Her keynote address compared ways in which SF has envisioned modification of the human brain, from Asimov's "The Last Question" (which I recently mentioned in andrewwyld's LJ) to Gibson's Johnny Mnemonic. Just before she brought the house down with a reading of her excellent short story "My Mother, Dancing" (which has to date appeared only in French) from Robert Silverberg's Destination 3001, she told us about her upcoming novel from Golden Gryphon Press, Nothing Human.
Later, she compared her approach to writing (more extemporaneous, "`organic' if you are feeling kind") to that of Connie Willis (who is more of a planner cf. Julian May), then recalled the story of how Orson Scott Card crafted Ender's Game over two years, then wrote it out in one sequestered period. ("He was able to do this because, first of all, he has a terrific memory; second, he has the most understanding wife in the world - four children and he didn't come out for weeks!")
Nancy deftly deflected some heckling from an oddball "young Earth" creationist who started decrying SF and spouting rather random quotes from Genesis as he meandered into H. G. Wells and anti-cloning rhetoric.
Before she went to her reception, a student in the English department asked her for an elucidation of the moral of "Ars Longa", wherein a misguided mentor inadvertently turns Uncle Walt from the path of Gondor (tm), and about "The Flowers of Aulit Prison". To the former she replied that in her view the lesson could be summed up: "even with the best of intentions, one's best effort on behalf of someone can sometimes hurt them". If you want to know her reply about the latter, send me e-mail. His profs were standing right next to me as I laughed a little too loudly at the conversation:
Student: I just want to know if my paper was wright.
SF&F prof: Aw, c'mon!
Dr. Lyman Baker: No deconstructionist, this one. He's going right to the source!
me (thinking): Well, trask, that wouldn't have worked for me, Tolkien passed on a month afore I was born!
Student: I dknot even know wot a deconstrunctionist is.
Dr. Lyman Baker: Not knowing is half the battle.
Nancy Kress: *reckins*
I had a short conversation with Nancy about alienness and language. I mentioned C.S. Friedman's In Conquest Born and the Braxin language, which I will write about some other evening. Before I had to dash, I asked her to sign my copies of Beggars in Spain and Probability Sun. She did so most graciously and she tyoped my name "Shu"! (Knot to worry; that is a goond thing.) Oh, and she made the second one out to TEUNC, with a chuckle. I think I will make that a personal twadition. ^_^
"In other work, Gibson also described cranial implants whereby humans could plug directly into the matrix, or Internet, and become part of it, as it were. And let me tell you, after watching my son play EverQuest all afternoon, I don't find it so farfetched."
- Nancy Kress