Category Archives: SF3

SF3 President Needed

SF3 is the nonprofit organization that’s responsible for WisCon; it provides long-term governance and financial management not only for the annual convention, but also for other projects and initiatives.

Jeannette Juricic, after three years of fabulous service, has stepped down as SF3 President in order to focus on other commitments. The position of President must be filled for SF3 to continue to legally operate and keep its 503(c)(3) status. We are looking for an organized, reliable person to join the Board as President. While the title sounds a little intimidating, the duties of President mostly boil down to 1) Attend & participate in one-hour monthly Board and Annual SF3 meetings, 2) complete tasks that enable SF3 to do business that amount to 1-5 hours of work per month, 3) serve as backup to Treasurer at moments they are not available, and 4) manage and serve as titular owner of a few online resources. (The President must also be willing to tell the Board immediately if they are unable to complete their responsibilities and step down when a new President is appointed.) Training and mentoring available via our other three wonderful Officers, who will be excited to support you. No prior experience with WisCon is necessary (Jeannette’s first WisCon was after she joined us as President)!

If you’re at all interested or have additional questions about the position, the Board would love to hear from you! Please drop us a line at, and we’ll find a time to chat.

December 2022 SF3 Board Meeting Notes

SF3 is the parent not-for-profit that oversees WisCon. To try and improve transparency for our membership, we’re posting summaries of our Board meeting notes.

December 2022 Board Meeting – Society for the Furtherance & Study of Fantasy & Science Fiction
December 18, 2022 2:00PM Central
Attendees: Jeannette (President), Jaye (VP), Kit (Treasurer), Essay (Secretary)

  • WisCon Online Con has a volunteer to lead the department – thank you Anna!! We’re waiting on her to be onboarded but we can confirm there will be an online track in 2023. However, since she is remote, we don’t currently have someone to lead a truly hybrid track – right now it looks like we will have separate online and in person tracks like last year.
  • Hotel contract is signed, registration for WisCon 2023 is now open!
  • Giving Tuesday : $7k raised for general fund, $660 raised for Wiscon Member Assistance Fund. Thank you Jaye!
  • Approved plan to move SF3 records away from Box and into a Google Group
  • Future of WisCon committee still needs volunteers to guide the, well, future of WisCon! Please send an email to No experience required, just enthusiasm.
  • Personnel is also critically understaffed – if anyone has time to devote, please get in touch ASAP using the 2023 volunteer form! You can be remote! Tasks are all pre & post-con so there’s no commitment during the con itself.

SF3 Annual Meeting October 23, 2022

SF3—the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction—is the parent not-for-profit organization that runs the WisCon convention. The SF3 Board of Directors engages in long-term planning, recruitment, and fundraising for WisCon.

The 2022 SF3 Annual Meeting is coming up on Sunday, October 23, at 1PM Central Time. This meeting is entirely virtual! Information on joining will be sent to all current SF3 members a few days before the meeting.

If you’re interested in the future of WisCon and SF3, we encourage you to become an SF3 member (at the bottom of this post) and attend the Annual Meeting. Annual membership is $24, or $12 at our student/financial hardship rate, which we encourage anyone to use as needed. Free memberships are available to all BIPOC. To join for free, please email with the subject line “SF3 Membership for BIPOC”.

We take payment by PayPal (below) or check, though if you plan to pay by check we ask that you email to let us know it’s on the way.  The deadline for joining SF3 in advance of the Annual Meeting is Wednesday, October 19. Madison no longer has an in-city postal sorting office, so if you are paying by check, please make sure your letter is postmarked no later than Thursday, October 13, to ensure we receive it by October 19. Along with your check, please enclose a completed copy of the SF3 Membership form.

We know this continues to be a busy and difficult time for all of us. We hope the WisCon and SF3 community can be a source of support in these times, and it is with that in mind that we hope you will join us on October 23. If you have questions or concerns that you’d like to bring to the SF3 board, but you aren’t able to attend the Annual Meeting, please feel free to contact the board by email at

Purchase your SF3 membership now!

