Recap Post 2…FIRE!
…Remember how, about a month ago, I freaked the hell out because I was on panels at WisCon? Well, I made it. I am still breathing, and shit went pretty well.
* * *
WisCon is the world’s leading feminist sci-fi and fantasy convention. It is a writers’ con, but you don’t have to be associated with the publishing world to attend. Every year, I meet plenty of librarians or booklovers who go because they like how it challenges their thinking and expands their to-read lists.
I’ve gone for the past five years. Each year my brain gets bigger because of it.
I’ve always read fiction at WisCon, but never spoke professionally on panels…until this year.
It’s like I’m a real writer.
People actually paid attention to the things coming out of my mouth.
It was…terrifying…and invigorating.
I spoke on three panels and had one reading. Easiest way to get this done is to list out what I attended. So BOOM! That’s how it’s getting done.
This was my first panel. We talked about women who went to extremes to get shit done throughout history. The women I mentioned were:
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: the godmother of rock and roll who inspired Chuck Berry
Ada and Minna Everleigh: who owned the most luxurious, employee-friendly brothel in Chicago history
Hazel Ying Lee: the first Chinese American woman to fly for the U.S. Air Force
Nellie Bly: investigative reporter who went around the world in 72 days in 1888
Totally loved my other panelists. It was a great conversation that taught me about awesome women like Khutulun (the Monogolian, wrestling princess) and Ching Shih (a pirate queen of the 19th century that bent an emperor to her will).
4:00 – 5:15: Damsels of Color
Michelle Kendall, Andrea D. Hairston, De Ana Jones, Mary Anne Mohanraj
Oh man, oh man, Oh MAN! Shira Lipkin killed it. I read an early chapter from my novel, There Is No Lovely End. Lisa Bradley read from an unreleased novel that is an updated Mad Max tale with a female lead. Gwynne Garfinkle read poetry revolving around classic horror characters…and I can’t wait till it’s a collection. I will buy the shit out of that book. It was an AWESOME reading.
8:30 – 9:45: The Role of POC in Urban Fantasy
Jackie Gross, Victoria Janssen, Mia Coleman, Daniel José Older
C.S.E. told me, “YOU MUST READ DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER!” And I was like, eh, I will get to him eventually. She glowed about his short story collection, Salsa Nocturna. I put it on my stack…but that stack is so big, right? And now I’m like POW! I must read Daniel José Older. Dude’s brilliant and he happened to be on about a thousand panels I wanted to see.
This panel asked “How urban can fantasy be when it centers on white/white-passing leads with POC who appear largely as plot devices or servants to white leads?” It talked about erasure of POC from settings that are supposed to be highly diverse. Badass.
10:00 – 11:15: Cultural Appropriation: Non-western Viewpoints
Kat Tanaka Okopnik, Jaymee Goh, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Daniel José Older, Diantha Sprouse
This was an excellent panel dissecting power and oppression. It was an intense, occasionally humorous global perspective of Western culture as a colonizing influence.
***Seriously, Mary Anne Mohanraj and Daniel José Older…they are both in my next 10 books pile. For reals.
Side note: If I had to narrow down my book pile into the 10 I really want to read NOW…It would be:
- Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older
- Salsa Nocturna by Daniel José Older
- The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj
- Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea D. Hairston
- Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
- The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine
- Black by Design: A 2-Tone Memoir by Pauline Black
- Graceland by Chris Abani
- The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
- The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt by David Giffels
1:00 – 2:15: Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, the Panel
Lisa Bolekaja, S. Lynn, Sunny Moraine, Daniel José Older
…I feel as if there were more panelists than the official program book states. Apologies to those not listed.
Do you get the pattern yet? Anything to do with Daniel José Older is going to be rad. He and Rose Fox were the editors of Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. Those on the panel spoke about their pieces in Long Hidden and what it meant to dig up stories from untold points of view.
