Dragon*Con 2011: The Late, Late Report

I’m horrible at posting timely con reports, so I’ve given up worrying about it. It’s been a week since Dragon*Con ended, so at least with this one is up faster than my WisCon or ReaderCon reports. No, you didn’t miss them… they aren’t posted yet.

Onward!

This was my first Dragon*Con, and I was slightly worried about feeling overwhelmed. However, I had the chance to work for the at-con newsletter, the Daily Dragon, and that helped me feel less at sea. I had specific things to do and I spent most of my time doing them. Those specific things involved copyediting, being on call in the DD office, covering panels, and interviewing people. Being a journalist is a bunch of fun.

I had a great time talking to Ann and Jeff Vandermeer about steampunk and Alethea Kontis and Leanna Renee Hieber about being pro guests who are also fans. But the absolute highlight of my con was getting to interview Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek: Voyager’s Captain Janeway. I also got to interview Brent Spiner of The Next Generation.

For Kate Mulgrew, I had to chase down her agent, then come sit at her signings three times before he found time in her schedule. William Shatner had just denied a couple of my colleagues an interview, so I was nervous. But Ms. Mulgrew wasn’t as ALL DONE THIS as Bill (and I don’t blame him, he did three solo panels and signed 4 times) so she granted me five minutes.

I’ve met her just once before, and she was just as warm and funny as before. She has this commanding attitude that I adore. It’s not obnoxious — more like a very forceful matriarch. If she tells you to do something, you do it because obviously she thinks it’s best. Plus, you don’t say no to Captain Janeway. Read the interview (Kate says so.)

Talking to her about how there needs to be more women leaders in the Star Trek franchise, I had this awesome idea for a panel at Dragon*Con about female leadership in SF. My dream panel would be Kate Mulgrew, Nana Visitor, Mary McDonnell, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, and Gina Torres. I also think that would make an excellent pop essay book, with the volume split between TV/Movie properties and SF novels. As things ramp up for next year’s D*Con, I’ll see if the panel is possible.

I was in the autographing room on Monday waiting for Brent Spiner to have time when I noticed that Robert Duncan McNeil (Tom Paris, Voyager) had a life-size cutout of himself in character sitting on top of his table. Not next to, on top of. I went over and asked, “How much to take a picture with the cutout?” because pictures with him were $10 and that’s just not my thing. Thankfully he has an excellent sense of humor and joked with me about it and, when I came back to actually take a picture with the cutout in my absolute silliness, decided he needed to be in the pic, too. I let him. You know, to make him feel better.

Tempest Bradford and Lt. Paris... and Robert Duncan McNeil

I also had one other mission during the con, which was to sell fans and raise money for Con or Bust when possible. I didn’t sell many fans, but my roommate, Mary Robinette Kowal, sold TONS. She’s a sales machine and earned Con or Bust a lot of money.

In addition to selling fans, I also asked some actors of color to sign one so we can auction them off. When I get home I’ll post pics. Edward James Olmos (BSG) and Garrett Wang (Harry Kim, Voyager) both signed readily and were very sweet about it. In fact, Garrett misunderstood my request (I’d asked him the night before in the green room) and had a picture he’d planned to give me of Robert Beltran, Robert Picardo and himself in character, signed by all three. It’s really adorbs. I gave him a fan in exchange for the picture and we’ll auction that off, too.

Sidenote: Garrett Wang is awesome. He runs the Trek Track at D*Con and does a fantastic job, does funny as hell spots for Dragon*Con TV, and spends hours and hours in the autograph room so everyone who wants to see him gets a chance. Plus, he’s super sweet, like I said.

That was pretty much my Dragon*Con. I met many awesome fans, hang out with the fabulous Daily Dragon staff, saw fantastic costumes, got to go to panels, met one of my heroines, and had conversations with a host of fabulous people. I’m looking forward to going back next year.

[WisCon 35] POC Safer Space Breakout Sessions and Discussions

[WisCon 35] POC Safer Space Breakout Sessions and Discussions

The Safer Space for POC at WisCon 35 is a room set aside for con attendees of color to have in-group discussions about issues surrounding speculative fiction, feminism, fandom, and convention-going. By issues I do not mean “problems” (just to be clear). There are some conversations that need to happen within a group that only concern the group, and for the second year in a row WisCon is officially acknowledging this need and providing official space for it.

The Safer Space for POC is located in the Solitaire Room — just off the lobby behind the restaurant. The location is marked in the Program Book.

Con attendees of color are free to use this room as a lounge/chill space, just as with last year. Come hang out when you’re not attending a panel, between panels, during lunch, whenever. This year the hotel is providing coffee and tea service throughout the day.

In addition to the lounge aspect, I’m also encouraging people to use the Safer Space as a place for breakout sessions, standalone discussions for small groups, and post-panel de-pressurization. Is there a conversation you’d like to have with other POC about an issue relating to SF, feminism, fandom, media, or literature? Would you like to continue a panel with a smaller, POC-only group? Then I encourage you to use the Safer Space, because this is exactly the reason it exists.

