Friday, July 26, 2019

Doctor Logic Goes to WorldCon!

Edit August 1: The final schedule is now up, and I can confirm that the below is all correct.

I am super excited to be going to my first WorldCon, in Dublin next month. It'll be an interesting adventure -- it's my not only my first WorldCon, but it's also my first SFF con of any type, and while there I'll be participating in events that feature many different facets of my life. I've got lodgings arranged with philosophy and NaNoWriMo friends; I'm giving a paper on onomastics in the academic track; I'm speaking in two panels on AI; and I'll be participating in the demos and display stalls for the Society for Creative Anachronism; and I've got a drink-beer-with-an-author session. All my academic, hobby, and authorial pursuits all coming together into one!

So, what, exactly am I do, and where can you find me? Here's the scoop!

Thursday, August 15

11:30-12:50: Worlds (Academic Session)

Names: Form & Function in Worldbuilding & Conlangs

Significant interest has been generated in recent years in the robust development of conlangs (constructed languages) for fantasy and sci-fi purposes, with detailed handbooks now available for the amateur conlanger, providing instructions on how to develop grammar, phonology, etc. One area of linguistic development that many conlangers often overlook is personal and place name patterns and practices.

The influence of medieval European naming practices can be seen throughout contemporary fantasy naming practices. This influence can be traced back to the Father of Fantasy, J. R. R. Tolkien, as many of his names – such as Gandalf, Thorin, Frodo, Theodred, and Peregrine – are in fact genuine medieval names; and Tolkien himself was significantly influenced by the medieval-style romances of William Morris. However, unlike Tolkien and Morris, many modern authors developing ‘generic medieval European’ style fantasy worlds do not have a background in medieval history or linguistics, with the result that even dedicated conlangers approach names in an unsystematic or ungrounded way.

In this talk we argue for the importance of including personal names and place names in the development of fantasy worlds and languages, and highlight the distinctive aspects of the formation and function of personal and place names that conlangers and authors should be aware of when developing a world or a language. We also show how resources available to the amateur historian and linguist, such as the Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources, can be used to develop consistent, grounded, systematic name pools and patterns of construction.

Date, Time, Location

15 Aug 2019, Thursday 11:30 - 12:20, Odeon 6 (Academic) (Point Square Dublin)


  1. Dr. Sara L. Uckelman – ‘Names: Form & Function in Worldbuilding & Conlangs’
  2. Andrew Richardson – ‘Civilisation and Science Fiction’
  3. Dr Kevin Koidl – ‘Trust and the Future of Social Media’

Friday, August 16

16:30-17:20: Is Hari Seldon’s project becoming achievable? (Panel)

People have long tried to predict future outcomes of nations or personal behaviour. Prediction is now enhanced by big data and machine learning. Panellists consider which events we already can predict with high probability. With stochasticity, which events will we never ‘get’? What mechanisms would prevent misuse (e.g. for advertising or influencing voting)? What would trigger a ‘Seldon Crisis’?

Date, Time, Location

16 Aug 2019, Friday 16:30 - 17:20, Alhambra (Point Square Dublin)


  1. Shmulik Shelach
  2. Dr. Sara L. Uckelman (Durham University)
  3. Tomasz Kozlowski (Atelier of Improvisation) (Moderator)
  4. Marina Berlin

Saturday, August 17

15:30-16:20: Crafting your fandom (Panel)

From building a spaceship wardrobe to knitting the Doctor’s scarf, baking the Death Star, or putting their travel cards into wands, fans have ever more inventive ways to express their love, enthusiasm, and fandom through arts and crafts. Our panellists will share their love of fandom crafting from what they do to how they do, and discuss why we all do it.

Date, Time, Location

17 Aug 2019, Saturday 15:30 - 16:20, Alhambra (Point Square Dublin)


  1. Dr. Sara L. Uckelman (Durham University) (Moderator)
  2. Todd Allis
  3. Arwen Grune
  4. Michelle Coleman (University of Nottingham)
  5. Alicia Zaloga

Sunday, August 18

17:00-17:50: Society for Creative Anachronism (demo)

Date, Time, Location

18 Aug 2019, Sunday 17:00 - 17:50, 4th floor foyer (CCD)

21:00-21:50: Literary Beer with Dr Sara L. Uckelman

Come and keep me company and have a beer (or not) and talk about writing (or not) or academia (or not)!

Date, Time Location

18 Aug 2019, Sunday 21:00 - 21:50, Liffey-A (Fan Bar) (CCD)

Monday, August 19

10:30-11:30: AIs and the female image (Panel)

Whether in smart homes or wearing mechanical bodies, until recently many ‘female’ AIs emphasised beauty and sexuality. Now some portrayals emphasise strength and intelligence. Can we do both? How does the representation of ‘male’ AIs differ? Must we anthropomorphise AIs and assign them genders? Can we have non-binary AIs?

Date, Time, Location

19 Aug 2019, Monday 10:30 - 11:30, Odeon 1 (Point Square Dublin)


  1. Madeline Ashby
  2. Charles Stross
  3. Pat Cadigan
  4. Dr V Anne Smith (University of St Andrews)
  5. Dr. Sara L. Uckelman (Durham University)

It may come as a surprise to some people that I am actually an introvert and sometimes can suffer from incapacity shyness and anxiety. I've spent a large part of my life thinking "Surely everyone has someone they would like to talk to more than talk to me". But if people come up and talk to me, I am positively delighted and often can pretend very well to be an extrovert. So look out for these shoes and introduce yourself to me if you see me! (And if there is someone else at WorldCon with these shoes...I want to meet you.)

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