My Talks at Dragon Con 2014

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

DragonCon2014_logoHere’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 Larry Correia.

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:

The Benefits of Commercial Space — from Grade Schools to Asteroid Mining

Friday, August 29th, 7:00pm, Hilton 309-310
Commercial space groups are involved in everything from planning the mining of asteroids to launching cube satellite experiments for kids.

Nancy Atkinson (moderator) , Universe Today
Richard Garriott, private astronaut,
A. C. Charania Virgin Galactic,
John E. Bradford, SpaceWorks Engineering,
Shae Williams, Digital Solid State Propulsion,
Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech and XCOR

Safe is Not An Option

Friday, August 29th, 10:00 pm, Hilton 309-310
Overcoming the futile obsession with getting everyone back alive that is killing our expansion into space. Based on the book by Rand Simberg.

Presented by Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech and XCOR

Science, Science News, and the Media

Saturday, August 30th, 1:00pm, Hilton Grand Ballroom West
Clickbait headlines. Mis-represented studies. Good science reporting is hard, but why? How could it be better?

Veronica Belmont (moderator),
Jonathan Strickland, How Stuff Works,
Annalee Newitz,,
Pamela Gay, CosmoQuest and Southern Illinois Univ.,
David Shiffman, Southern Fried Science,
Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech and XCOR

From the Lab to the Marketplace

Sunday, August 31st, 4:00pm, Hilton 202
There’s a “Valley of Death” for scientific discoveries becoming useful products. Learn how the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) helps scientists makes it happen.

Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech and XCOR

So that’s my “officially un-official” participation this year. Four panels this year. I hope to see you there!

(Unfortunately, toe meets leather to kick off the Georgia Tech football season at noon on Saturday, so I’ll be late to the game.)