My Talks at DragonCon 2016

My annual post in response to the people asking me “What are you talking about at DragonCon 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 third floor space, and Space Track is now back on the second floor of the Hilton, on the opposite side of the atrium from previous years!)

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:

Commercial Space Is Blasting Off Everywhere!

Friday, September 2nd, 2:30 pm, Hilton 212/213
It’s been a big year in the world of commercial space with SpaceX and Blue Origin making the big headlines. But there are many other commercial space groups making big strides. We do a Q & A with our commercial space panelists.

Stephen Fleming (moderator)
John E. Bradford, SpaceWorks Engineering
Shae Williams Ph.D., Digital Solid State Propulsion
Richard Garriott de Cayeux, video game designer, collector, and private astronaut
David Hewitt, propulsion engineer, Dynetics
Chris Hofmann, engineering technician, Masten Space Systems

Back to the Moon

Sunday, September 4th, 1:00 pm, Hilton 212/213
Everyone wants to go to Mars. Before we make those plans, we need to go back to the Moon: to build infrastructure, to develop technology, to learn about human biology — and to save money!

Presented by Stephen Fleming.

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!