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As I reported before, we went to Chicago to see Empires on Friday night, which meant we (a) didn't go to Madison on Friday and (b) were up late and slept in on Saturday. Consequently, we didn't get to WisCon until Saturday afternoon. We also skipped the slash panel, and didn't go to anything on Sunday morning. This made for a really different congoing experience for me. I didn't go to near as many panels as I have in years past, although the panels I escaped from as a percentage of those I attended was probably about the same. There were also panels where I was interested in the topic, but I severely dislike one of the panelists and refused to go to them, which means I didn't make it to any YA panels.

True Names: Would A Fan By Any Other Handle Smell As Sweet?
We didn't get to Madison until shortly before 1:00 panels were starting, and I needed real food, so I ended up coming into this panel late. I'm kind of sorry I didn't come in earlier, because what there was was interesting. Someone in the audience pointed out that fandom is not the only community where chosen names are the norm - I think her example was specifically the trans community. Someone else in the audience asked if there are always problems when you start mixing your legal name identity with your chosen/fannish/whatever name identity. [livejournal.com profile] karnythia said, "Maybe not if you're talking about something like knitting," which caused a great uproar from the knitters in the audience, and she had to change her answer to it's always a problem.

Ask A Pro
I went to this panel for a while, but it was (a) boring and (b) depressing, so I left.

Bisexual and Pansexual Characters in SF/F
I went to this panel for two reasons. First of all, I usually try to go to the sex panels. (Are you really surprised?) Secondly, Charlie Anders and Annalee Newitz were on it, and I very much like them. I got some good book recs out of this. One person from the audience, in talking about the surprise factor bisexuals can provide in a story said, "They could date anyone at any time!" Another interesting audience participant said that most bi reveals in books/media/stories are of the type where the straight person has a same-sex encounter/love story, whereas for many people, it goes the other way: they consider themselves gay/lesbian and then fall for someone of the opposite sex. I think it was the same person who also said that for many people, that experience isn't discovering something they never knew about themselves but rather that they have actually changed as people.

Part of the discussion was also about the relative acceptance of male and female bisexuality, which led Annalee to describe fanfic/slash fandom as a "giant female gaze that lives only on the internet."

Fathers and Daughters in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Does Anyone Get It Right?
I wasn't sure if this was going to be a good panel or not, and I was iffy about it because it was on the sixth floor, and sixth floor panel rooms are harder to sneak out of unnoticed. Luckily, it turned out to be really good. One audience member proposed the idea that the male trope is that the protagonist earns the father's respect/right to take his place where the female story might be dealing with loss in that your father doesn't love you the same way, which was interesting, but a lot of women in the room said that wasn't their experience with their fathers. I wonder if that's a product of the kind of people who come to WisCon and the families they come from or if that's really more of a norm.

Someone brought up Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games as an example of a book where the father is absent but his influence makes him very present in the female protagonist's life.

The most fascinating book I heard about, possibly at the whole con, is an upcoming one in which Camille Alexa, who was one of the panelists, has a story. Her story is "Gretel," a "Hansel and Gretel" retelling, and the collection is an anthology about living under the threat of being eaten, which sounds awesome.

Wish Fulfillment in Fiction
As a fan fic writer, this seemed like a great idea, and Caroline Stevermer, who I loved in panels last year, was on it. I had some reservations because I knew I wasn't particularly fond of one of the other panelists. It turns out I don't like two of the panelists, and I left pretty early on. The one interesting thing Caroline said before I left was that she wants "the wish beneath the wish" where the story takes you somewhere better than what you would have though to wish for.

Media vs. Book Fandom
This was my favorite panel all weekend. It was fascinating to watch people come in and see that they were media people. (The whole front row on one side of the room was bandom people.) I was wrong about one of the panelists who I would have picked as book fandom but is big in Doctor Who. I think he's the one who made the good point that fandom specific shorthand starts out as a way to not type so much and ends up being a barrier to entry for new people/exclusionary to outsiders.

