Program Schedule

Here is the Program Schedule as of July 17, 2015. If you catch any mistakes or problems, please let me know!

6:00 pm Costumers’ Meet and Greet (Hatheway)
A great time to meet old and new friends….and “get this party started”. Belly dancing, historical, ethnic, etc….are all welcome. Bring your instruments….wear your costumes….share your moves! (120 mins)
7:00 pm Sales Skills for Geeks (McLean)
Whether you are trying to get your book published or trying to convince your friends to go see the new My Little Pony movie, you use sales skills every day. Michael Whitehouse, car salesman by day, geek SMOF by night, will share some of the secrets of getting people to come around to your way of thinking. (60 mins)
Michael Whitehouse
7:00 pm Running the Galactic Empire (Parsons)
Many of the most beloved SF universes, from Dune to Star Wars, posit a “galactic empire” with a central government and multiple cultures. Given the vast distances in space and the diversity of all those planets, how plausible is this notion? Could anyone really rule a galaxy? (60 mins)
Ari Alpert, Grant Carrington, Hugh Casey, George W. Claxton (M), William Freedman
8:00 pm Food, Glorious Food (Ellsworth)
People often complain about the foods that people eat in fantasy novels (there actually is a reason that everyone eats stew) and space operas, but we seldom talk about how to invent, imagine, and describe food creatively. Let’s discuss about how food is acquired, what foods are reasonably available in various environments and share your recipes for orc flambe, or Ent salad. (60 mins)
Vikki Ciaffone (M), Llalania Ghose, Trisha J. Wooldridge
12:00 pm Valhalla’s Call: Viking Martial Arts in History and Myth (Ballroom)
Vikings are a popular focus in pop culture. However, their combat techniques are already just as mysterious as their culture. Because of the scarcity of knowledge about the way they fought many liberties are taken with representing their combat styles. This presentation focuses on fighting styles as described in the Viking Sagas as well as evidence uncovered in Viking Tombs and archeological excavations. Main points discussed will be Viking culture, importance of weapons in Viking society, and combat representation in written Viking Sagas. With time pending the presentation will end in a staged interpretation of Viking Combat. (60 mins)
Frank Perrin, Carlo Lombardo
8:00 pm The Day Job and Your Passion – What Works For You? (McLean)
This is an evergreen topic. We all have to earn a living. Do we get a day job that earns a lot of money, in the hope that we can afford to retire early, or save up to take some time off? Or do we just do our creative stuff nights and weekends? What are the best jobs for inspiration? Is it better to have a job that doesn’t use up most of your brain? This article has some interesting observations that could be jumping-off points for discussion: (60 mins)
Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Lisa Evans, Jennifer Pelland, Morven Westfield (M)
8:00 pm Can You Outrun A Zombie? (Parsons)
What happened to those shuffling mindless zombies? Who said zombies should be running after you and what parts of you are edible? A discussion on the history of zombies and how they have evolved in the media. Let’s explore zombies together. (60 mins)
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Mario DiGiacomo, William Freedman, Gordon Linzner (M)
8:00 pm The Future of Computing and Moore’s Law (Seminar)
According to a simple statement of Moore’s Law (made by the co-founder of Intel), the number of transistors per integrated circuit doubles every 2 years, which is roughly related to computer processing power. This law has held since 1975, and has fueled the modern information technology revolution, but some say it is showing signs of slowing. How long can it go on, and what happens when it stops? Also, what new technologies could keep it going for decades to come, and is there an absolute physical limit? (60 mins)
Ed Bishop
9:00 pm Comedy Show (Ballroom)
Stand-up comedy by local comedian Wes Hazard (60 mins)
Wes Hazard
9:00 pm Readings (Ellsworth)
(60 mins)
Kan Altabef, Jennifer Bresnick
9:00 pm Who Are You? (Parsons)
Given recent events in the news, and continuing advances in genetics and other sciences, this is likely to become more of an issue in the future. How do we identify ourselves? As male, female, inter-sex, middle sex? Do we belong to a particular phenotype group that was established in the 19th century for purposes of exclusion, or do we identify as “mixed race?” How does all of this change if we start creating new forms of life, or designer beings? (60 mins)
George W. Claxton (M), Terry Franklin, Dr. James Prego
10:00 pm The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Ballroom)
(140 mins)
Come Again Players
10:00 pm BDSM 101: A Beginner’s Guide (Ellsworth)
The acronym BDSM covers a wide array of activities and interests. How can you explore this world without getting in over your head? How can you stay safe while experimenting and exploring your own limits? We ‘ll go over a few do ‘s and a lot of don ‘ts, and you may just come away with some new ideas to try! 18+ Only. (60 mins)
Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Catt Kingsgrave, Micah Schneider (M)
10:00 pm Powerpoint Karaoke (Seminar)
(?) (60 mins)
10:00 am After the Con is Over–Building Fan Communities Outside of Events (Bradley)
(Roundtable) Many people go to their first con alone and meet dozens of kindred spirits and new friends. What are some of the most effective ways of connecting with people and developing friendships afterwards? Does social media really do it, or does a fan community need more concrete interactions? What do you do when you get back home if there isn’t already an established fan-friendly community there? (60 mins)
Hugh Casey, Nicholas Checker, Heather Dawn, Catt Kingsgrave, David Larochelle (M)
10:00 am This Thing Called Found Footage (Ellsworth)
Ever since three “student filmmakers” Blair Witched it in 1999, found footage has become (to the delight of some and the chagrin of others) a staple in the horror film industry. Why are more coming out every year? What does this say about our changed “selfie”-oriented culture, and how has it changed the way we expect stories to be told? On the flipside, how is this phenomenon reviving the old-school unreliable-narrator tale and true magic realism? We invite you to come and discuss these questions, share your faves and flops, and why you love found footage films…or hate ‘em. (60 mins)
Keith Fiermonte, William Freedman, Kristi Petersen Schoonover (M)
10:00 am Trusting a Gamer Over Thirty (Noden-Reed)
What’s it like to be a graying gamer among a lot of younger enthusiasts? If you’re older and really enjoy the newest cutting edge games, how do you fit in? (60 mins)
Kayet Lavaté, Llalania Ghose, Walter Hunt, Micah Schneider (M)
10:00 am Mini-hats/Fascinators Make and Take Workshop (Hatheway)
Attendees will get a mini hat base and all sorts of materials including trims, ribbons, netting, flowers and feathers in order to create their own ready to wear hat. $5 materials fee (60 mins)
Carol Salemi
10:00 am Are SF and Fantasy Anti-Democratic? (McLean)
In fantasy, Destiny or the gods decide who’s supposed to be King. In science fiction, you don’t get to vote on the optimum solution. Both genres have a long history of showing societies dominated by a magical or scientific elite (from the Lensmen to the Witches of Lancre), and often portray that as a good thing. Meanwhile, fans look down on “mundanes.” Are SF and fantasy incompatible with the ideals of democracy? (60 mins)
Susan de Guardiola, Lisa Evans, Carl Fink (M), Ian Randall Strock
10:00 am Separate but Equal (Parsons)
Nobel scientist Tim Hunt made some very unfortunate comments about women not belonging in the lab with men because their presence is disruptive (men fall in love with them; they fall in love with the men; they cry when criticized). Presuming there is any truth to this, what would be the alternative? All male vs. all female laboratories? How could that possibly work? What losses to scientific collaboration would such segregation cause? Is this just another case of irrational resistance to change, like the arguments against allowing women or gays to serve in the military? Oris there value to having males and females not work together? Some schools/organizations have female-only robotics teams or STEM programs, with the theory that girls learn differently than boys, and that girls behave differently when boys are around. Should we segregate in order to accommodate, or integrate and try to train the genders to work better together? (60 mins)
Ari Alpert, Ed Bishop, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert (M), Rebecca Schwarz
10:00 am The Black Death: The Flea That Changed the World (Seminar)
How the Black Death completely altered the course of history in Europe. (60 mins)
Susan Peak
11:00 am GoH Reading and Signing (Ballroom)
(60 mins)
Tanya Huff
11:00 am The Books You Read Under the Covers (Bradley)
(Roundtable) We all have “guilty pleasures”–books that we love and follow and re-read but feel just a little shy about confessing to. Time to ‘fess up! What books feed something in your soul, in defiance of others’ opinions of them? And why do those books just do it for you? (60 mins)
Susan de Guardiola, Lisa Evans (M), Jennifer Allis Provost
11:00 am The Gods of Other Worlds (Ellsworth)
Too often the religious concepts of other worlds and other species are closely based on human ideas of God, or, condescendingly, ideas of “primitive worship.” Western writers often draw on religions foreign to their culture or time to give a sense of “alien-ness”. But patterning the religions of beings evolved on another world after human concepts of worship is like having them be essentially human with superficial additives (pointed ears or facial prosthetics). This panel would discuss how to get beyond our parochial spirituality (or if this is even possible). (60 mins)
Ken Altabef (M), Walter Hunt, Kate Kaynak, Ben Newman
11:00 am Sick Pups Meeting (Hatheway)
(120 mins)
11:00 am Happy Books Suck (McLean)
