Next weekend, I'm the guest of honor at Chessiecon, a small con in the Baltimore suburbs. I was so honored when they asked me, and I've been looking forward to it all year. Even right now, feeling as down and angry and scared of the future as I've ever felt, I'm still looking forward to it. Over the course of the year, I've seen the care they've put in to getting it right. Interesting panel topics, thoughtful programming. Some of it is sadly more relevant than it was when they planned it, I'm pretty sure. The panel on Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" and its real life applications certainly feels timely right now.

So why go to a con on Thanksgiving weekend instead of lying on the couch watching parades or football or Star Wars marathons? When done right, cons are community. There are books to discover and places to buy them, movies to watch, concerts, readings, panels. Funny panels, game show panels, thought-provoking panels. The Girl Scouts are selling cookies in the lobby.

I plan on hanging out in the lobby or the bar as much as I can when I'm not on programming. If you're at the con, feel free to come chat at any of those times. If I'm in those public places - the lobby, the bar, programming spaces, consider me open for conversation. I'm there as a guest of Chessiecon and I will do my best to be present and available for the members of Chessiecon as much as possible. I look forward to spending time with you all.

My schedule:

04:15 PM - 04:45 PM Reading

06:45 PM - 07:45 PM Concert

09:15 PM - 10:15 PM Slash: The Card Game
Slash: Romance Without Boundaries is a game all about matching romantic partners from across the canons of pop culture, literature and history. Our panelists pick their favorite characters and pitch their love stories to a matchmaker in search of the ultimate One True Pairing. 
Nicole "Nickie" Jamison, Sarah Pinsker, Nobilis Reed, Elizabeth Schechter, KM Szpara

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM Silent Symphonies: Incorporating Music into Literature
Music is an important part of many stories, but writing about it presents an innate paradox: music is sound, while the page of a book is silent. How do you capture song through words alone? This panel will discuss the role of music in various works of literature and the methods writers have used to tackle this challenge.
Marc Drexler, Mary Fan, Heather Rose Jones, Sarah Pinsker, Don Sakers (M)

03:00 PM - 04:00 PM GoH Interview
Join KM Szpara while he attempts to crack Guest of Honor Sarah Pinsker's plan for world domination, which he suspects involves music, science fiction, and murder houses.
Sarah Pinsker, KM Szpara

06:45 PM - 08:00 PM Group Book / Art / CD Signing
Authors, artists, and musicians gather in one room for signing/book-selling/chatting with fans.

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM Who's Writing Optimistic Science Fiction?
Some of the most famous SF/F stories are about dystopias, post-apocalyptic societies, and imminent destruction. Who is writing on the other side of the spectrum? Where is the hopeful future, The Federation, worlds working together for the common good? Are these even opposites, or is there some inherent optimism in stories of people facing disaster?
Jeff Gritman, Cristin Kist, Meg Nicholas, Sarah Pinsker, Don Sakers (M)

12:30 PM - 01:30 PM The Handmaid's Tale in the Real World
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Shannon Stoker's The Registry both presented plausible dystopias which developed out of contemporary American culture. Are we sliding towards such societies, and if so, how far along the slippery slope are we? How do we stop?
Mary Fan (M), C.S. Friedman, Cristin Kist, Sarah Pinsker, KM Szpara

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