Philcon 2015
A convention report by Evelyn C. Leeper
Copyright 2017 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:

This is a brief report on Philcon 2015, held November 20-22, 2015, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.


That's Not a Story; What Is It?
Friday, 5:00 PM
Diane Weinstein (mod), Darrell Schweitzer, Anne E. Johnson, Bernie Mojzes

Description: "Rachel Swirsky's Nebula-winning and Hugo-nominated 'If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love' caused considerable controversy because some people thought it wasn't a story. What do we mean by a 'story' anyway?"


Gonna Science the $#^% Out of This: How Realistic is the Science of The Martian?
Friday, 10:00 PM
Tobias Cabral (mod), Earl Bennett, Frank O'Brien, Dr. H. Paul Shuch, Lawrence Kramer

Description: "Matt Damon has to survive alone on Mars until he can be rescued. Could a hardy human survive in such a hostile climate? What would make survival more likely? Panelists will talk about this book and movie's excellent science geekery in the context of the Robinson-Crusoe-esque situation of the hero."


Can You Trust Your Brain?
Saturday, 10:00 AM
Michael L. Brachman (mod), Ken Fink, John Monahan, Rebecca Robare, Mary Spila, Carl Fink

Description: "We'll look at perception, illusion, and awareness from the professional perspectives of those who deal with them every day: psychologists and magicians."


How Do We Choose the Books We Read?
Saturday, 11:00 AM
Todd Dashoff (mod), Eric Hardenbrook, Deborah Stanish, Joan Wendland, Carl Fink, Gary Feldbaum

Description: "People with broad taste choose from many different story types. On what basis do we make these choices? Why do some readers focus on one sub-genre or one writer?"


Using Language Creatively
Saturday, 1:00 PM
A.T. Greenblatt (mod), Christie Meierz, Lawrence M. Schoen, Joseph Berenato, L Hunter Cassells

Description: "From Hemingway's spareness to Lovecraftian atmospheric density to Chandleresque similes, there are a variety of ways language can be used to enhance the worlds you write. How do language and syntax choices affect the way a story is perceived?"


Sherlock Holmes in the 21rst Century
Saturday, 3:00 PM
Hildy Silverman (mod), Melissa James, Anastasia Klimchynskaya, Victoria Janssen, Steve Vertlieb, Richard Stout

Description: "There's been a lot of activity centered around 221b Baker Street in the last few years. Which adaptations are trying to keep characterizations and plot elements as close to canon as possible, and which are just using the original stories as a jumping-off point? And perhaps most importantly, which ones have you enjoyed the most?"


Things You Should Read (But Don't Know About Yet)
Saturday, 5:00 PM
Fran Wilde (mod), Dena Heilik, Joseph Berenato, Alex Shvartsman

Description: "Not every amazing book is a best-seller. Whether it's an unsung classic or a recent author, come talk about the fiction you've found that, strangely, nobody else seems to be talking about."

Final comments were to check social media for recommendations, and to read anthologies (particularly the various "Year's Best" anthologies).


Science Fiction and Theories of History
Saturday, 6:00 PM
Siobhan Carroll (mod), Christopher Weuve, Day Al-Mohamed, John Grant, Robert Fenelon

Description: "SF stories such as Dune or the Foundation series frequently deal with long stretches of time and the historical process itself. Some of them are based on specific theories such as those of Spengler, Marx or others. How does this influence the way we think and write about the future?"

No one talked about the scale: years vs. centuries vs. millennia.


Beyond Lovecraft: The Cthulhu Mythos Today
Saturday, 8:00 PM
John Ashmead (mod), Darrell Schweitzer, A.C. Wise

Description: "Exploring how the Cthulhu mythos has evolved beyond its creator."


It's All About Soul: The Films of Alex Garland
Saturday, 9:00 PM
Jeff Warner (mod), Tony Finan, Rodney Somerstein, Jon McGoran

Description: "From his first script "28 Days Later" to his Directorial debut "Ex Machina," Alex Garland has explored the implications of a Soul in SF settings. The common thread amongst all the stories is the looming specter of Death. Let's discuss Alex's work, the futures of morality and artificial immortality, and the relevance of death."


Why Can't I Get My Book Club to Read What I Want?
Sunday, 10:00 AM
Evelyn Leeper (mod), Rodney Somerstein, Eric Hardenbrook

Description: "How do you propose a title in a way that makes people want to read it? How does one run a successful book discussion group in general?"


Forgotten Masterpieces of Fantasy Art
Sunday, 12:00 N
Richard Hescox (mod)

Description: "A slideshow display of seldom seen paintings by famous artists you may know- and many you have never heard of- from the 19th century."

[Lots of artworks, I will list as many I noted down. I do not guarantee that the names are spelled correctly.]


The Uses of Time Travel
Sunday, 1:00 PM
Lawrence Kramer (mod), Lawrence M. Schoen, Michael A. Ventrella, John Ashmead, Michael L. Brachman, JJ Brannon

Description: "Why do you want to travel into the past or future? Knowledge? Loot? Talking yourself out of bad decisions? Setting up the best prank ever? If given the opportunity would you, or wouldn't you?"


Spooky Science: The Physics of the Soul
Sunday, 2:00 PM
John Grant (mod)

Description: "Is it possible to weigh the soul? To photograph it? Even to smell it? 100 years ago some scientists thought so. John Grant gleefully describes some of their experiments and glances, too, at the recent fad for visiting Heaven and returning to tell the tale."