Potlatch 18: Feb. 27 - March 1, 2009



Planning the Potlatch program is not as much thinking about thematics as it is like running an experiment on the Large Hadron Collider. You have your books of honor, you have people interested in books, and those collide and you get ideas, and those ideas interact with other books and ideas. You look at what you think are going to be the most interesting interactions, and start building a program.

Instead of moderators, we work with ringleaders. A potential ringleader might come to us with an idea, fully formed, or when looking at ideas, we think of someone and think, "yeah, zir is the person to run with this." Then the ringleader may pull together group of panelists, or we can suggest panelists to them.

Here is our working schedule for this year:

(More detailed program information is available in the Potlatch 18 Program Book.)

Friday (27 February)

7 to 9 pm: Book of Honor Panels.
The order of the book of honor panels will be settled by a coin toss at the start of the evening's program.

Growing Up Weightless
Ringleader: Liz Henry

What's it like to grow up on the Moon, a few generations after Lunar Independence? In John M. Ford's young adult novel Growing Up Weightless, Matt and his friends evade ubiquitous surveillance by misdirection, hacking, role-playing games, and a road trip. Meanwhile, Matt's father, a government official, fields complicated political and economic problems, but doesn't understand his son's desire to leave Luna. The delicately balanced personal relationships of Matt's group of friends echo the political tangle between Earth, Luna, and interstellar pilots.

Let's look at the political and social themes of Growing Up Weightless, its stylistic quirks, and its relation to other SF texts.

Always Coming Home
Ringleader: David Bratman

What is this thing that we are calling our Book of Honor? Is it a novel, as some editions say on the cover? What expectations does that word raise? Is it a Multi-Media Event? Or a mosaic?

Norman Spinrad in a review called it a novella surrounded by the equivalent of the Dune Encyclopedia. Is it? If so, what are the myths and field notes in The Left Hand of Darkness? For that matter, what are the appendices of The Lord of the Rings?

Should you read it straight through, or follow Stone Telling’s story first? What difference does it make? How should we approach this book as a work of art?

Who are the Kesh, and what is their society? Is it anti- technological, or is it at symbiotic peace with technology? Or both? Is it a utopia?

Would you want to live there?

9 pm to Midnight:
Ringleader: John Kim

Games and ritual are important to both the Kesh and Matt and his friends. Inspired by this, John Kim will facilitate a Live Action Role Playing game (LARP) Friday evening:

The Companion's Guild operates a high-speed transport, the Coronado. It makes a circuit of the Outer Worlds, looking out for the interests of Companions and the Guild. In the present time of crisis from last-ditch attacks by the embattled Reavers, however, Captain Granger has agreed to take on priority passengers bound for Persephone.

This is a live-action role-playing event for six to ten players that is heavy on role-playing, intrigue and tension. It focuses on a ship owned by the Companion's Guild and commanded by a Guild Master. Old West or Chinese themed clothing is suggested but not required.

Saturday (28 February)

9:30 AM
Graphic Novels

Ringleader: Ursula Le Guin

Where is graphic fiction going, and where hasn't it gone that it might go, and why?

11:00 AM
The Scalzi Rule: Questions and Comments from the Audience
Ringleader: Debbie Notkin

Some s-f professionals, convention programmers, and other fans have requested audience members at s-f convention panels to refrain from making statements, limiting their participation to asking questions if they wish to address the panelists. What is the role of the audience and panel at s-f conventions? Should the relationship be different at different conventions?

This will be a discussion among the members of Potlatch 18, facilitated by Debbie Notkin.

PLEASE NOTE: We are DISCUSSING the Scalzi rule, NOT enforcing it. Not for the con, and especially not for this panel.

12:00 Noon to 2:00 PM - Lunch (Writer's Workshop 12 to 2)

2:00 PM
Good Reads

Ringleader: Naamen Tilahun

In the fashion of the Farthing Party, the participants on this panel have all recommended a book that the others read. The panel will discuss the books.

3:30 PM
Ursula K. Le Guin Reads

Ms. Le Guin will read from Always Coming Home and take questions. The reading and QA session will be simulcast into the 3D Virtual World of Second Life, where residents may participate in the general Q&A session that will follow the reading.

8:00 PM
Clarion West Auction

Sunday (1 March)

10:00 AM
How Many Roads? (Reading multiple-viewpoint stories)
Ringleader: L. Timmel Duchamp

When a story has multiple narrators, can the reader trust any of them? Does a narrative with multiple viewpoints give a more complete picture of the story or the world than a story with a single narrator, or does it make things murkier? What are the strategies we use to read stories with multiple narrators? What do we make of the same set of events seen from multiple points of view, or the same society seen from different positions within it? What if it's not even clear how many narrators a book has? And has anything changed since Roshomon?

12:00 Noon to 1:15 PM - Potlatch Brunch

2:00 PM
Helixes, Corals, and Brains: "Oh My!"
Ringleader: Elise Matthesen

A discussion about crafts based on math, science and nature. Have you knit a möbius strip or virus lately?

Algonquins (Howto)


Algonquins are named for the meetings of Dorothy Parker and her peers (Harold Ross, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, and others). The Algonquin Round Tables of the 1930s were held at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where lively discussion took place.

Our Algonquins can be anything you like, a continuation of discussion from a panel; a demonstration of craft, art, technology; a trip to a favored restaurant or to investigate a new one; a reading from a work in progress or an old favorite.

To create an Algonquin, use the signup board. During registration on Friday, it will be by the convention registration desk, then it will move to the dealer's room.

If you have an idea in mind, sign up early, or a soon as you have an idea.

You can use the seating area in the lobby, or the landings outside the program room for your Algonquin.