Membership options

Invitation: WisCon Town Hall Event

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

It’s been almost two years since our community has been able to meet in person, and a lot has changed. The board of SF3, WisCon’s nonprofit, invites you to join us for a virtual town hall meeting on 11/14/2021 at 1:00pm central time to discuss where WisCon has been and where we’d like it to go in the future.
Our agenda is structured but flexible. We will be discussing problems the WisCon community has been dealing with in the past and present, including racism and microaggressions that we’ve seen on panels and in social spaces. We want to listen to what people have experienced and make space for the community to speak; and we also want to develop and enact strategies which will make WisCon a safer, welcoming space, where BIPOC members can feel at home. As we discuss WisCon’s future, we’ll explore ways to make WisCon a welcoming convention for everyone, through programming, anti-abuse policies, accessibility, workshops, and new ideas for WisCon activities and outreach.
We need your feedback and thoughts to make WisCon a sustainable community, transforming to meet the challenges and needs specific to our community. If you’d like to join us, RSVP on Eventbrite and we’ll follow up later with details on how to join the virtual meeting.

Beginning the Strategic Planning Process

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

As noted in our recent Anti-Racism Statement, SF3 will begin a process of strategic planning, starting in early November. The purpose of this strategic planning process will be to re-evaluate the mission, vision, values, structure, and policies of SF3 as an organization, in an effort to eliminate racism in organizational structures and projects, and to increase equity, safety, and inclusion for all members of our community — BIPOC in particular.
A strategic planning process is meant to deeply engage the full WisCon/SF3 community in the work of imagining what SF3 and WisCon can be — what the community as a whole wants and needs it to be.
To that end, over the course of the next year, SF3 will establish a temporary Strategic Planning Committee, created for the explicit purpose of planning and implementing organizational change according to community input and feedback. This committee will begin by developing a process for community engagement that allows all community members to speak about their experiences with WisCon/SF3: about the failures and successes of the organization and its projects, and to offer ideas for change and improvement . This listening process will consist of varied formats so as to give space for all who wish to be heard to do so safely. One example is a virtual Town Hall, currently planned for November 2021, in which non-officers who serve on the SF3 board (organized by Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz and moderated by Arley Sorg) will hold a community conversation to discuss and envision the future of WisCon/SF3.
A strategic planning process for SF3/WisCon will occur in two phases. The first phase, as noted above, involves listening to the community: gathering information, input, and feedback through events such as the virtual Town Hall, Board listening sessions, member surveys, etc. Some of these will allow people to provide feedback without disclosing identity. The Board and strategic planning committee will collect the details of these discussions; the Strategic Planning Committee will then move to the next phase — determining how to implement feedback, suggestions, and organizational change. This work will include developing a new Mission Statement for SF3 as well as revising organizational and project structures, practices, and more to support equity and empowerment of BIPOC members.
The first step, to begin in the weeks following the upcoming SF3 Annual Member Meeting, will be for SF3 to establish the Strategic Planning Committee, and to begin discussing and developing actionable plans and a timeline for holding community conversations and gathering feedback.
If you feel strongly about the future of WisCon and SF3, and would like to be a part of this workgroup, please email the SF3 President with the subject line: Strategic Planning Committee. You do not need to have previously been involved in either SF3 or WisCon to volunteer.
SF3 is committed to eliminating racism, white supremacy, and other barriers to inclusion within all of our projects and spaces. Through listening, accountability, and concrete action, we will work toward building an organization that creates truly inclusive spaces to explore and understand identities, injustice, and possible paths to a more equitable future, via speculative media.

SF3 Annual General Meeting: October 24 + Open Officer Positions

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

SF3 is the nonprofit organization that’s responsible for WisCon; it provides long-term governance and financial management not only for the annual convention, but also for other projects and initiatives.

SF3’s Annual Meeting is coming up on Sunday October 24 at 1PM (Central). This meeting will be held virtually; you can join by telephone or online. If you are a current SF3 member you will receive information about how to join no later than Thursday, October 14 , via email.

This meeting is where officers on the SF3 board present their annual reports, and where significant business facing the organization is discussed. Anyone who is a member of SF3 can attend and vote at the annual meeting—you can join SF3 at The deadline for joining SF3 prior to this year’s meeting is Wednesday October 20.

This year’s Annual Meeting is particularly important, because all current board officer positions will be open. At least three of officer roles—President, Treasurer, and Secretary—must be filled for SF3 to continue to legally operate and keep its 503(c)(3) status. At the time of this posting, we don’t know of anyone who plans to stand for any of these three positions.

We encourage anyone who loves the WisCon annual convention to consider standing for an open board position. At a very general level, board members are expected to participate in discussion about policies and governance for SF3, and to help ensure that SF3 is on sure footing for the future (financially and organizationally). This ranges from making sure our annual taxes are accurate and filed on time, to discussing our mission and values, to planning new projects or initiatives. More information about specific board roles can be found at Though the current officers are not able to remain in their positions, they will be available to help orient new board members.

One of the past failures of the SF3 board has been its lack of support for participation from BIPOC members of the WisCon community. As noted in our recent Anti-Racism Statement, we are undertaking a strategic planning process focused on inclusion and eliminating practices and attitudes that contribute to a white supremacist culture. This strategic planning work is separate from the board, although we expect both groups will be in frequent communication.

SF3 membership is free for BIPOC. Moreover, if you are Black, Indigenous, or a person of color and have any interest in joining the SF3 board as an officer, we hope you will do so! While the many officer vacancies is a hurdle, we also hope it will be an opportunity for renewal and reevaluation of SF3’s direction. This will be happening at the same time as we are updating SF3’s  interim mission, vision, and values to center inclusivity and reject racism and white supremacy.

If you have concerns about the commitment involved, or could join only with further support, you are welcome to contact any individual board member, or the board as a whole at

If you are interested in standing for a board officer role, please contact Jess Adams at by Tuesday, October 19 to express interest. Jess is also available to answer questions you may have about board roles.

Summary Agenda

A more detailed agenda, and all materials for the upcoming meeting, will be sent to SF3 members after October 14, no later than Saturday October 23.

Old Business

  • Officer reports
  • Reports from committee chairs (WisCon concom, Personnel, Communications)

New Business

  • Elections to the board + open officer positions:
    • President (Jackie Lee vacating, 1 year left in term)
    • Vice President – vacant, 2 years left in current term (Jess Adams interim Vice-President, June – October 2021)
    • Treasurer – vacant, 1 year left in current term
    • Secretary (term ending, Bronwyn Bjorkman will not stand for re-election)
  • Notice of appointment of Committee Chairs
  • Other business

The terms of officer positions are set according to our bylaws.

“The president and treasurer shall be elected in years evenly divisible by three; the vice-president shall be elected in the following year; the corresponding secretary and recording secretary shall be elected in the year after that.” SF3 Bylaws, Section 4.3

(As of 2019, corresponding and recording secretary were collapsed into one role.)

SF3: Interim Mission, Vision, and Values

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

As noted in our Anti-Racism Statement, the SF3 Board is undertaking work to reexamine our organizational mission with the intent to eliminate white supremacy and build an organization and convention where all members can thrive and contribute. In connection to this work, we are sharing interim versions of a mission statement, organizational vision, and a clear statement of our community values which center inclusivity and explicitly reject racism and white supremacy. These interim statements will guide our work over the next year, including community-wide conversations and strategic planning to develop a permanent and inclusive set of foundational documents for SF3 and its projects, including WisCon.

Interim Mission Statement

SF3 seeks to provide and support spaces to explore and understand identities, injustice, and possible paths to a more equitable future, via speculative media.

Interim Vision Statement

A world where we engage collaboratively in imagining and building a future in which all members thrive.

Statement of Values

SF3 values a community that is inclusive and that welcomes diverse voices without privileging any particular identity over others; as a result, SF3 and its projects are committed to identifying and eliminating white supremacy within all activities. SF3 values spaces in which no one is silenced or discouraged from participating due to racism, sexism, fatphobia, transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, ageism, classism, colorism, ableism, nativism, anti-semitism, xenophobia, islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and other expressions of identity based hate. SF3 does not tolerate those behaviors and does not welcome participation in any of its activities by people who seek to exclude others from participation. SF3 values accessibility defined broadly. We believe that implementing accessibility for one group can and often does create universal benefits; however, the implementation of a measure that improves access for only a single person is not less worthwhile. We strive to create and support spaces that are functional for people in all our physical and mental variety.  We also recognize that access needs can and often are in conflict. Every space may not be appropriate for or accessible to every person, but we will do our best in good faith to implement accessibility for as many people as possible. SF3 values the principles of restorative justice: encourage collaboration and reintegration rather than coercion and isolation; give attention to the unintended consequences of our actions and programs; show respect to all parties, including victims, offenders, and community members. SF3 values diversity of thought, except expressions which deny or invalidate the identities and experiences of others.We understand that there is no true objectivity.  Every person is part of society and has a history that has shaped them. Who we are as individuals influences our understanding and decision making; inclusion and exploration of multiple perspectives leads to better decisions. SF3 values environmental sustainability. We use vendors that employ green practices, conduct our planning meetings remotely, give our members the ability to opt out from paper mailings and self-select printed materials at events, and make use of carbon offsets to reduce the overall impact of events requiring travel in addition to encouraging our members to use public transportation or share common rides with one another. We are committed to reducing global environmental harm, and to supporting a sustainable future. SF3 values collaboration and consensus, while recognizing that the perspective and knowledge necessary for many decisions can be limited by role. The people who carry out tasks can and should be the decision-makers concerned with the methods used for those tasks. Strategic (multi-year) decision-making must be decided by the board, or proposed to the board for adoption, as the board exists and is configured in order to provide multi-year, overlapping personnel, appointed by member vote, and enabled to carry out those decisions. SF3 values trust in each other and in openness to learning. All SF3 and project-related roles are carried out by volunteers who donate their time, knowledge, and labor to advance the org’s mission and to carry out its projects. We seek to assume good intent on the part of everyone involved in SF3 projects and activities. We strive to offer grace where words or actions are unclear to us, and seek to improve our own understanding, while nonetheless holding everyone involved responsible for their actions. Every one of us is working toward a more full understanding of the world, and that is a life-long and non-linear process. SF3 values sincere effort to avoid harm, while recognizing that harm may occur with or without intent. A lack of intent does not negate or excuse harm. SF3 values the past while recognizing that the events, experiences, and truths that brought us to this point may not continue to be effective in the future, and that in many cases, aspects of the past which we individually found beneficial may have been actively harmful to others. We leave those things behind and seek new ways of thinking and acting that will benefit us all. SF3 values a process of continuous learning within a culture of accountability. As such, we appreciate that people change over time, and that mistakes are a part of that process. We endeavor to reshape our opinions of each other’s abilities and potential based on who they are now, rather than holding tightly to their past errors — once they have been held accountable for those errors. Conversely, past accomplishments and status do not excuse current harms done by any person in our community, and we cannot excuse anyone, including individuals who were held in high esteem, if their behavior causes harm.

SF3 Anti-Racism Statement

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

WisCon’s parent organization, SF3, has been thinking deeply about the recurring racism and white supremacy culture within the convention and within our committees (the Convention Committee aka “ConCom”, the Communications Committee, and the Personnel Committee). The presence of racism and of white supremacist culture, which impacts and injures people with any marginalized identities, are parts of our culture that we must address.

SF3 rejects white supremacy, racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, and ableism. The SF3 Board expects the same of our membership and has no tolerance for racist acts or statements.

We recognize that racism has led to conflicts at WisCon every year. This is unsustainable and wrong, and these are not isolated or unrelated instances — they are part of structural and historical problems. We also recognize that it is the SF3 Board’s responsibility to solve this problem, and the solution is not and cannot be asking BIPOC members of the community to fix the organization.

Further, we want to acknowledge that over the history of WisCon, many BIPOC community members have volunteered in good faith for the ConCom, the SF3 Board, and other projects. Those volunteering situations were hostile, and this organization failed to keep those volunteers safe or to enable their success. Those situations were also not isolated incidents, and are part of a larger pattern and organizational culture.

It is the SF3 Board’s obligation, in engagement with the WisCon community and all current and past volunteers, to address and fix systemic racism and other problems within our organization and its spaces. Being a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable organization cannot be achieved without honesty with ourselves and with others.

We recognize that white supremacy is baked into the social and cultural landscape of the US. Members of SF3/WisCon must recognize and work to counter this; it is work that white people in particular must undertake in order to live up to WisCon’s values and purpose.

