Archive: 8Pi-Con SATURDAY Panel and Event Descriptions

10:00 a.m.

Feminism: What’s It All AboutAgawam

Eric, Lisa Evans, Jennifer Pelland, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert (M)

The term “Feminism” has suffered a great deal of abuse. What does it mean and why is it still relevant, and how do we deal with the dissing?

Who Isn’t a Fan?Somers

George W. Claxton, Mario Di Giacomo, Carl Fink (M)

ROUNDTABLE: The definition has expanded a lot since First Fandom, when it was written SF/Fantasy fandom. Gamers, costumers, medievalists, media fans … does fandom now include basically anyone with a hobby that isn’t sports?

Making the Mask You WearSpringfield

Debi Chowdhury

In this workshop, channel your inner Phantom, Wo/Man of Mystery or dashing hero/ine, as you create a mask to wear to the Drumming Circle and Dance, a masked ball or a costume party. Plain masks and decoration materials will be provided.

Author ReadingsSuffield

Jennifer Allis Provost / Ellen Larson

11:00 a.m.

The Many Roads of Publishing 101Agawam

Ellen Larson, Mike Luoma (M), Jennifer Allis Provost, Trisha J. Wooldridge

Right now, for writers, we live in a publishing world with a diversity of options…and a plethora of issues if a writer isn’t careful. There’s the Big Five, small- and mid-size presses, micro-presses, and DIY options. “Independent publishing” gets applied to everything from small presses to self-publishing: muddy waters or a way to avoid negative impressions? Savvy writers are learning that there is no longer a “one size fits all” model; a writer can pick a publishing route tailored to their own desires, strengths, and weaknesses. But taking the time to learn all the options is important, so lets get some basics down.

GoH Interview – Allen SteeleMain Tent

Justine Graykin

The Name is Holmes. Sherlock Holmes.Somers

Lisa Amowitz, Mario Di Giacomo (M), Jennifer Pelland, Roberta Rogow

ROUNDTABLE: The revisionist Sherlocks keep right on coming (and arguably by other names, as well, such as Sleepy Hollow’s Ichabod Crane). Who’s your favorite? Would you mix-and-match different Sherlocks with different Watsons? And which creative retakes completely miss the mark?

Sari WrappingSpringfield

Debi Chowdhury

Bring your sari and learn several styles of wrapping it.

Author ReadingsSuffield

Catt Kingsgrave / Kristi Petersen Schoonover

12:00 p.m.

How Do We Make Cons Safe for Everyone?Agawam

Lisa Evans, Justine Graykin, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Michelle Wexelblat (M)

Harassment and safety at conventions is not a new topic, but it has been very much in the spotlight for the past couple of years. Many conventions are taking steps to prioritize safety. What are the best ways to make convention attendees safer? Should we be looking at convention polices and enforcement, reporting procedures, or social change on what fans tolerate as acceptable behavior? How do our current strategies work, how could they work better, and who is doing it well?

GOH Reading and SigningMain Tent

Allen Steele

Building a Better GeekSomers

George Claxton

Are you ready to RUMBLE?! Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? The douchebag apocalypse? Then you better start working out NOW! Come and learn simple exercises that you can do at home to build muscle, improve fitness and get you ready for whatever comes at you.

Lifedrawing Made Sexy!Springfield

Sarah Morrison

…with the lovely performers from Sinful Thoughts! These aren’t your usual lifedrawing models, instead they come equipped with fabulous costumes! No stuffy classroom or strict rules. This is just for fun. Catcalling and tipping your models is encouraged while they show off. We’ll start with some short warm-up poses, and then move on to longer ones. No prior experience required, only enthusiasm! Even pencils and paper will be available for anyone who can’t bring their own (while supplies last). (2 hours)

How do Cons Happen?Suffield

Carl Fink, Terry Franklin, Jeff Warner, Michael Whitehouse (M)

Interested in learning what it takes to throw a con? Considering maybe helping your local con but don’t know where to start? Listen to horror stories from cons of old and learn the basics of conrunning with seasoned veterans of SMOFdom.

1:00 p.m.

Day Jobs for WritersAgawam

M. L. Brennan, Ellen Larson, Kristi Petersen Schoonover (M), Morven Westfield, Trisha J. Wooldridge

What’s the best day job for a writer? Is it a writing job that helps you learn to craft a sentence, work with an editor, and meet deadlines? Or a less-demanding job that gives you time—and brain-width—to think about your current work-in-progress. Writers talk about their day jobs and how they’ve helped or hindered their writing progress.

