My Talks at DragonCon 2013

My annual post in response to the people asking me “What are you talking about at DragonCon this year?”

Here’s the deal. DragonCon has a limited number of official Guest memberships available, and most of those get reserved for the media tracks… that’s where people stand in line for hours to see Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura) or James Marsters (Spike, from Buffy and Angel) or Stan Lee (creator of The Avengers, X-Men, and Spider-Man). Although not primarily a literary SF convention, DragonCon is big enough that they’ll even toss a few Guest memberships at major print authors like John Ringo and Steve Stirling.

But over in the Hilton are a handful of tracks for a different kind of fan… those who want to build science fiction, not just read about it. The Space and Science tracks (joined by Skeptics, EFF, and Podcasting) are almost a con-within-a-con. A few hundred people spend their entire weekend in the Hilton, only adventuring out to the other hotels for a quick whirl through the exhibition halls and to stare dumbfounded at the hall costumes.

(Note for DragonCon veterans: we’ve outgrown the second floor, and Space Track is now on the third floor of the Hilton, on the opposite side of the atrium!)

These tracks don’t get handed many Guest passes. And the ones they do get, they like to reserve for luminaries like NASA astronauts and DARPA program managers and genetic engineers.

Years (and years and years) ago, I bought a Dragon*Con Eternal Membership, which means I get in free — and don’t have to stand in registration lines! — for the rest of my life. Back then, it cost a couple of hundred bucks. (Today, it’s $2000. Ouch!) So I can help out on various Space and Science tracks, and they don’t have to use one of their scarce Guest memberships on me. This is a Good Thing™.

The only drawback is that, given the way the DragonCon database is set up, only official Guests are listed in the Program Guide. (Which is available electronically for your iPhone — App Store link here — or Android. Much better than the smeary newsprint versions!) So there’s no easy way for anyone to find out when and where I’m speaking.

So, to placate my clamoring fans (both of them), here we go:

XCOR – Another Vision of Commercial Space

Friday, August 30th, 2:30 pm
Hilton 309/310

XCOR has its own commercial space vision quite different from SpaceX. They
develop rocket-powered spacecraft & the engines that drive them. As a director, long-time investor, and future spaceflight participant on board XCOR’s Lynx, I’ll present our progress to date and answer questions.

The Wide Divide of Commercial Space

Saturday, August 31st, 4:00pm
Hilton 309/310

SpaceX. XCOR. Orbital Sciences. Virgin Galactic. All vying to bring humans to LEO, but ‘commercial’ space isn’t recent & satellites are the real money!
—Stephen Fleming, Sam Ortega (NASA), Philip Kalmanson (NASA), Jennifer Kalmanson (Orbital Sciences)

So that’s my “officially un-official” participation this year. Only two panels this year, which gives me more time for the usual DragonCon madness. Plus toe meets leather to kick off the Georgia Tech football season at noon on Saturday. Plus the Decatur Book Festival! It’ll be a busy weekend… I hope to see you there!