Meet our Guests of Honor for WisCon 45 in 2021: Sheree Renée Thomas & Zen Cho!

As we announced at WisCon in May 2020, we are thrilled to have Sheree Renée Thomas and Zen Cho as our Guests of Honor for WisCon 45 in 2021!
Sheree Renée Thomas
Sheree Renée Thomas
Sheree Renée Thomas creates art inspired by myth and folklore, natural science and conjure, and the genius culture created in the Mississippi Delta. She is the author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future (Third Man Books, May 26, 2020), her first fiction collection. She is also the author of two multigenre/hybrid collections, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, longlisted for the 2016 Otherwise Award and Shotgun Lullabies (Aqueduct Press), described as a “revelatory work like Jean Toomer’s Cane.” She edited the two-time World Fantasy Award-winning volumes, Dark Matter, that first introduced W.E.B. Du Bois’s work as science fiction and was the first black author to be honored with the World Fantasy Award since its inception in 1975. Her work is widely anthologized and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received honorable mention in the Year’s Best volumes. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times and other publications.She serves as the Associate Editor of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora (Illinois State University, Normal). She lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Connect with Sheree Renée Thomas on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Zen Cho
Zen Cho
Zen Cho is the author of the Sorcerer to the Crown novels and a novella, The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, as well as the short story collection Spirits Abroad (joint winner of the 2015 Crawford Fantasy Award). She is a Hugo, Crawford and British Fantasy Award winner, and a finalist for the Locus and Astounding Awards. She edited the anthology Cyberpunk: Malaysia, and won a 2019 Hugo for her short piece “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again”. She was a juror for the Speculative Literature Foundation 2014 Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds grants, served on the Board of Con or Bust and has been a SFWA mentor for emerging writers. She was born and raised in Malaysia, resides in the UK, and lives in a notional space between the two. She is a past WisCon attendee. Connect with Zen Cho on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Ways to the WisCon ConCom, or to find out more!

The time after the con ends is often the quietest for the WisCon organizing committee (the ConCom) but we’re still starting to look towards our next convention in May 2021, when we hope we’ll return to Madison and the Concourse hotel for WisCon 45.

Like many conventions, WisCon is 100% fan run. None of the events at the convention would be possible without the generosity of some of our members volunteering their time throughout the year to make it happen!

To keep the organization of WisCon sustainable, we’re always looking for new people who are willing to get involved. If that’s something that interests you—or even if you’re just curious about how the ConCom operates!—we’d like to invite you to join us for the post-convention ConCom meeting, which will take place via conference call on Saturday June 20 at 1PM Central (Madison local time, GMT-5). Email volunteers@wiscon.net for information on joining the meeting.

As we said in an email at the end of WisCon, the ConCom often undergoes some reorganization over the summer, but some of the WisCon departments that are definitely looking for new volunteers are Access, the Consuite, Gaming, our Safety department, and the Workshops programming department.

In general, some ConCom roles are primarily busy during the year, before the convention, while others are busiest during the convention itself. You can find out more about volunteering on the ConCom at http://wiscon.net/volunteer/concom/, but you can also email volunteers@wiscon.net if you’re interested in volunteering but aren’t quite sure what role would work best for you!

Our parent organization SF3—the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction—is also looking for people interested in joining its Communications committee, which handles communications for WisCon as well as for SF3 more broadly.

The SF3 board will also be electing new officers for the Vice President and Treasurer positions at its annual meeting in Fall 2020; if you are interested in standing for either of those positions, you can contact president@sf3.org, or visit www.sf3.org to learn more.

And if you’re interested in seeing how the ConCom functions but can’t make it to the meeting on June 20, send us an email and we’ll let you know once our first Fall meeting in September is scheduled.

We look forward to hearing from you!

WisCONline Update: Platforms + Volunteers

The excitement is intensifying for WisCon 44 next weekend! We’re looking forward to seeing you all there, whether you’re new to WisCon entirely or just new to WisCONline (as we all are).

The ‘How To’s of WisCONline

We’ve gotten some questions about how you’ll access virtual WisCon 44 programming.

Invitations to the WisCon Discord server will be sent out to the email you gave when you registered, on the evening of Wednesday May 20 (after registration closes at 7PM). If you don’t receive an invitation that evening, please check your spam filter, and then contact registration@wiscon.net and we can send you a new link!

Most of WisCon’s programming will be streamed to YouTube, but available only via direct link (it will not show up on the WisCon channel or via searches). The links to specific program items will be sent out by email each morning, and also posted in the Discord server. (If you do not plan to join the Discord server, it is therefore particularly important that you make sure that you are able to receive emails we send out!)

Some of the WisCon special events—the Otherwise auction, the Vid Party, and the Floomp—may use other platforms. Information on joining these events will be sent out in the same emails as the links for watching streams on YouTube, and will also be posted to Discord.

More information on how the platforms and specific program items will work for WisCon 44 are available on our website; we’ll continue to update and expand what’s posted there between now and the convention.

WisCONline is looking for volunteers!

