Event Type



Virtual Access

Thursday, December 16, 2021

10:00 am EST

Post-Pandemic Aesthetics

Older (Virtual), 10:00 am EST View Replay

The 1918 flu pandemic had huge impacts on culture over the subsequent decades, including significant changes to architecture and personal fashion. What kinds of long-term changes to our public aesthetic will we see in reaction to COVID-19? Will restaurants and other public spaces need to change their room layouts and building designs? Will branded, designer facemasks become de rigueur symbols of conspicuous consumption?

Type: Panel

1:00 pm EST

Poverty and Wealth Inequality in Science Fiction

Kress (Virtual), 1:00 pm EST View Replay

How are the productivity gains depicted in science fiction distributed? Why do so many stories feature an oligarchical ruling class? Does the expression of class differ across times, cultures, and nations? How do science fiction and fantasy writers discuss the intersection of class and other modes of oppression and discrimination? 

Type: Panel

2:30 pm EST

Urban Planning in the Space Age

Older (Virtual), 2:30 pm EST View Replay

In the colonies of the future, who will be responsible for planning what the city looks like and how it develops? Is this a job for engineers, for the civil service, or someone else? What factors should be considered?

Type: Panel

Worldbuilding Through Food

Kress (Virtual), 2:30 pm EST View Replay

Food can be a vital element to help readers better understand the world of a speculative fiction story. How does technology in your story define the food culture (or is it the other way around)? What does the food say about trade and commerce, and how does it reflect class structure?

Type: Panel

4:00 pm EST

Worldbuilding Spacefaring Civilizations

Blue Room, 4:00 pm EST View Replay

How can you, as a writer, effectively build a spacefaring civilization into your work? What parts of space empires can be directly extrapolated from world history, and what elements will you need that are unique to interstellar commerce, diplomacy, warfare, and lifestyles?

Type: Panel

7:00 pm EST

Writing “Gray” Markets

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 7:00 pm EST View Replay

Legally speaking, whether you can buy or sell body parts in the U.S. is an extremely gray area. You can’t sell a human kidney… unless it’s pickled in a jar, in which case you can. Sort of. Sometimes. How do you convey this kind of semi-legality in your imagined world? This panel will discuss worldbuilding through the lens of legal and semi-legal commerce.

Type: Panel

Friday, December 17, 2021

8:30 am EST

Being African Is Tougher Than You Think

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 8:30 am EST View Replay

Practical barriers for creatives on the African continent include travel costs, visas, payment methods, conversation rates—not to mention failing electricity, high data costs, and PayPal not always working. Distinguished writers from the continent talk about the impact of practical problems, and if it gets better when you move to the West.

Type: Panel

10:00 am EST

The Future is Creating/Stealing Your Job

Calvert Room, 10:00 am EST *

Two academic talks:

Hirotaka Osawa: SF Prototyping for Business Innovation

SF prototyping is a business thinking method for utilizing science fiction narrative for making innovative ideas when considering the design of future societies. The method is getting famous in the US, China, and Japan. We compared it with conventional scenario planning in 9 groups, and the results were analyzed by 14 business experts with Mitsubishi Research Institute. The results suggest that the SF prototyping approach is more provocative and fun than the scenario planning approach.

Jesper Stage: Do Androids Dream of Taking Your Job?

In the past, technological breakthroughs have often led to job losses in individual economic sectors, but average wages have usually gone up and overall employment has generally increased as well. Might things be different in the future? What might artificial intelligence and robots mean for the labor market? This talk will look at some of the real-world economics of the impacts of technological change on the labor market and compare with how we see this depicted in science fiction.

11:30 am EST

Round Table on Business Innovation

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

Science fiction prototyping is a promising way of thinking about future societies in the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) era. SF prototyping creates scenarios using workshops to activate the knowledge of multiple persons in a company, and to discuss how society should be by backcasting from a future image. We welcome distinguished researchers from Japan.

Type: Panel

2:30 pm EST

Sublight Diplomacy

Forum Room, 2:30 pm EST *

Conflict and peacemaking, setting or altering territorial boundaries, regulating trade, resolving disputes of all kinds, the protection of citizens abroad, protection of investments and protection from exploitation, promises of cooperation and mutual assistance—most forms of diplomacy (and even the need for diplomacy at all) are predicated on close contact and rapid communication. How do you conduct interstellar diplomacy without FTL travel, or at least FTL communication? Why would you want to?

Type: Panel

Saturday, December 18, 2021

11:30 am EST

Real Estate in Space

Calvert Room, 11:30 am EST *

Space law is a real, existing field of law, but it’s only beginning to touch on the complexity of property rights in space. The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies is the international treaty that addresses these issues, but current events suggest that we may soon reach the limits of its provisions. What happens when Elon Musk tries to sell you a condo on Mars?

Type: Panel

1:00 pm EST

Heinlein & Enlightenment; Asian Food Futures

Calvert Room, 1:00 pm EST *

Two academic talks:

Bradford Lyau: Robert A. Heinlein: Radical Moderate and the Enlightenment

Analyzing Robert A. Heinlein in light of recent revisions of the Enlightenment and studies analyzing Heinlein works. The different, often conflicting ideological slants used to describe Heinlein’s politics could be explained in part by this analysis. I will use Jonathan Israel’s recent studies of the Enlightenment as the basis of this era’s recent revisions.

Annie Sheng: Taste and Longing in Asian SF 

Humans transform identities and histories through relationships with food in imagined futures. I draw from anthropological analysis and Asian SF stories to examine how people make meaning of their lives through food. An example is machinery, corporeality, and the desire for taste present in futures featuring humanity and the synthetic in Xia Jia, Indrapramit Das and Isabel Yap’s works. From noodle stalls to fruits of the homeland, sensory-rich scenes of food are layered with analytical meaning.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

11:30 am EST

Asteroid Mining and the Global Economy

Diplomat Ballroom, 11:30 am EST View Replay

A single medium-sized asteroid can contain more gold and platinum than all of Earth. How do we keep the first giant hunk of space gold from crashing the world’s commodities markets? How might speculative technologies lead to creation of markets for asteroid resources?

Type: Panel
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