That was a comment made by a librarian in response to a book group’s request for suggestions of “happy books”. Is that true? Does a book have to be serious to be taken seriously? Is great writing necessarily dark and emotionally wrenching? Does humor and optimism belong in literature, or does it automatically relegate a book to “B” tier? And does “happy” necessarily mean “humorous?” (60 mins)
D.L. Carter, Vikki Ciaffone (M), Mario DiGiacomo, Justine Graykin, Gordon Linzner
11:00 am The Future of Identity (Parsons)
Bruce Jenner and Rachel Dolezal want to be somebody else. Ray Kurzweil wants to be immortal and Donna Haraway would rather be a genderless cyborg. Henry Louis Gates Jr. on “Finding Your Roots” uses DNA profiles and Genetic geotracking to explore the ‘identities’ of various famous people. But as Ken Burns points out there’s a difference between the “Purity of Blood and the Experience of Life.” So, given inevitable advancements in Technology and Medicine, and the usual glacial pace of sociological change, What is the Future of Identity? (60 mins)
George W. Claxton, David Larochelle (M), Jennifer Pelland, Jeff Warner
11:00 am Science and Science Fiction in Games (Seminar)
Videogames often stretch believability when it comes to the science in sci-fi. How can games tell stories and present speculative fiction in a way that keeps them enjoyable as games? Presented by four independent game developers. (60 mins)
Andy Hall, Andrew Richardson (M), Christopher Sheldon-Dante, Ben Shostak, Trevor Stricker
8:00 pm The Pen and the Sword: Accurately Representing Martial Combat in Written Work (Ballroom)
This Program will cover how writers can more accurately describe aspects of combat in their work. From sword fighting techniques and weapons to body mechanics and damage to the body the right description can make and impact on how the reader comprehends and visualizes aspects of violence in storytelling. Writers will have the chance to see real weapons first hand to gain an understanding of their weight, size and physical attributes. With time allowed, the writers will be able to write a short description of a fight and can see it play out in front of them to understand if it makes sense. (60 mins)
Frank Perrin, Steven Randolph
12:00 pm Big Conventions vs Small Ones (Bradley)
(Roundtable) There are people who prefer small, intimate cons and people who live for big, all-inclusive conventions like DragonCon. What’s best about both sizes of con, and what are the disadvantages to getting too big or staying small? (60 mins)
Hugh Casey, Micah Schneider, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Trisha J. Wooldridge (M)
12:00 pm Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading (Ellsworth)
Broad Universe (60 mins)
12:00 pm When Critiques Go Bad (McLean)
Writers are constantly told to submit their writing to critiques by other writers or by “beta readers” and other non-professionals. Can this backfire? Is the ability to critique well something that should be–and has to be–taught? Can a bad critique make a promising writer give up? (60 mins)
Grant Carrington, Nicholas Checker, Llalania Ghose, Gordon Linzner (M)
12:00 pm Age and Treachery: The Older Fan (Parsons)
How goes growing older impact one’s experiences as a SF/F/H fan? How do our experiences color how we enjoy the ideas, the stories, and/or the media? (60 mins)
Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Lisa Evans, William Freedman, Michael McAfee, Jeff Warner (M)
12:00 pm Kappas, Goblins, and Oni’s… Oh My! (Seminar)
Is that a mysterious shadow on your Shoji screen? Are you having strange dreams? Ever wonder what happens to your soul when you sleep? This presentation will tell you everything you need to know about the beasties in Japanese ghost folklore, how to survive a Yurei attack, and where you can “catch them all” in Anime. (60 mins)
Heather Dawn
1:00 pm Young Adult Fiction and Film–Where Do We Go From Here? (Bradley)
(Roundtable) From Harry Potter to Hunger Games and Divergent–where is the trend headed now? Dystopia, vampires, magic, fairies…does YA just keep telling the same stories over and over? What new changes may be coming, and will young fans welcome them? (60 mins)
Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Cera Crowley, Rebecca Schwartz
1:00 pm Building a Better Character (Ellworth)
Whether you are creating characters for a novel, a play, a television series, or an RPG the person you are making should have a background that makes sense, motivations beyond the plot of your story and be a balanced, even if broken, human being (or whatever). Come and discuss how this is achieved. (60 mins)
Vikki Ciaffone, Tanya Huff, Morven Westfield, Trisha J. Wooldridge (M)
1:00 pm Costuming on the Cheap (Hatheway)
Learn the tips and tricks of creating really nice looking costumes and accessories without spending tons of money. Find out some unusual and inexpensive materials and unlikely sources…including your own closet! (60 mins)
Tina Connell, Jena Kitteninstrings, Sarah Morrison
1:00 pm I Don’t Mean to Offend… (McLean)
