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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

5:30 pm EST

What makes a Classic a Classic?

Calvert Room, 5:30 pm EST *

Join us for a discussion of the books, TV shows, movies, comics, and computer games that have become classics and ask why they have stayed with us. Panelists will discuss everything from the content through to the context, the contemporary market, and the modern memory.

Type: Panel

Thursday, December 16, 2021

11:30 am EST

AI in Fiction and Reality

Empire Ballroom, 11:30 am EST *

This panel will discuss the differences between fictional artificial intelligence and the real thing. How are the real dangers of AI different from the ones envisioned in fiction and popular media?

Type: Panel

Sin, Sine and Cosine in African SF

Thomas (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

The Scientific Core of African Sci-fi, African lore and religion in Science & Magic systems & world building. One of the core features of African SFF writing is the continuity of traditional and spiritual belief—and their validity as effective technologies and sciences.

Type: Panel

1:00 pm EST

Honoring Charles Saunders’ Sword and Soul

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 1:00 pm EST View Replay

In honor of his recent passing, our panelists explore the continuing influence of Charles Saunders’ inversion of sword and sorcery — “sword and soul” — on current writers and publishers such as P. Djeli Clark, Nalo Hopkinson, Troy Wiggins, and Sheree Renée Thomas. Learn how FIYAH Magazine and others are continuing Saunders’ work of encouraging Black speculative fiction writing collectives. Hear about the efforts to turn the Imaro books into a TV series.

Type: Panel

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

The Work of Nancy Kress

Blue Room, 1:00 pm EST View Replay

Nancy Kress won the Hugo and the Nebula in 1991 with Beggars in Spain. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novella in 2013 for After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, and again in 2015 for Yesterday’s Kin. She is a prolific short story writer and novelist. Her most recent book is Sea Change (2020). Come discuss with our panelists the work of DisCon III’s Author Guest of Honor Nancy Kress.

Type: Panel

2:30 pm EST

Ask an Editor: Short Fiction Writing

Blue Room, 2:30 pm EST View Replay

What makes a good short story? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected short fiction editors.

Type: Panel

Meet Up: The Heinlein Society

Ambassador Ballroom, 2:30 pm EST *

Learn about The Heinlein Society, which honors the written work and lives of Robert and Virginia Heinlein.

The Fallout of Being the Chosen One

Forum Room, 2:30 pm EST *

Being a Chosen One isn’t always happily-ever-after. The season-by-season model of television, and the multi volume novel,  allows viewers to explore the arc of the chosen one-type hero after the initial hero’s journey is complete. What are some of the emotional impacts and plot implications of the Chosen One’s story? What kind of generational trauma can being, or being near, the Chosen One inflict?

Type: Panel

4:00 pm EST

Black Speculative Poetry

Thomas (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

DisCon III Special Guest Sheree Renée Thomas and other panelists discuss Black speculative poetry and read from their own work.

Type: Panel

5:30 pm EST

2021 Nommo Awards Ceremony

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 5:30 pm EST View Replay

The Nommo Award, presented by The African Speculative Fiction Society, recognizes works of speculative fiction by Africans, defined as “sf, fantasy, stories of magic and traditional belief, alternative histories, horror and strange stuff that might not fit in anywhere else.” Awards are given in categories for novel, novella, short story, and graphic novel. Four winners will discuss their work and read excerpts in prerecorded presentations. The master of ceremonies is Sheree Renée Thomas.

7:00 pm EST

Alternate Families in SF, Fantasy, and Horror

Cabinet Room, 7:00 pm EST *

From found families to werewolf clans to polyamory to alien hives, this panel will discuss the best (and worst) examples of alternate family structures in science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Type: Panel

The Work of Malka Older

Blue Room, 7:00 pm EST View Replay

Our Guest of Honor Malka Older is both a novelist academic, and humanitarian aid worker. She was named the 2015 Senior Fellow for Technology and Risk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and has more than eight years’ experience in humanitarian aid and development. Our panelists will explore what this means for her science fiction.

