Loscon 35
November 28-30 2008, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Loscon
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Media Panels

ANIMATION & SCIENCE FICTION Animated science fiction on U.S. television goes back to Colonel Bleep and Tom Terrific (both 1957) and The Jetsons (1962). What are the unique aspects of creating and writing science fiction for animation? What’s around today and what’s coming in the future?

ANIME 101 Ten years ago, it was being called “Japanimation” and its viewership was limited. Now, it’s the hottest thing in animation with some of the best-rated shows on television anime imports. Hundreds of different titles are being sold on DVD. What made the audiences take notice? How is anime different from American and European animation?

ANIME: FROM COOKING TO GIANT ROBOTS Anime has many sub-genres, some of which are downright wacky. We’ll survey a range of them in all their silliness, discuss your and our favorites, and throw in a “name that anime” pop quiz for the audience.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THEN & NOW The two versions of this series couldn’t be more different. The original series, while fun, was far from great. Rolling Stone named the new version the best drama on television. Why do people still love the original series? What’s the difference between them?

BOOKS THAT SHOULD BE FILMED Everyone talks about what has been filmed. Here is a discussion of works that haven’t been filmed but should be. What should you look for to make a good film? What won’t translate from the printed word to the visual media? Why haven’t these works been made?

BUSINESS, COPYRIGHT AND PUBLIC DOMAIN Congress keeps extending the life of copyrights. Is this good for authors and other creators or just for the mega-corporations? Where is “intellectual property” going in the US? In the world?

CLASSIC TREK, NEW TEK, OR DIET CHERRY TREK: WHICH IS BEST? A discussion of Star Trek’s various incarnations, what worked, and what didn’t work in each.

COMIC BOOKS TO MOVIES There seems to be no end of movies based on comics, ranging from Superheroes to the more esoteric V for Vendetta. Some of them work creatively, some financially, some do both. But some don’t. What works? What doesn’t? And where do filmmakers go wrong?

DESIGN IN SCIENCE FICTION FILMS & TV Designers and creators from science fiction series and films talk about how they bring the universe of the project to visual life. How do you create the future for 407th time without it looking the same or like that other movie or TV show? What works and what doesn’t.

DEVELOPING YOUR PROPERTY FO THE MEDIA Okay, you’ve written a novel, created a comic book, or done a series of dynamite drawings. How can you get your “intellectual property” from where it’s at to the TV and movie

DOCTOR WHO, THEN AND NOW There’s a huge Fandom for Doctor Who but for a lot of other people, the show didn’t do much. But the new Doctor Who series (last year in the UK and this year in the US) has won a legion of converts. Is the new show that different from the old one?

FANTASY ON TELEVISION Spooks and ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Has there ever been so much fantasy on television? And such successful shows, too. Buffy and Angel were fantasy shows and while they had definite followings, they weren’t the hits that Medium and Ghost Whisperer are. Why are they so successful?

FILMS 2008 Not for the squeamish. That describes a number of the science fiction and fantasy films that have come out this year. It also describes the reviews a number of films have received.

FROM SMALLVILLE TO SECRET IDENTITY Kurt Busiek, Jeph Loeb/Alfred Miller, Grant Morrison, and others have found radically different ways to retell and re-invent Superman’s story. Panelists discuss approaches that add to and detract from the collective myth.

HOW I’D FIX STAR TREK The Star Trek franchise has flamed out with decreasing ratings and series that don’t inspire. Is it possible to recreate the wonder? What should a new Star Trek series include and what should it avoid?

I, ROBOT TO MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER Right now robots are pretty much remotely-controlled devices to conduct certain tasks like bomb disposal or mindless repetitive-motion machines for chores like vacuuming rugs. But what will “real” robots be like? Will be Asimov’s dutiful three-laws obeying pals or our sneaky lords and masters a la the Magnus comics? The singularity suggests, perhaps, the latter. Or will it be somewhere in between?