When there was a single “norm” that everyone pretty much recognized, the burden was on the person who was “different”. In more enlightened times, the burden now seems to be on all of us to be sensitive to differences and to avoid language or behavior the might offend. With so much diversity, it can be difficult, especially for someone older or the product of a sheltered life, to walk the minefield of possible ways one might unwittingly offend. Our panelists will talk about how to deal with inadvertent offenses, and how to politely raise awareness without being offensive oneself. (60 mins)
Hugh Casey, Shuvom Ghose, Justine Graykin (M), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
1:00 pm The Road Goes Ever On and On (Parsons)
Fifty years ago this year, Ballantine Books published the first “authorized” paperback set of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in the United States, with their very 1960s covers, and launched the Middle Earth mania which will not die. Despite accusations of sexism, racism, blatant allegory, stilted writing and deadly dullness, what keeps Tolkien’s work so vastly popular? Can we still learn from this straight white guy? (60 mins)
Ken Altabef, Jennifer Bresnick, George W. Claxton, Terry Franklin (M)
1:00 pm TLB 101: Intro to Time Lord Biology (Seminar)
Guest lecturers from the Unified Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) Science Division will teach you the main differences between human and Gallifreyan anatomy; regeneration, reproduction, physiology, and DNA. We’ll also discuss the distinction between Time Lord and Gallifreyan. Presented by Doctor Who Club of Western MA. (60 mins)
2:00 pm Belly Dancing with Jennifer Pelland (Ballroom)
Jennifer Pelland will give a short performance followed by a mini-workshop in belly dancing technique. All are welcome to participate! (60 mins)
Jennifer Pelland
2:00 pm Round-Robin Improv Story-Telling (Bradley)
Our authors will take a suggestion from the audience, and start telling the story. After a minute for each writer, the next one takes over. After one round, the audience will make another suggestion and the authors will pick up from there and continue. No limits on creativity allowed (except to keep it family-friendly)! (60 mins)
Jennifer Bresnick, Tanya Huff, Catt Kingsgrave, Michael McAfee
2:00 pm Anthropology in SciFi & Fantasy (Ellsworth)
Why do insectoid aliens act like humans? Should werewolves be sexist? Would a hive society have a concept of the individual? To build a believable world, you must also have believable cultures to live in that world. A look at anthropology will help you create societies that live and breathe and fit the world that they live in. Join us for talks about the “universal” (or not) nature of humanity. (60 mins)
Vikki Ciaffone (M), George W. Claxton, Carl Fink
2:00 pm Creating Armor for Costuming/Cosplay (Hatheway)
Explore the basics of making faux armor and what you will need to get started. Demo and discussion will include tools, materials and tips on construction and how to work with Worbla, Sinthra, Friendly Plastic, Craft Foam and some resins. (60 mins)
Jena Kitteninstrings
2:00 pm Religion, Skepticism, and Atheism in SF Fandom (McLean)
Which came first – the non-theist story or the non-theistic fan? Are rational empirical people more attracted to rational empirical stories? Or do the stories provide emotional validation for the people? (60 mins)
Justine Graykin (M), Walter Hunt, Jeff Warner
2:00 pm The Inklings (Parsons)
Imagine if your book club included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. That was the Inklings, who met in or near Oxford in England in the 1930s and 1940s. Just how influential were they? And how many of us would visit them if we found a time machine? (60 mins)
Nicholas Checker (M), Heather Dawn, Lisa Evans, Jennifer Allis Provost
3:00 pm Steampunk Tea (Hatheway)
Spend this time enjoying a little tea and snacks. Dress in your favorite costumes from Victorian or Edwardian to Dr. Who or Wild Wild West! (Tickets $20 to cover costs, available at the One Desk) (90 mins)
3:00 pm Has Fandom Abandoned SF? (McLean)
Science Fiction fandom is enormous. Mega-conventions like Comic-Con and DragonCon draw fifty or a hundred thousand fans. The biggest movies of the year are invariably SF, and SF television series are more popular than ever before. So why are sales of science fiction books and magazines steadily shrinking? (60 mins)
Susan de Guardiola, Walter Hunt, Catt Kingsgrave, Ian Randall Strock (M)
3:00 pm The Nature of Gender: Past, Present and Future (Parsons)
What exactly is gender? What makes most of us feel we have one, some of us feel we have more than one, and others feel we have no gender at all? How is the meaning of gender changing in present-day American culture? What factors are influencing this change? What might gender look like in the future? (60 mins)
Justine Graykin, David Larochelle (M), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Micah Schneider
4:00 pm Team Bang or Team Whimper? (McLean)
How will the world really end? Our panelists consider various possibilities for the end of the world, or at least the end of world as we know it. (60 mins)
