Category Archives: Official Announcements

Art Show Call for Artists

Hello, artists! If you’re considering attending or sending art to WisCon this year, applications for the Art Show are open. The convention dates are May 25-28, 2018, and the deadline to apply is March 1. Late appliers will be waitlisted unless there is extra space. More information can be found at, and the link to apply is

Please note a few significant cost-related changes: To continue covering the costs of the show, the commission WisCon takes on sales has gone up to 5% attending/10% mail-in. Also, mail-in artists will be required to cover return shipping for their unsold work (preferably by including a prepaid return shipping label in the box).

Finally, the convention has a programming theme this year: “What Does Justice Demand?” We’re inviting artists to consider incorporating the theme into their work for the show, although it’s not mandatory. See the blog post here for more about the theme:

Thank you!

Call for Gaming Proposals

WisCon is now accepting proposals for games!

You can submit games here. The deadline for proposing games is February 28th.

We have a slots available all day in a dedicated gaming room every day of the con, so don’t be shy about proposing games. We’re excited to see your game submissions, be they tabletop roleplaying, larp, board games, or, if you’ve got a way to make it work, video games! We also encourage you to submit games to the Teen Program at and Kids Program at

This year WisCon has a theme to help organize our focus. This year’s theme is: What Does Justice Demand?

Although the words “social justice” are bandied about within the WisCon community, geek/nerd spaces, as well as the mainstream, and many talk about and endeavor to work within this framework, what does it actually mean. How is social justice lived/embodied without becoming a buzzword? And how does this shape feminism and genre work (scifi, fantasy, horror, and others) both past and present?

If you’d like to propose a game but are out of ideas, or want help finding ways to address the theme, please reach out to, and we’d love to work with you to find something you’d be excited about running. You can also peruse these places for justice related games.

If you have a game idea that you’re excited about but you’re not sure if it fits the theme, don’t worry! The theme is meant as a tool for inspiration, not as a limit on creativity, and we will be happy to accept your submissions that explore ideas other than justice.

You can submit games here.

Once you have submitted your game proposal you can expect an email from within the next couple days confirming that we received your submission and asking any follow up questions. After submissions close on February 28th a schedule will be created and sent out by early March so you will know your commitments when the call for panelists goes out.

Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018

It can be hard to know when and how to acknowledge death when it happens in a community. When do you write a blog post, and when don’t you? But it seems impossible not to make a statement upon the death of a treasured member of our WisCon community, one of our greatest and most influential writers, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Ursula Le Guin attended WisCon thrice: WisCon 2, WisCon 20, and WisCon 30. She came to WisCon 2 (February 1978), in support of her friend Vonda McIntyre, our 1978 Guest of Honor. She was invited as Guest of Honor in her own right the first time we celebrated a landmark year, for WisCon 20 (May 1996). And she was one of the many prior Guests of Honor we invited to be part of the WisCon 30 celebrations (May 2006).

For WisCon 30, we received grant funding—necessary to support 29 years worth of returning Guests of Honor—from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Le Guin’s letter of support, included as part of the grant application, explained why she found WisCon unique, as opposed to other conferences and conventions, which she described as “a waste of time” (don’t tell anyone!) Echoing the experience of many, she said that she “came away with a head full of new ideas, perceptions, and understandings—about literature, about the ethical concerns of writers and readers, and about gender concerns both in literature and daily life.”

Her letter of support continues:

As writers under repressive regimes have long understood, science fiction is particularly well suited to the indirect but intense examination of the political and moral status quo, since its tropes and metaphors (outer space, far future, etc.) allow the writer to look from a distance at what is actually very close at hand. As the scholar Darko Suvin said, science fiction is the mirror that lets us see the back of our own head.

This is notably true when it comes to issues of gender. No other literary form has asked so many questions so usefully about the nature and construction of human gender, the actual and possible relation of the sexes in society. When they wanted to ask such questions, realistic novelists such as Margaret Atwood and Doris Lessing turned naturally to science fiction. A good many of the talks and papers read at WisCon concern these subjects and ask these questions.

The atmosphere of the conference is extremely open, uncoercive, and intellectually stimulating. Academics who attend it are often delighted by the freedom of discussion without competition. To women academics it is of particular value, as they seldom find so supportive a milieu. Women writers treasure it for the same values of freedom and support. Men and women who confuse feminism with misandry may be kept away by their own prejudice, but one of the happiest aspects of WisCon is the presence of men who relate to women with total equality of expectation on both sides—a refreshing experience for all.

