Monday, May 27, 2013

Baycon Day 3 - World-Building and Sex in Space

Sunday was a day of panels and networking for me. The first was a schedule panel, Sex in Space. I asked to be on it because (a) sex is interesting and fun to talk about; (b) I know a little about it, having attended Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop in 2011and read various materials from NASA -- not about sex; they aren't confirming any direct knowledge -- but social psychology stuff. You can read my previous discussion here:

Sex in Space:Part One: How Do We Manage To Do It?
Sex in Space: Part Two - Things That Can Go Wrong
Sex in Space: Part Three: No Babies, Please

People Are Sexual, Even In Space

Of course, I was moderator. The panel was a challenge, given the tension between "dirty old man" prurience oh-how-hot-to-screw-in-zero-gee and plodding, overly technical scientific details about the inner-ear birth defects mice develop when gestated in a space station.All in all, the panel went splendidly, with each panelist contributing -- and listening to one another. I think one of the most difficult things about a panel like this is not the subject material, but how hard it is to really listen to one another. So many people are guarded in one way or another about sexuality, all too often retreating into off-color jokes or clinical detachment. Is it possible to talk about sex in space without it turning into an R-rated peep show? How do we include emotions and relationships in our discussion? And leave egos -- our need to appear hip and experienced and oh-so-suave -- aside?

I had a badly-needed break and then met various friends for dinner, including Juliette Wade. Juliette runs the world-building blog TalkToYoUniverse and various Google + Hangouts on the subject. She and I are writing buddies, and we'd each wanted to do readings, but hadn't been scheduled. So we convinced Programming to add us as a panel+reading on Worldbuilding. Despite the expected initial nervousness -- it's not in the printed program; will anyone come? -- we walked in to fine a nicely sized audience and once we started talking about world building, we took off. The thing to take away is this: there is no single right way to create your world. We discover things in different order and at different points in our writing process. Here are some examples of how we do it. (In the weeks to come, I'll be blogging about world building in The Seven-Petaled Shield and also Collaborators, so stay tuned.) Then we read. The audience was so great! It was one of those magical times when everyone feeds energy back and forth.

In the end, I offered my print-out to whoever grabbed it first, something I learned from Mike Resnick, and Juliette did the same. Happy authors, happy listeners.

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