Part of the discussion was about RaceFail 09. The first time [livejournal.com profile] norwich36 told me about it, I asked, "How much of this is about people not knowing how to use the internet?" The panel seemed to think that, aside from other faily aspects, that is a large part of what was going on. They said that fandom_wank, for whatever its other issues, has really taught media fandom how to (a) archive and (b) read online discussions, and that sci fi book fandom hasn't quite caught on to either of those aspects of online discussions.

Someone in the audience said she doesn't care about books versus other media, "I just want it all," books, movies, TV, comics, video games. One of the panelists ended by agreeing with the "I want it all" perspective. I've been thinking about this because I don't want it all, and I don't want the things I want in the same ways. I'm not a gamer. I used to read comics but don't anymore. I want to be fannish about TV shows, real people, and sometimes movies, but not about books. I might want to discuss books with people, but not to the extent that I do with TV.

The other thing I've been thinking about a lot in connection to this panel is the idea of access and cons. Someone in the audience said she didn't have the time/money to come to WisCon when she was a college student living five blocks away, but now that she lives two time zones away, she can make it. I made my usual book vs. media point about how Escapade ceased to be interesting to me in terms of panels but were still my people where WisCon has awesome panels but are not my people, and [livejournal.com profile] ladyjax (who is one of those people I could just listen to for days on end; I knew this panel was going to be good because she was on it) said bring your friends to WisCon. I don't know if media fandom is really young or if I just think of it that way because I was most active when I was in college, but I think those two things are connected. I don't know if we can ever have a con realistically representative of media fandom specifically because of the college student time/money factor. (Not to mention the way that most cons I know about take place during the school year.)

Someone else on the panel talked about having a conversation with someone who asked, "Is WisCon getting older?" and she said, "You're just going to the wrong panels." M and I were talking about this later, and she said she thinks there's a real separation at WisCon between consumers, who are there to talk about books/media/whatever, and producers, who are there for the how to write aspects.

Not Enough Tricksters
This panel sounded interesting, and Charlie Anders was supposed to be on it. I stuck it out for a short while, but only the moderator and one of the other panelists who I didn't find interesting had shown up, so I left. The panelist did have an interesting point to make that we usually think of Odysseus as the trickster, but Penelope is also a trickster character.

The Food Report
As usual, we had excellent food all weekend. We ended up eating at the Nepali place and the Himalayan place on the same day, which made for an interesting contrast in two different bowls of dal (verdict: both yummy). I also tried green jackfruit, which the menu said is a common meat substitute. It tasted a lot like something you would use to replace meat and soak up the flavor of everything else. That's not to say it was bad, just not anything spectacular. We also went to Mother Fool's Coffehouse for soup on our way out of town. They post their soups to Twitter every day. They also had vegan hot chocolate, which was okay, but not quite as creamy as I like my hot chocolate.

Next Year
I told my Escapade/WisCon comparison to [livejournal.com profile] schuyler and [livejournal.com profile] eleanor_lavish on Friday night, and they told me I should come to CON.TXT next year because it would be both good panels and my people (plus them!), so that's what M and I are tentatively planning on doing for Memorial Day weekend 2010.
rsadelle: (Default)
Pre-Show )

The Show )

Post-Show )

We have now safely arrived at WisCon. M's not feeling well and skipping out on the slash panel to lie in bed, and I'm feeling settled in and more inclined to write, so I'm skipping it too. I'll have to read reports later.
rsadelle: (Default)
You may remember that last year I did not write a con report. Here's how I'm managing it this year: it's Sunday night as I type most of this, and Molly has abandoned me for the Panic concert in Milwaukee but left her laptop in our hotel room. I came back from the GoH speeches, and I wasn't quite ready to sleep, but I didn't want to watch TV or read or work on my novel, so I thought I would sit down and work on a con report. They're always best when done fresh. (I'm also learning that a laptop wouldn't work for me. Typing on this is nowhere near as comfortable as typing on my ergonomic keyboard at home. I think I will stop fantasy laptop shopping and just carry around a notebook for all of my portable writing needs.)