Ed Bishop (M), William Freedman, Gordon Linzner, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
4:00 pm Bioethics and Sci-Fi (Parsons)
From Gattaca to the Eugenics Wars, debating the moral cost of technological progress. (60 mins)
Ari Alpert, Terry Franklin (M), David Larochelle, Dr. James Prego
5:00 pm Guest of Honor Interview (Ballroom)
(60 mins)
Tanya Huff, Inanna Arthen
5:00 pm What is a Book Worth? (Bradley)
(Roundtable) Authors spend months crafting novels. But in the age of Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Prime, ebook bundles, free promotions, advance reading copies offered by the hundred to ordinary readers, and ebook lending libraries, the price of books is spiraling downward. Some readers don’t think they should have to pay anything for an ebook; others think 99 cents, or $1.99, is enough. Are books losing their value in a post-paper age? (60 mins)
Jennifer Bresnick (M), Nicholas Checker, Ian Randall Strock, Trisha J. Wooldridge
5:00 pm SF/F/H TV of the 90s (Parsons)
(Roundtable) As cable came into its own, many shows were developed and broadcast by smaller networks, like the WB, or produced by studios and sold for syndication. The 1990s saw a strong trend toward paranormal shows, with vampires and witches all over the dial. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever Knight, Charmed, a prime-time revival of Dark Shadows, Kindred: the Embraced, Angel, Xena, Hercules, Highlander (both of them), Early Edition, ST: Deep Space Nine, ST: Voyager…let’s share the our thoughts on the best, the worst, and the unfairly unnoticed. (60 mins)
Michael McAfee, Jennifer Pelland (M), Jennifer Allis Provost, Dr. James Prego
5:00 pm The Evolution of the Vampire (Parsons)
How have vampires changed in the media? A fun look at the large variety of vampires, from that first Nosferatu to young adult vampires in Vampire Academy and more. Come for the laughs to discuss all in fun. Don’t forget your fangs! (60 mins)
Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Mario DiGiacomo, Heather Dawn, Morven Westfield
5:00 pm The Women of Doctor Who: Equals and Foils (Seminar)
This Pi-Con we’ll focus on several of The Doctor’s female companions who really held their own against our favorite Time Lord’s dominant presence. This is also your chance to discuss the revelation of a female Master and appreciate The Rani (another female Time Lord). Presented by Doctor Who Club of Western MA. (60 mins)
Doctor Who Club of Western MA
6:00 pm Spoilers and Trigger Warnings–Why Do We Want to Know What’s Inside? (Bradley)
(Roundtable) Some people don’t want to know anything about a book in advance. But many of us prefer to know upfront if there might something in there we’d rather not read. What are some of the things we’d like fair warning about, and why? (60 mins)
Lisa Evans, Kate Kaynak, Gordon Linzner (M), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
6:00 pm World Building (Ellsworth)
Horses smell bad. Bees cannot be kept near goats. Farms take up a lot of land and produce has to be transported somehow. And don’t get us started on the reason why the blacksmith’s forge was on the edge of town. OR, maybe you should get us started. When creating your world, no matter if high or low fantasy or space opera the little things help bring the reader into the story. Discuss with panel what helps and how much of the sense of smell, sight, hearing and taste is needed for world building. (60 mins)
Vikki Ciaffone (M), Tanya Huff, Rebecca Schwartz
6:00 pm The Changing Face of Horror (McLean)
The supernatural and paranormal have been undergoing changes ranging from young adult novels such as Warm Bodies to the more adult paranormal romance field such as the Southern Mysteries (aka Sookie Stackhouse) novels by Charlaine Harris. Zombies may not be mindless. Vampires may have needs beyond blood, or walk in the sun. What is supernatural? A gifted human or an genetically enhanced solider as in Christine Feehan’s Night Games? Let’s discuss the changing face of horror and why it’s shifting. Are we witnessing a horror evolution? (60 mins)
Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Mario DiGiacomo, Catt Kingsgrave
6:00 pm Agreeably Disagreeing (Parsons)
Rational debate, civil discourse, and amicable disagreement are all vanishing arts in our world. What are some guidelines for talking about important issues on which we strongly disagree? Can people on opposite sides of an issue truly find consensus and compromise without the “agree to disagree” cop-out? (60 mins)
Ari Alpert, Hugh Casey, Carl Fink, Walter Hunt, David Larochelle (M)
6:00 pm Post Meridian Radio Theater Listening Party (Seminar)
The Post Meridian Radio Players is Boston’s premiere all-volunteer radio theater troupe. Excerpts of CDs from the PMRP’s catalog will be played for your entertainment. (60 mins)
Michael McAfee
7:00 pm What Makes You Love a Character? (Bradley)
(Roundtable) The most successful books in literary history have one thing in common: a compelling and memorable character who wins the imaginations and affection of readers. Sometimes these characters aren’t at all “likeable” in the traditional sense, but readers still love them. What characters do you adore, and why? (60 mins)
