Today's the first full day at Readercon, so this post is coming to you from the mysterious past, and ANYTHING could have happened since I wrote this post.  There could have been a super-volcano.  Causality might have stopped working.  Another cookie company's flagship product might have come out of the closet. I'm back from the first evening of Readercon, though, so I can tell you what happened on Thursday night.

The first panel I went to was about portrayals of medicine in SF -- mostly, about their absence.  Through that panel, I discovered the Spoon Theory, a method for explaining what it's like to have Lupus, or any other chronic illness without obvious signs.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.


I asked her to count her spoons. [...] She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I also got referred back to an article by Elizabeth Bear on Charles Stross's blog, that I read in 2011 and had mostly forgotten about.

The more research I do into human neurology--and writing Dust and the other two Jacob's Ladder books required more about brains than I ever wanted to know--the more convinced I become that we, human we, are not divorceable from our meat. In one of the Jenny Casey books, I have a artificial intelligence researcher protest to her creation that he's nothing but piezoelectrical patterns in crystal; he retorts that she is, likewise, piezoelectrical patterns in meat. And while that remains true... the shape of the circuitry, and the neurochemical baths that wash it, have a hell of a lot of influence over who we are.

I'm not sure this was the specific feminist critique of the singularity that she mentioned in the panel, but it quotes a large chunk of an earlier piece.

The second session was about the utility of realistic fiction, which was fascinating, but didn't give me a huge amount of stuff to link to.  (They referenced a blog post I haven't yet been able to find, but it's in my notes.)

I'll be taking careful notes over the course of the weekend, and will be coming back on Monday with a lot of stuff to talk about.  For the remainder of the weekend, Mike has a book review that's going up today, and an "Ask A Star Wars Geek" installment for Saturday.