Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sunday, Wiscon 33, Part 2

Sunday May 24th, 2009, continued

"Media vs. Book Fandom"
Ariel Franklin-Hudson (m), Constance Callahan, Sigrid J. Ellis, Jacqueline A. Gross, Michael D. Thomas

The description read: "Do you know what Paul Gross arms are? Has anything ever harshed your squee? How do SF/F print and media fandoms get along? Is there a generational difference? Gender differences? Race differences? Vocabulary differences? Do people tend to participate in both, or only one or the other? What does each fandom think of the other? Where do comics fans fit in? And what about those crazy bandom people?"

I wasn't sure what to expect, but even then, it wasn't what I expected. That said, I found it incredibly interesting. I was particularly interested in how print and media fandoms get along, and what I learned is that they're not exclusionary; most agreed they were both. (I wonder if they'd say that at a media con; I expect print fandom to also watch media, but I'm not sure it works the other way around.)

One thing that struck me while listening to it is that many of the "classic" SF/F/H that I hear about at cons, which are often before my time, are *WAY* before the time of the younger fan. Is it still relevant to them? Is my feminist protagonist not believable to them because they didn't face the battles she did? Is it like me reading an novel from the twenties or something?

After the panels and dinner, there were parties, parties, parties. The Belly Dancing Party (Woodrow "asim" Hill, Jenn Pelland) was experiential, which was fun. I joined in for a little bit of circle dancing, preferring to sit out the belly dancing. The Fancy Dress Party just meant that there were a lot of people in the party room wearing fancy dress and looking terribly overheated (some outfits were steampunk and layered), but it was beautiful to look at. I wandered from room to room, talking occasionally, but mostly having a good time wandering from room to room. For one thing, the breeze from walking kept me cooler ;-)

I went to bed at a decent hour, not wanting to be out of it for the panel I would be leading early the next morning.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Sunday, Wiscon 33, Part 1

Sunday May 24th, 2009 - Part 1

Did I really miss all the morning panels? Yes, and it wasn't because I slept late. I'm a member of Broad Universe and one of the things we do at many conventions is to have a dealer's table. We sell books by members, talk about the purpose of the organization, but also serve as a useful stopping point for other Broad Universe members. It's always nice sitting there behind the books, reading the names of the members who stop by to say hello. Broad Universe is an international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Some of the members who stop by are writers, educators, and publishers, but some are just curious readers.

So, on Sunday morning I spent some time volunteering at the table, then took off and had some lunch before hitting the panels.

"The Care and Feeding of Your Vampire"
Fred Schepartz (m), Alex Bledsoe, Suzy Charnas, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Jordan Castillo Price

Being a huge vampire fan, I was really eager to attend this one. The moderator was Fred Schepartz, author of Vampire Cabbie (set in Madison, no less!). Panelists included Alex Bledsoe (author of Blood Groove), Suzy Charnas (author of the highly regarded The Vampire Tapestries), Alaya Dawn Johnson (author of a forthcoming 1920s vampire novel), and Jordan Castillo Price (author of the PsyCop novels). [An editorial note here: All of these authors have other wrting credits, but I noted only the vampire ones because that's what the panel is about.]

I really liked this panel, maybe because it's the type of thing I'm trying to do with my podcast*: That is, to ask other writers about their vampires and vampire universes, what inspired them, and why they made the choices they did. Most of the time I just sat there enthralled (pun!), but I did manage to scratch out a few notes.

When Suzy Charnas wrote The Vampire Tapestries (published 1980/81), she was writing it against the erotic undertone in most vampire stories (I think this might have been around the time of Anne Rice -- I keep forgetting when Rice's books became popular, even though that subject came up in a recent podcast!) Her vampire Wayland is not actually human, but a different species. He has learned to act like humans to survive. Since then she's written other vamps, including comic vamps.

Fred Schepartz's vampire is 1000 years old and [relatively recently] lost all his money in a stock market crash, so now he's driving cab in Madison to earn a living. (Don't ya love it?)

Alex Bledsoe's vampire was staked in Wales in 1915, but is freed in Memphis. Was woken in the 70s.

