Virtual October

October has been a busy month filled with virtual events. I visited the Tucson Steampunk Society Book Club and discussed my novella Revolution of Air and Rust about a week ago. Then, I spent much of this past weekend attending and presenting panels for Denver’s MileHiCon. Like most events in 2020, it was held virtually. While many events I’ve attended have been free, this one had a paid membership option, which allowed attendees to interact with people live as panels were presented. In the case of pre-recorded panels, panelists were often available to answer questions on Discord or the MileHiCon website. My reading for MileHiCon was from my novella Revolution of Air and Rust. I read the chapter where Pancho Villa attempts to raid a United States military camp in Chihuahua, Mexico, but then finds himself transported to another world.

Now that you’ve seen the reading, you may be interested to watch the virtual book club meeting where we discuss the book. This video is hosted at Facebook, but you do not need to be logged into see it.

Although there was a paid membership option, MileHiCon has generously placed most of the panels and presentations online at YouTube, so you can watch them, as with my reading above. This gives you a unique opportunity to watch the panels even if you couldn’t attend them as they premiered. You can find the presentations and panels at YouTube’s MileHiCon 52 virtual channel:

Before the convention, I recorded a presentation about Kitt Peak’s NEID Spectrograph which will be used to look for Earthlike planets around sunlike stars. Of course, when I proposed this presentation back in the spring, I fully expected we would have been observing and would have had results to share. I didn’t expect that we would just now be getting ready to return to observations. Still, I give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the spectrograph, describe how it works, and share some of the interesting results from NASA’s TESS mission.

In addition to my presentation, I participated in a panel discussion about “The Year in Science” with Ka Chun Yu, Will McCarthy, Steve Wahl, and Courtney Willis. Most of us on the panel were physical scientists, with two of us being astronomers, so we started out with a heavy emphasis on astronomy, but Will McCarthy steered the discussion to the year’s COVID-19 pandemic and the effort taken to defeat it and how we’ve learned to work in this year.

I encourage you to go over to the MileHiCon YouTube channel and check out many of the other presentation. You’ll find readings by people like Connie Willis, David Boop, Carrie Vaughn, Walter Jon Williams, Carol Berg, and S.M. Stirling. You’ll find even more science panels and panels discussing science fiction and fantasy writing.

As it turns out, I wrapped up the weekend with a couple additional virtual events. I discovered that YouTube streamed a recording of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds over the weekend. I’m a fan of the album, but this was the first time I actually got to see the entire stage performance. Unfortunately, the performance was only available for a limited time and it’s been taken down, but I was glad for the opportunity to watch. Also, I attended a nice interview with Charlaine Harris conducted by Steven Foley of the Vampyre Library Book Club in New Orleans. This interview is still available, but you have to be a member of the club to watch. Fortunately, membership is free and you can join at: My novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order is the featured book at the club for November, so if you join now, you can participate in my interview at the end of next month.

4 comments on “Virtual October

  1. One of my fondest memories in education involves Pancho Villa.

    I was assigned to tutor a group of junior high school males who were related to gang members (or who were gang members, although I was never told that officially). The first session we accomplished nothing. The second started just as bad–or worse. So I said I was paid to be there, they had to be there, so we might as well make the best of it. I asked them how they thought our tutoring sessions should be run. They gave suggestions, and no matter what they said, I wrote it down.

    One of the boys said something he and I and the rest of the boys knew to be ridiculous. I showed no emotion, just started writing it down. Then he quickly said, “I was just kidding!” That was the transition point, for his response showed he was concerned he might look foolish in my eyes.

    We tried the ideas that remained, even ones that I knew wouldn’t work–but they soon realized they didn’t work, and suggested positive changes. Those boys ended up being one of the best and most dedicated groups I ever tutored.

    What does this have to do with Pancho Villa? One boy, who was Mexican American, seemed to only be interested in writing about Mexican Americans who had been actively involved in physical violence. I remember when he planned to write a report on Pancho Villa. Then he suddenly changed–and decided to write about Cesar Chavez. However one might feel about Chavez’ politics, he did promote non-violent protest.

    When I switched from tutoring to doing research for a textbook, I found it very hard to leave. I started with a group of rowdy boys. I ended up with a group of thoughtful young men.

  2. rozepotpourri says:

    I’ll be back to watch the book club discussion video.:)

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