The World Science Fiction Convention took place last week in Denver. The concom (convention committee) did a beautiful job. Everything was smoothly handled, well-organized, thoroughly planned. Unfortunately, attendance was a little lean, probably because it's expensive to get to Denver, and we're all feeling the economic pinch these days.
I sat on several panels, and one in particular was a pleasure. I always dread panels which deal with religion or politics, because the temptation for both panelists and audience members to proselytize or demonize seems irresistible. This time, though, our moderator set an example I wish all moderators would follow!
The title of the panel was "Choosing Religion as a Setting for a Novel". Evan Friedman had proposed it, and he moderated it. He really moderated it. He had prepared a list of questions, and he stood to one side, at the podium, managing his authors and his audience. He asked the questions, but he didn't try to answer them himself. He had no agenda of his own other than the exploration of the topic, and he kept a kindly but firm hand on the whole discussion. At the slightest sign of "topic drift", he gently resumed control. Everyone in the room was delighted with him, and told him so.
Go thou and do likewise, my children. This kind of panel speaks well for the readers and writers in our genre.