AISFP 216 – Chicon 7 “Moral Ambiguity in Science Fiction” with Charles Stross, Jay Lake, Nancy Kress, Lissa Price and Bryan Thomas Schmidt

chiconMoral Ambiguity in SF
Is there still room for moral structure in SF societies and worldbuilding? How does moral ambiguity represent or fail to capture the real world? What are its pitfalls
Nancy Kress, Jay Lake, Lissa Price, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Charles Stross


Other Chicon 7 (World Science Fiction Convention 70) Panels:

AISFP 211 – Chicon 7 “Creating Vivid Characters” with Carol Berg, Teresa Frohock, Randy Henderson, Kay Kenyon, and Bryan Thomas Schmidt
AISFP 202 – Chicon 7 “Disaster Response in SF” with Myke Cole, Scott Lynch, Jean Johnson, Eightball and Marie Bilodeau
AudioTim 46: Chicon 7 “Quantum Physics Meets Magical Realism” with Bruce Taylor and Cat Valente
AudioTim 44: Chicon 7 “Conquering Writer’s Block” with Russell Davis, Tom King, Eldon Thompson, Monica Valentinelli, and Gene Wolfe
AudioTim 42: Chicon 7 “Write What You Don’t Know” with Howard Andrew Jones, Louise Marley, Rachel Neumeier, Jack Skillingstead, Lynda Williams ORU

Our Sponsor for AISFP 216:

Topics discussed in this panel (rough notes and times, sorry):

7:30 “Do you create the moral structure of your story in your worldbuilding, or do you let moral structure develop as you write?”

13:20 “What are your characters in denial about?”

16 “Do you consider character likability when considering what their morals are?”

Jay Lake mentions his upcoming novel, Love in the Time of Metal and Flesh.

20:20 “What are key moral questions that you ask yourself as you begin creating your story?”

Charles Stross mentions his book, Rule 34 (Halting State).

Nancy Kress mentions her book, Dogs.

31:40 – What makes your brain happy and why you should do the opposite – book mentioned by Nancy Kress and how fiction writers try to break you out of your black and white beliefs.

33 – Q and A

“The Curtsey of Guests” Jay Lake. He also recommends “Story of your life” Ted Chang for how it communicated alien viewpoint without giving reader identification. Greg Eagen “Diaspora”

35:30 – “Do any stories turn on moral ambiguity, or not rely on outside observer?”
Joe Abercrombie – First Law Series
Lord Foul’s Bane (Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) by Stephen R. Donaldson

40 – “Assassins and Thieves”

Jay Lake’s series that starts with Green.
James L. Sutter. Death’s Heretic.
Jon Sprunk. Shadow something from Pyr. Hero kills someone right off the bat.
Charles talks about James Bond as an exceptionally talented murderer.
Nancy mentions novella “Before the fall…” how reviewer said group of people rescuing children from future end of the world are morally unsympathetic.

45:20 – Are there books that have changed your opinion on issues of morality?

46:20 – How do you construct characters with different moral beliefs?

50 – “What do you do if you realize that the values that you started writing to are not agreeable to your own?”

Jay “Travel Flowers”

53 – Discussing rape as plot point along a redemption story.

Nancy discusses how she argued with Harlan Ellison who wrote a story about a character who slit the throat of an eight year old who was selling newspapers. Nancy said this character could never become acceptable to her.

57:55 – Pitfalls in writing morality or redemption.

61 – Panelists share how their stories have changed or repeated story elements over time.

66:45 – How do you work with villains thinking they are doing the right thing and characters who know they are doing the wrong thing?

69 – Is it acceptable to write a story with a character who does not get redeemed, and how?

70- Nancy’s advice is to pair that character with a foil and have the other rise to redemption.

Published works by our panelists:

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall: A Novel (2013 Locus Award, Best Novella) by Nancy Kress.

The Apocalypse Codex (A LAUNDRY FILES NOVEL) (2013 Locus Award, Best Fantasy Novel) by Charles Stross.

Kalimpura by Jay Lake (winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer)

Starters (Barnes and Noble, Best Teen Books of 2012) by Lissa Price (Image is pre-order for Paperback).

The Worker Prince (Saga Of Davi Rhii Book 1) (Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011) by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

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