each of which he collects a Plot Coupon. When he accumulates enough Plot Coupons, he gets to cash them in on a Denouement. But is this what's actually going on in these books? And if so, why is it so enduringly effective?
Eleanor Arnason Linda Reames Fox Jim Frenkel Jane Yolen (m)
Still keeping the science in science fiction -- in this case, the glamorous, fast-moving (who'd have thought it?) field of Biology. Come and hear all the hot new science and the equally hot ethics questions that are under debate.
Ctein George Flentke Earl Joseph Priscilla Olson (m) Susan M. Smith
If it was in the Art Show and it got enough written bids, you'll see it here. And if you show up and bid, it might even come home with you.
As the man said, "A suit you just wear" -- but tanks don't trip. The suit of powered battle armor is one of those science-fictional ideas that seem to have soaked into the collective unconscious: people just assume that future warfare (at whatever distance in time) will have infantrymen running around in these exoskeletal Freudian long johns. But does it actually make any sense? Argue the pros and cons.
Lois McMaster Bujold Howard Davidson (m) Doug Wickstrom Michael Z. Williamson
The upteenth annual Minicon round-robin poetry reading, including (but not limited to) many Rhysling winners and nominees, and featuring a great deal of poetry. Come and read, or come and listen.
Ruth Berman Terry A. Garey (m) Jane Hanson Sandra Lindow John Rezmerski Laurel Winter
Stories, of course, told by Jane Yolen: a perennial favorite, and for good reason.
Interact and improvise! Can *you* become a convincing space pirate or barbarian princess in under 5 minutes? (And if not, how can you improve your costuming instincts?). Note: If you have any costuming "stuff" to share, this is the place to do it. Wear something neutral you can dress up (and/or around), and see the newsletter for more information.
Suford Lewis Anthony R. Lewis
Computer-generated art: what is it, how to do it, where is it going?
Ctein (m) Craig Finseth Steven Vincent Johnson
You know -- Filking. Like last time.
Mud volcanos, gasoline-powered tennis-ball cannons, chaise lounges hooked up to weather balloons, and a wealth of other experiments that'll never make it into respectable textbooks. Our panel of expert reprobates talks about loud, messy, explosive, high-yield science projects you can do at home with just a few simple ingredients, but probably shouldn't. (Note: panelists are encouraged to bring documentary evidence of past triumphs; but anyone attempting this stuff at the convention will be sold for scientifical experimentation.)
Bill Higgins (m)
What should I go out and buy?
Eric Heideman Russell Letson (m) Michael M. Levy
There are many SF stories that deal with rebuilding societies in some form of another. Sometimes this has to be done because society has been destroyed. At other times (for example, in Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky) it's because people have been stranded and can't reunite with their own societies. In fact, there is a rich tradition of such books both inside and outside of the genre (Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, and the Mysterious Island are all examples). The panel compares and discusses the various ways these books have talked about rebuilding society.
Eleanor Arnason Janice Bogstad (m) Suford Lewis David Perlman
This presentation is about a psychedelic tour of realistic 21st Century science futures to anticipate. It will answer such questions as: What physics and chemistry breakthrough scenarios can be forecast? Where will solid pixels take the Internet? What new creatures will we create from the knowledge of sequencing human and animal genomes - and much more.
You can hear the cries from Toledo to Timbuctoo: genre writers going "What the hell"? On the one hand, it's great that some out-and-out fantasy has become the most successful publishing event since Stephen King. On the other hand, why this particular fantasy? Is it just crazy luck, or could there be some special quality about these books that's made them accessible to a mass audience, in a way much of the field's best work isn't? And, most importantly, how can we use this to get more people reading _our_ stuff?
Ruth Berman Helen Gbala Magenta Griffith Laura Krentz (m) Jane Yolen
Low-life alien smugglers, wifty magical creatures, Chiba City hackers, Klingons, and even Glaswegians: the genre is rich in characters who don't speak Standard English. Who's made it work, and who hasn't? What are the different ways to approach the problem? And why is Klingon more fun than Esperanto?
Katie Clapham Kara Dalkey Katya Reimann (m) John Rezmerski John W. Taylor
Yes, we're all tired of hearing about Moore's Law, and we're probably weary of SF writers who use computers as this generation's form of spray-on magic. (If Star Trek were being made for the first time today, Scotty would be a sysadmin crying out that the CPU canna take it any longer.) Nonetheless, some real smart people in the real world think that, after all the hype, this stuff really is going to Change Everything, and maybe not in entirely good ways. Do we _actually_ want to do away with privacy and private property? Okay, do we want to do it next Thursday? Some people would answer "sure" to the first question and then be brought up short by the second. Some old SF gedankenexperiments are starting to seem awfully pertinent. Time to talk about them.
Earl Joseph Jordin T. Kare Susan B. Levy Haskell (m) Dave McCarty
Each panelist will get ten minutes or so to discuss a scientific or technological (or even, a folkloric!) idea that hasn't been significantly exploited by the genre. Panelists aren't expected to actually work out a full-scale story (though a handful of story seeds are welcome), and need not be writers. Ideas are also not required to be bleeding-edge; neglected older concepts are at least as valuable. In the remaining time, panelists will play with each other's mud pies.
Anthony R. Lewis (m) David Ossman Katya Reimann
Are SF writers tempermentally disinclined to believe in a democratic, liberal future of compromise and consensus, or is it just hard to invent and write about such a world? Who's gone against this grain, and with what kind of success?
Maureen F. McHugh (m) Patrick Nielsen Hayden Neil Rest
Linda Reames Fox
Eleanor Arnason Ruth Berman (m) Laura Krentz Patricia C. Wrede Jane Yolen
It seems the easiest thing in the world, until you start having to read the same stuff for your work. How do writers, editors, and booksellers get back to that primal act of reading for fun? (And -- what do they read when they don't need to do so?) And (taking this one step further) how can *anyone* enhance the enjoyment to be derived from reading?
David Dyer-Bennet Tracy Lunquist (m) James Minz John W. Taylor
What makes a genre? Is it the props (swords, blasters, the Holy Grail), and if so, which ones? Or is it less a matter of their furniture than the way they use it? Is there a distinction between genres that are defined by their content (mysteries, SF), and those that are defined by their effects (horror, erotica, humor)? Can we make sense of this tangle, or just make more tangle?
Steven Brust (m) Maureen F. McHugh Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Lois McMaster Bujold
Weird crackpots? Ethical conspiracy? People with funny ears at conventions....
Mary Kay Kare Tracy Lunquist Vicki Rosenzweig Kathryn J. Routliffe (m)
On-demand publishing, downloadable e-text, self-publication, piracy, scams, quarterly announcements of The End of Publishing As We Know It, and strange opportunities yet unimagined. It's all a great froth, and you probably have views on it already. So do our panelists.
Dave Howell Teresa Nielsen Hayden (m) Michael J. Ward
Are all elves ethereally beautiful and musically gifted? Dwarves greedy and irritable?
Bob Berlien John M. Ford Magenta Griffith Tom Whitmore (m)
Most cons have 'em. We do too. Come with congent observations and suggestions. We'll listen.
Costumers, knitters, cross-stitchers, etc. -- bring your sewing or needlework projects to this informal gathering and work on them while talking with others who share these interests. Find out more about the local group, and when and where they meet.
Minicon: PO Box 8297 Lake Street Station Minneapolis, MN 55408
Last Updated: April 18, 2000