Worldcon, Here We Come!

One week until Worldcon!

Spouse and I will be hanging out in D.C. for a few extra days before the convention. There are so many museums here. I went to see the Library of Congress and the congressional building a few years ago when I was traveling with family, but there’s the Smithsonian, and I’m always excited to see new dinosaur bones…

Discon III Logo Image

I’m tingly-excited about getting to see folks at the con–and a bit nervous, too! After the past year, crowds are still kind of disorienting. And awesome.

I’m not on programming this year, but I’ll be hanging around. What all is everyone else up to? When are you headed in? Are there panels you’re excited to be on, and/or watch? Planning to go to the Hugos?

Help Save WisCon

As the pandemic batters our social lives and economies, it’s been particularly hard for conventions to stay afloat. WisCon, the feminist convention that happens annually in Madison WI, is making an appeal. In short:

We don’t have enough funds to pay for what happens if we don’t fill our contracted block of hotel rooms, and we can’t afford to cancel the hotel contract.

We are in a volunteer shortage crisis. It takes a LOT of people to make WisCon happen, and we lack dozens of volunteers in key positions.

–Kit Stubbs (they/them), treasurer and 2022 co-chair

I haven’t attended WisCon in a while, but it was the first convention I got attached to. For several years, Vylar Kaftan and I — along with some rotating folks like Jennifer Pelland — did a reading series called Taboo where we read stories with unexpected content. Here are a few of the stories we read:

“Even a god has human needs, if he resides in a living body.” Aki attends his incarnated god’s private functions, starting with the chamber pot.

I wrote this story as an exercise at the Iowa Writers Workshop based on the prompt “use the words: kiss dead and dog.” I decided to go for it and put all three in the first sentence. “Would you kiss a dead dog?” The story doesn’t get less intense from there. Definitely rated R or X.

Pelland’s Nebula-nominated piece tells the stories of the ghostly victims from several different New York disasters, including 9/11 and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. I think this story may feel less like a hot button now than it did, but for a long time, even touching 9/11 in the way this story does–empathetic and intelligent, but unflinching–was daring.

In their call for assistance, Stubbs lists a few things people can do to help get the convention back on track, including:

  • sign up for their newsletter
  • volunteer for the non-profit that organizes the convention, or for the convention itself
  • attend the convention, May 27-30, 2022! (and book your room at the hotel in advance)
  • spread the word

They’ve got a matching fund for the first $5,000 in donations that they receive.

I should also add: Stubbs writes that the convention is working to bring the convention into better alignment with its antiracist values, “particularly as experienced by our attendees and volunteers of color.”

Visit the WisCon website if you’re interested in reading more about how to attend the convention or help it out. (Or help it out by attending!)

Excited to be Attending Worldcon, December 15-19

Discon III Banner Image

Wow, I can’t believe it’s so close to Worldcon already!

My husband, Mike, and I are headed to D.C. for Discon III this December. We’ll be there for the whole convention December 15-19, 2021.

It’s been a few years since we went to a Worldcon. The last one was in San Jose in 2018. Of course, last year we went hardly anywhere outside our bubble. It still feels trippy to be able to see close friends, let alone crowds at panels and dealer’s rooms. Exciting, though! I’ve got my booster shot and my comfortable mask all prepared. (It turns out that what I need to make a mask comfortable is a bit of room between my mouth and the mask so I’m not constantly breathing paper/cloth/whatever.)

After fifteen years in the biz (imagine me saying that in an exaggerated voice, dripping with ennui, perhaps as I hold a cigarette in a long holder from the 1920’s), I can get a bit laissez-faire about conventions. Since picking up a mentee a few years ago– the burgeoning P H Lee who’s published about twenty-five stories in the last two years! — I’ve had the excitement of seeing things through their eyes. I’ve been around the block at the Hugos, but Lee’s still got sparkle-eyed vigor. It makes everything that bit more fun.

I’m hoping to see lots of people I haven’t seen, and hopefully meet some new folks, too! I signed up pretty late, so I don’t think I’ll be on programming, but ping me if you’d like to get together.