Nicholas Checker, Vikki Ciaffone, Walter Hunt, Catt Kingsgrave (M)
7:00 pm The Trouble with Time Travel (Ellsworth)
There are a number of different ways of looking at time travel. You create a new timeline every time you change something; you cannot have any real effect upon the timeline because anything you have done has already been done; anything you do to change the future will prevent you from going back, so you change nothing, and so on. (60 mins)
George W. Claxton (M), Mario DiGiacomo, Dr. James Prego
7:00 pm Introduction to Henna and Safe Body Art (Hatheway)
Curious about henna and other forms of temporary body art? This workshop gives you a brief overview of safe temporary body art with an emphasis on henna, teaches you how to create a basic henna design, and the opportunity to decorate yourself with your own cone of henna. $5 material fee. For more information, stop by the K2Steam booth and ask for Anne. (60 mins)
7:00 pm The Care and Feeding of Boys Who Read (McLean)
It’s no secret: fewer boys are avid readers than girls, and far more of them abandon reading as they grow up. Librarians also know that boys will rarely read books with female protagonists, no matter how tough, while girls commonly read books with male main characters. It may be no coincidence that educators note problems with boys falling behind academically as they get older. Yet in the early 20th century, boys were the target market and eager consumers of metric tons of pulp science fiction and fantasy-adventure fiction. What’s stopping boys from reading fiction now, and how do we nurture all these potential book-buyers of the future? (60 mins)
Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein (M), William Freedman, David Larochelle
7:00 pm The Spiritual Atheist (Parsons)
Without a “higher authority” to arbitrate our moral and spiritual lives, we are left to construct them on our own. How does an atheist go about defining what is moral behavior? Can there be a spiritual life without God? Does Buddhism have the answers? Our panel would discuss ways of defining moral behavior and filling spiritual needs without resorting to religious authority. (60 mins)
Ari Alpert, D.L. Carter (M), Justine Graykin, Kate Kaynak, Jennifer Pelland
7:00 pm Panel in the Pool (Pool)
“Pushing the extremes with Extremophiles!” The brines of Mars and the sub-surface oceans of Enceladus are the wellsprings of hope for extraterrestrial life, albeit ‘Life as we know it’. However the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan might harbor life as we DON’T know it: (Sagan and Salpeter’s ideas about living gasbags on Jupiter are now just slightly less crazy.) (60 mins)
Jeff Warner (M)
7:00 pm The Transhuman Condition (Seminar)
(Ed Bishop) Can we fundamentally revolutionize what it means to be human through technological advancements? Should we? Transhumanism is a global movement whose goal is to transform the human condition by enhancing intellectual, physical and psychological capacities. What could developments in AI, Bionics, Neuropsychopharmacology, Smart Drugs & Nutrients, Gene Therapy, Life/Youth Extension, Nanotechnology and other inter-related fields offer to improve the human condition in the decades to come, and what is happening right now? (60 mins)
Ed Bishop
8:00 pm Time Travelers Ball (Ballroom)
(120 mins)
8:00 pm Readings (Ellsworth)
(60 mins)
Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Gordon Linzner
8:00 pm Time Travelers Ball (Main Tent)
Join in the dance and strut your stuff at our informal masquerade contest wearing your finest space-time/temporal creations. Ribbons will be awarded for the judges favorites. (120 mins)
8:00 pm Romance and SpecFic–What’s the Overlap? (McLean)
Romance is the most consistently successful fiction genre, partly because it’s so broad and includes so many subcategories. “Paranormal romance” and romantic fantasy include many spec-fic elements, and SF romance exists, too. How far does romance overlap with spec-fic, and is there a gray area for books that aren’t quite either, but are a little of both? (60 mins)
D.L. Carter, Susan Hanniford Crowley (M), Lisa Evans, Jennifer Allis Provost
8:00 pm Limiting Narrative Viewpoint: Interior vs. Exterior (Parsons)
Assuming you want to show only what the characters know, a limited narrator can be from the point of view of the characters including thoughts (aka getting inside their heads) or can be from outside all characters and describe only what an independent observer would experience without character thoughts (aka objective or dramatic). What is the effect on the reader? How does the choice affect the writing process? (60 mins)
Ken Altabef, Nicholas Checker, Shuvom Ghose (M), Justine Graykin
8:00 pm Tarot Poetry Performance (Seminar)
Michael McAfee has written a series of poems based on each of the cards in the standard Tarot deck. Members of the audience draw cards to determine which poems get performed as dramatic recitations. These poems can also be used to answer questions, just like at a Tarot reading. (60 mins)