CONCERT: Filk GOH David WeingartMain Tent

David Weingart

Has Star Wars Ruined SF?Somers

Vikki Ciaffone (M), George W. Claxton, Mario Di Giacomo, Mike Luoma

ROUNDTABLE: With the cast of “Star Wars: Episode 7” just announced, CNN’s Lewis Beale wrote a column in which he said, ” ‘Star Wars’ has corrupted people’s notion of a literary genre full of ideas, turning it into a Saturday afternoon serial. And that’s more than a shame—it’s an obscenity.” Did Star Wars bring down a noble genre of deep ideas, or did it open the world of SF to the masses? Is it SF at all—or is it fantasy, adventure or modern myth?

The Undead and The People Who Love ThemSuffield

Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Jennifer Pelland, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

ROUNDTABLE: Let’s get down to it and talk about Vampire, Ghouls, Zombies, Ghosts and assorted undead that we love and why do they have such a grip on our hearts. Audience participation is encouraged!

2:00 p.m.

Aging in SF and FantasyAgawam

M. L. Brennan, Grant Carrington, Vikki Ciaffone (M)

With the aging demographic, more and more fans are older and identify with aging characters. How are older characters treated in SF and Fantasy? Is there a role for the post-menopausal woman besides Crone or Wise Woman? Can an older male character be something besides embittered soldier or Wizard?

Panel in the Pool: Aliens of the SeasIndoor Pool

Jeff Warner, Justine Graykin

Recent reports from neurobiologists on the results of genomic sequencing of comb jellyfish reveal that Ctenophores are from a different branch of the Earthly evolutionary tree. “Parallel Evolution of a Nervous System but with a completely different chemical language, evolving independently from the rest of the animal kingdom.” So, what does this portend for Extremophiles that might be living in the Oceans of Enceladus? Or Carl Sagan & Edwin Salpeter’s Gasbags of Jupiter?(an idea that both Ben Bova and Iain Banks, liked, grabbed, and ran with) Join us Floaters, Sinkers, and Punters in a giant container of DiHydrogen Monoxide as we generate lots of hot air! (We’ll meet at the indoor pool.)

Supermen as GodsSomers

George W. Claxton, Lisa Evans, Catt Kingsgrave (M)

Supers in most of our comic books first appear in the 1920s. What if they had shown up in the 14th century? What effect would the culture they developed in have on the relationship between supers and the world that they live in? If Superman had landed in Europe in the 1300s, would he have become a warlord, or would he have become a god? If Black Panther had come into his power in the Middle Ages, would Wakanda have conquered all of Africa and then moved out to overwhelm Europe and Asia?

Star Trek Seekers: From Art to Words with artist Rob CaswellSuffield

Rob Caswell

According to USA Today, “Rob Caswell is going where no other Star Trek fan has gone before…the first time a fan’s artwork has been adapted for the cover of any Star Trek book.” “Star Trek: Seekers” is a brand new series of novels coming out later this Summer, inspired by Rob’s illustrations, and a continuation of characters and events first explored in the best-selling “Vanguard” series by David Mack, Dayton Ward, and Kevin Dilmore. Rob will trace his history as an artist and detail the twisty and unexpected path that ultimately led his fan production to find home in mainstream print. Presented by Western MA Star Trek Fans.

3:00 p.m.

Does SF Have a Liberal Bias?Agawam

Ari Alpert, Grant Carrington, Kate Kaynak (M), Ellen Larson

SF is a source of inspiration in a way that Fantasy cannot be, directing us to look forward. Progressive means progress. Does this mean that SF is necessarily inclined to push us towards expanded horizons and progressive thinking? Or is it just as likely to frame dystopias as progress gone bad?

Your Monkey’s An UncleSomers

Carl Fink, Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Jennifer Pelland, Dr. James Prego (M)

Pseudoscience, science deniers (evolution is just a theory) and political interference in scientific process (climate change!). How do we combat the corruption of science by the masses?

Steampunk TeaSpringfield

Debi Chowdhury, Susan Hanniford Crowley

Your presence is graciously requested on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. for the Steampunk Tea! You will need to RSVP…er, pre-register at the One Desk. There is a fee of $20.00 per person to cover the food and beverages. It’s a chance to strut out your toniest finery—gowns, hats, gloves, frou-frou, frippery and formal wear all welcome! Don’t forget—the pinkie stays up and the saucer stays down. There will be gift bags and surprises!