If you already know that you’d like to use the space, great! Please leave a comment with details (what your discussion/breakout session is about, time) and be sure to let people at the con know. Flyers are useful. Even if you don’t have an idea now, you may get one at the con. If so, just invite folks to the room. Even if there are already folks inside, there will probably be enough room.

This isn’t a super structured effort, just a way to ensure that people know that they can use the room for these purposes. There are no hard and fast rules. Just that the space is reserved for POC.

I’ll update this post with activities posted in the comments and there will be a list in the room at the con.

Update: Known Breakout Sessions and Discussions

Friday

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM Authors of color bookswap — facilitated by Oyceter
Pre-meet-up before the big dinner in case there are antisocial people who like to dip their toes in the water first. Bonus topic: Rant about Tiger Whatevers in the media!

Saturday

10:00 AM – 11:15 AM Breakout Session immediately following this presentation: Steam Around the World: Steampunk Beyond Victoriana (8:30 AM – 9:45 AM: Assembly)

Sunday

11:30 AM to 1:00 PM (Lunch Break): Con or Bust Meetup — Kate Nepveu, CoB organizer, will be in the space to answer questions and listen to your feedback. If you received money from Con or Bust this year, you’re also invited to stop by and meet fellow recipients (and Kate, if you’ve never done so).

5:15 PM – 6:00 PM: Breakout session immediately following this panel: FAIL! (4:00 PM – 5:15 PM: Capitol A)

As things are getting started today, this will be my last update of this post. However, if you wish to know if there are any additional breakout sessions planned, just go to the Solitaire room and look for flyers or a schedule.

[WisCon 35] POC Dinner

[WisCon 35] POC Dinner

It’s that time of year again. You know, when a young girl’s thoughts turn to wild unicorns and orcs frolicking together and eating things? That’s right, the WisCon POC dinner is on, baby.

Here are the deets:

  • When: Friday, May 27th, 5:30 – 7:30PM
  • Where: Private Dining Room of the Dayton Street Grille (the restaurant inside the Madison Concourse Hotel). If you haven’t been there before, just ask the helpful folks at the front desk or the host station.
  • Who: If you are a person of color attending WisCon, you’re welcome to join.
  • Important Things:
    • If you’re on Facebook, please click here to RSVP. We want to get a mostly accurate count of how many people are coming so the restaurant can plan accordingly. If you’re not on Facebook, RSVP in the comments.
    • Tell other POC and ask them to RSVP as well.
    • Please come as close to 5:30 as you can. We want to be done by 7:10 so that Nisi and anyone else can get to the Opening Ceremonies.
    • Bring cash! This is important (see update below).

Update: We’ve now set the menu for the dinner. This year we’re doing a buffet instead of a traditional sit-down to facilitate mingling and to accommodate those who might be late. Buffet items include:

  • Fresh seasonal fruit
  • Mixed greens with shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers with our housemade balsamic vinaigrette and ranch dressings
  • Asparagus, shrimp and orzo salad [might end up being vegetarian – i.e. no shrimp]
  • Grilled breast of chicken with Portobello mushrooms and caramelized shallots
  • Sliced sirloin of beef with brandy green peppercorn sauce
  • Rosemary-roasted red bliss potatoes [vegan]
  • Sautéed zucchini and tomatoes [vegan]
  • Fresh breads from our bakery
  • Assorted petit fours and finger tarts

Since this is now a catered event/buffet, there’s a set price for dinner. The minimum required to eat is $20. However, if you can pay up to $30 we’d appreciate it. We’re doing a bit of funky math here to keep costs down for everyone and because I don’t know exactly how many people are coming.

If you absolutely cannot afford this, drop me a note, please.

Technology Meetup at WisCon

Technology Meetup at WisCon

I’m almost completely sure I did not see a netbook panel for WisCon this year (had to go though aaaaalllll the items the other week). Would anyone have interest in an informal technology meetup at WisCon where folks can talk about their netbooks, tablets, phones and other cool tech, others can ask questions and play with said cool tech, and we can pow wow about the tech we care about and why? There’s got to be some sort of feminist theme in there, right?

My WisCon 35 Schedule

My WisCon 35 Schedule

How To Describe Nonwhite Characters Sans Fail
Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm | Wisconsin

M: Mary Doria Russell, K. Tempest Bradford, Moondancer Drake, Amal El-Mohtar, Rachel Virginia Swirsky

How do we get beyond “Her skin was the color of a delicious Coca-Cola?” What metaphors, similes, techniques, and descriptors are less problematic when describing nonwhite characters’ physical bodies? We’re starting from this post by Jed.

