I was on a panel today, the Latest News from Mars and as soon as I walked in felt out of my depth. The other two panelists were scientists [1. I don’t have my program book on me and it has their names in it. Lovely men and a fun conversation.] and here I was, a writer. I mean, one of them brought in a globe of Mars. He was totally ready. I had launchpad, my twitter feed and reading Bad Astronomy to bring to the table.
But astonishingly, I totally held my own. We started with the question of what was the most exciting recent news. The glaciers! were my pick. I figured that the audience would be up on that, too, but it was news to most of them. We had a good dicussion about what this meant for SF in addition to the science of it. I learned that there’s lichen on Earth, plus some insects that can live in our glaciers so it’s not unresonable to posit life in the glaciers. Likely? No, but you just need the what if potential for a cool story.
I was also amazed at how much information I’d retained from Launchpad. Paricularly when we started talking about how the Rovers work. Granted, if I was pressed for detail, it became quickly aparent that I had only a surface understanding, but it was still cool because, as Mike Brotherton planned, I know the frame and the right questions to ask. It was a pretty exciting panel for me.