Panels I Went To

Balancing Creativity and the Day Job
This was a really good, interesting panel. Part of what made it great was the people on it: Jennifer Pelland (my concrush from last year; also a slash writer, but I didn't see her again after I determined to ask her her fannish name), Jordan Castillo Price (I'm totally buying at least her first book now [I actually picked up a postcard or bookmark or something about it last year]), Caroline Stevermer (I found her more interesting as a general panelist this year than as a reader last year), Vandana Singh (never heard of her, but I liked her so I might look for her stories), and Catherine Lundoff (I remember her from the paranormal romance panel from last year). Jordan said that low-attention exercise is a good way to work stories out in your head. She also talked about having the awkward conversation when people find out you're a writer. (In her case, they ask what she writes, who her publisher is, etc.) She writes what's essentially professional slash (Do you know how much of that is out there? We must be quite the market.), so she really doesn't want to have those conversations. I think that's part of why I'm so uncomfortable talking about my writing. I don't want to have to tell people about that. (On the other hand, it might be something else; I find I'm even uncomfortable talking about my writing with my writing group.) Caroline Stevermer said that both her writing life and her day job life fit better once she was open about being a writer. She also recommends cultivating friendships with people who used to work in the health insurance industry, because they can help you figure out what to do about health insurance if you decide to change the day job part of your life. Jordan suggested looking at your personnel manual to see if you have the option of a sabbatical, and Jennifer said she got a huge amount of writing done during the three months she was on severance. There was also talk about families being supportive or not, and Jennifer said that her husband is hugely supportive but doesn't really like most of what she writes.

Here's Where the Story Ends
This was a good panel that I have no notes about. Lyda Morehouse and Maureen McHugh were both on this panel. I thought it was interesting to hear Lyda talk about having trouble with endings. As you may remember, when I was going through my books, I put a bunch of them in a section I called "to read and decide." I put Lyda's AngeLINK books on that shelf. When I went to read them, I realized I didn't want to read the whole series; I only wanted to read the very end of the last book, which I consider to be a fabulous ending.

'Out and Proud' Or 'Not In Front of the Children'
This was good enough for me to stay through the whole thing, but now I can't think of any particular reason why. Maybe just because it was a BDSM panel, and I thought that was interesting.

Fanfic and Slash 201
This was an awesome panel. It was a little late (9-10:15), so we weren't sure we were going to make it all the way through, but it ended up being a lot of fun. The only person on the panel I'd ever heard of was Cecilia Tan, and she writes slash under a fairly obvious pseudonym. I did write down lots of things to read if I can find them (some of them will be easier than others): Cecilia Tan's fic (I tried today, and I think I may have read the beginning of one of her longer things before and disliked it), the BDSM Care Bears fic (on yuletide, I think), "Stealing Harry" by (I think) sam_storyteller, some Mulder/Krycek where Krycek is assigned to work with a profiler (Fox) who will help him learn how to get closer to Agent Sam Mulder, and the Puppet Angel/Miss Piggy. Let me also note that putting this panel up against LGBTQ Fiction: Are we ready for the Mainstream? Are they ready for us? was maybe not the best decision. (At least this was after Slash 101; the Trans 201 panel was before the 101 panel.)

Transgender Folks Discuss Transgender Books
The trans panel was so awesome last year; this year somewhat less so. It was still interesting, and I do have a long list of things to read (there was lots of praise for Whipping Girl), but it just wasn't quite as good.

Workshops and Critique Groups
This was a very good panel about exactly what it implies. There was a lot of talk about Clarion, which was kind of a little much, but they did throw it open to questions. Someone asked about what makes a good critique, which was very interesting. Naomi Kritzer's group follows the format of: first impressions, strengths, weaknesses, final thoughts. She also talked about the focus for the person being critiqued needs to be on listening. Her group had at one time a "gag rule" for the person whose writing was being critiqued that they couldn't say anything unless in response to a direct question or to correct an obvious misconception (a typo of "read" instead of "dead" that changes the whole meaning, for example) until after they'd heard everyone's critique, and that one of the helpful ways to then respond is to say, "What I was trying to do was... Now, do you have any ideas for how to do that?" She also made the point that as the person giving feedback, we should focus on being helpful, not witty, which is a good reminder, because I'm certainly guilty of saying things in a certain way with the express purpose of being witty. Someone else asked about when it's time to quit a writing group, and the panelists came up with a number of criteria, and Shweta Narayan suggested that another solution is to split the group into two. I asked about staying on topic, and the main suggestion was to carve out separate times for chit-chat - let people arrive earlier for that or stay late or take a break in the middle of the group.

