I had a panel at 11am, on "The Wonders of Space" as part of the kids' programme. From doing lots of outreach in schools I thought I had a reasonable understanding of what 5-10 year-olds know about science, but it turns out I completely - as in order-of-magnitude - underestimated the effect of their being fandom kids. I'm not exaggerating when I say that small children were coming out with A-Level physics. Terrifying and awesome.
The kids really are getting the best programme at this con. Immediately before my item, they were making mutant animals from cannibalised soft toys. This one's name is Stuffy (the head is Eeyore):
After the panel I investigated the con suite, but for some reason there was no tea (herbal doesn't count), which as a Brit is a true tragedy. I normally bring my own tea when travelling to act as an emergency Lipton-repellant, and I'm severely regretting the oversight this time. Fair warning, this blog may well turn into a withdrawal diary before long.
This afternoon, we went to a panel on science fiction and fantasy in musicals, which seemed like it would be awesome, since SF&F and musical theatre are my two favourite things. In fact, it was one of the worst con panels I've ever been to. The panellists were only interested in discussing obscure, regional productions that most of the audience wouldn't have known (and by "discussing" I really mean "listing" with a passing comment at best). Anything commercially successful was dismissed in a depressingly elitist way - including several instances of ridiculing and even being downright vindictive about musicals the panellists admitted to never even having seen! Considering they talked for over an hour about predominantly fantasy-based musicals (there aren't that many SF), LotR wasn't mentioned at all (none of the panel even seemed to be aware of its existence, perhaps because it never played in the US, although it did originate just over the lake in Canada), Disney was dismissed outright, and Wicked was written off as irrelevant because "its audience is teenage girls."
Balancing out that tedium, there was a really good panel on manned space stations, which was a joint thing with DragonCon conducted by video conference. The panellists were both knowledgeable and engaging, and that makes all the difference. And since we both have a few friends who are at DragonCon this weekend, it was nice to see a small bit of that con.
This afternoon, I went for a walk and stumbled across Grant Park:
And a short distance away I came across this giant red pterodactyl drinking from the pavement:
It was starting to rain so I headed back to the hotel bar to wait for Fi, which in hindsight was a Bad Move. My tolerance for misogyny in fandom has been wearing thin since SMOFcon, and this evening it snapped. As a result, we're blowing off the con tomorrow to do all the remaining touristy stuff in Chicago, and then we've brought our car rental forward so that we can hit the road a day early on Monday. Can't wait!