Alaya Dawn Johnson's novel is really "an immigrant novel." (I think Stoker's was, too, wasn't it? Or at least the fear of "other" was a metaphor for the fear of foreigners, right?)

They talked about whether their vamps could change into things (like mist -- Fred's can), how the sun affects them (Alex's can go out in sunlight), and much more. I really enjoyed this panel.

*My vampire podcast is Vampires, Witches, and Geeks

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Saturday, WisCon 33

Saturday May 23rd, 2009

Sat in for a few minutes on the "So You Want to be Published" panel. Always good to keep abreast of trends. Wait. Didn't I blog this already? I'm sure I did. Ah, yes, I did! I am *not* losing it! I blogged it on LiveJournal before I made the decision to blog everything on Blogspot and point there. Oh, well. I'll copy it in here so that I have everything in one place.

"So You Want to be Published"
Liz L. Gorinsky (m), Lori Devoti, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Jordan Castillo Price

Attended two panels in the morning, one on getting published, the other on Book View Cafe. Yes, just about every con I attend has a panel on being published, but it's interesting to hear different viewpoints and to keep an eye on industry changes. Besides, occasionally you hear something phrased just a little differently that makes a point so much more poignant. For example, we all know that a cover letter for a submission should be professional, interesting, and without grammatical error because it represents you and your writing ability. One panelist, though, phrased it in a way that really drives home how important it is. She said, "It sets up an expectation in the editor's mind." In other words, if your cover letter is only mediocre, but the editor decides to read a page of your submission anyway, the editor starts reading with the bias that the writing is probably going to be mediocre, too.

"Book View Cafe: A New Venture in Online Publishing"
Nancy Jane Moore (m), Sylvia Kelso, Madeleine Robins, Jennifer K. Stevenson

Very interesting project by some very talented women. I'll let the site speak for itself: I registered while attending the panel. (Don't you just love free WiFi?)

Speaking of talented women, I met Catherine Lundoff, who I had interviewed for Vampires, Witches, and Geeks. She and her partner are absolutely wonderful (darn, I forgot to congratulate them in person on their upcoming nuptuals) , of course (I expected no less). One of their friends, S. N. Arly, is going to be on the panel I'm moderating on Monday morning and it was nice to meet her ahead of time.

Took a turn at the Broad Universe table, where I met author Larrissa Niec, who was also volunteering at the table. We had a lot of people stopping by between panels. WisCon has this wonderful schedule where there's usually a 15-minute break between panels. It gives you time to go to the toilet or make a quick stop at a vendor or information table.

"Treatment of Aging in Science Fiction"
Eleanor A. Arnason (m), Gerri Balter, Richard J. Chwedyk, Magenta Griffith, Diana Sherman

This was an thought-provoking one. Many of the characters in SF are young, robust. What roles do older people play in SF and Fantasy? Author Eleanor Arnason suggested we should start writing older characters and show them with the signs of aging (like arthritis).

"Witches and Wizards: Gender and Power in Portrayals of Magic"
Sarah G. Micklem (m), Gerri Balter, Melodie Bolt, Beverly Friend, Victoria Janssen

Interesting examination of how the two are portrayed differently in fiction. Beverly Friend had a great handout which reminded me of the old feminist flyers of the 70s that compared how women are perceived differently from men when doing the same action. (Example: A woman instructs an employee to do something. She's bossy. A man does the same thing. He's a leader. Or something like that.)

Here's an example from Friend's handout: Witch: usually old and ugly (wart on nose, stooped). Wizard: Usually old and imposing (tall, erect, bearded). Witch: Robe often shabby or torn. Wizard: Robe often regal and embroidered.

After that panel ended, I visited the party floor and flitted from room to room, sometimes seeing people I knew and other times striking up conversations with panelists who had impressed me or absolute strangers. I felt more at ease than I did last year, my first year at the convention. WisCon has a panel for first-time attendees, but I missed it both years. Maybe next year I can make it ;-)

Edited on 6/4/09 to add panelist names.