Thursday, August 4, 2016

Diversicon Lobby Talk

I attended Diversicon this past weekend, and as usual, it was a fantastic, intimate convention that takes SF&F seriously. As the years go by and I know more people, I am more inclined to hang out a tiny bit and chat in the lobby. On Saturday afternoon, I overheard two people at the con talking about generation ships. That got my attention, as generation ships are one of my keener interests in SF.

Penny has been reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora. The novel is about a generation ship that is already a few generations into its interstellar flight. I gather from the conversation, and from what I heard reviewers say earlier in the year (or was it last year in the annual "What do I read next?" panel at Diversicon?), that Bad Things Happen as the flight proceeds. Descendants of the original crew feel "trapped" by their ancestors' decision to take this flight. Things Fall Apart - socially as well as physically. At least that's what I gathered from the table talk.

Penny expressed some skepticism about the prospects and wisdom of long-term space flight. She felt the risks to human life were too great, the containers too flimsy and fallible. Ellen, an engineer by training, felt that the safety concerns could be addressed through good engineering. I can't say the conversation went much farther beyond this, but the conversation got me to buy the book and think it through myself. The discussion could have been one or more panels in their own right, and if I finish KSR's Aurora, I may propose one for next year.

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