How You Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm?
This was a fascinating panel about farming, and what writers get wrong about farming and rural life. One of the panelists (Madeleine Reardon Dimond) currently farms, one panelist (Caroline Stevermer) grew up on a farm and escaped as soon as possible, and one panelist (Alex Bledsoe) grew up around a whole bunch of his extended family's farms and worked on those farms while growing up. Interesting points: on a farm, there are distinct rhythms of the day and of the year, animals on a farm have to do something, and anyone who comes to a farm the first time has to immediately prove that they can do something useful. Alex said that there are some places that always feel uncomfortable because "that kid" he used to be would be uncomfortable there. Madeleine said that when she goes "home," people look at her and know whose child she is, and that she then immediately knows her place in the world. This is the other strong point that came out of this panel: in this kind of community, not only does everyone know everyone else, but everyone knows each other's history back generations.

Classic Progressive Books for Children
This was an interesting panel about progressive books for children (obviously). People mentioned all kinds of things I'd never heard of, so I have a little list of books to look up. It also reminded me how lucky I am to have had the parents I have. Many people in the panel talked about not having progressive books when they were kids and having to find things that were "stealth progressive." My mother made sure I had things like the Stories for Free Children from Ms., My Mother the Mail Carrier/Mi mama la cartera, and A Chair for My Mother that had progressive themes.

Panels I Escaped From

Porn Crushes the Patriarchy!
This was somewhat interesting, largely for the rundown of romance imprints publishing more hardcore writing. (Also, I'd never heard of Ellora's Cave, but everyone else seemed to have.) But Mary Anne Mohanraj kept trying to get people to talk about the political implications, and I just didn't find that very interesting, and I don't think it was where anyone else on the panel was going, so I left.

Fat Is Not the Enemy
I had to leave this panel because I couldn't handle the unremarked-upon irony that the fat acceptance panel could only talk about food, and I didn't feel comfortable saying anything about that. (There were women in there who were skinnier than me, but I still felt like I would have to justify myself and prove my fat girl credentials to participate.)

Writing Working-Class Characters
I was not the only one bored by the beginning of the panel. I wasn't quite willing to stick it out once one of the panelists said, "We need to talk about SF now, not just the definition of 'working-class.'"

Pansexuality and Polyamory: The New Face of Romance in Fiction?
I was interested, but the panel was contentious in a way I didn't like, so I escaped. I don't know if these came up, but two examples of poly relationships I can think of in universes I loved: 1. In Catherine Asaro's Skolian Saga, Althor, Coop, and Vaz are all in a relationship together (I can't remember what the legal/social binding aspect of it is). They also have a child together (now that I think about that, I find that extra interesting because I can't imagine Vaz pregnant). Interestingly, although they appear as side characters in the books, there isn't one book that's specifically about them. The one story that does tell their story is published in Sextopia, an erotica collection (edited, incidentally, by Cecilia Tan). I actually bought Sextopia specifically for this story because I know that Catherine Asaro can write a damn good sex scene. 2. Grasp the Stars by Jennifer Wingert doesn't quite have a poly ending, and it's very disappointing that the characters make the choices they make and only two of them end up together.

Panel I Might Have Escaped From

Not Enough Octopusses
Molly and I went to this largely (at least in my case) because we liked the title, but it was less interesting than it might have been. I can't remember if we stuck out the whole thing or not.

