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Anti-heroism Defined  - Friday 4:00 - 5:15 pm   Room 629
Victoria Janssen, Rosemary/Sophy, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Lesley Hall, Chris Hill
What is an anti-hero, and what makes a character an anti-hero? How do you know an anti-hero when you see one? Can an anti-hero become a regular garden-variety hero, and if so, how? What is the appeal of an anti-hero? Are anti-heroes more realistic than heroes, and how does this impact the audience?

Spoiler Rules         Sunday 10:00 - 11:15 am          Conference 4
Jeanne Gomoll, Evelyn Browne, Christopher Davis, Chris Hill, Tara O'Shea
Guest of Honor Debbie Notkin wrote a fascinating essay, "On Spoiling the Plot." What are your preferences for plot spoilers? Do you hate it when people give away a major plot twist? Are you equally frustrated when someone gives away even minor elements of a plot in your presence? Is there a time limit for revealing spoilers? And why do the same people who hate to have book plots spoiled for themselves eagerly view very spoiling movie previews?

What Do You Never Need to See Again?         Sun, 4:00 - 5:15 pm        Capitol B
Liz L. Gorinsky, Suzy McKee Charnas, Lesley Hall, Chris Hill, Catherine Krahe
There are scenes, events, and themes that show up frequently in science fiction and fantasy. Some have become tropes, useful for giving the reader or viewer grounding information without spending a lot of time on them. Others have become cliched and are only annoying when they pop up. What things have you seen enough to never need to see again?
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This is the first of what I hope will be many guest posts, by my beloved better half [ profile] pennski! No Gravatar

The Wiscon Chronicles: Carnival of Feminist SF vol 3.

Edited by Liz Henry

ISBN: 978-1-933500-30-0

Aqueduct Press, 2009, 250pp


A challenge for this review is to try to convey what this book covers for those who have never been to a Wiscon convention. Will it mean anything to them?

So – my questions to myself about this book are:

What worked well?

What didn’t?

How did this enhance my understanding of the Wiscon I went to?

What does this reflection add?

What new concepts have I gained?

How would this work for someone who had never been? Someone who had missed this one?

Who is the target audience and does it reach them?


First, some necessary background – Wiscon is a feminist science-fiction convention held annually over the Memorial Day weekend at Madison, Wisconsin. It has a multi-track program that ranges over books, TV, film, manga, academic papers, political discourse, fan fic, vidding, gaming, costuming and more. Most program items are in the form of panels.

From the outside it can appear to be scarily monolithic, with an accepted mode of thinking. From the inside, it is a broad church with many different views and thoughts, some of which are exhilarating, some of which are obvious and some of which are batshit crazy. Which is which of course, depends on who’s looking.

The purpose of the Chronicles is to “represent a cross-section of the diverse conversations happening at Wiscon and beyond”(viii) because “What happens at Wiscon doesn’t stay at Wiscon”.

While this representation speaks most clearly to those who were there, it is not exclusive – those who weren’t there are also invited into the conversation.


The most useful concept I picked up was “bracketing” – that of accepting and setting to one side the unacceptable part of something, so as not to reject the good part. All too often in the past I have rejected the whole of something rather than accept it in part!

What worked well for me is that several panels were reported in detail (caveat: from notes not recordings) with a series of responses and reflections. It was particularly good to read the transcript of and reactions to the “Elves and Dwarves: The Racism inherent in Fantasy” panel. I attended this panel and felt uncomfortable at the conflicts expressed. Afterwards, I rationalised it as “one of those panels that didn’t quite work properly” and put it aside. Reading the transcript, I found that a couple of years more experience enabled me to understand some of the dilemmas the panellists were exploring from their different viewpoints and to understand where the conflict came from. Reading Sigrid Ellis, John Kim and Bridget Collins’ responses has shown me that this conflict provoked Sigrid’s clear and valuable “Request to Authors of Traditional Fantasy Novels”, John Kim’s broader understanding of this topic within the fantasy field and his wonderfully creative “what if…?” suggestions for other types of delineation and Bridget Collins’ request of “Where do we go from here?”

On the sheer fun side, there was the panel report of “Let’s build a world”. I wasn’t sure how intelligible this would be given that I hadn’t been there, but it ended up being laugh-out loud funny. I was reminded of one point during a Tiptree auction, when the whole process stopped for laughter. Ellen Klages told us to remember this moment the following week when we were back in our normal lives and someone said “Feminist science-fiction convention? Sounds worthy but dull to me!” Of course, I can’t remember what we were laughing at at that point.