Michael McAfee
9:00 pm Readings (Ellsworth)
(60 mins)
Nicholas Checker
9:00 pm Flirting Workshop (McLean)
Would you like to practice making the world a better place by helping people feel good about themselves? This flirting workshop is interactive and occasionally calls for volunteers from the audience. Note: this is not a seduction workshop; flirting in this case means helping others feel sexy in a positive way. (60 mins)
Michael McAfee
9:00 pm “How Can They Believe That?” (Parsons)
Since most liberals associate mostly with other liberals, it might be difficult to understand where conservatives are coming from because they only get the soundbites. Often, the difference in opinion is based on different “facts”. For example, if you believe life begins at conception and a fetus is a living child, you are probably pro-life, whereas if you believe life begins at birth and a fetus is not yet a child, then you are more likely pro-choice. These different positions are not necessarily “false.” How do we compassionately understand the views of others instead of just condemning them? (60 mins)
Ari Alpert, Ed Bishop (M), Llalania Ghose, David Larochelle,
9:00 pm Film Presentation and Q&A: Wardens: Dark Conspiracy (Seminar)
A screening of this web series will be followed by a panel of Q&A with the people who make it. (120 mins)
Keith Fiermonte, Kelly Quick
10:00 am The Last Slice of Pi (Bradley)
(Roundtable) As we say goodbye to Pi-Con, this retrospective panel will share the high and low points of past Pi-Cons, and otherwise reminisce. You’ll have an opportunity to share what this con has done for individuals and what it has accomplished. (60 mins)
Hugh Casey, Terry Franklin, Justine Graykin, Micah Schneider (M), Jeff Warner
10:00 am Interpreting the Critique (Ellsworth)
You’ve finished the draft and shared it with your beta readers or writers group. It comes back with edits and criticisms. How do you judge which are valid? When should you change something and when should you stick to your guns? How about when those criticisms come from a professional editor? How about when publication hinges on a particular change which your gut says is wrong? Do you trust yourself or your critic? (60 mins)
Shuvom Ghose (M), Michael McAfee, Morven Westfield, Trisha J. Wooldridge
10:00 am Ren Faire Rosettes Make and Take Workshop (Hatheway)
Attendees will get a package of materials necessary to create a beautiful rosette/cockade to wear as a lapel or hat pin or barrette. Materials include pre-cut fabric & hardware, needle & thread, beads & ribbon and center focal piece. $5 materials fee. (60 mins)
Carol Salemi
10:00 am Physics Is Weird (McLean)
A follow-up to last year’s fun and popular “Biology Is Weird.” (60 mins)
Ed Bishop, Carl Fink (M), Rebecca Schwartz
10:00 am What the NA is That? (Parsons)
“New Adult” is the most recent sub-category of fiction. Is it just YA with some sex thrown in, or is it really aimed at a unique audience and their concerns? (60 mins)
Nicholas Checker (M), Vikki Ciaffone, Kate Kaynak, Jennifer Allis Provost
10:00 am Doctor Who, Then, Now and In-Between (Seminar)
We’ll compare and contrast the two main eras of Doctor Who, Classic (1963-1989) and the Reboot (2005-present). Has the Doctor become over-sexualized? Is he a sociopath or was he just written that way? Was the 1996 movie part of the classic era or reboot? The Reboot has greatly expanded the fandom but is there a divide between fans of the Classic Series and New? We’ll also mention some “forgotten” parts of the Who Universe, such as Shakedown, comics, games, etc. This talk is presented by Dr. Who Club of Western MA. (60 mins)
Doctor Who Club of Western MA
11:00 am Holy Warriors: Martial Arts in the Crusades (Ballroom)
While there is no doubt that the series of conflicts known as the Crusades were a bloody series that left a wake of destruction and casualties. It did however inspire many ideals of romanticism that remained imbedded in the literature of both Western and Eastern Cultures. Images of valiant crusading Knights and Saracen Warriors were both drawn and written about especially into the 19th century. Many works of historical fiction use this war as a backdrop, but it is easy to neglect the realism and brutality that these warriors faced in everyday combat. This presentation demonstrates the historical fighting styles and weapons of both Christian and Muslim warriors during the first crusade. With time allowing the presentation will end in a staged interpretation a crusading battle. (60 mins)
Frank Perrin, Carlo Lombardo
11:00 am It Drives Me Nuts When Writers Do This! (Bradley)
(Roundtable) Killing off characters, using bad language, gratuitous sex and violence, not enough sex and violence, writing in the present tense, getting all meta?what are your literary pet peeves? Come and vent! (60 mins)
Grant Carrington, D.L. Carter, Jennifer Allis Provost, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert (M)
11:00 am Readings (Ellsworth)
(60 mins)
Justine Graykin, William Freedman
11:00 am Working With Wigs (Hatheway)