Other Things

The Gathering
I got a wonderful ten-minute massage from a CMT who's local to here (I think) and a henna tattoo from Betsy James that faded quickly (she used henna pens, which even she had never heard of before) and we enjoyed watching the people learning to do some social dancing while we waited in line for henna tattoos. Not to mention the always enjoyable Odd Con Cow Tipping.

Tiptree Bake Sale
This is an awesome idea. There are a bunch of things, and they make up small plates of mixtures of things that sell for a dollar a plate. I had a chocolate-themed plate that had an excellent chocolate chip cookie and some other chocolatey things. I went back upon escaping the fat acceptance panel for a piece of raspberry pie accompanied by a raspberry white chocolate cookie.

Dessert Salon
This year I did the sensible thing and didn't get in line until later, so I didn't have to wait forever. I had a very yummy cheesecake with cherry sauce and a slice of the flourless chocolate decadence cake with raspberry coulis. I also sat and chatted about southern small-town football with [livejournal.com profile] hederahelix.

Guest of Honor Speeches
I stayed for the GoH speeches because I really like Maureen McHugh's writing. (Every time I think that this weekend, I think it's maybe not right. I love China Mountain Zhang. I remember liking Half the Day is Night when I first read it, but I tried to reread it not that long ago and couldn't make it very far into it. I read Mission Child on the plane here and thought it was okay but not great. I don't remember Nekropolis at all. I've read a couple of her short stories and liked them. [I'm hesitant to buy her new book of short stories because (a) I'm limiting myself to a book budget and (b) I think I've read a fair number of them by buying old issues of Asimov's for 25ยข at the library book sale.]) The other GoH, L. Timmel Duchamp, is not anyone I've ever heard of, and I wasn't particularly interested in her speech. Maureen McHugh's speech was about alternate reality games, which I'm not that interested in, but she's a good storyteller, and she framed it as how Minority Report would be as an ARG as opposed to how it is as a piece of prose and as a movie. I also thought it was interesting that she said some of the same things in her speech that she said at the endings panel, which made me wonder if she'd written her speech so they were already on her mind or if she worked them into the speech after saying them at the panel. My favorite two bits from her were: "We only consider it a success if there's at least one marriage" (about ARGs creating community) and "Next time you see a billboard with something completely incomprehensible on it, think of me" (her closing). I thought it was interesting that she talks about the community building aspect of it. On the one hand, that seems like a good thing. On the other hand, I wonder about issues of manufactured communities and what it means when your community exists for the specific purpose of playing out someone else's money-making/advertising venture.

Walk Back to the Hotel
There was a severe storm warning in Madison on Sunday night. By the time the GoH speeches were over, it was windy and raining and there were occasional bursts of spectacular lightning. Walking the two blocks back to our hotel in this stormy night by myself in a city so far from home was kind of scary, but it was also exhilarating to walk against the wind.
rsadelle: (Default)
WisCon was weeks ago, and I've been putting off writing a con report. I actually wrote a paragraph or so of one, and then left it for weeks. I don't know why I'm resistant to it, but I am. Today's a catch-up sort of day, so I thought I should say something about it.

General Thought
At Escapade, I always look around and think, "This is my community." WisCon was not my community, but I loved the panels way more than panels at Escapade. It made for an interesting experience.

No Specific Thoughts
I'm apparently not going to type up my panel notes, at least not yet. Below is a list of panels and other things I attended; if you want some more information about any of them, just comment.
  • The Gathering
  • Lifestyles of the Rich and Supernatural
  • Voices from the West (readings)
  • SM in Feminist Science Fiction
  • The Ten-Foot Shelf of Perdition: Books to Avoid
  • Putting the "D" in InterDisciplinary
  • Transsexuality as Trope
  • Love, Marriage, and Feminist Pair-Bonding
  • Dessert Salon
  • Guest of Honor Speeches
  • What If You Don't Want to Have Children?
Next year, I may just have to follow [livejournal.com profile] ashnistrike and her partner around; I found that I really liked all the panels that both they and I were in. I also discovered one panelist who I will avoid at all costs.

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Ruth Sadelle Alderson

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