The SF3 Board, within their purview over nonprofit governance, is reexamining our organizational mission with the intent to eliminate white supremacy, and will be working to revise organizational bylaws and foundational documents to restructure a racist power system and ensure BIPOC empowerment. The Board has created interim versions of a mission statement, organizational vision, and a clear statement of our community values which center inclusivity and explicitly reject racism and white supremacy. These documents are intended for use over the next year, and will be shared in this space later this week.

Following that step, we will be undertaking a strategic planning process specifically focused on inclusion — in particular, on eliminating racism and empowering BIPOC members. We will be inviting everyone in our community to take part in strategic planning, which will create a permanent new mission, vision, and values for our organization and all of our projects, including WisCon.

We recognize that this is not a goal we can reach in a single year. Our strategic planning process will involve mapping out our goals for the next five years, along with broadly stated tasks for achieving those goals. We ask the full community to hold the SF3 Board accountable in this work.

We commit to sharing a monthly update on our progress, our goals, and what we have learned.

Within the next 30 days, we will be proceeding according to this schedule:

  • September 30, 2021: Share interim Mission, Vision, and Values

  • Early October (no later than October 14): Send out meeting agenda and information packet in advance of SF3 Annual Member Meeting.

  • October 11, 2021: Share overview and initial steps of strategic planning process and invite volunteers to join a committee established to carry out that process. The strategic planning process will include a plan for soliciting input, experiences, and feedback from BIPOC members of our community in particular. There will be a clear process for this; in order to treat feedback seriously and with care, we will not solicit that information before a system is created by the strategic planning committee, equipped with the resources they need to succeed.

  • October 18, 2021: Blog post outlining plans for the next month of work on these goals, with dates. This post will also include reports of the work accomplished so far.

  • October 24, 2021: SF3 Annual Member Meeting (details forthcoming)

SF3 Annual Meeting October 18, 2020

As many of you know, SF3—the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction—is the parent organization for the WisCon convention. The SF3 board engages in long-term planning and recruitment for WisCon, as well as pursuing activities unrelated to the convention.

The 2020 SF3 Annual Meeting is coming up on Sunday, October 18, at 1PM Central Time. This meeting is entirely virtual! Information on joining will be sent to all current SF3 members a few days before the meeting.

If you’re interested in the future of WisCon and SF3, or in our evolving plans for 2021 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, we encourage you to become an SF3 member and attend the Annual Meeting. Annual membership is $24, or $12 at our student/financial hardship rate, which we encourage anyone to use as needed. We take payment by PayPal or check, though if you plan to pay by check we ask that you email to let us know it’s on the way.  The deadline for joining SF3 in advance of the Annual Meeting is Wednesday, October 14.

We know this is a busy and difficult time for many of you. We hope the WisCon and SF3 community can be a source of support in these times, and it is with that in mind that we hope some of you will join us on October 18. If you have questions or concerns that you’d like to bring to the SF3 board, but you aren’t able to attend the Annual Meeting, please feel free to contact the board by email at

WisCon 44 is now canceled.

WisCon 44 is now canceled.

We are currently working on an online event to replace it — a WisCOnline, if you will. More details will be coming in a second blog post by next Monday (March 30).

WisCon 45, in May 2021, will be a banger, with all the elements of WisCon 44 that we are unable to carry off online, as well as all of the normal elements of WisCon 45! More details will be coming soon on W45 as we confirm them; watch this space!

If you have already paid for your registration and/or Dessert Salon tickets for WisCon 44, we would deeply appreciate it if you could allow us to roll over your membership and dessert tickets to WisCon 45. Having those funds available will allow us to keep our plans in place despite the long gap between in-person conventions. If you are willing to roll over your paid order, no action is necessary. If you need to have your order refunded, please email before April 15, 2020.

There is no need to cancel your room reservations — the entire WisCon block has been cancelled as well. Please do not call the hotel at this time; we will be sure to provide further details in upcoming posts about room blocks for next year.

We apologize that it took us a few weeks to make this decision. WisCon relies on many small or independent businesses, including our hotel — The Madison Concourse Hotel is not only independent and unionized, they are a valuable partner in putting on the convention, and many of the things we do wouldn’t be possible without their flexibility and hard work. We needed to make sure that we are all getting through this in good shape, and that required some deep, thoughtful conversations.