What WisCon does above all is affirm a community of writers, scholars, and readers brought together by a sense of dissatisfaction with our society’s solution to many problems of gender and justice, plus a sense of hope that with intelligent and ethical work we can achieve a more just and less destructive society. They share in common a courage of the imagination which may yet justify that hope. The fact that they’ve been meeting for thirty years to exercise and celebrate such courage is cause itself for hope.

WisCon 40’s ConCom briefly considered the idea of inviting all past Guests of Honor back for 2016, in the tradition of WisCon 20 and WisCon 30. It may have been coincidence, but the conversation didn’t last for long after a tangent on Ursula’s health, and the fact that she rarely traveled far from home anymore.

We’ve continued to treasure her and her outlook in her absence. A few years ago, during a time of vociferous disagreements within our community, many of us spent time interrogating whether WisCon was “worth it”—worth the labor, both tangible and emotional—that we invest to sustain it, and that the convention itself sparks. People like Ursula remind us why it is worth all that and more.

She imagined impossible futures, and she shared them. She held that it was important work to do so, and had little patience with authors who dismissed science fiction and fantasy as trivial or lesser genres. “Fantasy is probably the oldest literary device for talking about reality,” she said in a blog post eviscerating Kazuo Ishiguro for sneering at the fantasy genre.

She used her writing to explore concepts like gender, capitalism and truly fair societal structures. Her body of work is a testament to the conversations that people have at WisCon every year. What other shapes could society take? What would a more just, more equitable, and more inclusive world look like?

Much is made about her female protagonists. There’s already one obituary from a national newspaper remarking on her “tough-minded feminine sensibility,” missing the point almost entirely in a way I’m sure Le Guin would have relished skewering. Reductive obituaries, like that one, ignore the variety of incredible and alien outlooks she managed to portray, her protagonists who fall outside of the gender binary, and the fact that so few of her characters were white.

We feel fortunate that there is still so much of her fiction available for us to explore. Her writing is a beacon of light, particularly in the current political era. Since the election in November 2016, many of us have returned to her acceptance speech, titled “Freedom,” given as part of the award presentation at the 2014 National Book Foundation. “Any human power can be resisted and changed by humans.”

Every day we confront the terrible realities that debase us as people: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, capitalism, colonialism. It’s overwhelming, and lately, inexorable. These oppressions can feel final, but as Ursula reminds us: “[their] power seems inescapable—but then, so did the divine right of kings.”

Resistance happens because people can imagine a different reality—because they demand a different reality. Ursula K. Le Guin showed us how to imagine and demand better from our society.
We will miss her. We will not forget her.

Rest in power, well-loved one.

In solidarity,

Jackie Lee, SF3 President

Allison Morris, WisCon 42 Co-Chair

Phredd Groves, WisCon 42 Co-Chair

Levi Sable, SF3 Communications Chair

Call for Submissions: Wiscon Souvenir Book Entries (Due March 15, We Pay $20!)

The Souvenir Book is WisCon’s gift to the community, featuring profiles of our Guests of Honor, pieces highlighting the work of WisCon’s child-organizations, and essays from community contributors. This year, we’re doing things a little differently: we’re specifically looking for 500-1,000 word entries revolving around this year’s theme, “What Does Justice Demand?” We are also changing up the format a bit; this year, the souvenir book and program book will be combined, so you’ll have one less booklet to keep track of. This will not affect the length or number of entries we will be considering.

For souvenir book submissions, we invite essays that explore the meanings, histories, and cultures of “social justice.” How is social justice lived/embodied without becoming a buzzword? And how does this shape feminisms’ relationship to speculative genres (scifi, fantasy, horror, and beyond) both past and present? This theme is an opportunity both for work that deals specifically with social and political questions of justice as they relate to feminist science fiction and for work on the histories and cultures of social-justice-oriented fan communities.

While we encourage everyone to consider this year’s theme, we are also open to considering essays that deal with broader Wiscon-related themes. Previous essay topics have included: an exploration of Working Class Studies, a retrospective of 40 years of WisCon, and an ethnographic intro to WisCon. The only topic requirement for the Souvenir Book’s essays is that they be relevant to the WisCon community.

We encourage everyone to submit their work, whether this is your first WisCon or your nearly-42nd!


