Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Science fiction and fantasy panel

LITA (Libraries and information technology association) hosted a panel with the theme of the role of technology in the future seen through the lens of fantasy and science fiction. David Weber, Bill Willingham, Carrie Vaughn, Jon Scalzi, Orson Scott Card, Jim Ottaviani, and Gail Carriger were going to be speaking. We were SUPER excited that Gail Carriger was going to be there, she was adorably outfitted and was a visual delight.

I'm going to go through the speakers as they spoke and give a quick overview.

David Weber was a great kick off to the panel, he was eloquent and very thoughtful. He said that our change of technology and our reaction to it is inevitable. As a society we are still grappling with where technology will go, and it doesn't help that there's a generation gap that leaves a barrier in communication. It is his personal opinion that while physical books are never going to die out, ebooks are going to replace mass market paperbacks. Which I think is a valid opinion. He summed up with the fact that science fiction's assumptions about what's going to happen in the future are going to be inadequate for the reality. He has a young adult book coming out sometime this fall.

Bill Willingham
stated at the very beginning that he didn't feel super comfortable speaking to this topic as he thought it wasn't super relevant for his genre. He was super hilarious, so that was rather endearing. He talked about how access to information was vital to the development of growth, which is how he tied it to technology, and that's why he liked fantasy because he can create how information is disseminated. We then had a 'commercial break' so he could plug his new young adult series, it sounds awesome. But he feels that feels that by writing persuasively rather than accurately you can influence culture.

Carrie Vaughn was adorable. She said that our expectations of technology is generational, she gave the example of a submarine navigation room that was photoshopped to be an article about what a home computer could look like eventually. She agreed with David Weber that while science fiction can point us in a direction of what technology will eventually turn to, it usually turns out wrong. Or rather reality exceeds expectation, this is especially true when you take into consideration how transitional technology is.

John Scalzi spoke more about information and how we forget the necessary human aspect of information gathering. His example was if you met an alien who would you take them to for them to get information from? You should take them to a librarian because he felt they were the only ones to actually give out information instead of try to receive information.

Orson Scott Card. THE Orson Scott Card. What a pretentious jerk. But you have to overlook that because he's Orson Scott Card. He talks a lot about how our need to archive things digitally will eventually fail us because of the transitional nature of technology. What he talks about for quite some tome is copyright. Which I thought was good, he feels that copyright has gone too far. It no longer serves people and kind of kills what we could develop.

Jim Ottaviani
talks about information storage... I can't really tell you more about that because I didn't really understand it. If you did please email me. He also has a young adult book coming out. this one sounded awesome! Unfortunately I didn't receive it.

Gail Carriger was the last speaker. SHE WAS ADORABLE!!! She felt that our core competency is always a past technology, and that technology really has a lot to say about what kind of culture we are. As she writes steampunk she's observed the fact that when technology is first introduced to culture it is usually frivolous. In other words games pave the way. Things get developed faster now because of globalization. But in times of chaos we look toward our past for clear and solid structure. This romantic view of the past seems to especially seems to reach young people who need that sort of grounding to feel safe.

Overall a good panel. Obviously some better than others. I am excited to read most of the books we received. Yay!

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