IT CAME FROM THE 1950′S There was a deluge of science fiction movies made in the 1950s. Many people who grew up in that decade have made those movies part of their lives but even people born much later have embraced them, and not just on a “so bad they’re good” basis. Why does this continue to happen? What is the appeal of these movies? Are they unique?

JAMES T. KIRK: THREAT OR MENACE Was a larger-than-life scenery-chewing damn-the-Prime-Directive-full-speed-ahead heroic starship commander the one primary thing responsible for the enduring success of classic Star Trek? Is the absence of such a character why the following Star Trek series all lacked the same punch? Or should there have been more discretion, more consideration before acting? Is Jean Luc Picard the model to follow?

LITERARY VS. MEDIA SCIENCE FICTION Why the feud? Can’t we all just get along?

LOW BUDGET FILMMAKING The average major studio film these days costs $40 million. But there are still plenty of films being made between $100,000 and $5 million. Independent filmmakers discuss their trials and triumphs.

NOVELIZATIONS & TIE-INS Writers of TV and Film adaptations and spin-offs discuss the process of going from screen to the printed page and the challenges of bringing their creativity to these works, the secrets for making them good, and more.

OVERRATED FILMS & OVERLOOKED MOVIES There are some films with a bad reputation but which are really quite good. There are some films with a good rep which are just dogmeat. A few highly opinionated film fans will discuss these overrated films and overlooked movies with the aid of the audience.

PROF. ANIME’S DECONSTRUCT-A-THON A scholarly examination of the origins of opening credit dance moves in anime, the deeper meanings of “Hugah”, and just how bad it can get when a studio farms out an episode to save money.

RELIGION IN SCIENCE FICTION BOOKS & MOVIES Religion is frequently ignored in science fiction and fantasy. But sometimes it isn’t. How is it treated? Do we see standard Earth religions or all-new ones? Or ones that just think they’re all new? Some authors seem to think that, come the future, all people will just abandon their religious beliefs. Does that seem likely?

ROBOCOP VS. REAL COP: FUTURE LAW ENFORCEMENT The crime labs of today make any major police department into a Sherlock Holmes. What will the future bring? Criminologists and others discuss what changes they’re already seeing in their work and what they expect for the future.

THE SLYTHERIN QUESTION J.K. Rowling paints a negative picture of Slytherin House, its principles, and its students. Why would Hogwarts even have a house for teaching evil wizards? Isn’t putting them together likely to end up just reinforcing their evil ways? Or will the final book in the Harry Potter series show us, somehow, that these characters aren’t, um, lost to the dark side?

STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES SCREENING & TALK David Gerrold presents Blood & Fire, the latest installment of the Star Trek: New Voyages (aka Star Trek Phase II) series, which he wrote and directed.

THEATER, FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION A discussion of fantasy and science fiction plays, today and through history.

TV & THE FAN COMMUNITY Some showrunners are now reading fan boards & fanfic sites to gauge reaction to what they’re doing on their shows. Others avoid sites in order to keep “untainted”. Writers and producers talk about the effect the fan community has on how a show develops. Do they ever have to deal with actors and their responses to the fans? What happens when you’re torn between two disparate but equally vocal groups of fans?

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: 50 YEARS OF TWISTS & TURNS 50 years since Rod Serling first introduced us to that dimension of sight and sound and mind. Come hear devoted fans talk about the show and join in with your favorite episodes from any of the series’ incarnations.

WHY DOESN’T SCIENCE FICTION SEEM TO LAST ON TV? Fantasy shows like Medium and Ghost Whisperer are big hits. Why didn’t Surface, Threshold, or Invasion do as well? Is there a mainstream audience for television science fiction?

WRITING FOR TV ANIMATION A panel discussion on writing for the cartoons you see on TV — creating the story and characters, writing and editing scripts and making it all fit inside half an hour!

WRITING SCIENCE FICTION FOR TELEVISION AND MOVIES Script writing is whole different medium from writing novels and short stories. How is it different from writing prose? And what’s it like working in television and the movies?