Back-to-back bluffing

Sunday 9 August
“Like gay men taking over a lesbian bar”: YA author Fiona Patton describing how media fans moved in on the literary sf scene in the late seventies, post-Star Wars, at a panel on writing for teens, moderated by yours truly. This was meant to include Eoin Colfer who hadn’t been seen for the entire convention – the latest report was he hadn’t checked in. Speculation was rife, including that he may have unwisely told an immigration officer he was here for business, been unable to produce a work permit, and been bundled on the next flight out again. Apparently it happens. Cons are not business, even for working authors. They are Fun.

Before that, the annual ecumenical service led by excellent the Rev. Randy Smith. I wish our vicar was called Randy because he always starts his services with “I’m Ron, I’m the vicar …” I know, I know, it’s just short for Randall and Randy is a top guy.

The afternoon was the back-to-back bluffing with me on two panels I don’t actually know that much about: the Napoleonic wars and science blogging. I obeyed my mother’s instruction to let everyone know my 3xgreat-grandfather has his horse shot from under him at Salamanca. But Steve Stirling and Walter Jon Williams could manage quite well on their own. Still, my knowledge of things Napoleonic is encyclopaedic compared to my science blogging savvy. I could say I follow Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science site, but I still got a tinsy bit confused and thought he was the one being sued by the chiropractors, despite having signed the petition and told you all about it.


At the end we were each asked what we’d like to see in the future of science blogging. This being an sf convention, I proposed that an artificial intelligence – say, Skynet, if it wanted a more useful outlet for its activities – could produce a web page of 10 random facts a day. But, each fact would be impeccably researched and linked, free of all political and financial bias, so that the interested reader could drill down and find out the absolute truth. Co-panelist Chad Orzel, one of the two professors up there with me, thought this was good idea, so I will plug him and his forthcoming book How to Teach Physics to Your Dog.