4th Street Fantasy Conversation…
continues June 24-26, 2011 in Minneapolis, MN

All of the panels will be in the Courtyard Ballroom, on the first floor of the hotel near the pool, except the brunch on Sunday. We're still working on the panelists and there might well be some last minute on the spot additions. You know how we are, always willing to throw caution to the wind and change things up as needed. We replaced an entire panel half way through a topic last year or the year before.

Thursday, June 23, 2011
8:00 PMRosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
Tom Stoppard startled and captivated audiences when he retold the story of Shakespeare's Hamlet as an absurdist farce, focusing on the point of view of two of the famous play's most insignificant characters. If you're in town a little early, how about joining us in this group play reading and the fun of sharing the tale.
Friday, June 24, 2011
9:00 AM – 3:00 PMWriter's Seminar
The Writer's Seminar schedule can be found over here.
3:30 PM – 4:00 PMWelcome!
... to 4th Street 2011. Join us for a few opening remarks, after which the party really starts.
4:00 PM – 5:00 PMMagic, Monsters, and Metaphor

Elizabeth Bear
(Moderating)

Emma Bull

Will Shetterly

Caroline Stevermer

People who can use magic are often depicted as distanced from humanity, while animals or monsters who use it become more human - they think, speak, and have relationships. What does this pattern (and the alignment of magic with monstrosity) say about how magic is being used as a metaphor, and the genre's underpinnings?
5:30 PM – 6:30 PMBirth Control and Families in Fantasy

Lois McMaster Bujold

Pamela Dean

Sherwood Smith

Ginger Weil
(Moderating)

How are birth control and families represented in fantasy, and what sorts of implications do those choices have on societies and gender relations? How extensive are the implications of ease and reliability of birth control on world-building? What sorts of uncritical assumptions do authors make in this regard?
7 PM –Welcome Reception and Evening Merriment
Begin your evening in the ConSuite sharing munchies, libations, and your stories since last we saw you. Continue with songs and good conversations.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
10:00 AM – 11:00 AMIt's a Secret to Everyone

Anne Gwin

Michael Merriam
(Moderating)

Will Shetterly

Patricia C. Wrede

What makes secrets work in fiction, and what are some ways they can be mishandled? How much of a difference does it make when the reader is in on the secret? What's the difference between a surprise that will make the reader remember a book for years to come, and a twist that will leave them feeling cheated?
11:30 AM – 12:30 PMFeast and Famine

Alec Austin

Elizabeth Bear

Elise Matthesen
(Moderating)

Jon Singer

From lembas to lavish feasts, food is omnipresent in fantasy - but does it bother readers to see maize and chocolate in an analogue of Europe? How about armies trampling crops without leaving famine in their wake, or farmers working without fertilizer or irrigation? And how come nobody ever sees dogs or guinea pigs as dinner?
12:30 PM – 2:00 PMLunch
Grab some new and old friends and engage in some hunting and gathering.
2:00 PM – 3:00 PMMiddle Book Blues

Steven Brust
(Moderating)

Marissa Lingen

Scott Lynch

Sherwood Smith

From The Two Towers to the recent trilogy of your choice, readers are often wary of the middle books of trilogies and series. What is it about these books that makes it challenging to give them internal arcs and/or satisfying endings? What are some strategies that have made for outstanding middle books?
3:30 PM – 4:30 PMScenes of Conflict

Lois McMaster Bujold

Pamela Dean

Caroline Stevermer

Patricia C. Wrede
(Moderating)

From trials to political and personal confrontations, some of the most gut-wrenching moments in fantasy involve no direct violence at all. Are these scenes more powerful because readers know that protagonists will emerge from fights unscathed? What techniques can writers use to crank up the emotional impact of a scene, and can any of them be used to restore the impact of violence?
5:00 PM – 6:00 PMClass and Colonialism in Fantasy

Elizabeth Bear

Steven Brust
(Moderating)

Will Shetterly

Ginger Weil

Skyler White

What factors (e.g. a desire for epic scale, the perception that only the powerful or the desperate have agency) work against wider class diversity in the fantasy genre? Do the same factors influence depictions of colonialism (or the lack thereof) in fantasy stories? What does it say about the genre that both the working classes and the sources of the aristocracy's prosperity so often disappear?
6:00 PM – 7:30 PMDinner
Brain full. Time to fill our tummies.
7:30 PM – 8:30 PMOff with 'is head!

Emma Bull
(Moderating)

Doug Hulick

Scott Lynch

Lynne Thomas

Men die, cattle die, even protagonists must one day die. What makes the death of a beloved character acceptable in a novel? What sorts of deaths strike readers as objectionable, and how can one anticipate and avoid this from the author's side of the table?
Evening...Tea, Music, and Conversation...
The rest of the evening, as usual, is fairly unstructured. We have the rooms all night to use as we will.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
10:00 AM – 11:00 AMNovelty, Complexity, and Mass Appeal

Alec Austin
(Moderating)

Emma Bull

Scott Lynch

Michael Merriam

Sherwood Smith

Readers of popular fantasy series often see them as groundbreaking in ways that experienced readers don't. Similarly, the nuances that appeal to the latter group can disorient and disconcert the former. How important is the perception of novelty in a series having breakout appeal, and what kinds of novelty matter? What sorts of complexity are audiences willing to put up with immediately, and which kinds wouldn't work in a stand-alone work but might in an ongoing series?
11:00 AM – 1:00 PMSunday Brunch
Join us in the Terrace Ballroom on the second floor to the left and up the stairs from the Courtyard Ballroom for a brunch.
1:00 PM – 2:00 PMGetting Beyond a Successful Character

Steven Brust

Lois McMaster Bujold

Marissa Lingen
(Moderating)

Lynne Thomas

The forces (money, fans, creative energy) that pull authors back to specific settings and protagonists are powerful indeed. What tactics have authors used to avoid being locked into writing about a single character for the rest of their lives? How well did they work, and what does it feel like to return to a favored character after a long hiatus?
2:30 PM – 4:00 PMAnother Panel

To be decided
on the fly

Yup, you guessed it... the time slot left open for one of those topics that would otherwise derail or consume another panel that we deferred for another time.
4:00 PM – 4:30 PMThanks and What about 2012
Closing words, thoughts, etc. Also, we'll talk a little about what we're thinking for 2012.
Evening...Dead Dog Party
We've got the rooms, so use 'em!