Category Archives: WisCon 40

Donate to the WisCon Member Assistance Fund!

WisCon Member Assistance Fund
& SF3 Fundraising Committee

As an inclusive feminist convention, WisCon is always striving for ways to welcome more voices to our conversations — and we are proud that we’ve had the support of our community in our efforts over the past few years, building a code of conduct in our Anti-Harassment Policy, instituting our Statement of Principles, adding Safer Spaces, expanding our work toward accessibility, and maintaining low registration fees, rebates for volunteers, and $1 childcare for attendees.

There’s another vital part of enriching the conversations we have at the con — our Member Assistance Fund (WMAF). Every year, SF3 (WisCon’s parent organization) moves what we can afford out of our savings and into this dedicated pool of money to help people travel to and enjoy WisCon. The WMAF awards attendees amounts ranging from $50 to $500, amounts that might cover everything from a tank of gas to a plane ticket to a stay in the WisCon hotel.

We don’t ask our attendees who receive WMAF money to tell us how they use their money, because we know that they know their situations best — the important thing is that they join us, bringing their opinions, their ideas, and their knowledge. They are just as vital to WisCon if they decide to share their thoughts on a panel, in a reading, or in a hallway… or if they keep their reactions to the con private. WisCon builds and tests ideas, exploring gender, class, race, and ability in science fiction and fantasy, and through that process, we build our culture and our world in a way that isn’t limited to the con. We can’t do that without making a concrete effort toward the inclusion of diverse voices.

We need your help to grow this effort. Any amount you can donate to WMAF will make a huge difference — we’d like to raise $5,000 this year, which would mean a full award for ten people, or many more small awards for those who just need a little help to attend.

We’ll be sharing more about the WMAF and how important it is to WisCon over the next few months. Donate now to make WisCon 40 truly an anniversary to be proud of!

Please consider a recurring donation of $5 or more every month — it’s a relatively painless way for many people to make a HUGE difference!

PS — Did you know that SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization? That makes your gift tax deductible in the U.S.!

WisCon 40 concom recruitment

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

If it’s December, it must be… recruitment time for the WisCon Convention-Planning Committee.

The planning committee — most of the time shortened to “concom” — is the stage crew who push buttons, flip levers, and pull the ropes to make WisCon happen every Memorial Day weekend.

“What’s it take to join?”

Willingness to commit to doing a task. You can sign up for something that takes just a couple hours a month, something that largely happens only at the convention, or something that completely wraps up before the convention even starts. You don’t need to be local to Madison for most tasks. And even if you can’t make it to WisCon this year, you can still help out!

“Do I need experience?”

Not necessarily! It can be helpful to have been on a concom before, or to have skills that are relevant to what you’re interested in doing. But WisCon also has decades of experience in training new concom members to pick up a task and carry on.

“Are there meetings? I hate meetings.”

Our monthly meetings are definitely useful (especially closer to the convention), but they’re completely optional. If you’re local to Madison you can join the in-person contingent; if you’re elsewhere in the world you can join the meeting via phone. In between meetings we discuss things via a private Google Group, so regular access to a computer is helpful, as is the ability to respond to emails in a timely fashion.

“Why in the world would I want to join WisCon‘s concom??”

Ahhh. And that is a perfectly fair question. It’s one that I’ve been asked a few times, especially because I stepped into my communications role in the middle of the summer of 2014. So I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve been telling people these past 18 months — I joined because WisCon has been transformative for me, because I knew I had skills that would be useful to the concom and the convention, and because I found I was passionate to help. Which passion comes from one very simple idea: That by helping to build WisCon, I am, in a small but noticeable way, helping to build the sort of world that I want to live in.

This is why the concom needs you. Because we need your skills, your passion, and, yes, sometimes we need your anger to help us build WisCon — to help us build a better WisCon.

As Alexandra Erin wrote last year: “Who runs WisCon? You do. WisCon is your con. It’s run by you, for you.”

WisCon is your con — backstage and out front. Consider joining us on the stage crew.

If you have questions or if you’re interested in any positions, contact us at


(PS: Oh, and the deep dark secret of the concom is… It’s fun to be part of the planning. You meet a group of tremendous, dedicated people who, the next thing you know it, are some of your closest friends.)

Call for submissions — WisCon invites scholars to submit proposals for WisCon 40 academic track

Alexis Lothian & Lauren J. Lacey
Academic Programming

One of the things that sets WisCon apart is that we place many types of fannish interactions side-by-side in our programming. We have panels dedicated to exploring a single book or film as well as panels that look at, say, race across all of science fiction. We have author readings, discussions of fanfic or fanvids, and conversations about games and gaming.

A pile of books stacked next to a notebook and a nib pen.We also have an entire track dedicated to scholarly investigations of feminism and science fiction — open to scholars of all descriptions.

The proposal period for WisCon’s academic track programming is now open! We invite proposals from anyone with a scholarly interest in the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and disability with science fiction — broadly defined — in literature, media, and culture. We especially welcome scholarship on the work of 2016’s Guests of Honor Sofia Samatar, Justine Larbalestier, and Nalo Hopkinson and on the histories and cultures of feminist and social-justice-oriented fan communities.

We encourage submissions from scholars in all fields, including interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary areas, and from amateur and independent scholars as well as graduate students, postdocs, and faculty.

An incomplete list of possible subjects:

  • Gender, sexuality, race, class, and disability in individual works of science fiction and fantasy, especially the work of this year’s Guests of Honor Sofia Samatar, Justine Larbalestier, and Nalo Hopkinson
  • Feminist, queer, critical race, and critical disability analysis of science fiction and fantasy in media (film, television, music, video games, online culture)
  • Speculative aspects of feminist and social justice movements
  • Science fiction and feminist science and technology studies
  • Race, colonialism, and speculative fiction; Afrofuturism and related cultural movements
  • Fan cultures and communities
  • Feminist pedagogy and speculative fiction in the classroom

An incomplete list of possible formats:

  • 15-20 minute paper presentations, with or without visual accompaniment
  • Groups of presentations submitted together as panels
  • Presentation of scholarly creative works, including digital scholarship
  • Readings from recently published or forthcoming scholarly books
  • Discussion-based panels and roundtables on scholarly research, teaching, or service
  • Mentoring sessions on academic professional life: graduate study, the job market, tenure and promotion, publishing and presentation
  • Screenings and discussions of short films or videos

The deadline for submitting an abstract for WisCon 40 is midnight Central Time on February 1, 2016.

Please submit your proposal using this form ( site profile is required). 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 questions, please email:

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.

WisCon — 40×40

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

It was a dark and stormy February.  Suddenly, a shot rang out.


Well, maybe it wasn’t “dark and stormy” — the official WisCon record says that February of 1977 was “bitterly cold.”  I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t say.  I was, in fact, not quite five years old and living in Pennsylvania.  I didn’t even know what a Wisconsin was let alone a WisCon.

But I did know who Wonder Woman was, would shortly know what “Battlestar Galactica” was, certainly knew what “Star Trek” was.  And I know that when I (finally) discovered fandom in my 20s and learned about WisCon thanks to a friend who’d already attended once, I knew with complete clarity that WisCon was what I needed.  I wasn’t wrong — when I attended WisCon 29 it was everything I could have hoped for, everything a ‘70s kid who loved Wonder Woman and “Star Trek” could have wanted.

Now, WisCon is turning 40.  Four decades of being a home for those of us who’ve needed both science fiction and feminism!

To mark this monumental anniversary, we are kicking off a blog series — “WisCon: 40×40.”  Every week we’ll focus on a WisCon (or two), celebrating and reminiscing about this space that’s gone from being known as “PervertCon” to an institution that’s inspired so many people and has spawned a whole host of other organizations over the years.

Later today you’ll see the first post in this series, written by none other than Jeanne Gomoll, who was at WisCon 1 and has graciously written an incredible recollection of that first convention.

We are especially excited to hear memories from the WisCon community.  Please join us in comments on the blog posts in the coming months!  Think of this as a crowd-sourced history project.

