Archon Schedule

Okay, so the program schedule for Archon just came out. Not a lot of time to prepare! It’s Sept 29 and 30 and Oct 1. Barely more than 2 weeks away!

I usually go to Archon because, I mean, it’s right there. It’s about an hour and a half from me, which is about as close as anything gets. It’s hard for me to travel right now, but not so hard I can’t manage this.

Here’s my personal Archon schedule:

Faith, Religion, and Science Fiction

How have different books, series, or movies used religion as part of their storytelling? 29 Sep 2023, Friday 20:00 – 21:00

Wait, Didn’t She Die in the Last Book? 

When writing a series, how do you keep it all straight and consistent? 30 Sep 2023, Saturday 11:00 – 12:00

Write What You Know! (But Give It a Twist!)

The truism of “write what you know” feels inapplicable to writing science fiction and fantasy—but is it?
A panel of authors discusses how they used their real life skills and knowledge to inform their fantastic
worlds. 30 Sep 2023, Saturday 14:00 – 15:00

Rewrite, Revise, or Edit? Format: Panel

What’s the difference and how do you know which one to use? 30 Sep 2023, Saturday 16:00 – 17:00

Walking in Another’s Shoes, or Avoiding the Mary-Sue

Writing a protagonist who’s nothing like you. 30 Sep 2023, Saturday 17:00 – 18:00. I’m moderating this one, I see.

GM Ohhhhs – Genetically Modified Pets 

Could genetically modified pets be the ultimate in adorable or just a horror movie in the making? 1 Oct 2023, Sunday 12:00 – 13:00. I’m also moderating this one.

Now, if I’m NOT moderating, this is easy enough! Take fast notes about the topic and boom, done.

If I’m the moderator, then it’s a bigger deal. I’ll be coming up with leading questions for those topics, which ones are they again — oh, writing protagonists who aren’t like the author, great topic, glad I’m on that panel. And genetically modified pets. Sure, yes and yes for that one, although it’s hard to get into real, true horror movie territory without (a) weird supernatural stuff going on, or (b) weird handwavy science-y stuff going on. Out here in the real world, army ants do not eat everyone in a town and little fluffy critters don’t transform into demonic sprites if they’re fed after midnight.

Actually, the real answer for genetically modified pets is: let’s move ahead with genetic modification to edit out Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy in the dog and then we can do it the same with humans, since it’s exactly the same gene in both. Then we can tackle stuff that is caused in similar ways but not by quite the same genes, which encompasses oh, rough guess, hundreds of diseases. Simultaneously, we can tackle complex traits like heart disease. In all those cases, we could and should use dogs to pave the way for human treatments, because YAY LET’S GET RID OF MVD IN OUR DOGS is going to be pretty much the way reputable breeders feel, and once a genetic engineering technique is obviously safe in dogs, it’s harder for the FDA to continue letting people die of whatever disease, though I’m sure they’ll try.

However, the cute answer will no doubt include examples of genetically modified animals in SFF, and here I’m thinking of David Brin, of course, though I’m sure there are other examples. If anybody can think of genetically modified animals, pets or otherwise, in SFF, by all means drop that in the comments! Weren’t their tiny pet unicorns or something on Cetaganda in LMB’s novels? I remember the kitten tree, which is much more on the horror-movie side of the spectrum, but I think there were other pets that weren’t so problematic.

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13 thoughts on “Archon Schedule”

  1. Well, I was going to say I can’t think of any genetically modified animals, and then I remembered Pern’s dragons. Which in turn reminded me that McCaffrey’s Acorna also has something like that in later books.

    Dawn Cook’s Truth series has selective breeding, which is not the same, but for the horror aspect was really well done in my opinion.

    Tanith Lee’s Claidi Journals have genetically modified plants and animals, although more in the later books.

    Except for the dragons, none of these are pets though (well, unless you take the pov of the antagonist in Acorna or the antagonist in the Truth series).

  2. There is the mini sphinx in Cryoburn (LMB), quite a prominent pet and raises interesting issues about GM since it can’t reproduce or care for itself independently.

  3. Also, I just had the beginning of a great conversation in my book club about the way Brennan adapts a faith in her Memoirs of Lady Trent. I’m curious about the direction that panel will take, although honestly all the topics sound great.

  4. Or you could “give away live sphinxes” as party favors at your cryopreservation facility. (Diplomatic Immunity)

  5. Winterfair Gifts (Bujold) had a blanket that snuggled up to you and purred like a cat, IIRC. Not sure if that counts as an animal, although I assume one was involved somewhere in the production.

    The Hunger Games had lots of genetically engineered animals – jabberjays, mutts, etc. Definitely not cute, though.

    The TV show Dark Angel was about genetically engineered supersoldiers, they had animal DNA that gave them better strength / speed / night vision / whatever (it’s a pretty fun show too).

    Also, maybe the rats of NIMH count?

  6. Kriti, great! I forgot the blanket, but that’s a great suggestion.

    Also, the Rats of NIMH will let me refer to a great kids’ book that everyone should read.

  7. Paolo Bacigalupi had genetically modified cats in The Windup Girl, but that was a tough read, even when I *could* read darker stuff. Good, but tough.

    In Thursday Next, people have pet miniature mammoths, iirc.

  8. Actually, my bad, I think the plants and animals in the Claidi Journals were robotic, not genetically modified… I mainly remember the really advanced scientist and her constructed island.

  9. Speaking of medical treament being performed routinely on animals but not humans, those laser treatments that stimulate circulation and pronote faster healing.

  10. I agree with the “write what you know but give it a twist” for fantasy stories. I’ve even done it. I have Aspergers, and I wrote a character who was very badly abused. (It’s a recovery story.) What he does to self-regulate-and-not-get-overwhelmed is quite close to what I do, and his stress reactions basically equal my meltdowns. But the psychic shredding of pretty much everyone around him as his magic rages out of control? The overly-cautious and wary approach to strangers, if he dares to approach at all? That’s ALL him. He’s *not* autistic, but my Aspergers shaped how he’s written. (And yes, it has a happy ending – as all good recovery stories should.)

  11. Heather, I’m right there with you regarding how recovery stories ought to end! And this is an interesting take on “write what you know.”

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