I'll be arriving in London on Wednesday morning; Mary Anne and I will spend the day hanging out and battling jet lag. LonCon 3 starts on Thursday. I'll be on three panels:
- Reimagining Families (Thurs, 11 a.m.-noon)
- In a 2013 column for Tor.com, Alex Dally MacFarlane called for a greater diversity in the way SF and fantasy represent families, pointing out that in the real world, “People of all sexualities and genders join together in twos, threes, or more. Family-strong friendships, auntie networks, global families... The ways we live together are endless.” Which stories centre non-normative family structures? What are the challenges of doing this in an SF context, and what are the advantages? How does representing a wider range of family types change the stories that are told?
- Beyond Bechdel (Fri, 8-9 p.m.)
- The “Bechdel test” for female representation in films is now widely known. To pass it a film should contain two named female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. In recent years, similar tests have been proposed for other under-represented groups, including the Mako Mori test for characters of colour, and the Russo test for queer characters. What are the strengths and weaknesses of such tests? How do they affect our viewing choices? And what does the popularity of such tests say about how popular media are being received and discussed?
- The Gendered AI (Sun, 1:30-3 p.m.)
- Strictly speaking, there's no reason an artificial intelligence should express gender in human terms (or at all). Yet in much recent film and TV—such as WALL-E, Her, Person of Interest, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Caprica—gender and/or sexuality has been integral to the vision of AI. How have such portrayals affected what stories are told? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What would it mean to imagine a genderless AI—or a queer AI?
After the con, I'll be spending a week wandering around Oxford, Edinburgh, and London again, but more on that in a separate entry. Maybe.