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Worldcon schedule

I'm going to Japan in 8 days time for the World Science Fiction convention, which is being held in Yokohama this year. As I'm one of the program participants, I'm listing my program schedule behind the continuation link.

(As you can probably imagine, I'm taking a couple of weeks after the convention for a vacation — I've never been to Japan before, so this is a first for me. And I'm as excited as you would expect!)

Thu 1400 Kaffeeklatsche
Participants: Charles STROSS
(Warning: this will probably be rescheduled. My Japanese publisher's holding a reception for their authors in Tokyo on Thursday at lunchtime, and I'm not sure I'll make it back to the con hotel in time, so I've asked for the kaffeeklatsche to be moved.)

Fri 1400 The Transparent Society
Participants: Charles STROSS, Chris COOPER, David BRIN, Dr Andrew A. ADAMS
David Brin wrote "The Transparent society". In it he claims that current information technology kills privacy and that we must all adjust. Related concepts are scattered through his fiction. Is it possible to put social and legal limits on the processing of private information, now and in the future?

Fri 1600 Prometheus Awards
Participants: Charles STROSS, Fred C. MOULTON
The Libertarian Society presents the Prometheus Awards.

Sat 1100 Mundane or Transcendent?
Participants: Charles STROSS, Cory DOCTOROW, Robert SILVERBERG, Patrick NIELSEN HAYDEN, Yoshio KOBAYASHI
Many American SF writers write about the near future, the Singularity, or the far future; all completely different from our reality. Some are in favor of realism, while other prefer fantastic elements. Is this necessarily contradictory? Can we find fantastic in the real world, or write a realistic alien future?

Sat 1400 The Universal Library
Imagine if all the information of the world was available via the web; all the books, magazine, videos, TV shows and crossword puzzles ever produced. What would be the effect be on the world? How would it come about, and would it change the world?

Sun 1000 Alternate Futures
Participants: Charles STROSS, James L. CAMBIAS
We talk about alternate histories, but there are also alternate futures. What futures might plausibly grow from today. Are the traditional SF futures still possible? Is history really at an end? How do you build a future anyway? How about futures based on alternate pasts -- do they count?

Sun 1200 Autographs
Participants: Charles STROSS

Sun 1700 Readings
Participants: Charles STROSS

Mon 1000 The Singularity: How to Write About It
Participants: Charles STROSS, Gregory BENFORD, David D. LEVINE, Jack William BELL
The singularity may be the most interesting idea to come out of SF, yet may pose a challenge which may be insurmountable — how to set a story in a world which is, by definition, incomprehensible? If a singularity lurks about a hundred years after the invention of the computer: does this mean that hard SF is a contradiction in terms once it gets outside the near future? Can SF stories cope? Or should writers just ignore it and move on?




Wow. I hope you have a good time.
so how are you planning to spend your offtime in Japan? Have you been deluged by recommendations?

If you go to the Kansai region, I'd highly suggest getting some okonomiyaki. That was one of my favorite dishes when I lived in Osaka.

Looking forward to reading about the worldcon...sounds great!


Charlie if your going to be there for a few weeks depending on how much travelling your going to be doing consider getting a Japan Rail Pass (you can only buy these outside of Japan), or check out http://www.hyperdia.com/ which can give you prices for train journeys. Highly recommend visiting the Tokyo City View at night and the Tsukiji's fish market early in the morning.



will any of the panels you are on get onto youtube>


Rob: we've got JR passes already. Yes, we've been doing some research.

Ian: I have no idea.


Have a great time. I wish I could make it. And here's a second for the YouTube request. It's a great example for the Universal Library talk.

Pure concidence that you are planning a few weeks on holiday out of country during NIGHTMARE GREEN?


Oops, reading back a bit I don't know why I had NIGHTMARE GREEN down for 2007.


Just nidpicking perhaps, but, are you sure that "kaffeeklatsche" is correctly spelled? As a German I can tell you, that we'd write it without the last e. (Sorry, but with the e it has become a bit of an eyesore ...)


Have a great time, and best wishes for the Hugo award.


Re.7: Another German? Cool, I'm not alone ;)

Kaffeeklatsche is the plural, isn't it?


#7: I just cut'n'pasted it from the [Amewrican English] version of the [Japanese] con web site. OK?


Stuff to see in Japan - if you've got 2 weeks you can do most of this as well as the standard Kyoto/Tokyo/Nikko.

0) Kamakura - about half an hour from Yokohama

1) Nara and surrounding area. In addition to the largest wooden structure in the world (the Daibutsuden around the great buddha (daibutsu) in the Todaiji and the rest of the nara park attractions (good luck with the carnivorous deer) there is also the Horyuji outside Nara. This is the oldest wooden building in the world and is "the best example of early Korean temple architecture anywhere"

Most people do Nara as a sort of half day trip from Kyoto. I'd recommend a full day and staying a night at least.

2) Himeji castle. THE classic japanese castle, although Osaka castle is pretty good too. Do it on the way to Hiroshima. The castle tour takes about 2-2.5 hours.

