Thursday, May 28, 2009


So let me say I think it's shameful, but I've never been to WisCon. I've lived in Wisconsin my entire life, the entire time of which this con has been up and running, and yet I've never been. And now I really question why I've never gone. It was the most relaxed and organized con I've ever been to, and I've been to some badly organized cons, including a Buffy one in the Catskills where the waiting staff only spoke Italian and the hotel hadn't been renovated since Frank Sinatra stayed there some 30 years previously. For the uninitiated WisCon is "The World's Leading Feminist Science Fiction Convention" which celebrated it's 33rd year this past weekend. They have a wide range of authors and other media types that converge on the Concourse to discuss, hang, meet and generally have fun, all for the low price of $45 (not including all that you'll spend in the dealers room). They have face painting and magical knitting and panels and dinners and award recipients.

Due to events of the past week I didn't feel like interacting too much with people so I just went to a few events of the authors I wanted to see, but I'm planning on returning next year to be a more active versus passive participant. When I arrived I was given a packet which had a wonderful circa bound program of events with all the information I could possibly need from guest biographies to maps of the hotel. From there I attended the Gathering, there primarily for the event Galley Ho! But the Gathering also had a wide range of events from more carnivalesque games, like a cow throw and balloon animals to a vintage clothing exchange. I also attended the dealer's room, which besides having independent publishers selling their fare, they also had a few bookstores from DreamHaven Books to Madison's own, A Room of One's Own. I walked away with a slightly lighter wallet after getting a few great books and two Coraline action figures.

On Saturday I found out that an author I like was there, and I didn't know it, so that was a nice surprise to find Catherynne M. Valente present and willing to sign my books. I attended a panel with Patricia C. Wrede entitled "Kick Ass Moms" which discussed the trend in fantasy and sci-fi to not even mention women as mothers, where they either don't have children or they time lapse the series to skip the child rearing years to pick up after they are grown. Some good kick ass moms that were discussed are Piper Halliwell from Charmed, Sarah Connor, Allison DuBois from Medium as well as the totally awesome Nanny Ogg, who really should have a panel all her own just on the hedgehog song. On Sunday I attended a panel with Caroline Stevermer on wish fulfillment, which was good but odd to say the least, with half the panel being more young adult and discreet and the other half talking a lot about slash and men on men action. I liked the summing up of wish fulfillment with a a nod to Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin wishes for his own continent but Hobbes wished for a sandwich, and Hobbes is the one who's wish is fulfilled.

Finally on Monday was the SignOut, this is the designated time where you can get all the books you've been accumulating and hoarding signed. As you can probably guess from me attending the Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer panels that they were the authors I was here to see, due to their wonderful Kate and Cecelia books, Sorcery and Cecelia, The Grand Tour and The Mislaid Magician (with Magic Below Stairs hinted as a prequel coming next summer!)They were very nice and gracious, I could tell that Patricia C. Wrede doesn't seem to like the signings as much, being a "To_____" and "Patricia C. Wrede" person, whereas Caroline Stevermer would add a little comment, which I just love. But to give them their due, they signed everything I brought, which was all the Kate and Cecelia books, as well as the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the new Frontier Magic Series, the Scholarly Magic Series and River Rats.

So all in all a great con, low stress, low cost, high interest and definitely repeatable. Plus who knows who will be there or who has been there and will make it big down the way, as Caroline Stevermer said to me. With past names like Charles De Lint, Ursula Le Guin, Terri Windling and George R. R. Martin, anyone could stop by so go see what I'm talking about now!


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