Our event Monday was the panel on "Marvelous Women of the Middle Ages," at 10AM. This time it was "our" panel, since I was pinch-hitting for Betsy Urbik, who ran out of prep time due to the danger of flooding at her home. Betsy, however, had notes from Cynthia Gonsalves, who couldn't come at all due to family issues. I filled in since Betsy had been going to present on Joan of Arc. Although Joan of Arc isn't obscure, there was much to tell about her that was new to the audience, and Joan is closely connected to two of the other women we were discussing, Yolanda of Aragon, who may have helped work Joan into the confidence of her son-in-law, the Dauphin of France, and Catherine de Pizan, first female professional author and feminist writer, who eulogized Joan in her epic "Poem of Jeanne d' Arc."

Besides presenting on Yolanda of Aragon, Georgie covered "Black Agnes" Randolph, defender of Dunbar Castle. Betsy/Cynthia, Madeleine Robins, and Valerie Guyant all contributed pieces on fascinating women and we had some good audience participation as well. Unfortunately, I wasn't taking notes at the time and don't recall names, but Georgie was and will be doing a writeup on the panel that I will post here when she gets it done.

We had a reasonably safe drive home though the fog and rain, and so put another WisCon to bed. We are signed up for next year, as usual.

Guests of Honor for WisCon 38 will be Hiromi Goto and N.K. Jemisin.
Georgie was on "Monstrous Females and Female Monsters" at 4PM. Georgie had some good things to say on the mythic monstrous females, as did Catherine Lundoff, Zen Cho, Joyce Frohn, and Micole Sudberg. Although speaking skills varied widely among the panelists, the audience gave them good attention, and kudos to those who were showing courage as first-time panelists.

For dinner, we met with Darlene Coltrain and Steven Vincent Johnson and friends, and went down State Street looking for a meal. Kabul was the original goal, but when we found them full, we went next door to Husnus'. Husnus' is a Turkish restaurant, so similar to Kabul in some ways, but different in others. We had a plate of excellent hummus and very good bread as appetizer. Georgie had a very nice entree of sliced chicken breast in an orange sauce with apricots and artichoke hearts (Asmali Tavuk). I'm very fond of the Koftachalow (meatballs) at Kabul, and decided to try Husnus' equivalent, Izmir Koftesi. The Izmir Koftesi is made with tenderloin, and so was tasty but a bit drier than the Kabul version. The sauce was a thinner style, but complimented the cooked vegetables that came with nicely. (In addition to the potatoes and carrots mentioned on the menu, there was also cauliflower and green beans.) A good meal but my vote goes to Kabul. Darlene had the lamb shank special, and said it was very tender and tasty lamb, but somewhat lacking in the Middle Eastern spicing she was expecting.

Surprisingly, Husnus' had only one server on for the dinner hour. Perhaps most WisCon members don't get past Kabul? Since we expected there would be goodies of various sorts at the parties, we skipped desserts.

Back at the hotel, we waited a bit to get seats for Guest of Honor and Tiptree Award speeches, but got decent seats. Joan Slonczewski gave a short and very engaging talk about her work as an author and as a scientist. Jo Walton was warm and witty talking about reading and writing.

After the speeches, we went up to our room and changed for parties. We both dressed Steampunk since one party was a "Steampunk Speakeasy." However, we found that room to be too loud for comfort, and spent much more time across the hall at Joan Slonczewski's Purple Sharers party, which we found much more comfortable and chat-friendly. We retired after a visit along the hall to the other party rooms.
Saturday, neither of us had panels scheduled. We got up in time to go purchase croissants from L'Etoile and take a look at about half the Farmer's Market before coming back to the hotel to eat breakfast, and then go to the "Real Life Science Fiction" panel, which dealt with the most interesting recent science stories. Kylee Peterson, Jacqueline Gill, Heather McDougal, David Peterson, and GoH Joan Slonczewski gave a fascinating presentation on the frontiers of science.

After that, we had the obligatory Saturday lunch at the Tiptree Bake Sale, which seemed to be particularly good this year. After the break we went to the reading session, "A Confederacy of Troublemakers," which featured Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Annalee Newitz, Madeline Robins, and Nisi Shawl. They gave us an excellent set of selections from recent and forthcoming works that we will definitely want to find and read.

Next, we visited the Art Show and the Dealer's Room. Both had very good selections this year, and were very interesting.

The next panel we attended was "Food in Spaace!" which dealt with the kinds of issues a long space voyage would need to resolve. How much food, and how would you store it/grow it/ create it? Are 3D printers the food replicators of tomorrow? What kind of cuisine? Who gets to cook? (Who does the dishes didn't come up--.) Panelists Liz Gorinsky, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, Magenta Griffith, Penny Hill and Heather McDougal covered the topics well and with humor.

We went to dinner at Spice Yatra on the Square, which had pretty decent Indian food (Tandoori Mixed Grill was good) but the service was a bit slow--apparently not expecting the number of people in on Memorial Day Saturday.

We made a point to get back early in time for Tiptree Auction setup, because we were delivering two cakes that Georgie had made, one for each of the winning works. Georgie put in a lot of work translating the cover art for both works into cake, since the watery photo-manipulated covers they BOTH had ("The Drowning Girl," by Catlin R. Kiernan, and "Ancient, Ancient" by Kiini Ibura Salaam) were less than ideal for rendering as butter cream frosting. Everyone who sawthem seemed to think they were beautiful (as did I) and they took in $340.00 for the Tiptree Award.

Ellen Klages was in good form as auctioneer, and we stayed until after the cakes were auctioned and the siren call of the parties drew us upstairs and eventually to bed.
Friday morning, we drove over to Madison for WisCon 37. Driving was fine, and we had some of the best weather of the weekend, which otherwise tended to be cool and damp. Checking in to the hotel was no problem, and we were surprised that we had been "upgraded" to the Governor's Club on floor 12. What this meant was that we could use the exclusive elevator, but the Governor's Club lounge and complimentary food and drinks weren't included (unless we wanted to pay the extra, which we declined. The room was nice as the Concourse rooms usually are, but I don't believe otherwise any different from regular rooms. The express elevator was a nice perk though, particularly when hauling baggage in and out.

Our first activity was a joint reading at 4PM. We were proxy reading for Pat Bowne, who couldn't be there due to her academic responsibilities. Georgie and I jointly read an excerpt from Pat's story, "Want's Master," which the audience seemed to enjoy. Mark Rich read a very entertaining section on "Dejah Thoris," from "Missing Links and Secret Histories: A Selection of Wikipedia Entries from Across the Known Multiverse," forthcoming from Aqueduct Press. Fred Schepartz read from "Guitar God," a "Jewish, suburban, rock and roll fantasy with a 1970's soundtrack," which was also very good, and "Rez" read a suite of time-travel poems that were quite cleverly put together and as good as any contemporary poetry I have heard in quite a while.

After that, we went out to a quick dinner, and decided to try Five Guys Burgers and Fries on State Street. We found this widespread chain to be quite good. A standard burger there consists of two patties, or a "small" is one. We got one small hamburger for Georgie, a regular cheeseburger for me, a large order of fries to split, and soft drinks. The burgers were quite tasty, moist without being drippy. The cheese was standard American, nothing to write home about, and condiments, including ketchup, mustard, and pickles, of good quality. Judging by the sacks of actual potatoes in evidence, the fries are locally cut in the rustic style with the skin on, which gave them good flavor, but they were a bit too enthusiastically salted.

The restaurant has an old-school "White Castle" decor, with lots of white tile and red accents, liberally posted with their Zagat rating and "best burger" rating from many cities. The major down-check for us was the too-loud music, which is evidently part of the chain's vibe, but caused us to chow down and escape as quickly as we reasonably could.

The Opening Ceremonies were short and sweet, with no sketch or divertissment this year, which was a bit disappointing. Afterward, we went to "Betty Boop: The Original Slutwalker?" presented by Magenta Griffith. There were some problems with the AV equipment, so I rushed up to my room and brought down my laptop with DVD player, which interfaced with the projector just fine. Since I am a fan of Betty Boop, I was glad to act as the "projectionist" for the presentation. Magenta gave a good program on Betty Boop's history and development, and showed a number of representative cartoons detailing her transgressive career.

After that, we did a bit of mild party cruising and went to bed relatively early.
Monday morning was another early start, with Georgie's panel "Can We Talk?", which dealt with intergenerational communication. There was a gratifyingly large audience for that hour on Monday morning, and Georgie, Beth Plutchak, and Kate O'Brien Wooddell lead a very interesting discussion.

Our last panel was "Religion, Magic, Science, and Politics in Speculative Fiction." Panelists were Jim Frenkel, Alex Bledsoe, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Carol Townsend, and Deirdre Murphy. It was a large panel for a too-large topic. This easily could have been four panels, and the avowed purpose of discussing how to balance these factors in SF and F never really came off, although what did get expressed was interesting to listen to.

After that, we rolled home, tired but satisfied. This year was just a particularly good convention for us: things came together really well, we met people we wanted to talk to when they hadd time to talk, etc. We are, of course, signed up for next year.
We started off a bit more slowly Sunday morning, with my first panel being "Addiction in Fiction" at 10 AM. Cassie Alexander, Victoria Janssen, Naomi Kritzer, Derek Silver and I spoke to a small but interested audience, comparing and contrasting real world addictions with those invented for plot and character purposes in fantasy and science fiction.

At 1 PM, we went to Tracy Benton's "We're Not Contortionists" presentation, which critiqued the frequently lamentable state of book-cover and comic art which frequently depicts women in anatomically unlikely poses. The enthusiastic cast of volunteer models demonstrated that a surprising number of the poses could at least be approximated, but also demonstrating how even more ridiculous they appear in real life. This was a very good-humored and fun panel.

Next up was Georgie's panel on "Baba Yaga and Other Retired Goddesses." Delia Sherman was a very interesting and interested moderator (and later said she'd gotten three new story ideas from the panel--). Georgie, Will Alexander, and Catherine Schaff-Stump talked about the significance of Baba Yaga,and her probable history. In one of those WisCon moments, a Russian woman in the audience was invited onto the panel due to her experience reading Baba Yaga stories as a girl. (Sorry I didn't catch her name, but she let us know that the 'proper' pronunciation is "Baba YaGA' with a stress on the last syllable--.)

After that, we went to the "Honoring Suzette Hayden Elgin" panel, and had a nice, if bittersweet, time, acknowleging this remarkable woman's works. A very good job was done by panelists Margaret McBride, Rachel Gold, Margie Peterson, Maevele Straw, and Amy Thompson. We were able to contribute some personal reminiscences from early WisCon days, which were appreciated.

We took our time getting an informal dinner with sandwiches from Potbelly Deli and ice cream from The Chocolate Shoppe, and still had plenty of time to get back and change for the evening.

We got decent seats for the Guest of Honor speeches. Andrea Hairston gave one of the more entertaining GoH speeches I recall, not surprising, given her work in theater, and her Baptist minister Grandfather. Debbie Notkin spoke with feeling about generosity and gratitude in life. This was followed by the Tiptree Award ceremony, wherein Andrea was given her prizes. By the time that part was over we needed to get up and move, so departed for the Sixth floor and parties until bedtime.
Saturday was one of two days at the con that Georgie had 8:30 panels, in this case, "Is a Charitable Society an Unjust Society?", which was inspired in part by the book "Sweet Charity?" which discusses the thesis that a society which relies on charity to meet the needs of the poor and unfortunate is inherently unjust. Georgie, Philip Kavney, Joyce Frohn, Gayle, and Kate O'Brien Wooddell lead a serious discussion with an engaged audience.

At 10 AM, I was on "Designing a Magic System," along with Elizabeth Bear, Alex Bledsoe, Kater Creek, and Catherine Krahe. We had a good discussion exploring many of the different ways magic can manifest in literature, and the limitations that can be built into it so that it doesn't take over the story.

By noon, the Tiptree Bake Sale was open, and that served us as lunch, with some particularly yummy creations on offer.

At one PM, Georgie lead "Sensational Women of the 16th Century." Panelists Cynthia Gonsalves, Angeli Primlani, Valerie L. Guyant, and Betsy Urbik filled the time with lots of great material on Queens Juana "La Loca" of Spain, and Catherine of Aragon, of England; banker and business woman Grasia Nasi; pirate queen Grania O'Malley; and other poets, writers, and courtesans of note.

In the 2:30 time slot, we went to see "Considering The Female Villain." Panelists Valerie Guyant, Richard Chedwyk, Shayla Dunn, Allison Moon, and Rosemary/Sophy gave a lively and entertaining survey of what might be called the current state of feminine villainy, although I would have liked it better if the the panel had reached back a bit further than "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Once Upon A Time," "True Blood," and "Avatar, The Last Airbender," which dominated the presentation.

After that, we took a break from panels and shopped the Dealer's Room, picking up some books from Dreamhaven and Philip Kaveny, and admiring the other things on offer. By that time it was dinner time, and we went out to Kabul Restaurant, a favorite of ours, for a lovely dinner.

Back at the con, we watched the first hour or so of the newly streamlined Tiptree Auction, with Ellen Klages in good form. Over six thousand dollars was raised for the Tiptree fund.

My next panel at 9PM was "Intersection of Trans* and Feminism." I was moderating a panel consisting of Allison Moon, Rachel Gold, and Rachel Kronick, plus a very engaged audience, considering how members of the feminist movement do or do not accept transwomen and how this interaction can be improved for the future. (The discussion centered mainly on transwomen, since there were no transmen in the room--.)

After that, we checked out parties, including the "Goblin Secrets" party, where we made masks for ourselves; the Circlet Press "Adult Hogwarts" party, and dropped in on Tor Books, Scribe Agency, and Haiku Earring before retiring for the night.
On Friday, May 25th, we drove over to Madison for the 36th annual WisCon science fiction convention, at the Concourse Hotel. It was a good day for driving, which was fortunate, since some accident closed the freeway at Oconomowoc, requiring us to take a "scenic route" diversion for part of the way.

Getting to the hotel about noon, we checked in with the con and the hotel with no problems, and circulated through the halls and "The Gathering" before getting some lunch.

The first event we attended was the "Young Victorians" reading at Michelangelo's coffee house, which featured Tiffany Trent ("The Unnaturalists"), Franny Billingsly ("Chime"), and Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevermer reading from their works. All the readings were interesting. Kushner and Stevermer were particularly entertaining, as they read different character's letters in their epistolary story which will be forthcoming in "Queen Victoria's Book of Spells". We will be looking up all these books.

Dinner break had us back on State Street where we went to a new small Tibetan restaurant "A Taste of Tibet," which had intrigued me by offering Yak meat specials. How often do you get to try Yak over here? I ordered the sizzling Yak platter, which came with a good helping of meatballs in a brown gravy, a generous quantity of noodles, and steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot, augmented with some roasted potato pieces. Yak meat, even done as a meatball, is dry, chewy, and has a strong "gamy", almost sour taste. Interesting, but I don't think I would care to repeat it. Georgie had the Ginger Chicken, which was good and very gingery.

We went back to the hotel and finished unpacking before going down for Opening Ceremonies. Ceremonies this year were brief, with the entertainment portion provided by the Carl Brandon Society Singers (under the direction of Nisi Shawl), who we understood were filling in for another group that had been unable to go on due to some difficulty. The CBS was in good voice and gave us a nice selection of thematically appropriate show tunes.

Next, we cruised parties, stopping in at the Livejournal and London in 2014 parties, and looking in on the rest. Then we caught most of the 2012 installment of the "Karen Axness Memorial/Women Writers You Probably Never Heard Of" panel. I made note of some interesting sounding titles. After that, we took a last check of parties and went to bed.
Sunday morning, we didn't start quite as early, with my first panel being "Ooku" at 10:00AM. We were fortunate to have a scholar of Japanese history and some others very conversant with various genres of manga on the panel, and I thought I made a couple of good points from the Western, male reader standpoint. There was a lot more that could have been mentioned about this very complex work than we had time for, so the panel moved along rapidly and covered a lot of ground. I was a bit surprised that none of the Japanese attendees were on the panel, and also that they all seemed to be in the audience. I wonder what they thought of it? At least they seemed to be enjoying it and didn't laugh when the rest of us weren't--.

After lunch break,I went to my last panel, on "The Evolution of WisCon," while Georgie had "Audacious Women of the Eighteenth Century." While the History panel, including myself, David Emerson, Jeanne Gomoll, Tom Porter, and Bill Humphries was a good panel and brought out some surprising bits, it was poorly attended with a significant number of the audience members, such as "Orange Mike" Lowery and Carl Marrs, being people who could just as well have been on the panel. It appears that fannish history is not a big draw, with most of the attendees being more focused on the present and the future--.

Georgie's audacious women panel was better attended and sparked a lot of interest, as did
Wild Women of the 17th Century" the year before. A synopsis of the panel has been helpfully posted by panelist Cynthia Gonsalves on Livejournal in the WisCon community.

In the next segment, we moved around, bought some things in the Dealers Room (books, natch) and caught bits of the "Lit Up Night" and "Not Another $%&" Race Panel" panels.

Georgie was back on for "Where ie the Indigenous American Fantasy?" panel, which was also a very well-researched and well-presented panel with a number of very passionate and well-informed panelists, and I am sure a lot of audience members went away with ideas to use.

We went out to dinner at Kabul restaurant, accompanied by Mary Prince, and got back in time to relax a bit and change before Guest of Honor speeches. The program was opened by Timmi Duchamp and others giving a very touching and heartfelt tribute to the late Joanna Russ, who had touched the lives of many present. Nisi Shawl's guest of honor speech was a very nice piece on recognizing and nurturing genius around and inside you. It had the distinction of being perhaps the only GoH speech we have had that was in part sung. I'm not sure I share Nisi's enthusiasm for classifying Michael Jackson as a "genius", gifted entertainer that he was, but I must say she made a good case. The program ended with presentations by the Carl Brandon society and the by-now obligatory Tiptree Committee song, honoring this year's winner, Baba Yaga Laid an Egg.

We enjoyed the parties at a bit greater length this evening, noting with pleasure that the tradition of dressing up Sunday night was still being carried on (with some interesting energy from the "Genderfloomp Dance Party" added).  Georgie's ensemble got a lot of compliments, and we went to bed feeling very good about this year's WisCon.

We were feeling tired Monday morning, so just packed up, got breakfast at Michelangelo's, and headed home, but we were very happy with this year's convention in all aspects.


Saturday, the day began early, with Georgie's panel on "Northerness" which explored the lure of the North in literature and folklore, in particular exploring differences between the European and Canadian/Alaskan views, with a healthy bit of Icelandic lore thrown in. (This panel got written up in "A Momentary Taste of Wiscon" as "only at WisCon do you have the audience and panel simultaneously chanting Norse sagas." Well, it was more like two audience members and two panel members reciting a short section, but still a nice moment. The panel was fun, informative, and well received by an appreciative audience.

I was up next with "Age and Treachery: The Older Fan," which dealt with how fandom has changed, and our strategies for staying current, preserving the good parts of the past, and leading the newer fans into productive paths. There was considerably more "age" than "treachery" on exhibit as I, David Emerson, Gerri Balter, Chip Hitchcock, Jeanne Mealy and Deb Stone reminisced about the better parts of our fannishly mis-spent youths and how to continue the goodness into the future. Regrettably, the audience was neither large nor young overall, but did seem appreciative.

After lunching at the Tiptree Bake sale, we went to the "Traveling Fates" concert in the Assembly room and were very pleased by it. We were not familiar with any of the musicians, but found they gave an excellent performance in a filkish/folkish/rockish genre we enjoy (compares favorably with Tallis Kimberly, or example--).

After that, we dropped in on the "Evolving Animal Intelligence" panel, a topic we are both interested in, and thought the panelists did a very good job of discussing how non-human intelligence in terrestrial creatures might be defined, measured, and differ from the human. They also reviewed the current findings on whales, octopuses, and birds, among other creatures.

Next, we went to the "Bechdel Test in Books" panel, but were rather disappointed. It was a rather narrow topic to begin with, none of the panelists seemed prepared with examples to discuss, and the panel ran out of steam early on. We did not stay until the end.

At dinner break,we went out with Darlene and Steve for an unrepentantly luxurious and delicious dinner at Nadia restaurant on State Street, and came back to the hotel in time to catch part of the Tiptree auction and a sampling of parties before winding up for the night.
We got to WisCon a bit after noon Friday the 27th, and as usual, began making connections with friends and acquaintances. We were able to link up with Jeanne Gomoll and Scott Custis early on and gave them custody of the cake that Georgie had prepared for the Tiptree Award 20th "birthday" party that evening. (Cake pictured below.)

We walked and talked our way around the Gathering, dropping off a small donation for the Tiptree Auction as we did so. We also dropped into the Dealers' Room and made arrangements with Darlene Coltrain and Steven Vincent Johnson to go out to dinner the following night. We ran out and got a late lunch/early dinner at Mediterranean Cafe, and got back in time to take in the panel on "Dressing to Make a Statement" which was quite a lot of fun. It was interesting to hear about the contrasts between garb genres which are basically "anything goes," such as current "Steampunk," and those that have more rigid expectations, such as "Lolita" and its various sub-genres.

We went to the Opening Ceremonies, with a very minimalist but humorous quiz-show skit presented by Think Galactic, and then cruised parties until it was time for my first panel, "What is the duty of a citizen?" Rich Novotney gave a good shot at moderating the panel but was a bit overwhelmed by very opinionated (and well-prepared) panelists such as myself, Richard F. Dutcher, and Geoff Ryman, not to mention a motivated and engaged audience. This was a very good and very informative panel that generated a lot of courteous debate about the nature of citizenship and the citizen's relation to the state and other polities. I was very glad to have had Geoff Ryman on the panel, since he, as technically a "subject" of the United Kingdom, gave some non-USA perspectives on the issues. I don't think we ever succeeded in defining "citizen" to the satisfaction of the audience, but some interesting and viable alternatives were proposed (I will write mine up as a separate entry.) After this late panel, we only took a quick look at parties, and then to bed.

We were in and out of the Tiptree party, and I missed the cake cutting due to my panel, but Georgie brought me a piece--. The cake was admired both for its decoration, and for its excellent flavor. The large cake, sixteen inches in diameter, was devoured by grateful guests in a very short time.

WisCon 34

Jun. 7th, 2010 08:01 pm

From Friday, May 28, through Monday, May 31, we attended the 34th WisCon at the Concourse Hotel in Madsion. Guests of Honor were writers Mary Anne Mohanraj and Nnedi Okorafor. We began the day by picking up friend Sue Blom at her house to ride to the con with us, and had a pleasant drive and chat, including some panel strategizing, getting to the Concourse a bit after noon. Our room was ready, so we got checked in with the hotel, then with con registration, and were ready to check out the Gathering as it got underway.

The first program item we went to was “Greer Gilman’s Cloudish Universe,” which was about the works of one of this year’s Tiptree awards winners. Her mythic fantasy novels seem very interesting, and we will be looking them up. Gilman herself is a fascinating person and made a charming Tiptree winner. (This year’s Tiptree was shared by “Ooku, the Inner Chambers,” a manga by Fumi Yoshinaga, the first time a graphic story has been so honored. Yoshinaga was not able to attend, but had the award accepted on her behalf.)  

On the way to dinner, we scooped up Mary Prince and went down State Street, discovering to our disappointment that our goal, Mediterranean Café, was no longer open for dinners. We beat back up the street and settled upon a Thai place, Rising Sons Deli, that was quite decent in my opinion. Georgie and I finished off the meal with ice cream from Chocolate House, while Mary went off to scout menus from other restaurants in the area.

 We got back to the hotel in plenty of time for the opening ceremonies, which was a clever sketch put on by the Tiptree Motherboard, featuring Ellen Klages playing against type as a staid librarian from Columbia County, Wisconsin, and Pat Murphy as a “hip, trendy” librarian from Southern California, who engaged the audience in rating various works by their “respectability quotient”. After announcements and introductions, we circulated through the parties, spending most time at the Livejournal party, and getting back downstairs in time to catch the end of the “Women of Horror Films 1962-66” panel, which was the 7th installment in this well-researched series. After that, we were curious about “Dreamwidth” and went to the panel on it, and learned some interesting things about this newish blog alternative. By that time it was late after our driving day, so we went to bed.

My first panel of the con was “Newspapers of the T’ang Dynasty,” at 8:30AM Saturday. We made it in good time, having first stopped for L’Etoile croissants and had an early look at the Farmer’s Market. This was an enjoyable panel wherein we dragged out an examined some of our favorite examples of mostly unintentional anachronisms in fantasy and alternate-history SF, illustrating the necessity for research and understanding the milieu if you are going to write things set in the “past” or analogs thereto. Tor Books editor Jim Frenkel had some particularly interesting and subtle examples he had come across in works submitted to him.

The next panel we attended was “Politics of Steampunk,” which gave an overview of race, class, and gender issues that are largely blithely ignored by a lot of people working in the genre, but did not really get into depth on tackling them. I think I shall do as the panel moderator suggested, and submit my own further installment panel for next year. (On of the best things about this panel was the looks of horror that played across Nisi Shawl’s face when some egregious examples were brought up. I do look forward to her proposed “Steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo”--.)

Lunch today was goodies from the Tiptree bake sale (with a Con Suite hot dog as “dessert”), which gave us time to check out the dealers’ room before afternoon panels. We did get a bit bogged down in conversation, so we caught only part of “Left of Center SF&F” (listing a lot of writers we like) before heading to the Green Room for panels at 2:30PM.

I had suggested the “Future of Food” panel, and so was very pleased when the other panelists turned out to be a professional food writer, a master organic gardener, a biologist with experience working with Genetically Modified Organisms, an a person who worked for the British arm of Pepsico. We had a very good discussion focusing on some of the challenges facing food production in the near future. This is another panel I might propose a “Part II” on, since we could have used more time to debate solutions.

At the same time, Georgie had her panel on “The Wilderness in Folktales and Fantasy,” which included Suzanne Alles Blom and Theodora Goss (regrettably, Joan Vinge was unable to attend) and which was very well received.

In the 4:00 time slot, Georgie was on “The Big Fear,” with Vito Excalibur, Eileen Gunn, Chip Hitchcock, and Rich McAllister, which explored the various fears that humans suffer from and the ways they are dealt with in fiction. A good panel, with a lively and engaged audience.

Saturday dinner, we went out with Darlene Coltrain and Steven Vincent Johnson, who were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary. We went to “Smokey’s” which is an old-style steakhouse/supper club on University Avenue. The food, drink, service, and company were all good, and we got back to the hotel in good time to wind down the evenings with parties and chat.

Sunday morning, we started off with the “Fantastic Madison” panel, which was fun for us as we are both former Madison residents and knew the venues and quirks of the city quite well.  We lunched at Kabul, a favorite of ours, before afternoon panels.

At 1:00, I had “Warfare in Fantasy and Science Fiction,” which was an interesting discussion of what we found good in books about a subject in which there is very little real good. At 2:30, I was on the “Kage Baker” panel, while Georgie was running “Wild Women of the 17th Century.”  The Baker panel was well received by the audience, who appreciated the research the panel members had put in. The “Wild Women” panel also drew an enthusiastic audience and Georgie had several post-panel compliments on it, as well as on the “Wilderness” panel.

Next up was the “Invented Earlier” panel, again with Georgie,  which playfully explored alternate histories if some inventions had been developed to the point of usefulness before the ‘real world’ timeline, and why they actually weren’t.

Having had a large lunch, we dined lightly off of cached Tiptree Bake Sale goodies, and got ready for Sunday evening, which for us, means dressing up. Georgie wore a beautiful royal blue beaded vest and black silk trousers, while I had decided to go flamboyant, and wore a geometrically printed jacket in purple, teal, black, white, and gold over my ruffled shirt and black velvet wide-legged pants. Both of us got complements on our outfits as we cruised the parties and took in the guest of honor speeches. Both Mohanraj and Okorafor gave very good, personal speeches that were quite inspiring. The Tiptree awards were fun as well.  We were pleased to see that people dressed up a bit more for the “last night out”.

Monday, I wanted a substantial breakfast, so we went over to Michaelangelo’s, which filled the bill. The last panel we attended was “Does Media Get a Pass on Scientific Illiteracy.” This was fun to listen to the various panel members expound on their pet peeves, although I found the running of the panel needlessly regimented for a small audience and room.

After that, we wended our way through the dealer’s room one last time before taking the road home, having had another satisfying WisCon. Next year will be 35! (Yes, we have registered-.)

 

 




Transylvania Polygnostic University ("Girl Genius" Universe, by Phil and Kaja Foglio)

Be true to your school!

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Pictures from the Wiscon 32 Fancy Dress Party, "Fantastic Groves of Academe."




Distinguished members of the Department of Maniacal Engineering, Transylvania Polygnostic University, Beetleburg, Romania.

More educational pictures behind the cut:

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After putting the party to bed, *BOTH* Georgie and I had 8:30AM Monday panels. Groan!

Mine was, "How Much Is Too Much?" I was on with moderator Sarah Monette, Catherynne Valente, and Elissa Malcohn, and we had a surprisingly good audience for that day and hour. Sarah brought in a pre-sliced raspberry Kringle (a Danish-Wisconsin pastry) as a "reward" for those who showed up.

The panel was mostly in agreement that mentioning evil-isms in your work is not an endorsment. Typically, they are there as a plot obstacle to be overcome, or to provide background expanation for the milieu the work is written in. There was a good discussion on the integrity of art in this context, the writing of real live yet not too-seductive villains, and other related topics with enthusiastic audience participation.

Georgie's panel was "Embarrassing Foremothers!" which looked at the down-sides of some proto-feminists. The panel was Georgie and Karen Moore due to the absence of a third panelist, but, as usual at WisCon, the audience filled in, and to Georgie's list of Les Preciuses, Carrie Nation, and Margaret Sanger, added women such as Emmeline Pankhurst, who was not only a suffragette, but a bona fide bomb-thrower as well. She reported that it was an interesting and fun discussion.

Our duties done, we spent the rest of the morning clearing out our room, registering for next year's WisCon (33!), saying good-bye, and standing in line to make hotel reservations for next time. On the way out of town I dropped off the beer barrel and collected my deposit, finishing the con business.

We had a good drive back home, and got mostly unpacked before going out to our traditional post-con dinner, burgers and custard at Kopp's. Then home and soon to bed, another successful WisCon in the can.

Next year's GoH's have been announced as Ellen Klages and Geoff Ryman. Talk about a dynamic duo--.
We slept in a bit Sunday morning, so I missed the "Pullman/Lewis Smackdown," which I would have liked to have seen, and which was by other's accounts quite good. Instead, we had a leisurely start and Georgie had time to prepare for her panel on "Why Return A King (or Queen)?" The panel, with Georgie as moderator, included Chris Hill, Tamora Pierce, Sarah Monette, and P.C. Hodgell, playing to a large and enthusiastic audience. The panel ranged over topics from 'bread and butter' arguments, such as that if you write stories set in medieval Europe, kings are the default government; to the "ideals" of kingship, in which "God's anoited" is the just ruler who is above politics; plus side excursions into other mythic kings such as the Fisher King and the Summer King/Winter King ideas.

After the panel, we went out for a quick lunch with David Bratman. After fighting the clouds of dust the winds were whipping up from the State Street construction zone, we were a bit dismayed to find that our goal, Mediterranean Cafe, was closed Sundays. We fell back on Potbelly's Deli, which provided us with quite good hot sandwiches.

Back at the hotel, we made rendesvous plans with co-conspirators Tracy Benton and Bill Bodden, and sallyed forth for the great Fancy Dress Party Grocery Shopping Expedition, which occupied the early part of the afternoon.

We got back in plenty of time for my panel, "On the Lifespan of Genres," moderated by Benjamin Rosenbaum. Joining me on the panel were Eleanor Arnason, Helen Keeble, and Steve Silver, filling in for absent Darja Malcolm-Clarke. The panelists were generally dismissive of John Barnes' premise, set forth in his "Helix" column, that genres have an inherent lifespan of about seventy years, after which they are "undead," but for different reasons. Eleanor provided some formal definitions of "genre" which sparked discussion as to whether the term was being used incorrectly, and if so, how. Steve Silver put his encyclopedic knowlege of SF publishing history and dates to good use, showing that Barnes' definition of SF as a genre having a starting point of 1927 (the "Amazing" era) was arguable at best. I showed how the resticted lifespan arguement was invalid when applied to any other genre, such as the Western story, let alone major art forms such as opera and the symphony. We had a good audience and a lot of participation, and I was very pleased with the panel.

After that, Bill and I went out to fetch the half-barrel of Capital Amber beer I had on reserve, and the party setup began in earnest.

This year's theme was "Fantastic Academe," and we had encouraged people to attend as graduates or faculty of schools they had, or would like to have had, attended. Georgie decorated the walls with school crests: Hogwarts, Miskatonic, Transylvania Polygnostic (from the "Girl Genius" comic), Pratchett's "Unseen University," and "Saganami Island," the space academy of the Honor Harrington universe.

The food theme was "Classic Wisconsin Graduation Party," honoring Maureen Kincaid Speller's matriculation from the University of Kent. Total surprise was obtained when Maureen first saw her smiling visage adorning the cake, and she was thrilled with the glitzy gown Tracy had made for her. If there was cake, there had to be ice cream, and there was. There was also the aforementioned bheer, cranberry-orange punch (popular recipe available on Tracy's journal "replyhazy"), cheese and sausage (natch), "taco dip" and chips, and cocktail franks in barbecue sauce.

Of course we costumed, and Tracy and Bill were quite spectacular in coordinating emebellished lab coats as members of the Transylvania Polygnostic faculty. Georgie was very 19th century elegant as "Headmistress of the Ladies' Academy of Grace Adieu." I had had Tracy make me a set of current doctoral regalia in my persona as "Sagramor the Sagacious," a long-lived sorceror who started his academic career at Oxford in 1208 and has collected schools and degrees up to Wisconsin 1979 (my own real class). We had some other good costumes show up, and were pleased to the extent other people dressed up for the evening even if not costuming.

The party went very well and we were pleased by it. Food and punch held out well. I had thought we had over bought the beer a bit, but got a last rush of thirsty fans after midnight; turns out there had been some very popular Dr. Who and "Galactica" panels that ran very late, and by the time the attendees got up to the sixth floor, other rooms were either out of beer or closed up for the night. When word went out that we had plenty of beer left, we were instantly popular! Things finally ran down shortly before two AM when we gave "last call" to the ten or so people left and closed up, at which time we may have been the last party open, even the con suite having closed due to the con contagion having taken a toll on their volunteers.
We started off Saturday with a stroll to the Square and croissants from L'Etoil's ground-floor cafe operation. Mmm, apple filled or marzipan filled croissants, plus pain au chocolat, it's hard to find better. If you haven't tried them you've missed a treat--. On second thought, never you mind, the line's long already--.

Next, Georgie was on the panel, "Is Reading a Choice that Closes Other Doors?" which was a deliberately contrarian topic for a literary-heavy convention. There was a very lively yet courteous discussion, lead by the panel, Betsy James, Georgie Schnobrich, Connie Toebe, Sue Blom and Beth Plutchak. A number of valid points were raised, including that reading takes up time that could be spent learning other skills, or interacting socially. Reading tends to drive out the oral tradition, and reliance on printed matter as a source of authority may supplant existing history, culture, and even language. I.e., if it is in a book, it must be important. Something that only old women know is therefore not important--. The panel was very well received, and I heard a considerable amount of interested discussion continuing as the audience left at the end.

It was then that our happy time was interrupted, as friends found us with the bad news that a close friend from Milwaukee had died that morning. We managed to pull ourselves together with a walk through the Art Show, and consoled ourselves with excellent sweets from the Tiptree Bake Sale. We agreed that Animal would want the "show" to go on, so we put the best face on it we could and soldiered on. Admittedly, WisCon is so absorbing, it is easy to forget your troubles while you are there.

The next panel we went to was "Curious Boundaries of YA Fantasy," a very interesting and informative panel, featuring Mary Anne Mohanraj, Tamora Pierce, Alma Alexander, Sarah Beth Durst, and Sharyn November. The panelists fearlessly discussed the considerations of writing and publishing "Young Adult" fiction (and its subcategories) and how much sex, death, and violence they felt fit in. Excellent discussion with an involved and interested audience.

During the next time slot, we walked around the dealer's room and talked with the many friends we found there. Due to budget constraints we couldn't afford much, but made many notes for the future.

The panel on "What Can't We Forgive?" was pretty much pure fun, as panelists Steve Schwartz, Susan Palwick, Judith Moffet, Ian Hagemann, and Vylar Kaftan lead the audience in hauling out and stomping on various author's literary offenses, which ranged surprisingly far beyond the usual suspects of Card and Heinlein. This, however, was the second time I encountered casual references to "Tolkien's racism" taken as a given, which disturbs me, but I will have to do more research before putting up a challenge. It seems to me that a "black orc" is no more referential to Africans than a black dragon is, and that a brief reference to offstage "swarthy Southrons" does not necessarily a racist make. However, it's been a long while since last I reread "Lord of the Rings," and I may be remembering it through "rose-colored" glasses--.

Saturday dinner was our annual excursion to L'Etoile with our friend Maureen Kincaid Speller, and an excellent meal was had accompanied by excellent conversation. L'Etoile's new management since the retirement of Odessa Piper seems to have driven even further into the doctrine of local, sustainable cuisine, to the extent that, looking at the previous weeks' menu which had still been posted outside that morning, it was going to be debatable if we could find an entree we could eat as is, since almost everything seemed to contain asparagus (which neither of us like), cheese (which Georgie is allergic to), or morels (which I am allergic to). Fortunately, the updated menu contained a chicken entree, which both Maureen and I had and found delicious, and Georgie's choice of halibut was succulent as well. For desserts, Maureen went back to the Artisanal Cheese Selection, and Georgie and I had the Sticky Toffee Pudding.

On the way out we stopped to say hi to Debbie Notkin's party, who were there as usual. Delia Sherman confided to us that she and Ellen had also eaten there the night before. I was impressed, and Delia agreed with me that that was "hard core."

After dinner, we looked into the Tiptree Auction briefly, just in time to see Ellen Klages get abducted by "The Spider Women of Queso Grande." I thought Ellen was capable of putting up a better fight, but it must have been something about the Cheesehead hat the wicked women forced on her head that sapped her strength and allowed them to drag her away--.

At 10:30PM, Georgie had "Making 'War' on 'War' Part 2" which was intended to be a continuation of the very successful and interesting panel last year, on trying to replace war language as America's dominant metaphor. Audience attendance was disappointing, which may well have been due to the mislabeling of the time slot in the pocket program grid and the doorside rosters. (See reference to programming database meltdown above; the Pocket Program was labeled as "built from duct tape and coded on a hamster-powered Difference Engine.") Georgie Schnobrich as moderator worked hard to keep the energy level up, and Shweta Narayan provided a very useful matrix showing linguistic breakdown of connotation in war language (showing, for example, why it is propagandically preferable to have a "war on" something instead of a "war with" something). Sylvia Kelso provided some contrarian analysis, but possibly the best idea of the panel came from Ian Hagemann, with an economic "scarcity" examination of war goals which I think should be rigorously applied to all appeals to go to 'war' of any sort. A very good, thoughtful panel, and a pity more people did not get to it.

A quick pass through the parties and then to bed, as we had a big day scheduled for Sunday.
Georgie and I drove into Madison about Friday noon. It had been a good day for driving and we were not inconvenienced by the minimal construction along our route. Our timing was very good, and we checked in with both the Con and the hotel with no waiting. We were pleased to have a corner room on the eighth floor, which made getting to and from the sixth floor very convenient.

We walked around the Gathering and schmoozed with friends at the OddCon Cow Tipping booth and others. With Georgie's encouragement, I joined the "Show us Your Tats" exhibition, and displayed my "Illuminati" tattoo*. I was pleased by the laughs I got for my explanation of it**.

The first panel we went to was "Not Enough Octopusses," ("Octopodes", as one of the panelists pedantically insisted--). This was one of the curious cases in which the person who proposed the panel didn't get put on it, although she was available (which may have been due to the apparent pre-con meltdown of the programming database--). The panelists, Mia Molvray, Doselle Young, Tom La Farge, and Ruthanna Emrys, put together an entertaining panel on "alien aliens," which was well worth while, but some of us would have liked to hear a bit more on the possibilities of octopodes as resident aliens, specifically. As a friend said, "the more we learn about them, the weirder and cooler they are." I did get a very useful question out of this panel which recurred in different form throughout the weekend. "Does you plot really REQUIRE an alien (elf, king, type of villain, etc.)?"

We went out to dinner at Kabul with friends Tim Kozinski and Judy Seidl, then headed back for Opening Ceremonies. Had a pleasant time chatting with Liz Henry (LJ badgerbag) and others before things started. Co-ordinators Carrie Ferguson and Betsy Lundsden opened with the obligatory acknowlegments of guests and staff, and the WisCon tradition of showing how many in the audience are panelists (many!) and how many are new (also many). There was a lengthy lists of announcements and adjurations, done, as others have noted, in a welcoming manner. Both Betsy and Carrie stayed on stage when it was taken over by the Carl Brandon Society for a "WisCon Filksing" which was quite funny. Kudos especially for ringleader Nisi Shawl and her back-up singers for "Filk Music Ain't Got No Soul."

We then went to the panel on "Elves and Dwarves: Racism in Fantasy." Vito Excalibur, Janine Young, Carol Hightshoe, Alma Alexander and Elise Matthesen lead a rambling and vigorous discussion touching on the origin of racial tropes in modern fantasy ("It's all Tolkien's fault," said one.); whether or not fantasy races "stand in" for varieties of humans necessarily, or not; and whether or not it is honest to define an entire race/species based on one or two characteristics. Although it was a generally good and entertaining panel, I was a bit put off by a couple remarks. After excoriating Tolkien for having predominantly tall blonde elves, one of the authors on the panel smugly (and apparently seriously) remarked that in HER books she had a 'sub-race' of elves that had dark hair--. Excuse me? A sub-race? Am I a different 'sub-race' of humans from blondes if I am dark-haired? I found this a rather egregious example of exactly the kind of Dungeons and Dragons based pseudo speciation that the panel was mostly against--.

Afterward, we took a very short tour through the sixth floor, chatted a bit, and went to bed fairly early. I was pleased by the snacks served at the Speculative Literature Foundation/Serendib Press/Carl Brandon Society/et al party, which included Indian sweets and tropical fruits, which were some of the most unusual of the convention. Our con was off to a very good start.

*Apologies to friends who might just be discovering here for the first time that I have a tattoo. I've always considered it a private matter and wouldn't have shown it off here if I hadn't been encouraged.

** The tattoo says, "Illuminati." I've always considered myself an Illuminatus. However, the Illuminati are a secret society, yes? So, an Illuminatus should not have a tattoo declaring that he is one. Therefore, what better way to deny you are an Illuminatus than by having a tattoo that says you are one? Plus, the design is really cool.
We hit town early Friday afternoon, and started the Con out by dropping in on The Gathering and generally driftng around there, the 2nd floor hall, dealer's room and con suite when open, saying hi to people and gerally touching base. We got dinner at one of our regular Madison spots, Dottie Dumpling's Dowry (great burgers and steak sandwiches), then back to the hotel for more smoffing before the Opening Ceremonies.

For the first time in years we wer in the audience rather than on stage. I was tickled that the Opening Cermonies sketch took the form of a Masque, which closed with a clever filk of "Rainbow Connection" called "Rainbow Convention." Bravo!

We cruised parties lightly before calling it an ealy night before retiring, since we both had early panels.

Saturday, Georgie launched into her 8:30 panel, "Underneath It All," with Elizabeth Bear, Carla M. Lee, and Jasmine Ann Smith. This panel was a pretty thourough exploration of "underground" as a theme in fiction and the various ways it is used. A full house and a good lively audience for that early hour contributed to a free-ranging and very informative discussion.

My first panel was "Officer Unfriendly" at 10:00AM. I moderated, with Richard Bowes, Sara Brodzinski, Lettie Prell, and Ekaterina G. Sedia. we ahd a very strong discussion on the problems of policing in the real world and how those are reflected in fiction. We pretty much agreed that, other than Lije Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw from Isaac Asimov's "The Naked Sun" and "The Caves of Steel," and "Gil the Arm," from the story series by Larry Niven, there aren't a lot of "hero cops" in SF. Instead, the police force tends to be made up of rebel cops fighting the system, cops hoplessly mired in the system (ala Phillip K. Dick), and "1984" Thought Police, dystopias being a lot mor common than utopias. (And, contrary to popular belief, most Utopias rely on rigid enforcement of laws and social norms.)

Over the lunch break, we dined on Con Suite hot dogs, a sugar and chocolate fix from the Tiptree Bake Sale, and then did some serious huckster room diving. We picked up orders from DreamHaven and Rider's Dolls, and I filled in the hole in my "Girl Genius" folio collection at 20th Century Books.

After lunch, Georgie went to "Three Comrades Go On a Quest," and I devaited up to the sixth floor for "SM in Feminist Science Fiction," which also played to a very full house. Works discussed were broken down into "well written", "phiosophically interesting," and "hot." Interestingly, there was not much discussion of actual feminist or not, although most of the works mentioned might have been considered at least "not-too-sexist" by virtue of being represented at all. I was kind of surprised that the more "hard-core" readers were quite dismissive of Jacquline Carey's "Kushiel" books, and that there were some people in the audience that welcomed a reissue of Lichtenberg's "Sime/Gen" books. (Very interesting, since it was the late Susan Wood's massive dissing of those stories that was a massive controversy at WisCon 2 and helped put future WisCons on the overtly feminist track.)
The very fun peortion of this panel was "who's writing SM but doesn't know they are," with the late David Feintuch ("Midshipman's Hope," et al)being prominently mentioned. (I wondered to myself if self-flagellation counted--Feintuch's main character spends much of the series mentally beating himself up--.)

Next, we both went to the "Ten-Foot Shelf of Perdition" panel, which was to warn us off of bad books. The panelists had far less than ten feet worth of books prepared, but the audience filled in by enthusiastically tramping on various literary excesses and stupid author tricks, not all in SF & F.

Following that, we went to "Sarcasm and Superheroes," which updated us on the current state of female superheroes and feminist cricism thereof, chiefly by younger women witers and editors. Very interesting, but not actually very sarcastic, with particular concern at the extent to which heoines and the significant others of heros have been the victims of rape and/or murder lately. Some very good discussion of good comics to introduce to new readers, either adult or child.

For dinner, we kept up our Saturday tradition of dining at L'Etoile accompanied by Maureen Kincaid-Speller and Paul Kincaid. Both dinner and company were excellent as always.

After dinner, Paul was on the panel "Making War on 'War'", and had some excellent things to say, along with Jean Mornard, Chris Nakashima-Brown, Wendy Allison Walker, Laurel Winter, and a very engaged audience. (I had proposed this panel, but hadn't shown myself as available for this time slot--). I was very pleased by the work done in this panel trying to find alternatives to the "war" metaphor that pemeates so much of our discourse. I still tend to like my own proposal of seeking "solutions" rather than "victories," but there were some very good other proposals as well: i particularly liked Nakashima-Brown's enthusiastic proposal to "hack terrorism," which I think could have good application. We had an interesting discussion with Dr. M.J. Hardman after the panel, and found she has done some work in her classes along the same lines, and we will be proposing a follow-on panel for next year.

Again, we had early panels Sunday AM. I maintain that having the "New Atheism" panel on at 8:30AM on Sunday was some scheduler's idea of a jest, but there has been some historical precedent for religion panels to end up on Sunday morning in the past--. Heidi Lampetti did a good job of moderating a panel composed of me, Jorjet Harper, Laurie J. Marks, and Doselle Young. We all identified as 'atheists' with varying degrees of toleration for "spiritual" pursuits. We also had a very interesting and interested audience which entered with us into a "spirited" discussion of what atheism is, how the "new atheists", who take the position that religion and belive in God are activley harmful, differ from past positions, and why they are coming out on this topic now. My opinion is that their rhetorical bomb-throwing arises from frustation that the reactionary religious seem to have all the "bully pulpits" and that liberal churches are not being heard. Quick, can you name a prominent liberal clergyman? Other than the late William Sloane Coffin, I can't. I bet we can all name three or four well-know religious Rightists--.

During the mid-day break, we looked in on the belly-dance demo, which seemed well-attended and had some very good leaders. Kudos to Tracy Benton for getting it on the program, although I know the scheduling and other issues caused her a lot of heartburn.

After lunch, I was on the "Male Allies" panel, organized and moderated by Ian Hagemann, Aaron Lichtov, Benjamin Micah Rosenbaum, and Jef A. Smith. This panel was intended to bring out some realistic approaches to how men can help in the feminist cause without telling women what they should be should be doing, or taking a paternalistic approach to "lifting" women "up." Although this problem has no simple solution, I thought much good was brought out on the idea that this was an ongoing work that none of us was going to see the end of: as Aaron quoted, "It is not for you to complete the work, but neither may you abandon it altogether." this was my last panel of the convention as a participant, and I thought it very good. I was pleased that I got very good feedback from both men and women regarding my contributions to all three panels I was on, so had a particularly good WisCon in that regard.

After the panel, I met up with Georgie, Tracy Benton and Bill Bodden, and we went out to do the last shopping for the Fancy Dress Party. Our shopping trip ended about four fifteen, and we took a break to relax and read a bit before starting the party prep about 5:45. We rearranged the room, decorated with garden "wallpaper" from a Disney Princess party kit to represent the Elysian Fields, and worked until just before party time prepping food, setting up the drink fountain, and getting into costume. (I tend to mind the drinks, so I dressed as Bacchus, in a crown of vine leaves, cotton tunic, and "toga" of a purple sari fabric.) Georgie dressed as Emer the Riddler, wise wife of Chuhulainn; Tracy as Undine, a water spirit; and Bill as The Green Knight. After the expected slow start due to GoH speeches, the party really took off and was one of the most energetic parties on the floor. We had a lot of good costumes show up, including our friends Judy and Bob Seidl, Judy as Susan B. Anthony in a deep violet Victorian dress and a sash reading "Votes For Women", and Bob as Paul Bunyan. Elise Matthisen had a really splendid sea-goddess outfit of green satin, accessorized with a shell-beaded hat acquired at the art show and shoes decorated in the oceanic motif that had been done overnight. We had a mischevious Eris, a cleverly done Xena, and a spectacular grouping of the "Birds of Prey" team from DC Comics, lead by Liz Henry as Oracle, and including Black Canary, Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, Power Girl, and Big Barda.

We had some fun food ideas, the central offering being the "Make Yourself A Hero" sandwich line. There were golden apples, chocolate (food of the gods!), Bugles (miniature cornucopias)and others. Georgie offered guests the Hazelnuts of Wisdom. A box ominous marked "Do Not Open!" sat on one of the tables. Thos who did so found inside a "can of (gummi) worms." The fountain ran with wine (sangria) and the ever-popular asti spumante and sparkling fruit juice made up the beverage offerings.

We stayed open until 1 AM, when things began to wind down and we began to fade. Other parties and the constant hall chatter went on until well after we were done breaking down at 2AM--.

Monday morning, we had energy to hit one panel, the "Boy Books? Girl Books?" panel on books for children and young people. Moderator Sharyn November rathr tended to dominate this panel, but she's an entertaining speaker and knew a lot of good dirt about the publishing biz, so we didn't mind.

We strolled through the "sign out" and I acquired four good Andre Norton collections in hard cover from the Tiptree dollar sale for a buck each.

All in all, a very good con. We are all ready registered and planning for next year.

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