Nerdin’ It Up in Boston

While my esteemed colleague Michael Moyer traveled to St. Louis for the annual AAAS meeting, I spent my Presidents' Day weekend in Boston, rubbing elbows with some of the best science-fiction and fantasy authors working today. Boskone is primarily a writers' and book lovers' paradise, focusing on the craft of creating—and enjoying—SF and fantasy stories (other conventions focus a bit more heavily on gaming). Unfortunately, I am only one person, and I didn't get a chance to see every reading, talk, panel discussion or presentation on my wish list. I enjoyed a panel with Charles Stross, Karl Schroeder, Edie Stern and Mark L. Olson on the Singularity and how authors of near-future fiction deal with the almost impossible task of predicting how humanity will live in 40 years. Most important, I learned that if one hopes to compete in an extreme-techie future, one should probably join a World of Warcraft guild now (immersive reality will be similar to interacting in an MMORPG of today). Also of note: a panel discussion with George RR Martin, Ginjer Buchanan, Esther Friesner, Melissa Scott and Paul Park focusing on why authors kill off their characters (and how it can make for a stronger story), an amazing slide show presentation by official artist Donato Giancola that detailed his technical and visual influences from Renaissance paintings, and an entertaining reading by PopSci contributing editor Cory Doctorow. I also now know how the Utilikilt company stays in business: There were a lot of bare male legs on display throughout the weekend. —Martha Harbison