A Tragicomical, Unsophisticated Blog about the Weird, the Absurd, and the Banal

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On Wiscon, 2011

It was a weekend, mostly sleepless.  There were Panels, Drinks, very involved discussions about Failure (more on that in a moment), a Viking, Poets, Editors, Writers, Fans, and Activists.  Too much to tell, really.  Being unable to encapsulate it all, or even give a fair sum-up, I'll deliver the Highlights.

The Viking
One of my friends from traveling through Germany happens to live in Madison.  Whenever I am in the area I try to let him know and we usually end up going out for drinks.  This round was a fairly unusual experience since I was more or less in my element, surrounded by people involved in the production of speculative fiction.  The Viking, though aptly named (a bear of a man with long, blond hair and an affinity to all things Norse) and a biology geek, seemed to struggle surrounded by that much Weird.

All the same, there was beer and hard-science geeks, so after a few he was fine.  We drifted from party to party asking a few polite questions here and there in order to make our way to the food and drinks tables and then drifted back out into the hall again where we repeated the process.  Evidently this is very typical of cons.

I finally saw Buffy episode "Once More, With Feeling."  I was in an appropriate setting: a room filled with several dozen fans singing along.

Recent political turmoil is still a hot topic in Madison, which was really no surprise.  I also was not shocked to find that the majority of the political people at Wiscon had no love for Governor Walker.  It was interesting to see that the Wrath I had witnessed on the news had since transformed into Calculated Warfare.

For many years I've heard the word "Fail" tossed around to describe Appalling Mistakes made that offended minority identities.  The one that immediately springs to mind is a writing teacher telling a student of color that she couldn't write about rich people because she had "no experience with them."  I had not realized until this weekend, though, that it has become a proper term.

Wiscon – and I guess cons in general – is deeply concerned with Failure.  There was a panel on it, which I did not attend.  Failure still crept into basically every conversation I had while in Madison.  This troubled me for reasons I am not yet able to articulate.

Maybe more on this one later, when I've had a chance to mull.

My favorite panel was easily Susan Marie Groppi's (of Strange Horizons) brainchild, "Science Fiction in the Classroom," even though I was not, strictly speaking, invited.  It was essentially a couple dozen educators sitting around talking shop.  They went over such topics as: Ursula K Le Guin and philosophy; how the Icarus in Sunshine can be used to teach and avoid bad engineering; utilizing advance design techniques to create monsters; and so much more.  I had a wonderful time sitting and listening.

My not-so-secret, self-serving aspiration is to pester the Wiscon administration into making an online forum so that educators can continue the discussion and I can keep eavesdropping.  Ostensibly, I justify this by saying that I aspire to be an educator.  Really, I just get a rush off of listening to teachers talk.  Yes, I've been too thoroughly indoctrinated.

Very little to say here except that I did not realize how many poets there are.  A had a smashing time meeting various editors and being able to geek out Peculiar Things like rhyme and meter.

Daily Science Fiction
I found out some months ago that the fantastic editors of Daily Science Fiction wished to publish my short story, "Apology," but for a while I wasn't really sure when.  The first day of the con I got a letter telling me that it will be sent out to subscribers this Friday and then posted on DSF's website a week later.  Check it out.

That's all.  'Til then. 


  1. Hello. Just finished reading your short story on DSF and thought it was damn good. Feels like most stories ignore what's really going on around us, what's truly scary, but your story nailed it spot-on for me.

    Take care, and hope to see another story soon! -Todd

  2. Hi, Sam. Just read your story as well. Very well done - I really enjoyed it.

    Quite absurd, and full of reality. I think everyone has felt that sense of powerlessness at some point in their life!

  3. Sarah and Todd -- Thank you both for your kind comments.