4th Street Fantasy…
continues June 16–18, 2017 in Minneapolis, MN

There's still a few i's to dot and t's to cross in terms of the full list of panelists, but the schedule is ready and the topics have been picked. Here's our 2017 conference schedule:

Books referenced during the 2017 convention:

Thursday, June 15, 2017
8:00 pmPre-convention Gaming / Strowlers Screening
Bring your favorite table top game, find some friends, enjoy re-uniting! Additionally, we're going to have a screening of a new show produced by Zombie Orpheus called Strowlers. We'll also have copies of past shows if there's interest in them as well (JourneyQuest, The Gamers, etc...).
Friday, June 16, 2017
9:00 AMSeminar and Workshop
4:00 PMWelcome!
4:30 PMEven in Byerly’s, You’re Not Out of the Woods

Dana Baird
Holly Black
Casey Blair
Pamela Dean
Abra Staffin-Wiebe
Thirty years ago, Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks gave us a vision of Minneapolis in which the magic was, much like Minneapolis’ own, hung on a balance between the pastoral influence of parks and wilderness and the urban jungle of clubs, skyscrapers, restaurants, and cavernous grocery stores. How has this intersection of asphalt and isolation influenced the genre moving forward? What unique elements of the numinous can we find where green spaces touch city shadows? Fantasy fixed itself up a nice place in the city a few generations ago — is it still a comfortable tenant? What does pastoral even mean to those who’ve never known magic outside the shadow of a smokestack?
6:00 PMDinner
8:00 PMWhose Dream is it Anyway?

Elizabeth Bear
Steve Brust
Ctein
Max Gladstone
Skyler White
4th Street has a number of successful collaborative writers, and here they’ll break the subject of collaboration open for us — its joys and pitfalls, its unique challenges, and how they have changed over the years as technology has provided new means for writers to enlighten or confuse one another. How does the process differ from a solitary literary pursuit? Who, arguably, should we collaborate with — those that conform to our own tastes and styles, those that work in a perpendicular fashion, or even those that drive us bonkers to the very last paragraph?
9:30 PMIntermediate Writers
This is a low-key get-together for writers in that middlish phase between novice and pro. If you're looking for something beyond the usual beginner-level advice but don't yet count yourself as established, you might just be an intermediate writer. Come and hang out with like-minded folks, swap tips and tribulations, meet potential writing buddies, and generally have a good time. In the Orchard Room.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
9:30 AMDreaming Under Darkening Skies: The Cold War Fantastic

John Appel
Elizabeth Bear
Marissa Lingen
Beth Meacham
A discussion of living and creating in the decades when the world was presumed to be an atomic tinderbox waiting for someone to push the button. Many writers cheerfully assumed we’d skip right past the whole mess, and an equal number assumed we’d all be served broiled on toast. While some wrote apocalypses or recoveries, others (including Tim Powers and John M. Ford) wrote intricately paranoiac tales of Cold War magic. What did those decades give our fantasy, what did they take from it, and how much of that time is still haunting our thoughts/works?
11:00 AMPlotting Agency: From Resistance to Responsibility

Marissa Lingen
Arkady Martine
Django Wexler
Skyler White
John Wiswell
With great power comes a wall on every side, or so it seems. Much of our fiction can be described along an axis running from Resistance to Responsibility. At one end, characters have little or no control over their circumstances, such as Frodo and Samwise barely avoiding starvation on what increasingly feels like a suicide mission. At the other end lie books like Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, where protagonists grapple with so much power that their real struggle is to break as little of the world as possible. Many stories seek to provoke or inspire by having characters travel this axis, including Lord of Light, The Broken Earth series, the works of John Christopher, and The Traitor Baru Cormorant. What do stories along this spectrum offer us? In the end, how can power become as much of a prison as deprivation?
12:00 PMLunch / Tea Tasting
During the lunch break, there will also be a Tea Tasting in Orchard.
2:00 PMHow We Think Other People Think

Ben Kinney
Devin Singer
Jon Singer
Sherwood Smith
The scientific term for this is "theory of mind" — that is, most people, consciously or unconsciously have a belief about how other people think, and interpret everything via that conjecture model. Writers grapple with this concept on two levels, first in constructing frames of reference for characters, and second in attempting to construct a theory about what their reader believes, knows, or wants at any given moment. We have only the contents of our own skulls to help us attempt to understand the contents of everyone else’s. How do we grope toward doing so? How do we achieve glorious understanding or dull failure? How do we develop our tools of the mind and use them to open rather than occlude possibilities?
3:30 PMDoes Lothlorien Have a Lumpenproletariat?

