My Talks at DragonCon 2015

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:

3,..2,..1… Commercial Space IS Launching

Friday, September 5th, 7:00pm, Crystal Ballroom (Hilton)
Commercial space is popping up all over in all kinds of enterprises. It’s tough to keep up but we’ll try with all the news & updates we can fit in!

John E. Bradford, SpaceWorks Engineering,
A. C. Charania Virgin Galactic,
Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech and XCOR
Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, Escape Dynamics,
Shae Williams Ph.D., Digital Solid State Propulsion,

Why We Can’t Go To Mars

Sunday, September 6th, 2:30 pm, Hilton 309-310
Can humans survive and thrive away from Earth? We don’t know, but we do already know of some serious medical concerns. And there are some necessary technologies that haven’t been fully tested yet. What does all that mean for human missions to Mars?

Presented by Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech and XCOR

So that’s my “officially un-official” participation this year. Only two panels this year, so less time on slide preparation and more time to have fun. I hope to see you there!