How to Respond Appropriately to Concerns About Cultural Appropriation
Sun, 1:00–2:15 pm | Wisconsin

M: Victor Raymond, K. Tempest Bradford, Mary Doria Russell, Geoff Ryman, Rachel Virginia Swirsky

At WisCon 33, the Carl Brandon Society taught a course which reviewed the basic concepts around race, colonial history, and cultural appropriation, along with a discussion of ways to build a vocabulary to discuss these topics. Let’s use that background to discuss what would be appropriate, considered, thoughtful responses by authors to concerns that their work contains cultural appropriation.

SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL[1]
Sun, 2:30–3:45 pm | Wisconsin

M: K. Tempest Bradford, Amal El-Mohtar, Michelle Kendall, Victor Raymond, LaShawn M. Wanak[2]

Back for a third go-round, by popular demand! Writers of color working in F/SF face unique challenges, it’s true. But, at the end of the day, being a “person of color” is only one aspect of what makes up our identities as writers. While it’s very flattering to asked to be on panels, most of these panels never crack the ceiling of Race 101. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be nice for multiple writers of color to sit on a panel that isn’t about race at all? Here’s our chance to do just that. So, what are we gonna talk about, instead? Practically anything! Presented in game show format, SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL brings together writers of color to get their geek on about any number of pop culture topics—none of them race related.

Reading: For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Shapeshifting, Teleporting, & Conjuring….[3]
Sun, 4:00–5:15 pm | Conference 2

K. Tempest Bradford, Neesha Meminger, Nnedi Okorafor, LaShawn M. Wanak, Ibi Aanu Zoboi

Is Science Fiction the New Reality?[4]
Mon, 10:00–11:15 am | Caucus

M: K. Tempest Bradford, Richard Chwedyk, James Frenkel, Naomi Kritzer, Shira Lipkin

Star Trek offers a vision of the future that includes personal, networked communicators, talking, intelligent computers, and the tricorder, a portable, hand-held networked computing device. Today we have cellphones, IBM’s Watson,and the iPad. Are we already living in the science-fiction future? What does this mean for writers of speculative fiction?

I’m also going to do my best to coordinate the POC dinner for Friday.

Footnotes

  1. YOU GUYS. I am super excited about this panel. I’m collecting ideas on topics from my wonderful co-panelists right now, but excited suggestions are indeed welcome. Also welcome: ideas on how to do the game show aspect of things this year. I’m considering water guns…[]
  2. Did I mention how much I heart my panelists?[]
  3. I are intimidated.[]
  4. So, check out the list of panelists there. Yeah. And I get to moderate. Bring popcorn.[]

Wiscon 35: Safer Space for POC – Ideas, Discussion

Wiscon 35: Safer Space for POC - Ideas, Discussion

As part of my duties for the WisCon 35 programming committee, I’ve been put in charge (officially) of the Safer Space for POC at the con. Essentially they’d like me to address any issues the community has with said space and make it as useful and comfortable as it can be. Thus, I’m opening up the discussion here to make sure I address issues I’m not aware of. Hopefully, even though this is online, we’ll get a mostly representative mix of ideas and concerns.

First thing: the Safer Space is still in the Solitaire Room this year, just like last year. I remember hearing people complain that this ended up being a detriment as it is so out of the way. However, it’s too late at this point to move it this year. Next year, perhaps. The reason it ended up in the Solitaire Room (from what I understand) was to cut down on gawkers.

One solution to this issue is to plan events and meetups in the space to encourage people to come. And I wouldn’t mind having a lunch together again. The concom also said they’d look into having a coffee/tea service in the room.

So, my question to the WisCon-attending POC out there is: how can we make this room more useful to you beyond the basic function? Are there things you want to happen that didn’t last year? Events you want to see continue? Suggestions, comments, issues, cookies in the comments below! However, if there’s anything you’d like to bring up with me privately, please use the contact form on my website if you don’t know my email or message me on Facebook. I can keep your concerns private/anonymous if need be.

My World Fantasy Reading Preserved Forever

My World Fantasy Reading Preserved Forever

Scott Edelman has been recording readings and such from World Fantasy in order to make everyone who isn’t here intensely jealous. He came to my reading and recorded it, and now it’s on YouTube for all to see.

I had a good sized crowd and people said they really loved the story, so I declare my first WFC reading a success. And I’m really glad I asked Mary to help me out by reading the poetry parts because she was really good and made the poems sound far better than they actually are.

After you check out my reading, head over to Scott’s journal and watch the others.

My World Fantasy Schedule

My World Fantasy Schedule

I say “schedule” as if I’m going to be doing a ton of stuff. Indeed, that is not the case this year, which means I can relax and enjoy myself.

The one thing I do have scheduled is a reading. 10:30 Friday morning in Reading 212. I know it’s a bit early, but I do hope people will attend. Joining me for my reading is Mary Robinette Kowal (who, incidentally, is giving a workshop later that weekend on how to be a more effective reader) who will lend some of her excellent skills to my story. How will this all work out? You will just have to come to the reading and discover.