Sunday, 19 February 2017

Picocon 34

Rounding out my birthday week was Picocon, run by the Imperial College Science Fiction & Fantasy Society: a student society.  A longstanding, usually one, occasionally two day event that has become the traditional start of science fiction conventions for this season.  As always there were authors invited to come and speak, and a small selection of dealers selling books and merchandise.

The first talk of the day was Jaine Fenn, on aliens set against her background of being brought up in a small village where she was the only one reading science fiction, and going to a school where she was the only girl who didn't have a pony.

After a short essential break the next speaker was Paul McAuley, who I've never had the pleasure of meeting or listening to before.

Again the theme was aliens, and this time the portrayal of aliens as a child: with mentions of the Mekon from Dan Dare, Zoonie the Lazoon from Fireball XL-5, and Daleks from Dr. Who contrasted against blond haired aliens from George Adamski's the Flying Saucers Have Landed.

Then it was time for the final talk of the morning with Al Robertson.  

Again aliens was the theme, but Al concentrated on corporate entities as artificial intelligences as being the aliens we've grown up with.  Then there was lunch, which this year was not in the Student Union bar, but slightly spoiled by the fact we waited 45 minutes for our order of beef burgers and chips, which was appalling.  Still, the burger were nice.

The the final talk was by the lovely Justina Robson, who I have had the pleasure of being on a panel with during the London Worldcon back in 2012.

Her talk was about artificial intelligence and thoughts and went through a number of iterative cycles of thinking about what that meant and how we as humans discuss god like agents who can control our destiny.  I found her talk fascinating.

The final event that we attended for the day was the four authors talking about artificial intelligence, robots and the future and taking questions from the audience.

You can hear the talks for yourself as Chad Dixon very generously gave his time and resources to putting everything up on the internet.  Thank you Chad.

Friday, 3 February 2017


An elegant wargamer from a more civilized age.  Oh and I just found this too.

Says it all, though and now you know why I can't find the time to play as many games as I would like; that's a joke by the way, just in case you want to say that games don't take nine hours to play.