3) Hiroshima - get your okonomiyaki here as well as visit the bomb museum. Suggestion do not eat before going to the bomb museum or plan to eat soon afterwards. Also visit Miyajima nearby

4) Beppu hot springs

5) Kanazawa. Lots of interesting Samurai-era stuff and the Kenrokuen garden which allegedly one of the 3 best in Japan

6) Take the Yamanaka shinkansen and see a singletrack with passing places bullet train :) and stay at Ginzan onsen (hot spring). A great place to switch off and enjoy doing nothing. If you don't stay in Ginzan I do recommend finding an onsen sometime on your trip and in my opinion the ones out in the sticks like Ginzan are better than the ones in the cities.

7) Also up in the north try Hiraizumi for some beautiful old temples, gardens etc.

8) Maybe biased but Matsue, Izumo, Iwami Ginzan and Yunotsu is nice, but disclosure my wife comes from that area.

lots of good stuff at http://www.japan-guide.com/


Enjoy your time in Japan! I have some friends who visited there a few years ago, and they say it was amazing.

Watch out for the giant radioactive monsters, though.



Also don`t forget to try japanese beer. Highly recommended (especially Yebisu).

The weather is extremly humid & hot at the moment, so don`t plan any longer trips outside buildings with air condition.


Francis's advice is good for seeing the sights, and on those lines I'd suggest picking up a Lonely Planet/Rough guide for the plane. Picking up a few words of Japanese is considered basic politeness.

(Konnichi wa. Hajimemashite. Namae wa Cha-rii Su-tu-ro-su.)

On the practical side:

1) Eat rice every day, starting now. A sudden transition from Western potato based diet to Eastern rice based can wreak havoc on the gut bacteria.

2) Be prepared for the small portions - make up for the missing calories with the excellent beer, which are all lager based, though Kirin Ichiban is slightly heavier.

As a writer you may want to get as most culture shock in as possible. (Your partner may not). This can be tough as a pure tourist.

1) Try staying in ryokans/cheaper hotels that *don't guarantee they speak English. Eat the inclusive breakfast at 7am, consisting of rice, raw egg (ok I asked for mine cooked) and pickled mushrooms (at least I think that's what they were). Remember to shower before using the communal bath.

2) It's a group and gift giving culture - take some decent whisky with you for gifts, accept any invites from hosts or fans to go karaokeing or to parties. (ok, maybe that's redundant advice). Hang out with the Japanese wherever possible.

The weird:

1) Showing the soles of your feet is well known to be bad form, but less so is that blowing your nose in public is considered pretty rude.

2) Use a traditional public toilet. You're meant to squat over the hole. Bring your own toilet paper.

Japan is a very different place, but culturally has strong similarities to the UK - politeness and privacy are important (part of living on an overcrowded island I suppose). And there's a Starbucks and McDonalds on most every corner.

Fri 1600 Prometheus Awards Participants: Charles STROSS, Fred C. MOULTON
So the participants in the Prometheus Awards are a person from the Libertarian Futurist Scoiety, and you. Have you just let it slip that you've won a Prometheus Award?

@9: Dunno if there is a plural to Kaffeklatsch, but Kaffeeklatsche is quite obviously a device to swat coffee beans when they get too annoying. ;)

(Ok, for those who have no chance to get that joke: there is another German word "Fliegenklatsche" - fly swatter ...)

@Charlie, no offence intended. I saw it spelled the same way on boingboing, so I guessed it was just copied. It's just slightly hilarious, that's it. (In about the same way that English speakers associate an aggressive note with umlauts - which seems quite ridiculous to German speakers, as it usually has the opposite effect, e.g. Motörhead ...)


Japan is a great place to visit and you can find many offbeat places to visit. I recommend the following:

Since the con should be nearby, you could drag some other sci fi authors there!

The Sumo Museum in Tokyo.

Akihabara! This is an incredible depot of technology, otaku obsession and general geekiness.

There's a large RPG store in Shinjuku called Yellow Submarine with an english speaking club. The Japanese RPGs are pretty different than Western ones. http://www.trpg.net/en/faq/

You might want to see if you can arrange a visit to a Japanese high school and speak to the students. The school system is such an integral part of their culture that it would be rewarding to meet some of the students and see where they study for their future careers.

The Harajuku district has many cosplayers on display and is worth strolling through. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay

My favorite dining experience in Tokyo was in the Mexican restaurant Salsita. The chef trained in Mexico and the chocolate chicken is great! Good prices too and very relaxing atmosphere. http://homepage3.nifty.com/salsita/


A couple more ideas. In Yokohama, the chinatown is kind of fun in a compare and ocntrast way if you've seen American chinatowns like SF or Boston (or London for that matter)

Please DON'T go to Roppongi. Its the Torremolinos of Tokyo filled with drunk expats mostly. Personally I think Akihabara is becoming almost a spoof of itself but it is sufficiently weird to have a look. You can fit it in when you change trains to go to the Sumo museum :)

For a more interesting night life I'd recommend Shimokitazawa, although it can be croggling to simply walk around the Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya area and see what strange people are doing.


Hope you can catch a few garden tours. The whole Zen part of the culture may be one of the only thigs worth trying to understand. May you have a satori worth writing about.