To make the convention happen every year, WisCon depends on its many volunteers. The virtual convention is no exception, even though the volunteer roles we’re looking to fill are different than they would be in person.

Technical Producers will coordinate the backend of program items, whether for live Panels or for pre-recorded Readings or Academic Programming items. If you’re comfortable with technical tools, and especially if you have experience with YouTube Studio, this is a great way to get involved!

Online Chat Moderators will monitor the conversation for live panels on Discord, and pass comments and questions onto the panelists via the Technical Producer.

Social Media Monitors will keep an eye on other web platforms for any issues arising in the current panel’s hashtag, and will escalate them to Safety if necessary.

And as at in-person conventions, Safety Volunteers will be available during programming hours, as a first point of contact for concerns or issues as they arise.

There’s no volunteer rebate or gift this year, but anyone who signs up for a volunteer shift by 5PM Central on Tuesday will receive an early invitation to the Discord server!

Full descriptions of all these roles can be found on our At-Con Volunteers page, or you can head directly to SignUp.com to sign up for specific shifts. If you have questions, or have any issues using the SignUp interface, you can also email volunteers@wiscon.net.

Thursday Night Special Event: The Doubleclicks!

We’re thrilled to announce that after our Virtual Reception on Thursday night, we’ll be streaming a pre-recorded concert by The Doubleclicks starting at 9:00pm CDT!

The Doubleclicks, photo by Kim Newmoney

 

The Doubleclicks are a nationally-touring, Billboard-charting pop band with a cello, a meowing cat keyboard, and songs about anxiety, queer identity, dinosaurs, cats and board games. Their YouTube videos boast over 3 million views and have been featured on NPR, BoingBoing, and io9. Find out more at http://thedoubleclicks.com.

We are SO excited to have siblings Laser (they/them) and Aubrey (she/her) on our virtual program this year! If you aren’t familiar with their brand of nerdy tunes, you could start with Cats and Netflix, which they also recently updated for 2020.

Song requests and questions: Laser and Aubrey are happy to accept your song requests and answer questions about the band, but you’ve got to act fast. Please send your requests and questions to info@wiscon.net OR complete this Google Form on or before Monday, 5/18, at 5:00pm CDT.

If you haven’t registered for WisCon yet and you’d like to see the concert, registration is open until May 20!

Registration for WisCon 44 is open!

Registration for the virtual WisCon 44 is now open!

Registration for the online convention will work a bit differently than our usual in-person memberships. We have four price tiers for memberships:

  • $10 is the default price
  • $0 is a reduced Affordability price
  • $25 is a slightly more expensive WisCon Supporter membership, for those who are able to pay a bit more to support WisCon now and in the future
  • $55 is the most expensive WisCon Supporter: Original In-Person Price membership

All of these memberships get you the same access to all events associated with WisCon 44. While we hope that some of you will be willing to financially support the convention by purchasing one of the WisCon Supporter memberships, we do not plan to create cost-gated spaces in the online con.

REGISTER NOW (open until May 20)

UPDATE (May 7): We have passed 100 registered members for WisCONline, and no more free copies of The WisCon Chronicles are available—though sales of physical copies will open soon! Thanks to Aqueduct Press, the editors of this volume, and to everyone who has registered for WisCon so far.

The WisCon Chronicles Volume 12: Boundaries and Bridges is partnering with WisCon to provide a FREE copy to the first 100 people who register!
The first 100 people to register for WisCONline will receive a FREE copy of The WisCon Chronicles Volume 12: Boundaries and Bridges, edited by Isabel Schechter and Michi Trota, generously provided by Aqueduct Press in PDF, epub, and mobi formats.
Please note that Aqueduct Press is a separate organization from SF3/WisCon and is not required to uphold our Code of Conduct.

We plan to open registration for WisCon 45, which will take place next year from May 27–31 2021, later this month.

More information available on our Registration page!

WisCONline Updates

The ConCom is hard at work planning WisCONline events for Memorial Day Weekend, and we wanted to give you all a few updates.

Workshop Track Cancelled
We’d like to announce that the ConCom has cancelled the Workshop track for this year. All workshop submissions we received will be marked as deferred to next year, when the Workshops department can revisit them.  Please direct any questions or concerns about this announcement directly to the co-chairs (chair@wiscon.net).

Yoon Ha Lee Unable to Attend Virtual WisCon
We’d also like to announce that Yoon Ha Lee, one of our WisCon 44 Guests of Honor, will be unable to participate in this year’s virtual con. We have invited him and Rebecca Roanhorse to attend WisCon 45 in addition to next year’s Guests of Honor, and we look forward to their replies as their schedules become more clear.

The Floomp is ON!
The Floomp is ON for this year — ONline, that is! The Floomp organizing team will be hosting a virtual dance party during our all-online WisCon 44. This year’s Floomp theme will be ROBOTS. The dance is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, with exact time and more details to come.

WisCon 45 Room Reservations Available!

While we’re still hard at work organizing online activities for WisCONline this year, we have some great news: We are thrilled to announce that our host hotel, Madison’s fabulous Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club, has opened room reservations for WisCon 45, May 28-31, 2021.

