Thursday, May 27, 2010

Moderating Marcon

Tomorrow marks the start of Marcon, Ohio's biggest scifi/fantasy convention, and I'm participating in three panels:

Is it fantasy if there is no magic?
Writing Groups
Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism: Fact vs. Fiction

I'm moderating the first two panels. This will be my first time as a moderator, so we'll see how it goes. I have some material prepared in case discussion stops, but I don't want to overwhelm any sessions.

Does anyone have any great ideas for questions I should bring up? Any favorite fantasy books that contain no magic? Anyone in a writing group who has some experiences to share?


Friday, May 7, 2010

What if the arc reactor were open source?

Disclaimer: I am not a software developer or Marvel geek. As such, I will probably make errors in regard to both points (please correct me in the comments if you have knowledge in either area). I’m simply a curious person who just saw Iron Man 2.

Possible spoiler alert: Some of the points in this post refer to events in the movie Iron Man 2; however, nothing revealed here happens after the twenty minute mark. It’s all part of the major plot setup.


In the opening scenes of Iron Man 2, the U.S. government demands that Tony Stark turn over the Iron Man arc reactor technology. Stark refuses. Unbeknownst to him, the son of his father’s collaborator also possesses the technical knowledge to create an arc reactor. The son, Ivan Vanko, goes on to create his own version of the Iron Man suit. This leads to ninety minutes of bad-ass explosions.

But what if Tony Stark had not reacted by maintaining ownership of his proprietary knowledge? For one thing, come on: it’s the U.S. military. You know they’re going to get their hands on whatever technology they want if they have to step over your still-bleeding corpse to get it. So let’s say Tony Stark foresees the inevitable and grants the government access to his work, but with a catch: everybody else gets it, too.

Would the enthusiasm for open source tech extend to potential weapons? What would be some outcomes of such a liberal-minded approach?

    Ivan Vanko couldn’t surprise Tony Stark with his whippy-suit get-up, because everyone else would have one, too. That includes the countries who made failed attempts at reproducing the technology, as seen in the videos at Tony Stark’s hearing. And they could certainly afford it. If the seemingly-poverty-stricken Vanko could scrape together enough cash to construct a suit on par with Stark’s, North Korea could pony up for at least four or five. Would this lead to world destruction, or simply way cooler wars?

    The arc reactor could be used for non-weapon/costume purposes. Seriously, why are folks in Tony Stark’s world still driving cars powered by gas? Power plants likewise could be freed from dependence on fossil fuels. The limiting factor would seem to be the components required to construct the arc reactor.

These are just some random thoughts. What do all of you think? What would a world with open source arc reactors look like?