I need to buy this book. While at the panel I heard about everything from a menstruation brothel story to Medusa’s untold tale. I WANT THIS BOOK!
2:30 – 3:45: Cities-in-Progress: A Reading
David Edison, Ellen Kushner, Daniel Jose Older, Caroline Stevermer
All of these authors. I want to read more of ALL OF THESE AUTHORS.
4:00 – 5:15: Welcome to Night Vale: The Panel
Juliana, Megan, Ty Blauersouth, Joanna Lowenstein, and ME!
My second panel! And I survived. Everyone was fabulous. We talked about diversity in Night Vale, the intense fan community surrounding Night Vale, and the horror tropes used or subverted within the show. Booyah.
8:30 – 9:45: Beyond Christianity: Rituals and Religions in Speculative Fiction
Jonna Gjevre, Alex Bledsoe, Holly McDowell, Corkey Sinks
There is not much that can get me out of bed for an 8:30 a.m. panel. I mean, it’s gotta be great folks…and Holly McDowell and Alex Bledsoe got me out of bed. If you haven’t read either of them, GET ON IT!
10:00 – 11:15: Outrageous Women of the 19th Century
Cynthia Gonsalves, Beverly Friend, James P. Roberts, Georgie L. Schnobrish, and ME!
This panel was more presentation than conversation. The other panelists had known each other for many years and had been working their way through badass women by centuries.
I spoke at length abt Nellie Bly, Ma Rainey (Born in 1886…so she lived the first 14 years of her life in the 19th century before becoming the mother of the blues), and Nana Asma’u (princess, poet, teacher, and political advisor in 19th century Africa).
1:00 – 2:15: Panel Part 1: Ghost Dances on the Silver Screens: Pumzi and Older Than America
Panel Part 2: A Magical Experiment: adapting The Fifth Sacred Thing to film.
Andrea D. Hairston and Joan Haran
Each woman gave a presentation on an academic paper they’d been working on. Hairston covered ghosts as sacred/demonic tricksters providing alternate perspectives on the here and now and the future. Haran spoke about the ecotopian novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing, and the current attempt to adapt it as a major motion picture.
…I really, really need to read everything ever by Andrea Hairston.
2:30 – 3:45: A Manifesto for Feminist Science (Fiction) Studies
Joan Haran, Andrea Hairston, Rebecca Holden, Sherryl Vint, Lisa Yaszek
I am not as brilliant as I would like to be, but the best way to improve yourself is to surround yourself with those you admire. Holy f. This panel knew a lot of shit about stuff. Like how I put that? I am at like a fifth grade level compared to the cognitive abilities of this panel. They dissected the inspiration, import, and future effect of scholar Donna Haraway, with particular reference to her most famous essay, “The Cyborg Manifesto.”
Yep, Haraway is now on my to-read list, but I hear she can be dry as hell. We’ll see….
4:00 – 5:15: Darkness, Light, Music: A Reading
Will Alexander, Haddayr Copley-Woods, Mark Rich, Mary Rickert
YEAH! Super phenomenal. Will Alexander especially. That dude, he is about the nicest guy you are gonna find at the con. He wrote a story about a husband/wife scientist team and the doom of the world that got me a half breath from bursting the waterworks.
8:30 – 9:45 Guest of Honor Speeches & Tiptree Award Ceremony
Epic speech. You can read it here.
INTENSE! AWESOME! MEGA MUST-READ, BADASS speech. You can read it here.
Winner of the James Tiptree Award: N.A. Sulway for Rupetta
And then, I went to a few con parties. There was a dance off at a party called The Floomp!…and I WON! I have no idea how, but I did. My prize: a broken, light-up tiara.
Hell yeah for rad, weirdo, hotel dance offs that make you not feel so bad about that first round tap out at the park district dance in 3rd grade.
* * *
And that’s it folks. That was WisCon. I didn’t get so nervous I threw up on other panelists and had a bang-up good time.
You should go next year and say hi to me.