Type: Panel

Friday, December 17, 2021

10:00 am EST

What’s Great About African SF?

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

The good, the great, and the just plain weird. Writers, editors and filmmakers talk about works they love from Africa—novels, films, comics, and literary gossip mags.

Type: Panel

11:30 am EST

1001 Years Later: What’s Up with Arabian Fiction

Harris (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

The Arabic countries have a rich history of storytelling, but what stories are being told in the modern day? Who is telling them and who is reading them? What is the relationship of present-day storytelling to the colonial and romanticized past? Panelists will discuss Arabian fiction’s past, present and future, how it influenced fiction worldwide, what happened to it, where it is going, and what this all means to the rest of the world.

Type: Panel

Speculative Noir

Forum Room, 11:30 am EST *

How much do speculative fiction subgenres like cyberpunk and urban fantasy owe to noir? Are there tropes or other aspects of noir that spec fic should subvert or reject? What can speculative fiction noir do that regular noir can’t? From neon-lit future noir to hardboiled fairy tales, this panel will discuss the influence of classic noir and hardboiled fiction on speculative fiction.

Type: Panel

1:00 pm EST

Reverse-Harem Reform School Omegaverse Romance

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

In 2018, this genre was barely a gleam in AO3’s eye. Suddenly it was all over Goodreads, Amazon, and paranormal romance forums, with dozens of series all over the web. Why and how did this extremely specific genre become the hot ticket of 2019 and 2020? What questions does it open up?

Type: Panel

2:30 pm EST

Meetup: Escape Artists

Ambassador Ballroom, 2:30 pm EST *

A meetup for the fans of the Escape Artists podcasts, including 2021 Hugo nominees Escape Pod and PodCastle. Come chat all things audio short fiction with us!

4:00 pm EST

The Rise of Online Markets

Forum Room, 4:00 pm EST *

There was a time, long ago, when short fiction had to be published in one of the ‘big three’ magazines to get popular attention and critical acclaim. The rise of free online magazines like ClarkesworldUncanny, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among many others, make markets of today a much more level playing field. We’ll talk about what’s changed and why, and what it means for the state of speculative fiction

Type: Panel

Unusual Political Structures in Speculative Fic

Kress (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

There is excellent speculative fiction creating political structures different from the usual monarchies, republics, and despotisms. Systems like the microdemocracy in Malka Older’s Infomocracy, direct democracy in Alastair Reynolds’ The Prefect, and the take on empire in Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire create interesting structures outside of our more usual paradigms. What makes them work, and what lessons can we learn about worldbuilding thematic and believable systems of government?

Type: Panel

5:30 pm EST

Sufi, Arabic, and Italian SF

Older (Virtual), 5:30 pm EST View Replay

Three academic talks:

Emad El-Din Aysha: Sufi Science Fiction

Sufism has been deployed many times in genre works, not least SF. Sufism however is lacking in Arabic and Islamic science fiction. The situation is changing as Arab SF authors, old and young, brave this fledging subgenre. The downside is commercialization and commodification of Sufism and Islam.

Ahmad Al-Mahdi: Law, Economics and Arabic Science Fiction

World-building involves translation. There is futurespeak but also the way a world is introduced via motifs and tropes the audience can recognize, a process of familiarization analogues to translation. Linguistic translation of a work of science fiction involves another layer, a shift from one cultural-historical set of experiences to another. 

Simone Pettine: The Birth of Science Fiction in Italy

This paper will discuss the first sf novel published in Italy, by Dino Buzzati in 1960: Il grande ritratto. Using the strategies of textual criticism, the proposal therefore aims to make a point of the influences that led to the drafting of Il grande ritratto of Dino Buzzati, as well as the themes that it left as a starting point for posterity. 

The Work of Sheree Renée Thomas

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 5:30 pm EST View Replay

Sheree Renée Thomas is one of the most notable editors in our field. She is the editor of the anthologies Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, winners of the 2001 and 2005 World Fantasy Award for Year’s Best Anthology. These books collect works by many African-American and African writers in the genres of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. Join our panel to discuss the work of DisCon III Special Guest Sheree Renée Thomas.