The 10 Biggest Questions in Physics (and some possible answers)Suffield

Ed Bishop

Questions include: What is dark matter? What is dark energy? Where do ultra-high energy cosmic rays come from (these are the “oh-my-god” or OMG particles, which every year strike earth with the kinetic energy of a 75 MPH baseball)? Is a new theory of matter/energy required to explain what happens at ultra-high energies? How did the universe begin? How will it end?

4:00 p.m.

Doctor Who: 50 Years Into the FutureAgawam

Jonathon Podolski, Joe Lastowski, Niki Lastowski

Having just passed the 50 year milestone this past November, Doctor Who has cemented itself as an enduring trend-setter in sci-fi/geek culture. Our panel which includes members of the Dr. Who Club of Western MA, will look back at the past half century, asking what worked, what didn’t work, and what we’d like to see in the future. We’ll also discuss Peter Capaldi, the latest actor to play The Doctor. Can Doctor Who endure the further ravages of time? Come learn about the future and the past of our favorite time-traveling oddball and discuss what might come to pass.

Performing Solo vs. with a GroupEllington

Jason Neerenberg, Cathy Mcmanamon

Some people play great solo, some play well with others, some can do both, and some performers are best sticking to one or the other. What do you need to know about expanding your musical skills so you can perform in a group, what are the considerations when moving from group performance to a solo act, and what are the pros and cons of promotion, rehearsals & performances, gear, circle vs. stage, and energetic dynamics for both scenarios?

British SF/Fantasy TVSomers

Lisa Amowitz, Vikki Ciaffone (M), Misty Pendragon

ROUNDTABLE: From Doctor Who to Being Human to Sherlock, British SF TV holds a special place in our hearts. Why are the American remakes never as good? What are the qualities that make British TV unique? And why are their seasons so darned short?

Biology is WeirdSuffield

Ari Alpert, Carl Fink (M), Dr. James Prego

Animals you can freeze in liquid nitrogen and store in a vacuum, and then revive by just adding water. Underground orchids, which only break the surface of the dirt to flower. Parasites that mind-control animals (including humans). Bacteria that chase down and devour their prey. The living world has some very, very odd stuff in it, and here’s where you can hear about a small fraction of that.

5:00 p.m.

Saying ‘Hi’ and Other Forms of Social InteractionAgawam

Justine Graykin, Kate Kaynak, Dr. James Prego, Michelle Wexelblat (M)

A geek walks into a con all alone and…doesn’t know what to do that won’t offend someone. Not good! How do you navigate getting acquainted, getting friendly, flirting and having fun without stepping over boundaries?

Artist GOH Slide ShowMain Tent

Sarah Morrison

Artist Guest of Honor Sarah Morrison will present a slide show and discussion of her work.

Why Does Horror Survive as A Genre and How Has it Changed?Somers

Lisa Amowitz, Catt Kingsgrave, Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Trisha J. Wooldridge (M)

ROUNDTABLE: Why does horror survive as a genre? What is it about horror that attracts us? What keeps us coming back for more? How has it changed? Has it changed for the better or worse? Has what scares us changed? What are our worst fears now?

Author ReadingsSuffield

Mike Luoma /

6:00 p.m.

The Line Between Realism and BoringAgawam

Grant Carrington, Mario Di Giacomo, Justine Graykin (M), Allen Steele

The people who really explore space and fight modern wars have a lot of self control. They don’t slam fists into spacecraft controls like Hulk Hogan. Do you have to forget about them in fiction, or can you make them interesting? And if your protagonist is like that do you just have to accept that critics will complain and press on in hopes of finding an audience that appreciates a little verisimilitude?

Scary Movies We LoveSomers

Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Terry Franklin, Jennifer Allis Provost, Kristi Petersen Schoonover

ROUNDTABLE: Come prepared everyone to talk about those scary movies we love and why we love them. What about them chills us to our bones and keeps us up at night. Audience participation is encouraged. Everyone be prepared with at least three movies to talk about.

Ghost of Awesome – The WombatSpringfield

Lin Daniel

‘The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years but the one with the richest experiences.’ — Rousseau.

jan howard finder – 2 March 1939 to 26 February 2013 – known to many as ‘The Wombat’, lived up to that quote. He was the sort of meandering spirit who was passionate, primarily about being passionate, and swore by happy clichés such as ‘Life is short; eat dessert first!’ and ‘May the best of the past be the worst of the future.’ There are thousands of Wombat stories. Come prepared to share or listen. The purpose of the event is to honor jan’s memory by coming together to share laughter, smiles and happy memories.

