Our Crack Team of congoers breakfasted in the room on muffins from one of the many coffeeshops in the warren of tunnels under the Illinois Center complex surrounding the hotel. We then showered, dressed, and went off to the convention.
I attended a very entertaining and high-energy panel on "The New Pulp Fiction" featuring Adam Christopher, Chuck Wendig, and Stephen Blackmoore. They kept the audience laughing as they talked about the genre-busting style of the New Pulp, and how it is powered by the chaotic state of publishing.
After that I found my way to the noon "Dyson Sphere Update." I joined Allen Steele, G. David Nordley, Jordin Kare, and David Clements to discuss how -- and most importantly why -- one would go about building a giant sphere around a star. I learned something neat: if you build a half-sphere on one side of your sun, it turns your entire solar system into a huge (but very slow) spaceship! Very useful if you need to move out of the way of something dangerous, or if you prefer a more upscale part of the Galaxy.
From there I hustled to the panel on "Transhumanism: Where Do We -- as Homo Sapiens -- Go From Here?" It more or less wound up being a bigger and better version of Friday's Body Modification panel, with three of the same participants and a broadly similar topic. Oddest moment: a Canadian panelist pausing to sing hosannas for the Canadian health system and share his thoughts on the upcoming U.S. election. Dudes, if you want a say in the process, apply for statehood.
After that I took a break and made my first (partial) pass through the cavernous Dealers' Room. Two members of the Crack Team talked me into buying them nice decorative pins and an autographed book from Phil Foglio at the Airship Entertainment booth, and then I indulged myself with another autographed book (including a character sketch!) from Howard Tayler at Hypernode Press.
That left me barely enough time to hustle over to the "SF at the University of Chicago" panel, which was basically like a slightly more casual Alumni Weekend reception, only without any drinks and a lot more in-jokes. The science fiction community at Chicago has been reborn, Phoenix-like, at least three times since the 1940s, and Maroons from all the generations had stories to tell.
By the time that was done we all wanted dinner, so the Crack Team joined SF stalwarts Allen Steele and Michael Flynn for dinner at a local microbrewery. Along the way we fell into conversation with (or, more accurately, were harangued by) a Chicago native with a surprising knowledge of what movies were filmed in the city, and where.
With full stomachs the older part of the Crack Team finished the evening at the delighful party hosted by Tor Books. The fearsome bouncer at the door let us in, and we spent a very pleasant three or four hours hobnobbing, schmoozing, and rubbing elbows.
And so to bed.