Currently, I’m looking forward to going out for Uighur food with a couple of friends. I’m excited because I’ve never tried it before. Even though I may have trouble finding something that’s easy for me to eat–my spice tolerance is so low it’s abyssal–I’m excited anyway. I like trying new, delicious flavors even when I don’t have the tastebuds to appreciate them. Writing gives me a great excuse to try new things; I always have a reason to collect sensory experiences. 😀

Who else will be at Worldcon? What are you planning to do? Is this your first post-pandemic trip or are you old hat at jetting around these days? What are you looking forward to?

Some Thoughts Post MileHiCon

I’m back from MileHiCon in Denver which took place October 1-3.

It was lovely to attend and meet wonderful people, including convention organizers like Melanie Unruh, Meg Ward, Linda Nelson and Christine Childs, among others! My great thanks to them for putting on a wonderful event and having me there.

At the opening ceremonies, I said a few words about the pandemic, community and science fiction.

Apparently, this was on everyone else’s minds, too, as the toast master and most of the guests considered what it’s going to be like as we return to a world with conventions and people, rather than lonely houses in quarantine. In particular, I was considering how our current global situation feels both science fictional and not.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

It’s hard to think about what quarantine isolation would have been like in 1918. The dystopian imagery from our cyberpunk novels has come out as people wrangling babies while doing video conferences and lawyers showing up to court wearing kitten filters. It’s science fiction, but mundane and liveable. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow–no matter the excitement or import of events–will always be inflected by the tiny things. Our EMTs need bathroom breaks. Our nurses come home with PTSD from full days of both horrible death and also average, ordinary work. Hundreds of thousands of people die, and the dog still needs walking.

During “An Hour with Rachel Swirsky,” I read three short stories:

They’re all stories that break the rules about what “can” be done in fiction. Dinosaur is written in second person and takes place internally; Purse is a list story that ends just as events start taking place; and Quiet is written in an omniscient, consensus point of view without individual characters. Art is full of possibilities. Why constrain ourselves as artists or readers?

I also participated in three panels.

I was on a panel about Gender Beyond the Binary where we discussed examples of non-binary characters in fiction, and one called Starfish Out of Water which discussed stories of aliens on earth (with a digression into the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and the Star Trek episode Darmok).

My favorite panel was Art As Resistance with panelists Eneasz Brodski and Chaz Kemp, moderated by Kim Klimek who did an unusually excellent job with posing questions and furthering discussion. Chaz Kemp was passionate about the idea that making and enjoying art is itself an act of resistance. One of the first things fascist governments do is restrain art. They arrest–or even kill–artists. As much as the contemporary United States has problems, I think it’s incredibly important to remember that artists are (by and large) not taking our lives into our hands with what we say and how we choose to say it. The world hasn’t always been like that, and in many places it still isn’t. I worry greatly for our colleagues in countries where government reprisal is more than a threat. I found this panel profound and am grateful to the other panelists, and the moderator, for the discussion.

While we spent a lot of time in our room for Covid reasons, it was a delight to interact as much as we were able to.

On a personal level, I enjoyed seeing long-time friends and colleagues like Carrie Vaughn and Matthew Rotundo. Also, it was a blast seeing the masks–sequined masks, fringed masks, masks with cartoon capybaras… I wear a paper mask because I can stand having it on my face, but oh, I appreciate the sequins.

Although it was less of a difficulty in one-on-one conversations, I do have to say it was disconcerting presenting to a masked audience. I didn’t realize how much I rely on seeing people’s faces for their reactions! Without smiles, or even grimaces, audiences seemed to be very raptly paying attention in an extremely sober fashion, which is weird when you’re trying to tell jokes. 😉

Thanks again so much to MileHiCon–everyone who worked on the convention, and everyone who attended!

MileHiCon Guest of Honor

I’ll be attending MileHiCon October 1-3, 2021 as guest of honor!

It’s exciting to attend a convention in person after more than a year of staying home. I’ve heard so many good things about this one!

I’ve had several new pieces come out, and a few which are forthcoming, so it’ll be exciting to talk to fans and peers! What pieces would you like me to read? (I’m also happy to read old ones, of course!) Additionally, I get an hour to do just about anything! Let me know if there’s something you’d be excited to hear me talk about.

I’ll post an update once the schedule has been released and what I’ll be doing throughout the convention. As always, it’s an honor to be selected!

milehicon53 banner, rocketship in left corner, october 1-2-3 2021 and additional information in right corner