Something that didn’t work as well for me was the account of the Robot Collective uprising. This wasn’t something I was involved in – I saw it happen during the Tiptree Auction and my main reaction was “huh?” Reading the account didn’t really explain it any further. However, while this event made no sense to me, I can accept that for others it may have been a key part of their Wiscon. Bracketing in action you see.

The Verdict

Given that I’ve been steeped in Wiscon for about 8 years now, it is hard to imagine just what this would look like from the outside. I think some of the accounts are complete enough to be intelligible to any sf fan who is interested in thinking more deeply about what they read, whether or not they describe themselves as politically motivated. Other articles would be very hard to follow. I hope the plethora of commentaries would show that we are not all indoctrinated into one viewpoint.

The main target audience is going to be Wiscon attendees and sympathisers. I doubt anyone who wasn’t already thinking about attending a Wiscon would read this. It isn’t a proselytising work, but nor is it a secret handbook only for the initiates.

I found this engaging and readable – it brought my experiences back to life and enabled me to reflect on them a little more.

Originally published at Books, Bytes & Other Bits. You can comment here or there.

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We've had a great Wiscon; it was lovely to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I may write more later.

We are checking out of the hotel this morning so I'm not sure what, if any, internet connection I'll have in the next few days so if I don't immediately get back to you on something I will as soon as I can!

ETA: And back on line again!
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I've just had confirmation of my programme items for Wiscon so:

Title: Why Return a King (or Queen)?

 "Why are fantasy writers from democratic countries so fascinated by monarchy? Why is The Return of the King assumed to be a good thing? And why do some women writers seem to adopt monarchy and just substitute a queen instead of a king? Is it just easier to write 'in the tradition', or are there deeper forces at work? "
 Sunday, 10:00-11:15 A.M.
 Capitol A

M: Georgie Schnobrich
Chris Hill
Tamora Pierce
Sarah Monette
P. C. Hodgell

Title: Martha Jones: Made of Awesome or Disappointing Stereotype?

 "The third series of the new Doctor Who heralded the addition of Martha Jones as the main companion. Fans of color cheered the news and many loved her first the first episode. But as the series went on, some fans found a lot wanting in Martha's character and put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the writers and producers. Now that Martha's Series Three character arc is complete and her guest episodes on Torchwood are also complete, we can examine her role in the Whoniverse. "
 Sunday, 10:00-11:15 P.M.
 Senate A

M: Michael D. Thomas
Joanna Lowenstein
Chris Hill
Marna Nightingale
Ariel Franklin-Hudson

I'm particularly pleased to be on the first panel as this is a subject that has fascinated me for ages (and I'm pretty sure I've ranted about it on a panel before now!)
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Sorry, bad puns is about all I'm awake enough for!

So we are home. Hoorah!

WisCon was great and when I'm awake I will post something more coherent about it. We stayed over in Madison for a few days afterwards and ended up with enough local fans who wanted to spend more time with us that we had company for almost every meal, which was lovely.

After an extended journey home I managed to stay reasonably awake until about 2pm and then slept for nearly 4 hours. I know I'm going to regret that later!

On the slightly less happy side, my MP3 player appears to have died. It's a three year old iRiver and while not terribly stylish by today's standards, it did the job. But now when you try and charge it up it just gets very hot and won't switch on. This may be my fault as it spent an evening hooked up to the wrong charger (memo to self - must more clearly mark which charger cables are for which appliances). Oh well, it's almost annual bonus time...
bookzombie: (manga bookzombie)
My schedule for WisCon is now confirmed. So:

Revisiting the Wow: Books That Changed Everything (Reading, Viewing, and Critiquing SF&F)
Saturday, 8:30-9:45 a.m.
Remember that early work you experienced, the one that twisted off the top of your head and let new ideas in? Rereading breakthrough works can be a mixed blessing: insight into their power, disappointment with the writing or the concepts, embarrassment or bewilderment at what was so intriguing the first time around. Revisit one of your sparkplug works and come to share the experience.
James P. Roberts, M: Jesse Kaysen, Chris Hill, Carrie L Ferguson, Lenny Bailes

