The domestic and laboratory goddess, in her answer to our question about science fiction and science bloggers, talked a little about the female role models available to a young budding scientist. This prompted me to realize that I have readers, too new to have heard me waxing enthusiastic about WisCon, who would love this convention.
WisCon is the first and foremost feminist science fiction convention in the world. WisCon encourages discussion, debate and extrapolation of ideas relating to feminism, gender, race and class. WisCon honors writers, editors and artists whose work explores these themes and whose voices have opened new dimensions and territory in these issues. And, oh yes, we also like to have fun while we’re at it.
WisCon is my “home” convention, the one I attend every year, even though it’s a four- to five-hour drive to Madison to get there. It’s a convention of grown-ups but isn’t too grown-up. It has the highest ratio of published authors to fans of any convention I know, but the media programming is great too. It has an academic track, child care, a civilized con suite and commitments to access for people with disabilities and dignity for people with unconventional gender and sexual identities. Oh, and a hot tub.
The James Tiptree, Jr. Award (named after Alice B. Sheldon and supported by a bake sale and auction), is given “for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender” at the convention. This year’s guests of honor are Ellen Klages, who made a room full of people go from laughter to tears in less than five minutes two years ago, and Geoff Ryman, a former Tiptree winner and reportedly most graceful wearer of the tiara in Tiptree history.
As you can probably tell, there’s no good way to explain this convention. It’s utterly unlike the stereotype of a science fiction convention, except in the ways it isn’t. The only way to find out whether it’s for you is to check it out. It doesn’t happen until May, but don’t wait. Registration is capped at 1,000 people, and right about now is the time it fills up.
Go see, and maybe I’ll see you there.