On Friday evening I went to a panel on "Welcoming our robot overlords" about the difficulties and potential perils of developing a true artificial intelligence. The panelists (Chris Christopher, John G. Hemry, Gary L. Oleson) pretty much agreed that a true AI was not on the horizon any time soon. They saw it as more likely (and more dangerous) that someone would build non-intelligent weapons that merely act on a series of predetermined parameters.
I was also on a panel about the Heinlein "juvies" (his early science fiction aimed at young readers). My favorite has always been Citizen of the Galaxy, and that seemed to resonate with a lot of other panelists and audeinces members. It was a Friday evening panel, so the audience was small, but what it lacked in size, it made up in passion for the topic. Another favorite was Have Space Suit Will Travel. The consensus among my fellow panelists (Chris Christopher, Ernest Lilley, and Jim Mann) was the books still have a lot of value but not in the same way they did in 1960's.
Saturday brought a surprise visit from Sir Terry Pratchett, who was not scheduled to attend, but who made time on his book tour to spend an hour with the Capclave fans.
His assistant Ron Wilkins read a few hilarious passages from Sir Terry's latest release, Snuff, a Discworld book with Jane Austen overtones. He did an excellent job, especially on the character's voices. The author then answered questions on the book, and on his recent BBC documentary on “assisted dying” (he doesn't consider it suicide if you're already dying). I didn't think to bring my camera so the best I could do was a crappy phone photo.
I was really happy Sir Terry's appearance at the con didn't interfere with my own presence as the moderator of a panel (along with Mary Jo Putney, Robert Scott, and Ernest Lilley again) on YA and why so many adults read it. Opinion varied from "It's shorter," to "It's less obscene," to "It's more hopeful." That last excepted dystopian fiction, which all acknowledged could be quite grim.
The last panel I went to was disappointing, as it was on the future of the book, but seemed to be dominated by print-loving Luddites! Tomorrow I will see if I can gather strength to go to the panel on "Writing Genre YA," where I hope to pick up a few tips. I wish I had had more time to spend on Capclave, but how often does one's son get married?