The Ten-Foot Shelf Of Perdition: Books to Avoid (Reading, Viewing, and Critiquing SF&F)
Saturday, 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Every year WisCon provides us with copious new reading material, more excellent books than we could possibly read before the next WisCon. We also need the warnings--"Beware, for the pretty cover and feminist-sounding back cover blurb on that book is utterly deceiving," or "I found that best-seller as comprehensible as reading refrigerator Poetry in the dark." What could be more entertaining and useful than turning our panelists (and audience members) loose on the bad fiction that is out there, providing warnings to be taken with a grain of salt and a smile?
Betsy Urbik, Chris Hill, M: Lesley Hall

The Many Answers to Fermi's Paradox (Science and Technology)
Sunday, 1:00-2:15 p.m.
Famed physicist Enrico Fermi originally posed the question around 1950. The Universe has been around for 15 billion years, he noted, more than enuf time for intelligent, space-faring civilizations to have spread to every star system in the galaxy. So where are they all? Indeed, where are ANY of them? Needless to say, SF authors picked up this ball and ran with it -- in 30 different directions. We'll try to go over as many as possible, and maybe even come up with some new ones.
M: Richard S. Russell, Jordin T. Kare, Chris Hill, Suzanne Alles Blom
bookzombie: (Pickering)
I've just realised that I haven't posted anything besides the weight tracking stuff and responses to other people recently, so here's a quick 'hello!'

I'm afraid I am going to use work and rehearsals as an excuse again! Brain go 'fizz', and possibly 'pop'. Then stop altogether.

Other than that stuff, I've been doing some reading and a fair amount of gaming (which is what my brain tends to turn to if it's too tired for anything else).

But, hey, I'm working from home tomorrow while we await delivery of our brand spanking new coffee table, so I'll get a little bit of a lie in.

The next couple of months are going to be also busy but with some fun bits. Next week is a short week and then EasterCon (yay!), the week after that necessarily also being a short week. Then I've a couple of full weeks at work and it's off most of the week of My Fair Lady (yahoo!). Then it's only another couple of full weeks and it's time for WisCon (bloody marvelous!).

Oh yes, and Doctor Who starts again on Saturday. Bonus!

So I'm fine, generally not feeling depressed or anything like that. Just busy and tired!
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Here is the first part of my WisCon report. More to follow if I get my act together!

WisCon part 1 )

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Yes, we have returned from the other side of the pond.

WisCon was great - lots of interesting panels, caught up with old friends (and, naturally managed to miss others, sorry folks!), made some new friends, ate too much, slept too little. The usual! More (maybe) when my brain is working again...

We also enjoyed a couple of days in Chicago, which left us with some places we missed this time but will definitely want to return to.

Still unpacking...
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...our missing bag turned up this morning.

Only 24 hours after we were told it would be here. Still, mustn't grumble...

Got here!

May. 25th, 2006 06:36 am
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Well, we made it to Madison, although it was a journey of mixed fortunes:
Good: That god amongst BA Staff, [ profile] flyingsauce managed to get us an upgrade so we had a very comfortable journey in Club Class. I can't tell you how much this made the journey more relaxing! Thanks, mate, we owe you a number of really large drinks!

Double-plus ungood: One part of our baggage didn't arrive with us. Luckily, when we reported it, it had already been noted that it hadn't made it onto the plane and it is now on its way to us. In theory it should get to us at the hotel by 10:30am.

We just managed to avoid the absolutely torrential rain by dint of getting to a restaurant a few minutes before it started and finishing our meal just after. Then we went to bed!

Of course that meant that I was wide awake at 5am this morning so I was in the gym at 5:30.

And now I think breakfast might be calling...

We are planning at being at the packet stuffing at 4:30 and then to A Room of One's Own. Hopefully we will see some people there!
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Right, that's us done for now. Auditions are out of the way (and went fairly well I think), everything is packed that can be, [ profile] pennski is just doing the washing up from tea and then we are going to bed for our 5am start (ouch!).

If any WisCon attendees are going to be there tomorrow we should be getting there late afternoon and may be wandering about at some point in the evening. No promises though - last time we got something to eat from room service, crashed out and woke up the following morning!

I'll check email before we go tomorrow, but other than that we will probably be off line until we get back on 3rd June.

So, WisCon guys - see you soon, everone else - have fun and speak to you when we get back!
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I know you shouldn't wish your time away, but I will be so glad when we are finally on holiday. I've been in work today and also will be tomorrow and my heart really isn't in it - yes I've been a bit grumpy today!

