Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WorldCon - Day 5: a Day Late and a Dollar Short

Sorry for this post coming in a day late, but when I left the con
yesterday I decided to relax on the train and take in the scenery.
After meeting-up with my wife and parents in Ottawa, it was off to
dinner and then turning in early to get some much-needed rest. But
back to the con...

Monday was the last day of Anticipation/WorldCon 67, and for once, I
got off to an early start (relatively). I was at the convention centre
by 11 (mainly because I was up early to check out of the hotel) and
began the day with the session on the Drake Equation and the Fermi
Failure. The room was packed solid. The panel covered all of the usual
possibilities for why, if there are aliens, we aren't detecting them
and how we can do a better job of looking for them. And it was a
fairly entertaining discussion. But the best part was when one of the
audience took it upon himself to find another, bigger room. This gave
rise to some great jokes touching back on the subject of the
session... First the panel wanted to be sure if the larger room had a
mic&speaker system to ensure they'd be heard at the back of the room -
much like the concerns of finding a way to get coherent signals to
other civilizations over great interstellar distances in a reasonable
amount of time. Then, as we all got up and were crossing the hall to
the other room, it occurred to me that we were illustrating how an
advanced species should be observable in its efforts to expand outward
from a home world (room) with inadequate resources to a new space
better suited to its needs. Then, once we were settled in to the new
room, someone in the audience observed that others/latecomers might go
to the old room looking for the session, and finding no trace of it
and no clue that it had left or where it was gone, might then conclude
that it had never existed at all - just like astronomers who might
look at part of the sky where another civilization might once have
lived but vacated, and having missed their signals, might assume it
had always been empty. Ah, geek humour.

Then it was on to the session on genetic engineering our offspring. It
was interesting enough.

After grabbing a quick lunch at Subway, I hit the Dealers' Room one
last time. Good thing too - one of the booksellers had managed to
score a single extra copy of Distant Early Warnings (a new anthology
of Canadian SF edited by Robert J Sawyer - they'd sold out a few days
ago and didn't expect to have any more). I bought it and then ran into
Nalo Hopkinson across the room and she was kind enough to sign her
short story in it.

At that point, I headed to my last session of the day: Dealing with
Disasters. Lots of spirited discussion in this one - especially when
Hurricane Katrina and the tragic failures of the US government during
it were brought up in example. Ultimately, the consensus was that
individuals need to prepare themselves to deal with natural disasters
like ice storms, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc and that having
the right frame of mind is as important as being well-supplied. What
was interesting though was when the panelists noted there are some
mega disasters - like a massive asteroid impact or the eventual super
volcano eruption under Yellowstone park - where there's just no point
in spending much time or effort worrying about it because there's
nothing you (or the government) can do and they're not survivable
anyway. To sum up the message of the panel for when disaster comes, in
the words of Douglas Adams: Don't Panic.

And that was the end. Sure, I would have liked to have stayed around
for George RR Martin's reading, and it might have been nice to be
there for the closing ceremonies, but I had a train to catch, and by
that time of the afternoon, you could feel it in the air: regardless
of how much was left, the con had wound down and was more or less
over. It was like being at a party at the end of the night: sure you
can hang around for one last drink and a final weary laugh, but you
know when it's over. Time to go.

So that was WorldCon 67. Thanks for putting on a great con, Montreal!
Au revoir!

(now for a couple of days of non-geek-related vacation back east
before heading home)

Sent from my iPhone

No comments: