Saturday, May 24, 2008

WisCon, Day the Second

It's been another busy day. I got up, ate breakfast, swam for half an hour in the lovely hotel pool, and then headed off to the Guest-of-Honor reading by L. Timmel du Champ. On the way, I browsed a little in the Farmer's Market, which includes craft booths, and congratulated myself on not buying anything.

After the reading, I had lunch with Alexis, who reads my blog and whom I met in person for the first time during last year's WisCon. We ate at a yummy Japanese place and talked about medicine and literature, her upcoming medical boards (good luck, Alexis!), and various ethical dilemmas raised by healthcare in minority communities. It was a great conversation.

Back to the convention, where I knit through two panels. The first was a very interesting discussion of Disability in SF/F. Alexis and I had wondered if the panelists would talk about "invisible disabilities" like chronic pain and depression. I got there a little late, but the panelists and audience were discussing depression when I arrived, and returned to it throughout the panel. One of the audience members was a rehab physician who offered some interesting viewpoints on disability and narrative. Very good panel.

Then, for something completely different and much lighter, I went to the "Captain Jack's Big Gay Torchwood" panel, where a rollicking good time was had by all (and where there was also a bit of more serious discussion about treatment of sexual orientation in TV shows).

Next up was "What We Can't Forgive," one of my two panels. During the pre-panel chat in the Green Room, one of my fellow panelists had said (if I understood him correctly) a) that he can't forgive stupidity and b) that anyone who doesn't see that Tolkien's a racist is stupid. He backed quickly and graciously away from quite that strong a position when I made it clear that I teach and love Tolkien and try to bring my students to a nuanced, rather than monolithic, understanding of racial issues in his work. The panel itself was very civilized, thank goodness, although that same panelist ended on a gleefully wicked note by saying that he doesn't read fantasy because he's never seen an interesting fantasy premise. (Fighting words! Fighting words!) I've been at conventions where this exchange would have ended in blows -- that actually happened, memorably, at a Lunacon panel entitled "Is Violence Necessary" -- but instead, after the panel, I asked my respected opponent if he'd read John Crowley. The only thing he'd read was "Great Work of Time," which he considered too imperialist. I like this person, who's extremely smart and articulate, but I suspect that he still thinks I'm stupid because I like Tolkien.

Oh well.

I was very ready for dinner by then. Inez treated me and Nita to an excellent meal, and on the way, we stopped at a bag shop and all bought new purses (mine was a new fanny pack, which is larger and more conveniently shaped than the one I had been using). Inez and I are very good at enabling each other at shopping.

After that, the three of us went to the first ninety minutes of the Tiptree Auction, where Ellen Klages was in her usual fine form as a hilarious auctioneer, aided by people in costumes who popped up every now and then to do skits. By the time we left, the auction had already raised at least a thousand dollars, and since it usually raises several thousand, I'm sure that happened this time, too.

We stopped briefly by the party floor. First stop: the Reno in 2011 Worldcon Bid Party. Yes, someone wants to have a Worldcon in Reno! Inez and I were, of course, very enthusiastic about this: I donated $20 to the cause and am now an Early Supporter or somesuch. I hope it happens. I usually don't get to go to Worldcon because it's held over Labor Day Weekend, smack in the middle of the start of school, but if it were in my hometown, I'd certainly attend at least some of it.

We then went to the Haiku Earring party, where one chooses a pair of handmade earrings, is given a title based on the earrings, writes a haiku based on the title, and (if the haiku is deemed acceptable) gets to take the earrings home. Great fun. Cool earrings.

Inez went back to her room at that point, and I said goodnight to Nita and stopped in briefly at the Tor Party before heading back to my own digs. My throat feels much better today, but my tummy's a bit rumbly, and sleep seems like a good idea.

And so, good night!


  1. Thank you for your support, Susan! It's quite possible you have the honor of being the first local Reno in 2011 pre-supporter. We're delighted to have you on board.

    Might we entice you to serve as an electronic native guide or otherwise help us learn and share more information about Reno with fans? Only our bid chair and a few of our committee members have visited so far, though more of us plan to do so in the near future. But even with that, we'd certainly benefit from your knowledge and perspective on the area.

    It sounds like WisCon is going well. I love Madison's Farmer's Market around the Capitol -- years ago, I picked up morel mushrooms there, then sauteed and served them in the WisCon consuite Sunday night.

    With keen regard,
    Geri Sullivan

    (Fellow knitter, friend of Haiku Party Hostess Elise M., and member of the Reno in 2011 bid committee)

  2. I'm glad they were talking about the invisible disabilities at the panel. And I find your other panelist hilarious (and perhaps he's only attempted to read some of the fiction we discussed that produces poor copycat imitations in your class?). After all, even if a book is blatantly racist (and I don't think Tolkien is, but rather perhaps a product of a time commenting on it as such), it can still be a great learning tool and good literature.

    I also always find it interesting when people say they "can't forgive stupidity" or its variants. I always want to ask "what does stupidity mean to you?" with the thought that the world can be a very narrow and lonely place depending on your definition.

    Anyway, as ever, it was good to see you again :).

  3. Wonderful sounding experiences, Susan. I've been to a WorldCon once, when it was held in San Antonio. It was loads of fun although my ex and I didn't know that there were things to do all the days and we should have bought full passes.

    Okay, on the racism in Tolkien thing, please educate me? I love the guys work, you know that, and I had no idea there was any racism in it till you mentioned it in this post. Then I Googled it and came up with plenty of stuff on it but only really read the article at the first link which is here. The start of that article said that someone had declared it racist because the good guys were white and the bad guys were black. I pretty much stopped reading at that point because the only question that came to mind was, "What colors were good and evil before the racism of slavery and color came on the scene?" Figure I don't know enough about the issue to make a good understanding of it if I don't know the answer to that one.

    Can't wait to read tomorrow's post!

    Peace! Hope! & Joy!

  4. Your fellow panelist is bringing his own issues to Tolkien (and Crowley), and racism and imperialism are his issues. If one has some big nails to pound down, everything looks like a hammer.


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