Women of Doctor WhoSuffield

Niki Lastowski, Misty Pendragon

A panel examining the many women in the Doctor Who universe, including companions, enemies, allies, and “others” (*ahem*…River Song…*ahem*). Is the portrayal of women in Doctor Who any different than in other shows? Will any woman ever agree with the Doctor’s assessment of what clothing item is “cool”? Our all-female panel including some members from the Dr. Who Club of Western Massachusetts will discuss all eras of the show, and we’ll look at how the Doctor has changed with the women around him over the past 50 years, including a look back at the show’s 50th anniversary special.

7:00 p.m.

Designing a Book Cover that SellsAgawam

Lisa Amowitz (M), M. L. Brennan, Kate Kaynak, Sarah Morrison

Orson Scott Card once said about his covers, “Fantasy has trees, and science fiction has rivets.” A good book cover is a visual advertisement for the book, enticing readers who will enjoy that specific book to stop, check it out, and (hopefully) buy it. What goes into an effective cover design? How are those nonverbal messages conveyed?

The Year (and a half) in ScienceSomers

George W. Claxton, Carl Fink (M), Ed Bishop

What’s happening out there? What are the coolest new advances in 2013 and the first half of 2014? What has hit popular media and are we interpreting it correctly? Is there anything major that was overlooked by the news?

Broad Universe Rapid Fire ReadingSuffield

Terri Bruce, Ellen Larson, Jennifer Pelland, Jennifer Allis Provost, Roberta Rogow, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Morven Westfield, Trisha Wooldridge

Eight talented writers have six minutes each to blow you away! Broad Universe is an international organization supporting women authors of SF, fantasy and horror. Visit them on Dealer’s Row!

8:00 p.m.

The Social Problems of New Technology — Somers

Ari Alpert (M), Ed Bishop, Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, David Larochelle

ROUNDTABLE: A year or so ago, Google Glass was thought to be the next big thing, now people just see it as creepy. How does society adjust to new technologies and what tech is likely to come along that will create even more social unrest?


Cathy McManamon, Jason Neerenberg

Come and join the drummers or put on your most colorful garb and dance to the intoxicating pulse of drums in many styles and traditions. Let’s recreate Burning Man and Rainbow Gathering under the Main Tent!

Bad Endings — Agawam

George W. Claxton (M), Jennifer Allis Provost, Kristi Petersen Schoonover

Some stories start with good ideas and just get lost (Battlestar Galactica, Lost, John Doe, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse [OK so Dollhouse was not such a great idea to begin with], Roswell and many others) discuss how you can avoid the pitfalls and why having an ending in mind when you start writing is not such a bad thing.

Vampires Past, Present & Future–Are They Morphing?Suffield

M. L. Brennan, Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Morven Westfield

A serious and not so serious discussion of Vampires: Past, Present, and Future. Are they morphing into something else—worse—better? What do the legends teach us? Let’s really get into the teeth of the topic and explore where we would like to see vampires of the future go? Can science create the better vampire?

9:00 p.m.

Asexuality: the Ultimate Sexual Taboo?Agawam

Justine Graykin (M), Ellen Larson, Michelle Wexelblat

Nearly every variation on human sexual desire has been discussed and analyzed, its merits evaluated, and its moral implications debated. What about asexuality? In a culture where it is assumed that everyone loves sex, can a person admit that they have no interest in sex without being branded dysfunctional and in need of help? There are people (Stephen Fry is a famous example) who voluntarily choose celibacy for a variety of personal reasons. Why is it assumed that there must be something “wrong” with such a person that needs to be fixed? Doesn’t this sound suspiciously like the old argument against homosexuality?

Machinery of JoySomers

Grant Carrington, George W. Claxton (M), Jennifer Pelland

The Japanese are currently working on a robot that masturbates humans. They are also working on increasingly humanoid robots. When this technology is combined, as it inevitably will be, what effects will this have on human culture? If the androids ever achieve sentience, will use of rough sex robots be considered abuse, or will the bots just be fulfilling their reason for existence?

11:00 p.m.

Spicy Midnight ReadingsSuffield

18+ only! Come hear some uninhibited authors read spicy selections from their erotic works.