I sit in Minneapolis as I write this, planning to leave pre-dawn on Thursday morning and drive to Winnipeg for NASFIC. Here's what I'll be up to:
The Disappearance of Men Format: Panel 20 Jul 2023, Thursday 11:30 - 12:45, York 2 (RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg) Human males could become extinct in about 11 million years. What are the implications if this comes about? The Y Chromosome Is Slowly Vanishing. A New Sex Gene Could Be The Future of Men Julie Czerneda, Allan Dyen-Shapiro, Elektra Hammond
The Next Pandemic Format: Panel 22 Jul 2023, Saturday 16:00 - 17:15, York 4 (RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg) We (humanity) handled that one (Covid 19) well. </sarcasm> What lessons did we learn? What did we refuse to learn? Are there really any dangerous epidemics lurking and waiting to jump out at us, or have we managed to master sufficient medical technologies to combat the next one? (Or did we just get lucky this time?). When will be able to talk about this (or the next one!) in a calm and rational manner? Perrianne Lurie, Eli K.P. William, Allan Dyen-Shapiro, Snail Scott
Writing Support Format: Panel 23 Jul 2023, Sunday 11:30 - 12:30, York 3 (RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg) What kind of support can writers and authors find out there? Has the presence of the World Wide Web | Internet aid Mark Painter, Allan Dyen-Shapiro, Michael Haynes, Christine Taylor-Butler, Nisi Shawl
My reactions to all this: The disappearance of man is a really cool topic. It relates to the idea that our species' Y chromosome has been losing size for longer than vertebrates have been around because it doesn't do crossing-over at meiosis. There are two species of mammal that have completely lost their Y chromosomes, but there are still males and females. The males have lost the SRY gene, the key maleness-determining factor (the only other essential genes on the Y chromosome being directly implicated in sperm production). SRY is a transcription factor (involved in turning on genes) whose proximal target is another transcription factor, SOX9. In these species, SOX9 is on one of the other (non-sex) chromosomes. An enhancer (a control element) in the promoter of the SOX9 gene is duplicated. So, you can bypass the important male-determining gene on the Y chromosome, and thus don't need a Y chromosome, if it's easier to turn on the gene that is its immediate target.
Also, in humans, about half of men will lose the Y chromosome from some of their immune cells as they age. It turns out the men in which this happens undergo fibrosis of the heart (connective tissue buildup that makes the heart more rigid and less good at pumping blood) and associated cardiac problems. This may be a major reason why men don't live as long as women do--jury is still out on that. Conclusion: SRY and the sperm production factors aren't the only important thing on the Y chromosome.
If I was on this panel with just about any other writers on the planet, this would be a sociological comment on gender roles. Which would be fine. My suspicion, knowing Julie Czerneda, is that this panel is going to delve into the science before it ever gets there. Which is also good.
As for my second item of programming, I was actually just on a panel at ReaderCon about the implications of Covid-19. I moderated that one--it started with the broader issues but then focused of Covid-19's impact on how we write about pandemics. This may or may not be how this panel goes.
The Writing Support panel--I assume they put me on there to talk about critique groups. It will be an excuse to meet Nisi Shawl, who is a way, way bigger shot than I am. She's probably on there to talk about her role in the Carl Brandon Society, which helps and advocates for writers of color.
Regardless, it sounds like it's going to be a great convention, and I'm looking forward to it. If you are reading this and plan to be there, please seek me out.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT ADDITION: I am editing this before I go to bed because the conference just put out the rest of the schedule today. I have both a reading and a Kaffeklatsche. I asked for the reading. The Kaffeklatsche? Will there be enough people there who want to meet me? Alternatively, will the coffee be good? We shall see.
My reading: Delta Hotels Winnipeg - St. James 1:30 PM, Friday 21 Jul 2023 CDT - 25 minutes
My Kaffeklatsche: Delta Hotels Winnipeg - Fort Garry
1:00 PM, Sunday 23 Jul 2023 CDT - 1 hour 15 minutes
For the reading, I have a comic fantasy piece that’s coming out July 28 that I just read for the first time at ReaderCon last week. I figured I’d better make people laugh rather than subject them to something dark.