Wiscon 37: Friday May 24, 2013

silver pin by Barb MoermondI got up late, went lunch-hunting and after wandering around State St for a while, came back and ate at the hotel. Then on to The Gathering. This event is one of the things I love about Wiscon, and a lovely place to hang out and talk. I met Delia Sherman, who was surrounded by students from various Clarions she’d taught at, and she talked a bit about her new projects (which sound great!)  Also met quite a few other people, waved at Kater who was busy giving Tarot readings, dropped off clothes for the Clothing Exchange, picked up too many books at the Galley Ho table, and bought a lovely little silver pin at the Auction preview table. (It’s by Barb Moermond, who will also have things in the Art Show.[Edited to Add: Maybe? No, in the Dealers Room])  Then I swung by the Dealer Room, just to get a little taste of what they have there. It’s neat – books and jewelry and wooden jigsaw puzzles… I will spend more time (and I guess, money!) there tomorrow.

The first panel I attended was “Stop Killing All the Minority Characters!” (Na’amun Tilahun, Lisa Bradley, Lauren K. Moody, Nisi Shawl) It was held in a relatively small room – and we soon ran out of chairs, standing room, and aisle space. The problem is that minority characters are too often killed off  – either dying heroically as “redshirts” or tragically to traumatize the main character. The discussion focused a lot on TV, which I don’t watch; but the same problems exist in movies and in books. We debated whether it was because the minority characters are usually also secondary characters, not the protags; or whether it was because they are sometimes inherently tragic figures. We also discussed characters with disability, and how they’re often miraculously cured before the action starts, as though they can’t be useful without such a cure. People also mentioned some series that do it well; again, it was mostly TV and I hope someone got good notes! What I recall is one panelist saying that Seanan McGuire’s books get better and better in this regard. The early books are a little problematic, but the later ones are awesome. Great panel, and I think I learned a lot.

After that, I went for the People of Color dinner, which was great company, as always.  Then on to the Opening Ceremony, where I hung out with Julie Andrews. Later, I swung by the parties but gave up because they were so well-attended I couldn’t hear anyone speak – it was just too loud. Happy loud, but loud.

I went for the “I’m not Your Metaphor” panel (Ian Hagemann, Jesse the K, Josh Lukin,  Kate Nepveu) – about whether or not it’s okay to use other oppressed groups as metaphors. The one we see most today is about Gay Marriage and whether it’s analogous to “miscegenation.”  Compared with the passion of the “Stop Killing…” panel, this was very intellectual. We discussed why such metaphors are used, and why some people might consider them appropriation. I’m not sure we reached a conclusion exactly, except that it might well make sense to use such metaphors to convey an unfamiliar concept to mainstream audiences. It does get the message across.

Met Kater Cheek’s daughter, who was looking for other teens – but the Teen Programming room was closed and nothing seemed to be happening there. She decided to go elsewhere. Kater stopped by later, but we gave up on hanging out at a party because of the noise. I did get to talk to Eileen Gunn, who’s working on a novel about Mark Twain, and to Catherine Schaff-Stump, who’s recently written a short story about him…

I hadn’t planned to go to any more panels, but Julie Andrews and I landed up at “The Female Soldier in SF and Fantasy.” It was really good. Since it started at  midnight, it was not overcrowded, and there was more audience involvement. We talked about soldiers vs warriors, about female soldiers in fantasy (not much) and in science fiction (a lot more), about a fully integrated army, which was a sci-fi concept. We considered differences – strength, sexuality, and contraception – as issues for female soldiers. Various books were mentioned; I lost track because I wasn’t taking notes.

I went back to the ConSuite for a while, then called it a day.

(I don’t have pics because Wiscon’s policy is to always ask permission – good policy, but I end up not taking pictures.)

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