Potlatch 7

Algonquins, An Explanation

Named after the famed Algonquin Round Table of yore, Potlatch Algonquins inhabit a middle ground between programming and just hanging out. At an Algonquin, a bunch of Potlatchers get together to discuss a topic of mutual interest or to pursue an activity together. We (the folks running Potlatch) facilitate this with sign-up lists meeting space as available, lots of nice restaurants in the neighborhood (if you want to combine a discussion with lunch), and (at Potlatch 7) a special Algonquin Hour when the main programming space is turned over to various scheduled smaller discussion circles.

Algonquins that were held

Representations of Masculinity in SF

Cool Books

(Plus many others, but I haven't got a list yet. We're working on it.)


Algonquins for All OccasionsSome ideas for the future

Crones, sages and silly old women—real lives of real crones. Remember what the gypsy said?

Role of the wise woman — in your community? in science fiction and fantasy stories?

The power of aging — Aging baby boomers are being forced by the evidence of their own receding hairlines to consider an alternative to youth-obsessed values. Are we beginning, as a culture, to acknowledge positive values of maturity and experience? Are you_ beginning?

12-step meeting for Patrick O'Brian junkies. How/why are Jack and Stephen different from Kirk and McCoy?

Do you hear the Horns of Elfland when you get into the shower? Have you ever contemplated becoming a hornplayer?

Who’s tougher, Xena, Warrior Princess, or Buffy, Vampire Slayer? What about Sabrina the Teenage Witch?

Authors who work changes dramatically: developing genius or burnout? Ursula Le Guin? C.J. Cherryh?, (Robert Silverberg?, Roger Zelazny?)

Feminist humor — when is it OK to make fun of women, men, or blond(e)s? What do prejudicial jokes say about us individually or collectively?

Science fiction has had a moniker of being junk food for the mind; escapist fare only. Is that true? Not all of it is literature but surely some of it must be? Mustn't it? What literary trends can be found? What will withstand the test of time? And does it matter?

The face of the American political system has been changed forever by the advent of electronic technology. Can our system handle it? What will our government be like in 100 years?

Language includes/language excludes: Is thought without language possible? How are images and language related?

Sexuality, gender, and envisioning the future: Have any s-f novelists described convincing scenarios? John Varley, Melissa Scott, Greg Egan, Samuel R. Delany?

Since the dawn of the computer age, people have been talking about the "paperless society". Have computers actually generated more or less paper? What would a paperless world be like? Are we ever going to read "Magic Book" computer screens in the bathroom and on airplanes?

Were you able to sit through Andrey Tarkovsky's "Solaris?"

Discuss the tradition of "Twin Earths". (From the "Twin Earths" comic strip, to "Space Patrol", "Twilight Zone", etc. — What symbolic metaphor in modern science can replace the "Doppleganger Earth" hiding on the other side of sun?)

Talking costume dramas — is there any real content in Babylon 5 or Star Trek? Are they just random collages of "SF gestalts", "implausible" military dramas with window dressing? (Or are some of them "plausible" dramas that make memorable literary statements?)

If money were no object, what would the perfect S-F prozine be like?

The spectrum of respectability applied to Science Fiction conventions: (World Fantasy, SMOFcon, University conferences, Potlatch, Comicon) What's the difference between "literature" and "trash"?

Influence of landscape on culture, plot and character: Do your subjective reactions to s-f stories depend on where you are when you read them?

Is resistance futile? Can writers break the rules of literary genres in their stories? Which writers and stories have done this successfully?

Jane Austen is as alien as Mars? (And how alien is Mars, anyway? Will the future regard "Tea and military revolution on the Red Planet" as just another genre set piece? Could =Stranger in a Strange Land= be rewritten as a Noel Coward comedy?)

Narrative transvestites: Are you turned on by s-f stories dressed in fantasy clothes? Fantasies wearing s-f overcoats? Cross-dressing mysteries?

How To Write A Book Proposal: define the most bizarre "theme" anthology that your mind can conceive. Would Mike Resnick edit it? Is it possible to create a deconstructive "theme" anthology that would actually decondition the reader's proclivity to read the same gimcrack over and over again?

Can science fiction really be used to teach ideas? Which ideas? Which classes?

Is the popularity of Vampire fiction related to the spread of pragmatic, cynical memes in society?

What should we expect from our many religions as we enter the new century? Will Churches computerize and exploit pop-culture, as predicted by Norman Spinrad, Neil Stephenson, et al?

What science fiction or fantasy story would you like to see made into a movie? Is there any way to send a clue to people like Kevin Costner that might also reach the movie-going public?

Is the cultural fallout of the '60s still being felt in literature?

Is the cultural fallout of the '70s still being felt in literature?

Is the cultural fallout of the '80s still being felt in literature?

Is S-F bigoted? Are we as open-minded as we claim? Is the -s-f field dominated by a white, middle-class world view? What are the tropes of closed-mindedness being reiterated in science fiction?

Would you make a case that the finest cyberpunk author today is a feminist who has appropriated and subverted the genre, if you were not the WISCON programming committee? Is there still a genre of "cyberpunk" in science fiction?

What do you think of as the most controversial moment in American history?

Does it make any sense to privatize the American school system? Has the tradition of John Dewey and Horace Mann outlived its day?

Care And Feeding Of The Creative Process: What sort of actions and environments are most conducive to getting and staying productive? How do you tell being blocked from being too tired?

What are your personal criteria for "good" or "great" science fiction? Are they different for :"good" or "great" fantasy?

Is the tendency to refer to "Chinese", "Italian", "Mexican", etc. cuisines when discussing egg rolls, pizza, burritos and the like, really an outmoded usage? With the assimilation of many ethnic minorities into American communities, can these dishes now truly be considered "American cuisine?"

Why is it that science fiction stories so seldom have religious protagonists? (C.S. Lewis, and Gene Wolfe, notwithstanding). Are there good examples (since Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star") of science fiction stories that make serious statements about issues of religious faith?


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