Category Archives: official announcements

Announcing our WisCon 42 Guests of Honor — Saladin Ahmed & Tananarive Due

We are overjoyed to introduce our Guests of Honor for WisCon 42!

Saladin Ahmed

Saladin Ahmed
Saladin Ahmed (Photo by Al Bogdan).

Saladin Ahmed was born in Detroit. His novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards, and won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. His poetry and short fiction have been widely anthologized, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and Salon. He is currently writing “Black Bolt” for Marvel Comics.

Tananarive Due

Tananarive Due
Tananarive Due.

Tananarive Due is a screenwriter and an award-winning novelist who teaches Afrofuturism at UCLA. She also teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles and for Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA). She was the former Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Spelman College. Due, an  American Book Award winner and NAACP Image Award recipient, is the author of twelve novels and a civil rights memoir. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus and has been named to the Grio100 and Ebony Power 100. Her short story collection, Ghost Summer, won a British Fantasy Award and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. In 2013, Due and her husband/collaborator Steven Barnes co-wrote a short film, “Danger Word”, based on their YA zombie novel Devil’s Wake, which they co-produced with director Luchina Fisher. Starring Frankie Faison (“The Wire,” “The Silence of the Lambs”) and Saoirse Scott, “Danger Word” was nominated for Best Narrative Short at the BronzeLens and Pan African film festivals.

Matching donation reaches its goal!

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Wrdnrd’s matching donation to the Member Assistance Fund was 100% successful!  We are incredibly grateful for the community’s support with this fund drive this week, and humbled by the outpouring of generosity.  This WisCon is the first that we’ve run a dedicated fundraising campaign for our Fund, and we’ve been blown away by the response.  Not only did we meet Wrdnrd’s match in under two days, but we were almost half-way to the goal in only twelve hours.

Another notable thing about this fund drive is that many of the donations were in the $10-$15 range.  All donations add up!  You absolutely don’t have to make “big” donations of $100, $500, or whatever dollars to make a difference.  If you’re able to toss in only a few dollars, it all adds up and helps one more person.

With Wrdnrd’s donation, this means $1,500 into the Fund to help members who have requested assistance to attend WisCon in May.

Thank you all, so, so much!

But wait, there’s more!!  We’ve had another incredibly generous donor step up to challenge the community to see just how narrow we can make the gap between the money in the Fund and the amount of requests we have this year.  Stay tuned for details on Monday!

Changes regarding alcohol at WisCon parties

Aileen
WisCon 40 Chair

After examining our insurance policy and our contract with the hotel, WisCon is making some changes to the way alcohol is served at parties in convention spaces.  Here are the main points:

Party hosts can no longer directly serve alcoholic beverages to their guests.  Instead, they will be able to provide (sealed, legally purchased) bottles to a hotel bartender on the sixth floor who will serve them.  The bartender will be on duty during some of the party hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights during the convention.  The Parties Coordinator will be working with party hosts to determine exactly which hours those will be.

As always, alcohol will be available for purchase from the hotel at the bar on the first floor, in the Governor’s Club, and at the bar on the second floor during special events (such as the Dessert Salon and the Karaoke Party).

Why are these changes happening?

This is the best way to satisfy the constraints of our insurance policy, our contract with the hotel, and the hotel’s liquor license.  This ensures that alcohol is served at the convention in a way that is aboveboard and, most importantly, safe.

What about homebrew?

Unfortunately, the hotel’s liquor license does not allow it to serve homebrew.  The same goes for premixed cocktails (although the bartender will be able to mix drinks).

How does this affect room parties?

Parties held in private hotel rooms are unaffected.  Parties held in rooms that receive the sixth floor discount may have some additional, minor restrictions.

WisCon announces chair for WisCon 40

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

The SF3 Board and WisCon Concom are happy to announce Aileen Wall as the chair for WisCon 40, effective immediately.  She relieves Jackie Lee, who has been acting as interim chair.

Aileen has been on the Concom since early 2014.  At WisCon 38 and 39 she was master of ceremonies for the Sunday night Dessert Salon / GoH Speeches event.  For WisCon 39 she was also hotel co-liaison.  In life outside of Wiscon, Aileen works in the Madison performing arts community including as stage manager of Concerts on the Square.

We all have enormous respect for Aileen from her work as hotel co-liaison and are grateful for the stage management skillset she brings to the Concom Chair role.  We’re looking forward to working with her over the next seven months as we build WisCon 40 together.

Thanks, Aileen!

WisCon 40 conchairs resign

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

The SF3 Board and WisCon Concom announce, sadly, the resignations of WisCon Concom Co-Chairs Andrea Horbinski and s.e. smith.  Their resignations are effective immediately.

