I seem to be scheduled to make a number of appearances on the Worldcon programme this year, so anyone who wants to avoid me should make a point of missing the following items.

When is a Fantasy not a Fantasy?
Thursday 13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

Many of the more liminal fantasies play with the idea of psychosis as a blurring the boundaries of the world (Megan Lindholm’s Wizard of the Pigeons, Steve Cockayne’s The Good People, Jo Walton’s My Real Children); many ‘mainstream’ novels present worlds built of dream, the afterlife, or metaphor. What determines whether something is a fantasy or not: authorial intent, genre signals, reader perceptions? How far should we accept characters’ own sense of the world, and when can we judge them as unreliable witnesses?

Miriam Weinberg (M), Greer Gilman, Paul Kincaid, Graham Sleight, Jonathan Strahan, Catherynne M. Valente

Literary Beer
Thursday 20:00 – 21:00, The Bar (ExCeL)

I have no idea what this is, but since it appears to be a chance to have a drink in the bar, who’s complaining? So join me for a brew.

Comparative Criticism
Friday 20:00 – 21:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

What are the challenges and constraints of reviewing different kinds of media? Reviewers of books, TV, film and games discuss. Is it possible or desirable to be “an SF critic” when SF is found in so many different forms?

Paul Kincaid (M), Nick Lowe, Mahvesh Murad, Adam Whitehead, Roz J Kaveney

Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

‘Banksian’ has become a commonplace descriptor in SF reviews, but what do we mean by it? What are the characteristics we associate with Iain M Banks’ work? How far has his influence travelled? Who is writing Banksian SF today?

Chad Orzel (M), Michael Cobley, Jaine Fenn, Paul Kincaid, Ruth O’Reilly

The Darkening Garden
Sunday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 8+11 (ExCeL)

John Clute’s The Darkening Garden (2007) argues for horror as a core mode of twenty-first century fiction. It proposes a narrative “grammar” for horror stories that progresses from SIGHTING through THICKENING to the REVEL and then AFTERMATH. What implications does this structure have for our understanding of horror, as a commercial genre and as a literary form? What works escape its grasp, and why?

Paul Kincaid (M), Ellen Datlow, Dr Paul March-Russell, Lisa Tuttle, Jeff VanderMeer

The Art of Reviewing
Sunday 18:00 – 19:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

John Clute is one of the people who lifted reviewing in the field to an art form. What makes the difference between a workmanlike review that tells us what we need to know, and a review which becomes a text worth studying in its own right? Under what circumstances does a review transcend its immediate subject, and become part of the wider conversation about genre? Who are reviews for: readers, authors, industry, other reviewers?

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (M), Elizabeth Hand, Paul Kincaid, Aidan Moher

In addition, it looks as though there will be a joint launch party for my book and John Clute’s on Saturday evening, though I don’t have confirmed details as yet.

All in all, it looks like a very full and very interesting worldcon.