Please show your support for our fabulous hosts by making your room reservations today. We have a room block with special rates, which expires on April 28, 2021. Visit our Hotel Information page to get started!

We’re Planning An Online WisCon!

As we mentioned in our post announcing the cancellation of WisCon 44 as an in-person convention, we are rapidly pivoting to an online format!

We anticipate holding a number of traditional WisCon events on Memorial Day weekend itself, and we’re coming up with online alternatives for many traditional events and pieces of programming, such as online versions of games and showcasing our artists’ and vendors’ websites. Further details on online programming will be coming as soon as we marshal the necessary resources and planning, but we’d love to hear your ideas in the comments to this post.

We also know that we have people in the WisCon community who have expertise in online events — want to help? Email personnel@sf3.org and tell us what you can help with. We particularly want to make certain that the online version of WisCon is accessible, inclusive, and welcoming.

We tentatively plan to make participation in online programming for WisCon 44 available on a sliding scale starting at $5 or less per attendee. We need the money we were going to use for the regular WisCon 44 so that we can put on WisCon 45 in 2021, so we don’t have much to spare without your help.

You can donate to support WisCon at https://paypal.me/WisCon — thank you for any amount you can chip in!

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 registration@wiscon.net 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!

March 20 Update on COVID-19

As promised in our March 6 update, we wanted to check back in with the WisCon community about our decision-making process given the continuing COVID-19 crisis.

As of today, the Board has met and is considering various options. We’ll make an official announcement on Monday, March 23, with the Board’s final decision. Thanks so much for your continued patience, for staying at home as much as you can, and for washing your hands often with soap and water!

This Just In: WisCon 44 Panel Sign-Up and Interest Survey is now Open!

We’re very excited to announce that the Panel Sign-Up and Interest Survey is now live. Please give us YOUR feedback on what panels will run during WisCon 44.

WisCon programming is divided into separate tracks which group related concepts together in order to facilitate interesting and complex discussions. The current list of tracks are below:

  • Feminism and Other Social Change Movements
  • Power, Privilege, and Oppression
  • Spirituality, Organized Religion and Politics
  • Science and Technology
  • The Craft and Business of Writing
  • Reading, Viewing, and Critiquing Science Fiction
  • Fandom as a Way of Life
  • Interactive Storytelling and Media

You will need a WisCon account in order to view and take the survey.  If you don’t have an account, create one at the “Create Your Account” page. For those with an account already created, go to “Log in to My Account” page. You should see the link to the survey once you have logged into your account. Or you can click here. https://account.wiscon.net/program/?edit=yes

Be sure to also update your availability so we know when you want to be assigned to panels.

Please note that even if you were the one that proposed a panel, you still need to log into the survey and sign up for it. Proposed names are not automatically carried into the survey sign up.

This is a very important stage of Panel Programming. The more people who participate in the survey and sign up for and/or rate the panels, the better chance you will have at seeing your panel selections on the final schedule. We understand that completing the survey can be laborious, but doing so is completely for your benefit.

As always, questions/concerns/feedback can be sent to panels@wiscon.net.

WisCon Needs More Brains! (Ceremonies and Access)

We still have open roles on the ConCom where we’d love your help! Email personnel@sf3.org to volunteer your brain.

Ceremonies

We’re in need of an MC/organizer for the Sunday night speeches: coordinating with the guests of honor and other speakers beforehand to make sure they’re prepared and have what they need, directing them during the event, and making general announcements from the podium. (Or, if you can organize/stage-manage but don’t like public speaking, the announcements can be covered by a con chair.)

For this role you’ll need to be present at WisCon 44 and available Sunday night, from before the dessert salon through the end of the speeches. The time commitment before the con should be low and mainly involves sending emails in April and May. Our usual MC can’t make it this year, but she’s happy to answer questions and help you through it!

Access

The Access team is still looking for a CART/ASL Liaison.

CART stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation, which is captioning for live events; ASL is American Sign Language. Our CART/ASL Liaison is responsible for communicating with WisCon attendees and keeping track of requests for either type of interpretation at our events and panels.

WisCon has a good ongoing relationship with a CART provider who will build a team that includes ASL interpreters if needed, and the Liaison will work with them to determine their schedule, as well as providing them with a list of WisCon or SFF-specific jargon, names, and other terms so that they are prepared to work effectively during events like the Otherwise Auction and the Guest of Honor Speeches. The CART/ASL Liaison will be coordinating with Access Leads, and may wish to be involved in small grant-writing or fundraising efforts to help fund payments to WisCon’s contracted service providers. Skills involved in this role are primarily written communications via email. We expect this role will take up to an hour per week between now and the end of March, increasing to a couple of hours per week in April & May, and approximately an hour each day during the convention itself.

These roles are part of the WisCon Convention Committee, which means you’ll be automatically eligible to opt for a WisCon membership rebate of 40% of the registration fee. If you stay on the ConCom, you also get to vote during the selection process next fall for WisCon’s future Guests of Honor.

Again, please email personnel@sf3.org to volunteer or if you have questions!