Submit your essay to the Souvenir Book by March 15!


  • Essays should be 500-1000 words
  • Authors will be paid $20 USD at time of publication
  • All essays or questions should be sent to (Please use the subject line “WC41 Souvenir Book Submission: [Your Name]”)
  • Submit essays as .doc or .rtf attachments

WisCon 42 Is Trying Something New!

Because WisCon has always challenged us to take our own activism and geekdom to new levels via the evolving philosophies of Feminism, the Programming Department decided to try something new for WisCon 42. For this upcoming WisCon, the Programming Department came up with a theme to be tied into our activist discussions and activities.

Theme: What Does Justice Demand?

Although the words “social justice” are bandied about within the WisCon community, geek/nerd spaces, as well as the mainstream, and many talk about and endeavour to work within this framework, what does it actually mean. How is social justice lived/embodied without becoming a buzzword? And how does this shape feminism and genre work (scifi, fantasy, horror, and others) both past and present?

We’re excited to have other departments adding their own unique flavors to this year’s theme.

I’m Curious. How Exactly Will The Other Departments Be Participating In The Theme?

Glad you asked! Some of the departments provided us with some information as to how they plan to participate.

From the Art Show Department:
We often have artists in the Art Show who deal with issues of social justice directly or indirectly in their work, but this year we’ll be specifically inviting applicants to make art for the show addressing the question of what justice demands (although it won’t be required). Applications for the WisCon 42 show will open in January 2018, and we welcome new artists to apply (see for details).

From the Gaming Department:
The gaming track will also work to engage the theme What Does Justice Demand. If you have ideas for board games, tabletop roleplaying games, larps, or even video games that explore ideas of justice that you’d like to run, please keep an eye out for the call for games in early January. If you’d like to propose a game but are out of ideas, or want help finding ways to address the theme, please reach out to and we’d love to work with you to find something you’d be excited about running.

Please note that participation in this theme is not mandatory. We would simply like to invite you to reflect on this theme. If you so choose, we welcome your panel suggestions that you believe would tie into it.

This Sounds Really Cool! Can I Start Submitting Panel Ideas Now?

That you can! Program ideas submissions are open! The Wiscon 42 programing department looks forward to receiving all of the awesome ideas YOU have to offer!

We invite you to submit programming ideas for WisCon 42 through January 19, 2018. To submit an idea, please click on “Submit your ideas for programming!” link on right-hand side of main page or go straight to the program idea submission form. We can’t wait to see your suggestions!

Please note starting this year, there will be a hard stop for accepting program idea submissions. Unfortunately, the WisCon 42 program committee will no longer accept any program ideas after the January 19, 2018. Make sure to submit your ideas before the deadline!

What If I Want To Submit An Academic Paper?

The call for Wiscon Academic Papers is open until February 1, 2018. Submit your proposal using the online form. You will be asked for a 100-word abstract, which will be printed in the convention’s program, and for a more detailed proposal of up to 500 words. If you are proposing something other than a traditional paper, please make sure you describe the format of your proposed program item. A projector and screen will be available; if you have further technological needs, please let us know in your proposal.

If you have any questions, contact the Academic Programming chairs at

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

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.

Hotel Registration Opens For WisCon 40

As usual, hotel registration opens at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning. You can call the reservation line and tell them you want the WisCon block, you can visit the link that appears on the WisCon website at 9 a.m. in the morning, or you can visit the desk in person and line up. This year, reservations are being taken at the front desk at the station closest to the grand staircase. There will be an area for queuing demarcated with blue tape.

WisCon 39 schedule is now LIVE on

Tanya D.

(This was originally published at Tanya’s blog.  She’s graciously allowed us to reprint it here.  Thanks, Tanya!)

Hello all you lovely WisCon folks out there! I am beyond happy to announce that the final schedule for WisCon 39 is now live on the WisCon website!

This link will get you the panels that are running, their locations, etc. If you need a list view;  here is a link if you need a grid view.

Handy info for moderators and panelists is below. You should also have received emails from if you are scheduled to moderate and/or participate on panels:

  • If you are scheduled for programming and do not recieve an email, please send a note to us at
  • If you are moderating panels as well as being on a panel(s), then you will only get the moderator email.
  • If you are only participating on panels and not moderating anything, then you will get the panelist email.


You may also tweet at me (@cypheroftyr) for Programming questions, but sending it to the program email may get a faster response. The official WisCon Twitter is @wiscon39.

