Session 1: Stealth in Space
The first session/panel we hit was Stealth in Space. Which we were told would not work like the Romulan cloaking device.
Stealth is based on detection ability. If you use active sensors to try and detect someone else, be assured they can see you twice as far away as you can see them. In a gloabal environmen you have terrain and curvature, while in space everything is line of site. The key is to create terrain in space, to hide behind and within other things.
A defender has the example of knowing what is normal to the defense area, to be able to recognize something that is an anomaly. An attacker has to find a way to deceive, either by hiding emissions, or by overwhelming the data defender is receiving to hide within that. Can you blend? Can you mimic? Can you overload systems?
The vastness of space is a great place to hide from that perspective. Of course, as the panelists noticed, ocean battles seldom happened in the middle of the ocean. They usually occur near something that needs to be defended. Space battles likewise will most likely occur near planets, etc., that need to be defended.
I also learned some neat euphamisms:
* Kinetic Modalities — Missle/asteroid bombardment.
* Extreme Thermic Coupling — nuclear explosions.
Session 2: David Weber Reading
As I look through the sessions we attended, while G enjoyed the topical ones, I think the readings are actually the ones that we eljoyed the most. But it is much harder to communicate a reading; it is an experience.
David Weber, one of the big names in the Science Fiction universe, did a reading in the main theater, and offered us three options for what he would read. Two of the options involved snippets explaining elements of the life of Eloise Prichart; the third related to Honor Harrington directly. Honor Harrington won.
I haven’t been keeping up on the most recent Honorverse books like I intended to, so the scene, with its plethora of treecats and people in the same room was an interesting exchange. That, and seein Honor so actively using her Treecat-enabled empathic sense, that almost superhuman sense, was something of a change; but it was a very engaging scene, very Weberesque, and very well read by the author himself. I highly recommend hearing him if you ever get the chance.
Weber reads well, and he has a certain irreverent “statesman-like” persona that makes him a good representative of the SFF community.
Session 3: New Madrid Fault System (Stephanie Osborn)
This was a very interesting “hard” science session on the New Madrid fault system and its potential for generating earthquakes. Osborn presented it in a very accessible but not dumed down presentation that kept the facts interesting. The science was very good where present knowledge was concerned, but the assertions about events happening millions of years ago was presented as equally as valid, even though it is experimentally nor experientially impossible for geologists to scientifically prove such events — they fall outside the rules of Westernscience and can only be validated via historical methods. But aside froom this blind spot in her own scientific base, it was an enjoyable and informative time.
Session 4: Confluence of the Western and Science Fiction Genres
Our fourth session was a panel of authors discussing the commonalities of the Western genre and science fiction. What the conversation ultimately showed was the artificality of the divsions between genres.
Several of the panelists talked about how you emphasize various elements to bring the genres together, how you season the story.
The panelists suggested the following common elements between the genres:
* Struggle for survival
* Abandoning the structure of society; lack of the safety net
* Creating new societies in new places.
* Both allow for code of conduct stories.
Based on the above traits, the pannel opined that the Star Wars movie Rogue One is actually more of a Western than the original Star Trek series.
Session 5: Opening Ceremonies
The opening ceremonies was a bit of fun, the singing of the LibertyCon “theme song” (which I videoed), introducing the MC — Toni Weiskoff — and a reading of lists of guests and guests of honor. They were all long and stellar lists. And they managed to get through them all in the hour allotted.
Session 6: Straight Outta Tombstone
We didn’t attend any of the evening sessions until the final hour – a reading of a new anthology of stories about “weird westerns”. Our particular reason for this reading was to hear from Sarah Hoyt. But as per our fate up to this point of the convention our every chance of getting a Hoyt sighting proved elusive and unobtained.
Nevertheless, the reading from the anthology by David Boop and Peter Wacks were very interesting. This anthology had contributions from best-selling authors, written in their own created universes, the best of the best. The variety was amazing, while the quality uniformly excellent.