This demo/discussion will include places to purchase and how to then alter, add wefts, color, style, clean and wear wigs for costumers/cosplay/theatre (60 mins)
Jena Kitteninstrings, Carol Salemi
11:00 pm How Magic Works (McLean)
Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from science, but what can you do to balance dramatics and believability? Join us to discuss how to make a magic system that functions within the context of your world and is not just a black box from which you can pull whatever you need to solve the problem of the moment. (60 mins)
Ken Altabef, Vikki Ciaffone, Tanya Huff, Trisha J. Wooldridge (M)
11:00 am The Pros and Perils of the Prime Directive (Parsons)
In the Star Trek universe, the Prime Directive was designed to keep the crew of the Enterprise from giving in to the impulse to “help” less technologically advanced civilizations. Well-intentioned meddling without full understanding of the implications can have potentially disastrous consequences. Would the Prime Directive be a wise tool for foreign policy in today’s world? Can it even be applied? Should we resist the urge to meddle in the affairs of other cultures? (60 mins)
Susan de Guardiola, Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein (M), Ian Randall Strock
11:00 am Welcome to the Multiverse (Seminar)
The past 15 years have seen more advancement in the field of cosmology than the previous 150 years. Attempts to understand the nature of the universe have progressed from a handful of numbers, some with significant error bars, to a truly precision science that now places strong boundary conditions on cosmological models. In this era of “precision cosmology,” one of the strangest hypotheses to emerge is the “Multiverse Hypothesis,” that our universe if one of many, each with slightly different physical laws. Can this hypothesis be validated, and if so, how? (60 mins)
Ed Bishop
12:00 pm New and Notable Spec-Fic TV (Bradley)
(Roundtable) It seems like there’s never been such a wealth of SF/F/H TV to choose from! Penny Dreadful, Arrow, iZombie, Daredevil, Extant, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Agents of SHIELD, Hemoock Grove, Sense8, Vampire Diaries, The Last Ship, Continuum, Lost Girl, Orphan Black, Gotham, The Whispers, Wayward Pines…and more. Let’s share our favorites, talk about why some don’t measure up and speculate on where this trend may be going. (60 mins)
George W. Claxton, Lisa Evans (M), William Freedman
12:00 pm Readings (Ellsworth)
(60 mins)
Jennifer Allis Provost, Susan Hanniford Crowley
12:00 pm Stuff Your Stories (McLean)
Your fiction should be as decadent and multi-layered as that elegant tiramisu. How to do that? Blend a better recipe: in this briefing, you’ll take a taste of character development through dialogue, savor metaphor and simile, season with setting, add a dash of symbolism and get your plot/pacing to a rolling boil. In short, you’ll get a run-down on taking advantage of everything life has to offer to jam-pack your stories, turning them into richer experiences for your reader. And let’s not forget as writers, we’re readers, too û take these techniques and use them to delight in other’s prose! (60 mins)
Ken Altabef, Jennifer Bresnick, Llalania Ghose, Shuvom Ghose, Kristi Petersen Schoonover (M)
12:00 pm Fandom Etiquette (Parsons)
So we can all agree bullying is wrong, but what about other behaviors that might go unnoticed, like fannish gatekeeping or cultural appropriation under the guise of fandom? How do you deal with poor behaviors? What are the guidelines for what?s appropriate in our rapidly changing world? (60 mins)
Ed Bishop, David Larochelle (M), Dr. James Prego
1:00 pm SF/F/H TV in the 70s and 80s (Bradley)
(Roundtable) The 70s and 80s offered a tremendous amount of SF/F/H television programming, some of it spun off from films or comics but much of it original. Wonder Woman, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Night Gallery, the original Battlestar Galactica, The Incredible Hulk, Beauty and the Beast, The Greatest American Hero, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Spielberg’s Amazing Stories and the long-awaited return of Star Trek with Next Generation–just to name a few. Some of these shows have been remade in recent years. How do these programs hold up? (60 mins)
Ari Alpert, Dr. James Prego, Kristi Petersen Schoonover (M)
1:00 pm Guest of Awesome Reunion Panel (Hatheway)
Join us for a lively session of reminiscing as some of Pi-Con’s past Guests of Awesome share their thoughts on being chosen for this unique post of honor. (60 mins)
Hugh Casey, Vikki Ciaffone, Justine Graykin, Trisha Wooldridge (M)
1:00 pm Readings (Ellsworth)
(60 mins)
Walter Hunt, Grant Carrington
1:00 pm Economy of Invention (Parsons)
What do wizards do after they graduate from Hogwarts? How do hobbits earn money? The hardest part of fantasy world-building is creating a convincing fictional economic system that doesn’t have more holes than the United States tax code. How much does a writer need to think through, and what are some key points? (60 mins)
Jennifer Bresnick, Nicholas Checker, William Freedman (M), Michael McAfee