The last Saturday in October is usually BristolCon. And it was no different this year. One advantage of this small friendly convention is that it is five minutes walk away from Bristol Temple Meads railway station – quite a few of those attending chose to get there by rail rather than fight with the normally horrendous traffic jams that are so normal in Bristol’s city centre!
I made a point of attending those panels that were biased towards the science end of science fiction… only one slight snag… I was on the two most science-biased panels, one as a panellists and the other as a moderator – the first time for me.
I was a panellist on the Gert Lush Science 2017 where the first question was about what current technology was coming our way. All the panellists made suggestions – I think it was a mistake leaving me to the last – I read out a paragraph from Mike Hardwick’s short story in the SFerics 2017 anthology…
The resulting discussion covered a wide range of topics: medical advancements ranging from bespoke 3D printed joint replacements to nano-medicines to fight cancer cells; power generation using more efficient clear-glass solar windows to using pressure pads to harvest energy from footsteps and traffic; improving architectures from cyber-physical fabrication of structural housing for refugee camps to using flying drones to farm inaccessible areas like vertical ‘wall’ gardens; improving diagnoses from high-tech optical neuro-technology that read brain activity to using simple smart phones to make medical examinations in what was then the developing world.
… and then went on to point out that a lot of inventions are already in labs or at the prototyping stage. It is economic factors that dictate whether inventions come to market or not.
[As an aside, Mike’s story, and indeed all the other short stories in the SFerics 2017 anthology look at the impact of near future technology on society… but Mike does some really interesting things with his stuff… things I haven’t seen elsewhere… and so do some of the other stories… see Amazon UK link here.]
The panel went on to examine further and further into the future, suggesting that eventually technology would take over all our jobs. One panellist postulated that the only thing left for people to do was to be human. Sorry, but had to disagree… what technology we develop is up to us humans, and legislation will dictate whether technology enters our society, or not, and of course we humans draft and enact legislation.
The panel I moderated was ‘Space Sick’, Space Healthy. Here, I concentrated on letting the panellists bring out their views. The topics covered topics like space radiation, the effects of the lack of gravity (including the effect on giving birth) and whether changes to our DNA would help. What I personally found intriguing was when someone in the audience noted that even if you placed spacemen in a centrifugal spaceship to give them artificial gravity, their bone structure was still adversely affected. My thanks to the panellists, Janet Edwards, Dr Bob, Dev Agarwal and DJ Cockburn for being a wonderful team and covering so many ifs and buts.
I’m afraid I don’t remember all that much about the first panel of the day I attended, ‘You are the Product.’ It was mainly about the impact of all the information gathering and analysis we see on the internet today and how that is extrapolated into the future. Or putting it another way, all the comments made were what I expected (that’s the trouble with knowing the subject area). But it was lighthearted and entertaining.
The panel on a ‘Fistful of Genres’ was about how the Western influenced SFF. This, for me, turned into more about a history of interaction between the genres than anything else, probably because I didn’t know much about the subject. There certainly were a lot recommendations for relevant novels.
I also attended the ‘Mapping SF and F’ panel which talked about maps, the need for them to keep the story consistent and how they helped the reader understand parts of the story. Some lovely maps were shown, including the standards like J R R Tolkien’s map for Lord of the Rings. This was both informative and entertaining.
The art show was very good this year, with people like Jim Burns and Andy Bigwood showing off their work.
Unfortunately I didn’t have time for any more panels – I had to be somewhere else for the evening.
Overall, it was another successful BristolCon, a credit to the organisers and all those who helped. Next year’s BristolCon will be on October 27th. Thoroughly recommend you be there if you can.