Science Fiction Fans Warp Over to Loscon 40

by Seth Potter

The 40th annual Loscon science fiction convention was held this past November 29th and 30th and December 1st at the LAX Marriott Hotel. The event, hosted by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), brought fans together with authors, artists, scientists, and others in the science fiction universe. The theme was “Let’s do the time warp again.” Throughout the weekend, fans could attend panels, view anime films, participate in electronic and table top gaming, browse the dealers’ room, and peruse fan tables.

The many panels, held in parallel throughout the convention, featured writers, editors, artists, and scientists. In keeping with the theme of the convention, many panels were on time travel. Others were on space science or literary themes. One such panel was on what makes a work a classic. Writers such as Gregory Benford and Harry Turtledove discussed works that inspired them. OASIS Board Member Seth Potter was on four panels. One such panel, on “Talk to a Rocket Scientist,” was moderated by aerospace engineer Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink. The panelists introduced themselves, and described some of the projects they worked on. They also fielded questions from the audience about advanced propulsion and other current issues in aerospace science. Another panel, moderated by aerospace engineer Doug Jones, was called “Not because it is easy, but because it is hard: The Commercial Space Race.” The panelists, which included writer John DeChancie and Neda Ansari, discussed technical challenges to commercial space. Potter was also on two panels moderated by writer Will Morton. One panel, called “Planetary Exploration and the Big Question of Life Elsewhere – What do we do when we find it?” included Bridget Landry of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Tim Cassidy-Curtis. The panelists discussed the possibilities of extraterrestrial life in our Solar System and beyond. Morton also moderated a panel on “Time Travel: An Evolving Concept.” In addition to Morton and Potter, this panel included writer Larry Niven and artist Wendy All. The panelists discussed how concepts of time travel in science fiction have changed over time. Morton and Potter also referred to Niven’s article “The Theory and Practice of Time Travel” (see, in which Niven discusses the implications of various theories of time travel that have appeared in science fiction.

Other activities included a masquerade contest, held Saturday evening, as well as filk singing (songs on science fiction and fantasy themes). In addition, various clubs and organizations held room parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Many attendees, even those not in the masquerade, were in costume. Inhabitants of places and times real and imagined converged at Loscon, then dispersed, awaiting next year’s convention.

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