 

Please note that captions for this item are available at https://www.streamtext.net/player?event=DisCon-Readings-530

Type: Panel

7:00 pm EST

Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading

Cabinet Room, 7:00 pm EST *

Broad Universe is an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women and alternatively-gendered writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative genres. Come hear several “broads” read short excerpts from their works. Think of it as a tasting menu to help you find your next favorite author!

Type: Reading

Teaching and Analyzing Genre Fiction

Calvert Room, 7:00 pm EST *

Speculative fiction readers are familiar with the tropes and techniques of genre fiction. How do teachers make genre fiction more accessible to students who aren’t frequent speculative fiction readers? Experienced teachers discuss their techniques for teaching speculative literature in a classroom, and trade recommendations for convincing administrators that speculative literature should be a part of school curriculums.

Type: Panel

8:30 pm EST

Imaginary Book Club

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

Our panelists have found some amazing books they would like to recommend to you. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy them in the Dealers Room, because none of them actually exist. (Warning: this panel may make you wish they did!)

Type: Panel

Incorporating Genre Fiction in the Classroom

Calvert Room, 8:30 pm EST *

Can speculative fiction be used to teach history, science, politics, and other subjects? Outside of literature classes, there are many different ways to incorporate speculative fiction ideas to engage students in the classroom. What are the best ways to do this? What are some pitfalls?

Type: Panel

The Work of Nalo Hopkinson

Blue Room, 8:30 pm EST View Replay

Nalo Hopkinson is an award-winning author and 2021’s SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master. This panel will discuss the range and scope of Hopkinson’s work across fiction and nonfiction, and explore her impact on writers and on writing.

Type: Panel

Saturday, December 18, 2021

11:30 am EST

Cultures of Fear

Thomas (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

The stringy-haired ghost girl is a Japanese trope, while the isolated cabin in the woods is very American. How much of horror is culturally specific? How do such tropes develop, and how do they translate to foreign audiences?

Type: Panel

Decolonizing Secondary World Fantasy

Older (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

Secondary world fantasy gives opportunities to shape narrative and setting in forward-looking ways, yet so often writers look backwards and lean on facile historical analogues. How do you free your worldbuilding from, or use it to oppose, colonialist narratives when our own history is so inextricably linked with colonialist expansion?

Type: Panel

Is the Genre Too Big for Meaningful Hugos?

Blue Room, 11:30 am EST View Replay

When Discon I was held in 1963, fewer than 250 science fiction novels were published in English. In 2020, there were more speculative fiction novels published than one person could read. Short story publishing is even more crowded. What does a “best of” award mean when nobody can properly assess the full genre?

Type: Panel

1:00 pm EST

Heavy Metal and Fantasy

Harris (Virtual), 1:00 pm EST *

Epic fantasy can tread on a razor’s edge of goofiness. A certain suspension of irony is needed to take barbarians, wizards, and silly names seriously. Heavy metal music similarly requires emotional commitment to stylistic bombast. Is earnestness and willingness to commit why we love both genres? From classic warrior metal bands like Manowar to the more modern, poppy sound of Unleash the Archers, let’s talk about what metal and fantasy have in common, and why they go well together.

Type: Panel

Meetup: The Reunited Kingdoms Facebook Group

Ambassador Ballroom, 1:00 pm EST *

A meetup for The Reunited Kingdoms Facebook group.

The Magnificent Novella

Blue Room, 1:00 pm EST View Replay

Novellas are thriving. Benefiting from the work of small presses and the opportunities of digital magazines, the form has received a new lease of life. These authors will discuss the novella in terms of craft and form, in regards to their own work, and the growing landscape of novellas produced both by the lovely folks at Tor and elsewhere. 

Type: Panel

The Prejudices of Urban Fantasy

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

What unexamined prejudices exist in urban fantasy? Where do they come from? Which works and authors are addressing them?

