Well, the great sorting hat that is the "Cathy-and-Taylor-Program-Director-Panel-Machine" has spoken, and those who volunteered to be on 221B Con panels are finding out just what they're going to be talking about and who they'll do it with.
Things have improved a lot since the first 221B Con and the panels that awaited us there. Did we discuss ahead of time? Did we even know who we were panelling with? The memories are fuzzy, but I remember thinking I was just horrible on the panels I was on, and not prepared for the sudden shift in Sherlockian fanning that us older Sherlockians discovered at 221B Con. Missed the sophomore year of the con, then came back in 2015 doing zero panels and just enjoying sitting and watching (Sherlock and Dinosaurs Year! Excellent!). Last year I did a single Watson's wives bit on my own, which was okay, but that "alone" part doesn't stir up much fun.
So this year, knowing full well that it means I'll miss some other panels that I will surely will wish I had watched, I applied for about seven panels and wound up on four. What four?
Fannish Estate Planning. Not a lawyer, but I've executed a fellow fan's will and experienced some of the practical parts of what happens when a fan passes on. And the e-mail discussions with my fellow panelists are already yielding some great questions. This one should be interesting even if you aren't planning on dying soon . . . and who is? Having the end in mind can help guide a fannish life in surprising ways.
ASH Panel. As I said, not a lawyer, but through the graces of better Sherlockians than I, I am an Adventuress of Sherlock Holmes. Definitely won't have as much to say on the subject as my fellow panelists, not being a very active ASH, but if agreeing with them in a deeper voice helps the cause . . . . ASH things tend to be fun in any case, so I'm betting this panel is just a good time.
Fandom Generations. Never was a panel more ripe for triumph or tragedy. The largest panel that I'll be on, covering that tender subject of the differences in fandom then, fandom now, and the fandom that lies ahead of us. Worst case scenario: "These kids today will never know the joys of smelling that mimeograph ink on a fresh fanzine! They need mimeograph training!" Best case scenario: What bonds the generations and how we can all help each other moving ahead with Sherlock Holmes, just like the denizens of Table 19! (Saw that movie this morning, loved it, just had to stick a reference in.) The fact that Sherlockiana has noticeable generational divides these days just fascinates me, and there's much meat to chew for the five panelists on this one.
Arthur Continuity Doyle. Oh, how I love the continuity problems of the original Doyle Canon -- questions that will never have definitive answers. Watson's wound. Watson's wife/wives/beard/beards. The dating of the stories. "Wisteria Lodge." Moriarty(s). Sherlock(s). Billy(s). There's no problem Doyle posed that can't be answered by a Sherlockian theorizing on the fly, and when you get a room of them together, potential secrets of the Canon start to be unlocked. If this panel doesn't spark some brand new ideas, I'll be very surprised.
Panel participation has a strange way of starting 221B Con weeks before the actual con starts, as panelists e-discuss what they'll be discussing live at the con. The fun is starting, and even though the con will get here all too soon, I'm sure, I can't wait.