Notes From Wiscon 4

Strictly speaking, these are notes post-Wiscon. We lit out of Madison at lunchtime today, and have now safely arrived (after a slightly alarming cab ride) at the Union Square Inn in New York. But to tie up the loose ends:

  • Sunday was very much a social day for me; the only programmed item I went to was Kelly Link and Laurie Marks’ combined guest of honour speech (which I enjoyed). Otherwise the day was about hanging out and having good conversations. Notes for various panels are popping up on the Wiscon lj community, though.
  • Actually, I tell a lie: the parties were on the program, and Sunday was the day of the Strange Horizons Tea Party, which was hectic but which seemed to go well, as well as various room parties later in the day (and, I gather, a secret dance party that eventually happened after I went to bed).
  • This morning was a bit of a blur of packing, goodbyes, incredibly sugary and cinnamony cinnamon rolls, and a quick swing around the sign-out to get some books inscribed. (I am also rather proud of my copy of Twenty Epics, which I think I managed to get signed and/or doodled on by every contributor at the con.) In between I went to The Future of Feminism, which somewhat ironically left me wanting to read a good one-volume history of English-language (or Western) feminism, to give me a slightly more coherent context for everything. Any suggestions?
  • Other snapshots: listening to Graham trying to explain cat macros to Ted Chiang; high-fiving Meghan about crime-fighting hotties with killer bodies; the incredible hand-made truffles at the Interstitial Arts Foundation party; chatting to someone who’d been to 22 Wiscons at the Strange Horizons party; explaining why my badge said Njäll; the largest baklava ever; breakfasts with the Brits (and a rotating cast of guest stars) at Michelangelo’s.
  • All of which is to say I had a good time and am left with a contended post-con glow (enough that I’d like to go back, although I’d also like to try other US cons, particularly Readercon and ICFA); but I know not everyone’s first Wiscon went as well as mine, and some of the reasons are ones I think it wouldn’t hurt for Wiscon to take on board. See, for example, Rose Fox’s con report; I spoke to several other people over the course of the weekend who had at least some of the same reservations.
  • And I succumbed and bought one final book: Busy About the Tree of Life by Pamela Zoline. I haven’t counted the final tally, exactly; they did all fit in my suitcase, but they also made my suitcase weigh rather more than the airline allowance for checked baggage, so posting a box to the UK sometime this week may not be a terrible idea.

12 thoughts on “Notes From Wiscon 4

  1. Niall – just on that question about a feminism book, I’d suggest any anthology by Mary Eagleton (who seems to put together the best), and as for a history, well, my preference is for Toril Moi’s Sexual/Textual Politics, which is an old-ish book now but still very good. It does cover a lot of French feminism, however, as it was historically the split between American and French feminism where the interest lay.

  2. Not quite an answer to your feminism question – it’s a bit more general – but can I recommend (and loan you) Rosalind Miles, The Women’s History of the World?

  3. Should you wish to try pierogi at midnight (or indeed any other time of day), you could check out Veselka on 9th Street and 2nd Avenue, since it’s not far from where you’re staying. You are also very close to the two best dessert places in New York City, Veniero’s (11th Street and First Avenue) and Chikalicious (10th St. between First and Second).

  4. I seriously love DEBS so much. Apparently it started as a short film that’s even better. And it was great to finally meet you, Niall!

  5. Aiee, linkage! No objections thereto, of course–it’s a public post, after all, and I suspected it might get passed around a bit–but I’m glad I know to brace for comments from unexpected sources.

    I’m very glad you had a good first Wiscon. I was hoping to spend more time hanging out with you and am very glad we’ve got plans for Wednesday and will be able to actually, y’know, sit and talk rather than standing and shouting. Speaking of which, drop me a note so that I know where to meet you when; barring further communication I shall come down to your hotel around 18:30. Josh is off work earlier, around 3, so let him and/or me know if you want to meet up with him then or wait for me. He’s an equally able and entertaining tour guide.

  6. The Toril Moi book is one that I think is referenced in Marleen Barr’s feminist sf anthology Future Females. If you’re looking specifically on sf and feminism, this is a good start, and Sarah LeFanu’s In the Chinks of the Wold Machine (Women’s Press) is pretty much essential,as is Joanna Russ’s How to Suppress Women’s Writing. Also well worth taking a look at Jeffrey Smith’s Khatru 3/4 fanzine symposium. Not sure if this latter has been put online recenty, but reprint copies were available from Jean Gommoll. [Apologies if I’ve spelt that surname wrong, typing from memory.]
    Not specifically sf, On Gender and Writing ed. Michelle Wandor (Pandora)


  7. Sheila Rowbotham’s A Century of Women is good for the past hundred-odd years’ history of feminism in the U.S. and UK. All the other examples that come to mind are more limited in scope.

  8. It’s interesting to read Rose Fox’s Wiscon report. I agree that Wiscon’s programming is not in the same league as Readercon’s; there was actually a panel last year about how to improve the programming where some interesting suggestions were made, but I didn’t see them implemented. As for the insularity of Wiscon, I probably don’t have enough basis for comparison.

  9. Rose: I’ll email, but 6.30 at the hotel sounds fine. Regarding the linkage: yeah, I figured you didn’t make it public by accident, and it seemed worth spreading around a bit.

    Steve: I’ve read In the Chinks and How to Suppress and Khatru (in fact I think I still have Mark’s copy of one of those); I’m specifically after a more general history of feminism, not an sf-focused one.

  10. Being a con fan and yet not being able to go often enough, I love reading people’s reports on conventions, especially if pix are also included. Living vicariously through other con attendees can be fun.

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