Type: Panel

2:30 pm EST

Meetup: Best SF and Fantasy Short Fiction

Ambassador Ballroom, 2:30 pm EST *

This meet-up introduces the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy short fiction online Facebook group and how it reads and discusses short fiction

Pre/Post Iron Curtain Fiction in Eastern Europe

Calvert Room, 2:30 pm EST *

The fall of the Eastern bloc and Soviet-dominated governments signaled a massive change in the cultural, legal, and economic status of many former Soviet-satellite nations. Now with 30 years of perspective since the fall, how did this affect the themes, topics, and formats of genre fiction, in those nations, on the page and screen?

Type: Panel

4:00 pm EST

From Grimm to Disney and Back: The Changing Fae

Blue Room, 4:00 pm EST *

Early fairy tales tended to be very dark stories. The 1800s saw the emergence of lighter, more whimsical fairies. Walt Disney made them even more saccharine. Now we are starting to see a return to the more dangerous, untrustworthy Fae. From Grimm’s Fairy Tales to Sleeping Beauty, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and The Dresden Files, our panelists will discuss how the Fae have changed over the years.

Type: Panel

Sidewise in Time: New Alternative Histories

Forum Room, 4:00 pm EST *

Alternate histories provide an opportunity to think not ‘what if this goes on?’ but ‘what if this never happened?’ What are the best and most challenging alternate histories being written today?

(This panel features the presentation of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, established in 1995 to recognize the best alternative history stories and novels of the year.)

Type: Panel

Speculative F(r)iction

Harris (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

Smut? In our speculative fiction? Of course! Let’s talk about what’s trendy in speculative erotica and the state of erotica publishing. What are the current awards, and who judges them? How is erotic romance different from erotica, and is the distinction useful for writers or publishers?

Type: Panel

Why Do We Love Novellas and Novelettes?

Cabinet Room, 4:00 pm EST *

Novellas and novelettes are having a moment right now. What makes them effective? Is it because they can home in on a specific idea or emotional payoff in depth, that they are the perfect length for one reading session, or some other kind of magic? What are some of our favorites to read, and what is it that draws authors to write at these lengths?

Type: Panel

5:30 pm EST

Science Talk 2: Telescopes and Exoplanets

Diplomat Ballroom, 5:30 pm EST View Replay

Exoplanets — Padi Boyd

In 1992 the first planet orbiting a star other than our Sun was discovered. Since then, almost 5000 planets in 3600 systems have been added to our catalogue of exoplanets. We will discuss the latest findings and marvel at the variety (and new types) of worlds that exist.

Exoplanet Worldbuilding in Science Fiction — Emma Johanna Puranen.

Real exoplanets were first discovered in the past few decades, but science fiction authors have been writing about worlds outside our solar system for much longer. How does the diversity of fictional exoplanets compare to real-world discoveries? How are writers influenced by science? We apply data science techniques to a database of fictional exoplanets to investigate how this current era of unprecedented exoplanet discovery has impacted the way writers worldbuild their fictional exoplanets.

Solarpunk: A Positive Future

Kress (Virtual), 5:30 pm EST View Replay

Solarpunk is a movement that envisions how the future might look if humanity succeeds in solving significant modern problems, with an emphasis on climate change, pollution, and sustainability. Panelists discuss themes and plot elements unique to Solarpunk, story outcomes that work best in this genre, and real-world changes that have emerged from the Solarpunk movement.

Type: Panel

The Creepypasta Panel

Harris (Virtual), 5:30 pm EST View Replay

Creepypasta: the internet evolution of the urban legend. It has risen from nothing to become a mature horror genre over the last decade. What is it, why does it work, and how will it evolve into the future?

Type: Panel

Sunday, December 19, 2021

10:00 am EST

The Phylogenetic Tree of Space Opera

Blue Room, 10:00 am EST View Replay

Cowboy Bebop and Dune are back on screens but it’s not 1965, 1984, or 1998. Is it that everything old is new again, or is space opera just a genre that keeps on giving? If E.E. “Doc” Smith’s The Skylark of Space is the root of the tree and Asimov’s Foundation series is the trunk, where do the branches lead us?

Type: Panel
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