Thank you again for understanding, and stay tuned for more information coming soon!

The Gathering: Clothing Swap, Tiptree Crowning, and MORE!

We’re grateful and happy to share that A Room Of One’s Own bookstore is sponsoring The Gathering this year! They’ll be hosting the Thursday night Guest of Honor Reception in-store at 315 W Gorham Street, and will be in the Dealers’ Room throughout the convention, carrying books by as many of the authors attending WisCon as they can. A Room Of One’s Own is a beautiful, welcoming physical store and is a pleasure to browse. Thank you, A Room Of One’s Own!

Whether you’re a WisCon regular or this is your first time, The Gathering is a must for kicking off your convention weekend! Held from 1-4pm in the Wisconsin/Capital Ballroom on the second floor, The Gathering is a great spot to meet up with friends old and new, snag some new threads, have some fun, and see this year’s Tiptree Award Winner crowned.

Wondering what’s going to be happening this year? Well, wonder no longer.

The Clothing Swap is back, and after suffering a little from its own success last year, we have some new rules as well as some reminders. The bigest reminder is that despite the name, it isn’t really a swap! You are welcomed and encouraged to take any clothing that strikes your fancy home, and you don’t need to bring any to give away in order to do so. In fact, we’ve always had too much donated and too little taken away, so please feel free to shop (for free). Anything that’s left at the end of The Gathering will be donated to a local nonprofit, but please have mercy on our volunteers who will have to carry the leftovers away, and adopt more clothes!

Want to bring us some treasures that no longer fit you or your aesthetic? You can bring them to the Wisconsin/Capital Ballroom beginning at 11am on Friday. Please do not bring anything to the Swap later than 2pm, as we will not be able to use it. If you are able to do so, we invite you to come in and help set out or hang up your donations — you will know sizes a lot faster than we will! We are also looking for volunteers to help keep things neat and help people “shop” during the swap, as well as folks who can help pack up anything that’s left over. Time spent helping out at the Clothing Swap can count toward a volunteering rebate, and anyone who volunteers for any amount of time is eligible for the volunteering gift, which is available at the Registration Desk on Monday. Interested? Please email, or wait until WisCon and ask one of the folks already volunteering at the Clothing Swap for guidance on how you can help.

Here’s our revised and expanded set of guidelines for donating clothes to the Clothing Swap:

  • Please donate no more than one large bag of clothing. By large bag, we mean: one Ikea bag or shoe stone bag, or two brown paper grocery bags, or one loosely-filled kitchen-size trash bag, or a half-full large trash bag.
  • Please donate only items that you would gift to a friend – no holes, nothing worn-out, and preferably nothing that you didn’t think was great, for at least a little while.
  • No underwear of any type. No socks, no bras, no binders, no lingerie, no pajamas.
  • Please do not donate any clothing that is strongly scented or covered in pet hair. If you are able, please launder items in an unscented detergent. Donations that are smoky, musty, perfumed, otherwise strongly scented, or covered in pet hair will not be put out at the Clothing Swap.
  • Please do not donate any clothing that is wet. Yes, this has happened. Bags of wet clothing will be thrown away, as we will not even be able to donate them after the convention.

What else is happening at The Gathering this year? We are so glad you asked!

  • Coffee, Tea, and Subversion (yes, this is a fancy title for refreshments.)
  • Fiber Circle (bring your knitting/crocheting/embroidery/whatever!)
  • Tiptree Auction Preview (see what will be featured at the Auction)
  • Zen Doodles (new to The Gathering this year! Create some fun, meditative art.)
  • Gadget Petting Zoo (check out some technology, or share your own!)
  • Gaming Preview (play some games and find out more about games at WisCon)
  • Tarot Circle (bring your deck to show off and do a few readings, or have your cards read)
  • Nail Polish Swap (also not technically a swap, so feel free to drop off bottles without taking any, or take some without leaving any)
  • Renaissance Hair Braiding (fancy braiding for smooth and straight hair types)

And last but FAR from least, The Gathering closes with our Opening Ceremonies, where we might make announcements, and we will certainly honor the winner of this year’s Tiptree Award!

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