Ben Kinney
Ruben Poling
Will Shetterly
Django Wexler
The language and concepts of latter-day capitalism have crept into the fantastic experience, from novels to video games, and informed both audience expectations and character behavior even in settings where its presumptions are anachronistic. Fantasy adventurers in games beat gold coins out of the wilderness; they buy, sell, and invest, and the framing of acquisition as personal achievement/improvement often runs deep and unexamined. Let’s talk about works that support or demolish this conceptual framework. Are there stories that present real critiques of (or alternatives to) the Endless Happy Acquisition social model, rather than merely ignoring economics entirely?
5:00 PMThe Three Shadows Theory of a Hero

Dana Baird
Casey Blair
John Chu
Kevin J. Maroney
In trying to analyze the weird thing so many of us at 4th Street do for a living, Scott Lynch has speculated that the commercial fantasy hero has gone through three major permutations in the last century. The pulp hero grappled primarily with an external threat (Hero vs. the Shadow Outside). The mid-century hero, as written by people like Silverberg, Le Guin, Zelazny, and Moorcock, usually had to face some private darkness or deficiency before they could save or doom the world (Hero vs. the Shadow Within). The post-modern hero comes from an era of structural anxiety and grapples with their/our place in the vast machinery of our works and culture (Hero vs. the Shadow of History). Generally speaking, are generalizations like this gold, or nonsense? Is this a mature and predictable artistic maturation, or have feelings of cynicism and helplessness soured the process?
6:00 PMDinner
8:00 PMPopular Artistic Mistakes I Have Made

Holly Black
Emma Bull
Pamela Dean
Sherwood Smith
In which writers discuss the reasons, the immediate consequences, and the long-term ramifications (or even silver linings) of what they believe to be their biggest creative mistakes. This panel is not about career missteps or social blunders— it’s all about how we grapple with our failed experiments or bad judgment calls in our texts, how our readers react to them, and how we incorporate them into our lasting bodies of work (or retcon them with extreme prejudice).
Sunday, June 18, 2017
10:00 AMHow We Steal, How We Share, How We Subject: Idea Commerce In Human Society

John Chu
Stella Evans
Max Gladstone
Scott Lynch
Arkady Martine
Healthy and unhealthy idea exchanges have been a feature of human civilization since we first learned to bang rocks together. Fantasy fiction is a massive act of cultural syncretism and cross-fertilization, so let’s pry the whole concept of sharing/stealing very carefully apart. Sometimes idea commerce is enlightened and beneficial, sometimes it’s bound up in ignorance or outright imperialism. What (or when, or who) makes the difference? From the dueling songs of the American civil war to the tavern arguments of Skyrim, we’ll look at the history of idea commerce as everything from pure accident to deliberate weapon.
11:30 AMRoutes Arcane: The Magic of Roads in the American Mythscape

Emma Bull
Scott Lynch
John Wiswell
Blair Woodall
The Great Frontier was the myth that energized America, and when we ran out of America in which to have a frontier, we did so just in time for the automobile to come along and reconceptualize many of our ideas about adulthood, distance, and personal freedom. The myth of the American road is as much a myth about getting lost as staying connected. Roads are a major theme of the work of Roger Zelazny, secret highways cut across the times and places of Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods reveals the weird magic of roadside attractions. What do our road dreams say about us, and what do we have to say about roads?
12:30 PMLunch
2:30 PMBut That's Another Panel!

Elizabeth Bear
Holly Black
Tim Boerger
Beth Meacham
3:30 PMDiscussing 2018
Monday, June 19, 2017
Fish!
As a bit of a post-con decompress and feast, a bunch of us are going to have Fish at Sakura (350 Saint Peter St. in St. Paul) for lunch followed by a stop over at an ice cream shop. Printed directions are available, check the registration desk, otherwise isn't technology great?