Notes From Wiscon 3

Thanks to my cunning plan of travelling out light (and thus leaving more room to travel home heavy, laden with books), I have left the con hotel for the delights of Laundry 101. I was planning to spend this time making a final assault on the current Orange Prize book, Half of a Yellow Sun, with which I am not really getting on, but it seems they have free wi-fi here too, so here are some notes on yesterday’s Wiscon happenings instead.

  • Started the day with a wander round the farmer’s market, as instructed by all and sundry, which resulted in a breakfast composed of the most cinnamon-y and sugar-y cinnamon whirls ever. Mmm.
  • Got back in time for the last two-thirds of a panel on editing anthologies: some interesting background on the economics of it, and the merits of open vs. closed anthologies, but overall a bit of a disappointment; I think the main problem was that it was in a much bigger room than it needed, which dampened down discussion somewhat. (Another audience member’s notes here.)
  • After lunch, went to “The Foremothers of Today’s Feminist SF“, which saw interesting discussions of the work of Ursula Le Guin, Naomi Mitchison and others, as well as some good points about how today’s feminist sf differs from its forebears, but never really got around to the bit of the panel description that interested me the most (how do new readers react to earlier feminist sf). I recorded this one, so there’ll probably be a transcript at some point somewhere.
  • Next up was “Can Technology be the Answer?“, which was missing a panelist and seemed somewhat under-attended, although that was probably because it was scheduled opposite Cultural Appropriation Revisited. Somewhat predictably, the answer to the question was “no”, which led to discussion of how sf (and society in general) tends to simplify how new technology affects society. The point was made, I forget by who, that the very clear stimulus-development-consequence path followed by nuclear weapons is (a) how a lot of sf treats any new technology and (b) almost the only real-world example of such a pattern. Also discussed was the tension between needing new technology to open up new options, and the problems of developing technology without a clear need in mind.
  • Then it was time for Laurie J. Marks and Kelly Link interviewing each other, which covered a lot of ground (including discussion of what makes something YA, which is a theme that’s much more obvious here than it has been at any UK con I’ve been to; Mely reports from a panel I wish I’d gone to here), and which I also recorded.
  • Out to dinner with David, Kameron, Karen, Jed, Susan, Matt, Liz, Graham, Lawrence, and Jackie, which I really enjoyed; then back to the hotel for a bit of Tiptree auction, a bit of bar discussion, an (excellent) late-night panel on good criticism (also recorded for later transcription), and a bit of Small Beer press party. Lots more people met; only very briefly in some cases, but it’s still good to have faces and voices to go with the names. (And I should say, too, that it’s been good to see the people I already know but don’t get to hang out with enough.)
  • I have managed to restrain myself from buying more books. Unfortunately, I have collected a moderately-sized pile of review copies …

3 Responses to “Notes From Wiscon 3”

  1. imani Says:

    You’re not getting along with the Adichie? That breaks my heart. (Is this your first from her? Because her “Purple Hibiscus” really is outstanding ( and shorter).)

  2. Niall Says:

    I haven’t read Purple Hibiscus, no. I suspect I’m not going to write a full review of Half of a Yellow Sun, because I don’t even dislike it, really — I’m just bored by it. It’s just sort of stodigly there, being average, not provoking any kind of reaction.

  3. Graham Says:

    The point was made, I forget by who, that the very clear stimulus-development-consequence path followed by nuclear weapons is (a) how a lot of sf treats any new technology and (b) almost the only real-world example of such a pattern.

    *coughs politely*


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