Philcon 2014
A convention report by Evelyn C. Leeper
Copyright 2014 by Evelyn C. Leeper
[I have gotten several years behind in my Philcon reports and rather than give up altogether, I have decided to transcribe my notes without turning them into real sentences, paragraphs, etc. Maybe someday I will flesh them out, but I would not bet on it.]

Table of Contents:


Social Media and The Changing Landscape of Communication
Friday, 6:00 PM
Deborah Stanish (mod), Berakha Lana Guggenheim, Michael Ryan, Jay Smith, Ray Ridenour

Description: "How does Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and other social media affect the way we communicate with each other. How have they changed fandom and fan communities, and how might they continue to do so in the future?"


Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw?
Friday, 7:00 PM
Lisa Adler-Golden (mod), Carl Fink, Jay Wile, JJ Brannon

Description: "Recent scientific findings indicate that chimpanzees are violent in nature, committing acts that look like murder and even war. Does this mean that intra-species violence is inevitable? Does it depend on the species? And what could it mean for humanity to learn that some of our closest relatives in the animal world are, like us, inclined to violence?"


Defying the Square Cube Law
Friday, 8:00 PM
Alex Shvartsman (mod), Bob Eggleton, Lawrence Kramer, James Prego

Description: "Consider really huge monsters. Sure we like 'em big and capable of stomping cities, but is there any way to make a Godzilla or Cthulhu plausible?"


The Bug-Crusher Book: Pro and Con
Saturday, 10:00 AM
KT Pinto (mod), Evelyn Leeper, Gail Z. Martin, Robert Corry, Paul Dellechiaie

Description: "Why ARE so may fantasy and SF books (or series) so long? Do authors really need thousands of pages to tell one story, as Robert Jordan (with some help from Brian Sanderson) seemed to? But these books sell well, so someone must like them. What are the attractions of the really, really long form?"


Fantasy and Economics
Saturday, 11:00 AM
Neal Levin (mod), Hugh Casey, Brad Hafford, Fran Wilde

Description: "If all that gold that Smaug is hoarding gets into circulation, won't Middle Earth be wiped out by rampant inflation? If wizards can conjure up gold, Would it force the country switch over to the turnip standard? How does the economy work in Lankhmar or Hyborea? Which writers have dealt with this as a serious issue?"


The Psychology of Time Travel
Saturday, 1:00 PM
Rebecca Robare (mod), John Ashmead, JJ Brannon, James L. Cambias

Description: "This panel will explore the effects of time travel on the human psyche. We'll discuss types of time travel events such as repeating loops (Groundhog Day), one-way relativistic travel (Planet of the Apes), the grandfather paradox (Back to the Future), and other phenomena."

[Do past, present, and future co-exist and we just move through them, or are they created from moment to moment?]

[If a panel like this is signed for the hearing-impaired, how does a signer who is not a physicist convey technical, complex ideas and words, or even spell them correctly?]


The Next Extinction
Saturday, 2:00 PM
John Monahan (mod), Alexis Gilliland, Lawrence Kramer, Lisa Adler-Golden

Description: "Some scientists believe we are heading toward a mass extinction event. Some argue that it is beginning already. Our panelists will discuss the evidence, and the possibilities for preserving biodiversity and how human life and civilization will be impacted."


The Modern Library
Saturday, 3:00 PM
Suzanne Rosin (mod), Tony Finan, Scheherazade Jackson, Christine Norris, Meredith Schwartz, Mary Spila

Description: "In the age of internet, Google, smartphone, and tablet, do we still need libraries? And, if so, what role do they have to play? And how has the role of librarian changed over time, and how might it continue to change going forward?"

[On the whole, this was a fairly boring panel with no real new information or insights.]


Jewish Folklore in Fantasy and Science Fiction
Saturday, 4:00 PM
Todd Dashoff (mod), Gil Cnaan, Berakha Lana Guggenheim, Hildy Silverman, Stephanie Feldman, Gary Ehrlich

Description: "THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI is a recent example. William Tenn and Avram Davidson have written classic examples. Discuss how Jewish Folklore has been used in the genre."


Saturday, 5:00 PM
James Prego (mod), Brian Gray, Anna Kashina, Lawrence Kramer, Amy Fass, John Skylar

Description: "Ebola, now rampant in several countries in Western Africa, presents a scary threat to the continent and to the rest of the world. How scared should we be? Could Ebola make it to the United States in a major way? Could the virus mutate to spread through the air? What steps can and should countries and international NGOs take to limit its spread?"


Separating the Author from the Work
Sunday, 10:00 AM
Muriel Hykes (mod), Sharon Lee, Peter Prellwitz, Oz Drummond, Ian Randal Strock

Description: "Many authors of great works have been lees than great human beings. Some have had racist, anti-Semitic or extremist views. Should this color our perception of their work?"


Language, Thought, and Understanding
Sunday, 11:00 AM
Lawrence M. Schoen (mod), Rebecca Robare, Bernie Mojzes, Mark Mandel

Description: "Science fiction stories that address language and linguistics include Embassytown and Babel 17, among many others. Language is obviously going to be a crucial factor when contacting an alien species, and all kinds of interesting questions come up, such as, could there be alien languages that could never be understood by humans (or vice versa) and how much does language shape thought/psychology (and vice versa)."

(*) My notes are unclear as to which said this. Mea culpa.


Godzilla: The King of the Monster's 60-year Reign!
Sunday, 12:00 N
Bob Eggleton (mod), Luke Stelmaszek, Mark Leeper

Description: "From his first appearance in Honda's 1954 film GOJIRA, through his successful blockbuster film this past year, Godzilla has become a cultural icon, and has evolved from being a metaphor for unstoppable disaster, to being a defender of humanity, and back again. We'll look back over the big guy's long career."


Do I Have to Slog my Way through WAR AND PEACE?
Sunday, 1:00 PM
Darrell Schweitzer (mod), Deborah Stanish, Tom Purdom

Description: "While it seems to be true that someone who reads only science fiction will not make a very good SF writer, how much grounding in mainstream and classic literature is necessary? What classic works of non-SF fiction should aspiring writers read?"



Crystal Ballroom 3 was very hot.

Mark was put on a panel that they failed to tell him about.