THESE ARE the items we think we will be having at <plokta.con>. Please read your Read Me for exact details of timings and participants. [Webmaster's note: the programme turned out slightly different on the day; this reflects how we thought it was going to be two weeks in advance.]
Superfluous Technology -- the Dark Side
We all hear about the technology that makes our lives better, improves the status quo, and gives you five orgasms before breakfast. But what about the technology that none of us much want, but which is turning up anyway? Julian Headlong investigates, assisted by Ken MacLeod and Emmet O'Brien.
We introduce you to the Plokta cabal, formally launch the beer, and encourage you all to buy a drink for Ken MacLeod, our Guest of Honour. We don't expect the ceremony to last very long, and it will immediately be followed by
Fanzine Panel: We Love the Smell of Hecto in the
Several noted faneds (including Lilian Edwards, Yvonne Rowse and Vicki Rosenzweig) discuss the current state of play.
Read 'Em and Weep: Bad but overrated books
The panel discuss great classics of SF which they personally think are complete rubbish. Paul Kincaid moderates.
Curing the Fan Hugos: are they sick?
Every year the Hugo nominations are announced, and every year fans wring their hands and complain that the best fan writers, artists and fanzines aren't properly represented. How could we change the fan Hugos to ensure that the best candidates appear on the final ballot? Or should we stop worrying and just get on with it? Victor Gonzalez moderates, with help from Steve Green and Julian Headlong.
Style Challenge-would you want your daughter to marry
Is it true that fans are the least stylish people on earth? Stylish fans pick on fannish archetypes from the audience and discuss how they could be worked over.
Honey, We Flattened the Universe
Amanda Baker and Dave Clements fill us in on recent developments in astronomy.
Harry Potter and the Runaway Success
The fourth Harry Potter novel, due out this summer, has a projected UK print run of one million copies. In hardback. But surely there are many better childrens' books? Maureen Kincaid Speller analyses the phenomenon, helped by Joan Paterson and Sasha Walton.
UK '05 presentation
The Worldcon bid committee have finally come to a decision about their site. Come and hear them explain why Glasgow (or possibly Brighton) is a better place to hold the 2005 Worldcon than, say, somewhere that isn't Britain. And why they are the best team of people to do it. Bring your own rotten fruit.
Guest of Honour Speech: The Secret History
Ken MacLeod relates some of the real-life events that he has distorted and exaggerated to provide grist for his novels.
"Oh, All Right Then", said Peter Wareham and Gwen Funnell when we asked them whether they could do a silly game for <plokta.con>, and this is it.
Book Collecting for Fun and Profit
We all seem to do it, at least if the teetering piles of books around our homes are anything to go by. But are we really taking the best possible care of our collections? Brian Ameringen moderates, along with Roger Robinson and John Dallman.
Is "Is SF Dead?" Dead: or, Stop Moping and Get on with
The imminent death of SF as an artform has been predicted regularly since the dawn of time. But every year, more SF books are published and more SF movies are made. So why all the long faces? Mark Plummer, Tibs, and Emmet O'Brien discuss.
How to be a Complete Bitch
Alison Freebairn moderates this masterclass.
Live music from Leicester resident and fan Chris Conway.
This will be held after the gig, whenever it finishes. Let us fleece you for a variety of good causes. The Cabal, accompanied by Bridget Bradshaw on the balalaika.
A Good Read
Shamelessly nicked from Radio 4; three panellists (Jo Walton, Austin Benson and Mike Scott) each choose a book (The Sky Road, by Ken MacLeod, Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds, and Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock), and discuss them.
Superfluous Kari and Phil
Remember Kari's article about the pretty bendy boys in Hong Kong cinema? In an attempt to redress the balance, Kari and Phil Nanson explore the pretty bendy girls, with AV support.
A Fan in the Oven: How to make new SF fans using
materials you probably have lying around the house
At least 5% of the membership of the con is expecting a child imminently. Alison Scott (6 months), and Caroline Mullan (duck for cover; we think she's going to deeble) discuss pregnancy and childbirth the fannish way. Dr Joan Paterson stands by in case of medical emergencies, and Lori Meltzer has already had one, so won't be joining us.
Oh, yes, you remember this from the dim and distant days of ITV in the seventies. The <plokta.con> mass participation quiz. This is your chance to answer questions, win bizarre prizes, and generally have fun. Chris O'Shea is Mike Reid. Now there's a scary thought.
Electronic Fanzines: We love the smell of JPEGs in the
What exactly is an electronic fanzine? Has there ever been a good one? With the first online journal convention imminent, is this the fanwriting form of the web? Can print fanzines translate sensibly to the web? Dr Plokta repurposes, with help from Sandra Bond, Vicki Rosenzweig and Victor Gonzalez.
Ken MacLeod Reading
Ken reads from his new novel, Cosmonaut Keep, to be published in November.
Partly Baked Ideas
John Dallman discusses those flights of superfluous technology that never quite got off the ground. Coming soon to an Innovations catalogue near you.
Question Time (or, for Radio 4 Junkies, Any
Your chance to put one of a range of burning fannish issues to a panel of international experts. Alice Lawson keeps the peace. Please submit your questions in advance to one of the cabal.
Quick on the Draw
How is it done? Steve Jeffery, Dave Hicks and Sue Mason demonstrate their ability to draw anything the audience can conceive of, while Alison Scott provides colour commentary.
Strange things in your Cleavage
Yes, Sunday night is Cleavage Night at <plokta.con>. And this panel celebrates the notable cleavages of Sue Dawson, Claire Brialey, Yvonne Rowse and Naomi Saunders. They will discuss the wide-ranging uses to which one's bosom may be put. Quack quack.
"Sunday night is Cleavage Night at <plokta.con>"
A Hansom Cab to Hinckley
Wondering about the whereabouts of next year's Eastercon? The Paragon committee lead an away team to the uncharted planet of Hinckley. Wear your red shirt and set phasers on stun.
Good but Underrated Writers
Some people just don't get the recognition they deserve. Anne Wilson discusses some authors who ought to be more widely read, supported by Caroline Mullan, Austin Benson and Ken MacLeod.
Sadly, Thog can't be with us this weekend due to having contracted a severe case of New Jersey. However, his partner in crime, Dave Langford, provides us with a juicy selection of those things writers put into their books and later wished they hadn't. This is a repeat of his item from Aussiecon 3, for those of you who went down under.
Well, that was that. Come along and help us close down the convention.