Thank you!

Tanya D. aka Cypheroftyr (programming demon, er deputy)
WisCon 39

If you are a moderator!

What do we expect from our moderators?

Prepare. Contact your panelists before WisCon. When? Now would be good. How? Click on the links for panelists below your moderating assignment.

In that email, please:

1. Introduce yourself.
2. Suggest or solicit panel structure: how much time for each
panelist, if/how to solicit and handle audience participation.
3. Describe your understanding of the panel description and ensure
that the panelists agree.
4. Ask the panelists about their interest in the panel topic.
5. Determine if you and/or the panelists are going to cite specific resources.
6. Elicit 2-3 points that each panelist deems crucial.

Ten minutes before your panel, meet your panelists in the green room and get the name tents. Go to the assigned room. Start the session on time. Introduce the panel topic and allow the panelists to introduce themselves and explain their interest in the topic. Introduce yourself as the moderator and explain your ground rules (if, how and when the audience can participate, timing for the session).

Make sure all the panelists have a chance to speak, manage how audience members are included in the discussion, and keep track of the time and the arc of the discussion for wrap-up. You will probably not speak as much as your panelists.

Part of your job as moderator is to ensure equitable participation. Gender, race, class, and ability are some factors that influence participation styles. Be aware of power dynamics and intervene as necessary when panelists or audience members exercise privilege to dominate the conversation. You may need to cut off a panelist who has hijacked the discussion. You may need to cut off an audience member who has raised their hand to ask a question and then tried to deliver a twenty-minute “This is more of a comment than a question…”.  You may need to encourage shy panel members to share their thoughts.

When microphones are present, use them, and make sure all the panelists do, too. Some of us do not hear well enough to participate without microphones, and you can’t tell by looking who we are. Remind your panelists not to cover their mouths when they speak; some of us depend on lipreading to participate.

If you require A/V for your panel, you MUST request it no later than May 11th so your request can accommodated. A/V includes: projector, screens, microphones, pc speakers.

How do I get more information for this gig?

1. For tips on moderating, go to:
2. For tips for your panelists:
3. Panels that might interest you: “Join the Mod Squad: Enhance Your Moderation Skills” Friday from 4:00 p.m.-5:15 p.m in Conference 4.
4. Questions?  Ask us via

If you are a panelist!

Preparing for the convention

–Your moderator should contact you before WisCon. Please respond to your moderator’s email. This is your chance to define the format, structure, and scope of the panel. Be pro-active: if you haven’t heard from your mod, you can contact the panel by clicking on the link below the program item description.
–Re-read the panel description and raise questions about anything that’s not clear.
–Formulate the things you’d like to convey during the allotted time (you’ll be sharing 70 minutes with other panelists and the audience). Keep this list simple.  You may want to keep the sub-topics to no more than three.
–Do your homework. Gather the names of the works and authors you want to discuss. People in the audience will ask for specifics. Read, view, listen to relevant materials. Prepare notes and/or spend time thinking about the topic. You may do this on your own and in emails with the other panelists, depending on how the group decides to interact before the convention.

At the Con

–Meet up in the Green Room 10 minutes before the panel start time if at all possible; if not, make sure to tell your moderator that you’ll be meeting up with the rest of the panel in the room.
–Start on time! If unavoidably late, quietly enter the room, take a place at the table and wait for your mod to fold you into the panel-already-in-progress.  Don’t apologize for being late. The audience is paying attention to the ongoing discussion, not to you.
–Share the time with other panelists and the audience. WisCon audiences want to get into the discussion as soon as possible. Prepare to answer lots of audience questions. The moderator will let the audience know how soon s/he will start taking questions, while setting up the panel. Defer to the moderator as s/he directs the conversation.
–Bring something to write on. Discussion moves very quickly and it can help to take notes of what you want to cover when the moderator gets back to you.
–Look at the audience. Resist the temptation to address your comments solely to a fellow panelist, even when responding to a specific point.
–Speak one at a time. Use the mic, when provided. Some of us cannot understand your words without amplification. If you refuse to use the mic, you are preventing us from participating.
–Don’t hold your hand in front of your mouth when you are speaking. Some of us cannot understand your words if we can’t read your lips.
–Refrain from whispering with other panelists.
–Respect the moderator’s awesome powers.

And remember to have fun!

More information about being a panelist at WisCon is available at