WisCon Is Not Your Momma’s Con

Friends at WisCon 31It would be impossible to adequately summarize WisCon in a blog post and I’m not going to pretend to try. The reasons are two-fold: first, explanations can never surpass the actual experience of being at such a unique Con. And second, I’ve had enough alcohol this weekend for three people, and my brain is slightly harder than mush.

But here are some things I learned while there:

Flying can be fun if you get drunk on the plane. At least on Continental Airlines, they will happily serve you two little bottles at once. Also, apparently knitting needles are allowed on board (the knitting woman told me they were tin while the stewardess and I looked on astonished.) Kurt Vonnegut is good reading at 36,000 feet, and apropos to WisCon being the feminist convention, our pilot out to Madison was a woman.

I found this little pamphlet in my baggage when I got home which said it was searched by the TSA. I felt both violated and thankful.

As an editor I learned many things: I learned that I held preconceptions about how one should reach out to potential submitters, about race, gender, and stereotypes, and dozens of other notions. For example, a black woman on one panel told me about an all-black Con she goes to where attendees are unlikely to go to a mostly white Con even as welcoming as WisCon for fear that they are not welcome.

I want to go to that Con.

I learned that (and this is anecdotal but I believe it’s true) that 57 percent of book readers/buyers are women, that more women read science fiction than men, and yet the table of contents of the major SF magazines have a dearth of people lacking in Y-chromosomes.

Sybil’s Garage is an exception to this, with 12 of 18 of our latest issue’s authors being women. I would also like to point out that this was not intentional on our part, but merely a fact of what we chose from the slush, and probably a reflection of what I like to read in general. Nevertheless, it was heartening to hear that we were well-applauded in the publishing circles for this.

I learned that beer can be a great way to advertise. Darin Bradley put his own highly creative labels on beer to advertise Farrago’s Wainscot. It is pronounced fuh-RA-go, with the accent on the second syllable, RA. (I kept saying “Frogger” to remind myself.)

In one drunken brainstorming session on the floor of the hallway, seven of us tried to come up with the new name for the fantasy version of Escape Pod. Heather Lindsley came up with PodCastle. We are hoping it sticks.

One should not try to make an intellectual argument for the basis of a magazine’s existence when one’s BAC is above, oh, say ten percent.

John Klima is a funny sonofabitch and he’s also one really cool guy.

Rick Bowes is totally charming, fascinating, and an all around good guy. I knew this already, but time spent talking with him was a tiny treasure.

It is difficult to be “on” all the time at a Con. Personally, I must be editor-Matt, publisher-Matt, writer-Matt, and even web-programmer-Matt. After I while I just wanted to be sleeping-Matt but ended up being zombie-Matt. Please forgive me if at moments I seemed less than eloquent.

Kelly Link is the funniest, perhaps smartest writer working in SF today. My evidence of such? Her zombie survival kit which Heather Lindsley purchased for $150 at the Tiptree auction. Among such cool things inside: a deck of Magic for Beginners playing cards to while away the time waiting for zombies to attack. A sewing kit to close wounds and reattach severed limbs. And a tiara (proudly worn by Heather) to proclaim oneself queen of the zombies.

Working the dealer table (I worked John Klima’s of Electric Velocipede) is a great way to meet people because everyone walks through the dealer room at some point in their day. My advice: work 10:30am to 2:00pm as everyone wanders in before and after lunch.

Swimming in your boxers can be fun, and all of you are cowards for sitting on the sidelines and poking fun while yours truly enjoyed the cool water. If you see such videos on Youtube, remember that.

I didn’t get to say hello/goodbye to many, many people, and for those I missed, I want to say I’m sorry. It was a truly world-shattering experience for me and I send my telepathic (and electronic) thanks to all those who made it possible.

Anyway, there’s always next year.

And oh yeah, here’s some photos.

8 Replies to “WisCon Is Not Your Momma’s Con”

  1. Ditto all of that, and great pictures! The freakiest is of those dozens of naked GI Joe dolls imprisoned in that box. Now that I’m sober I can ask: What’s up with that? Was that some sort of con-themed metaphor?

    Oh, and some of the runnerup suggestions for the fantasy version of Escape Pod (as best as I can remember) included: Once A Pod a Time (by Eugene), and The Wizard of Pods (by yours truly). Okay, the tiara-wearing zombie-queen Heather wins; PodCastle it is.

    I would’ve taken the boxer-clad plunge into that hot tub/pool but (1) there were a gaggle of 14 year old girls in the pool watching curiously; (2) Tempest had a video function on her camera and a wicked gleam in her eye; (3) thin fabric plus shrinkage plus YouTube equals bad idea. But hey, I give you credit. I guess. (What I found especially funny was when you met Ekaterina Sedia for the first time the next day and she offered to loan you a pair of swimming trunks! Talk about a small community!)

  2. A blast indeed!

    I wish I could take credit for the beer labels. Actually, those were affixed by my agents. Each bottle was promoting a different client they represent. But wasn’t that homebrew tasty? Man!

    I also wish I could make Readercon and WFC.

  3. Matt

    Greatly enjoyed talking to you too. Sorry we didn’t get to do more of it. But I was a fairly marginal presence and functioning at all only because of Chris Barzak’s patience.


  4. Mercurio, PodCastle was taken by Disney! Doh! Your suggestions are good. I also suggested “Golden Egg” from the Aesop fable.

    Darin, I realized that the labeled beer was from someone else after reading your blog post. At that point of the evening on Saturday, clarity was not something I owned.

    Rick, will we see you at WisCon?

  5. The two things that stick with me from the convention are the intelligence of the audiences at the panels and the binge drinking at the parties.

  6. Rick, I’m glad you made it to Wiscon, and I enjoyed your reading on Sunday! It was also nice chatting with you in the bar for a while. Hope to see you soon at KGB, or perhaps wandering around Union Square 🙂

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