We've also got our concert auditions tomorrow, which I could really do without, especially as we have to be up at 5am the next morning! I'm auditioning 'Mr Cellophane' from Chicago and '42nd Street' from, well, 42nd Street(!), both of which are fairly comfortable for me. But I never enjoy auditions.

But just a few more things to pack and we are ready to roll!
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Right, here is my confirmed program schedule for Wiscon:

Friday 10:00 - 11:15 am Books you bounce off - classics and important books that you just can't get on with. Expect me to rant about Dickens and a certain Tiptree winner from a few years ago...

Saturday 4:00 - 5:15pm Why are we all ignoring Stargate SG-1? Given longevity and strong female characters, why doesn't Stargate get the attention that other genre series get? I have my theories (which among other things involve it being, well, not always terribly good...).

Sunday 10:00 - 11:15am The Wages of Trash. Not sure I entirely understand the brief for this one. Something along the lines of what can trash literature teach you and who decides what is trash anyway? Could be fun!

I am, in a mature and adult way of course, slightly sulking that [ profile] pennski got on the Doctor Who and sexuality panel that I really wanted to do...
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Only another week and I'm on leave (yah, WisCon!). Unfortunately, of course, that always leads to a certain amount of rushing around like a mad thing trying not to leave stuff mid-progress at work (and yes, this is me posting in the office - call it displacement activity!) - not helped when a new project with an analysis deadline of while I'm away was dumped on me at the end of last week. Sigh.

So what else is happening? Doctor Who rumbles enjoyably on. A couple of plot holes aside, I loved The Girl in the Fireplace (well, I'm a Steven Moffat fan anyway and his two-parter from last year was my favourite). Also, if you get the chance listen to the episode commentary on the BBC web-site where Steven Moffat and Noel Clarke (Mickey) do a very funny and engaging double act. I'm less bothered about Rise of the Cybermen. The problem is as part one of two it's all setup and not much action. Still, I'll reserve judgement until part 2 airs.

Between now and this time next week I need to sort out my costume for the WisCon fancy dress party and also make some notes about the panels I'm on (details to follow when I have access to my list!).

Oh yes, and we have auditions for the solo pieces in the concert next Tuesday (about 12 hours before we fly out!).
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I know, I know, been almost silent again. Dunno why but I'm finding it hard to write at the moment.

Well, actually I do know why - I've been absolutely exhausted with work recently. I'm doing about 3 different jobs at the same time right now and trying to keep about a dozen plates in the air. When I get home if I've not got a rehearsal, I'm just collapsing in a heap!

On a more positive front, I booked our plane tickets for WisCon today! Only 3.5 months to go... We're also looking at what we are doing later in the year. It's my 40th birthday in November, so we are thinking of doing something special. Top of the list of possibilities is an 8-day tour of Japan, which for a stay-at-home sort of guy like me is both exciting and pretty scary.

It does mean that between the two trips we are not going to get more than a long weekend or two away during the summer but not to worry...

Otherwise, life is okay. Rehearsals are going well - only seven weeks to go now before the show. Another month would have been good, but we are doing our best with the time we've got and on the main it has remained good fun.

We need to get a new cooker sometime soon - our grill has packed up. I'm using it as an excuse to get the standard gas hob replaced with a longer one with a wok burner.

I've not been getting any writing done recently. Somehow I just can't conjure up the enthusiasm right now (so much for New Year 'good intentions').

Mmm, takeaway night tonight...

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For the first time in a couple of years we are heading off to a rehearsal tomorrow night.

Our old operatic & musical society are doing Crazy for You some point next year. Lots of Gershwin songs, a silly plot, the chance to shake the dust off our tap shoes and the old musical director who made our last show such a misery has retired. What's not to like?

Okay, the possible catch (and you just knew there had to be one)is the date of the production. We don't know what it is yet, but how much are you prepared to bet that it's at the same time as WisCon (which we are already booked for and are definitely going!)?

Watch this space!
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Despite our negative thoughts when we were there last month, it looks as if we will be making Wiscon next year.

The main reason we were doubtful was that P.'s manager had a birthday at the same time and, because they both cover the same area, they can't both be off at the same time, so P. thought that she wasn't going to be able to get the same time off for a third year.

But P. has just found out that she is going to be working on something else from later in the year, so she will not be covering the same area as her manager. So, to cut a long story short, she should be able to take the time off!

As soon as online booking starts up again we shall be registering.


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April 2017



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