Interim Chair for WisCon 40 will be Jackie Lee, SF3 Board President.

In resigning, Andrea and s.e. said both that as chairs they felt they were a poor culture fit and also that balancing commitments and workload was becoming unsustainable.

In their months as Concom chairs, Andrea and s.e. were enacting exciting ideas for WisCon 40, starting with inviting back a previous guest of honor as a special guest.  They also showed great commitment to placing the concom on firm, sustainable ground by pushing forward an internal documentation initiative proposed by the outgoing WisCon 39 chairs.

Andrea and s.e. stepped up as chairs during a very transitional time for the Concom and the Concom and Board are deeply grateful for their work over the past year.

We are sorry to lose Andrea and s.e. as chairs and from the Concom and we wish them nothing but all the success in their future endeavors.

Take Back the SciFi: WisCon’s response

WisCon members who attended a WisCon 33 panel entitled “Take Back the SciFi,” have expressed serious concerns about the panel’s focus and moderation. They have raised important questions about comments and decisions the moderator made in guiding the conversation and accepting questions during the discussion of personal experiences.

The panel was intended to focus on the use of rape and sexual assault in science fiction writing and the influence of rape culture in the genre. The panel was described as “Sexual assault and rape frequently get used as symbolic plot devices with no consideration about the realities of how these events effect survivors and the people around them and the larger social realities of this epidemic. Sometimes these stories get told well but often they perpetuate social myths and stereotypes that normalize predatory behavior and make survivors complicit. How do authors work to create a culture where stories that perpetuate rape myths are not acceptable? Examples?”

However, as can happen in programming on topics such as this, the discussion shifted to personal experiences of rape and sexual assault. Unfortunately, the panel also became a place in which male survivors, their families, and friends felt marginalized and re-traumatized.

We are very sorry that this occurred. As organizers of a feminist convention, we understand that rape knows no gender.

We thank the panelists and attendees who have expressed their concerns. WisCon’s Convention Committee (ConCom) will continue to discuss these concerns and to respond to people who contact us directly. Also, ConCom members have spoken with the moderator, who may choose to respond individually. Moderators, like all program participants, are volunteers who express interest in a panel. Although we believe the moderator had no intent to harm, we know that harm occurred and we take that harm seriously. In response to member suggestions, this programming item will be offered again at WisCon 34 in a facilitated discussion format to encourage audience participation.

We understand that panelists and attendees will continue to engage in dialogue about this panel, and we welcome any additional suggestions that arise from these discussions. Please contact us at program@wiscon.net.

WisCon Continues to Welcome People of Color

Welcoming people of color to WisCon is a central value of the entire WisCon convention committee, and has been so for over a decade.

We are aware that our efforts in this area have been incomplete and sometimes unsuccessful and we are committed to doing better.

To that end, we continue to welcome suggestions for how to improve. The more constructive and specific those suggestions are, the more likely it is that the all-volunteer WisCon committee will be able to implement them. WisCon’s history shows that change happens best when spearheaded by a champion or a group of champions who bring additional energy along with their ideas. However, we care enough about this issue that many current committee members are ready to commit additional time and energy to improving our track record.

To that end, we are proud that WisCon 33 will host the first Cultural Appropriation 101 class that we’re aware of in the science fiction world, as suggested and created by the Carl Brandon Society. The class will take place on Friday afternoon and (again at the request of the Carl Brandon Society) will be clearly delineated as “highly recommended” for anyone who wishes to attend any programming on these topics. In addition, moderators of panels related to this topic will be provided with class materials well before the convention.

We are currently about 2 months away from the convention. We’re looking for additional ideas that we can implement in that time frame, as well as ideas for WisCons to come. Because WisCon is a physical space with many tendrils extending into the virtual world, one of the things we can best provide is space for face-to-face networking and problem-solving. To that end, we’re planning to set aside a room during the convention for discussion of moving-forward strategies and potential improvements. We will work closely with people of color to ensure that this does not become a space in which the offenses recycle.

We’ve extended our guest of honor nomination process for an additional 3 weeks specifically to encourage nominations of potential GoHs of color. To nominate a GoH for next year, send an e-mail to gohnoms@wiscon.net by Sunday, March 22 describing why you think they would be a good guests of honor.

One WisCon member, Kate Nepveu, is organizing scholarships to bring people of color to WisCon: more info on this at her LJ community, Fight Derailing .

These issues are not just important for people of color; they are important for all of us. The more we can do to improve in this area, the better WisCon will be. We ask for your help and guidance in achieving this goal: contact chair@wiscon.net with your ideas.