Would you like to write one of the posts for a particular WisCon?  Please contact me directly at

Was WisCon a shot that rang out across ’70s fandom?  Has it been a home for you, an annual reunion of sorts?  How has WisCon and its community been inspiring for you?  Which guests of honor have particularly moved you?  What were your favorite Con Suite conversations?  Let’s count down the past 39 years together as we anticipate WisCon 40’s opening on May 27, 2016.

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.

planning WisCon 40

Andrea Horbinski and s.e. smith 
Co-Chairs, WisCon 40

We’re celebrating 40 great years in 2016 and we can’t wait to see old and new faces!

WisCon wouldn’t be what it is without all the wonderful members who make it home every year, from those who have been attending for decades to newbies who are just getting ready for their first Con. As we prepare with some special events behind the scenes, we’d also like to hear from you — what do YOU want to see at WisCon 40?

We welcome your nominations for guests of honor, comments, and ideas, big and small, by 5 January 2015. You can comment here, comment on Facebook, or Tweet at us — as well as emailing directly to

Come build WisCon with us

Alexandra Erin
Media & Communications

Who runs WisCon?

You do.

WisCon is your con. It’s run by you, for you. Every year, it takes the hard work of a dedicated band of volunteers to make the convention happen, but every year, through your efforts we can make the con that much better for everyone. We have a need for volunteers with many different skills and all levels of experience. Fresh voices and enthusiasm are just as needed as old seasoned hands. Whether this is your first WisCon or your fifty-first*, you can become a part of the heart of the con by volunteering.

While you can step up to help the day of the con by just putting yourself forward when someone asks for help, the best way to get involved in on-site volunteering is send an email to and let us know that you’re interested.

But we also have an immediate need for people who are willing and able to step up and take on essential roles in the running of the con. By volunteering for one of these positions, you will step into the Convention Committee (ConCom), the overarching committee that does the work to make WisCon happen. You will become a part of planning discussions and decision making throughout the year, in addition to your at-con role. This means that you’ll have a direct hand in shaping WisCon 39 and the future of WisCon beyond. While these positions do require you to take on responsibility, this also means you’ll have a support network and the expertise and experience of other ConCom members, or at least some sympathetic brains to pick.

If you’re interested in joining a particular department, just send an email to,

Right now, we have a particular need for people to fill the following roles:

  • Organizer for the WisCon Writer’s Workshop.  The workshop  traditionally takes place on the Friday before the con, and gives up-and-coming and newer writers a chance to share their work and have their stories critiqued by a pro writer.
  • The front desk needs some people willing to take a lead position for At-Con Registration. You can become a personal hero to one of the tireless heroes of the con by taking responsibility for the registration desk for just half a day during the con. This position requires you to be able to answer questions about the con with knowledge and confidence, and be prepared to handle all forms of payment for same-day registration sales. This is the perfect role for someone who likes to meet people, share information, and help people out. If this position interests you but you feel you lack the experience, the registration desk always has a need for helper minions. Feel free to put yourself forward during the con.
  • WisCon traditionally ends with an After-Con Party, but this party doesn’t just happen! We need someone to organize it. Remember, this is a wind-down affair, so you wouldn’t need much in the way of activity planning, but while there’s a potluck of food leftover available from the rest of the con, some fresh refreshments will have to be lined up. The main thing about this party is that it happens after many people’s brains have handled all the pressure and responsibility they can in one long weekend, so we need someone who will take charge of lining up food, setting it all up, and closing it all down.
  • We need a Banquet Liaison for the hotel. In the months before the con, your responsibility will be to collect information about furniture layouts and menus required for catering services by different groups, and follow up as necessary during the con when reality diverges from expectations. Requires organization skills, communication skills, and an ability to follow-through and encourage others to do so.
  • The Art Show requires a lead for set-up, as well as “understudies” who can assist in running it and also step up to lead if needed during the con.
  • We need an Ad Salesperson for the Pocket Program book & souvenir book.
  • Do you have experience in non-profit funding? We are building a team with experience in Grant-Writing and Fundraising.
  • We need additional volunteers to run the Gaming Area, preferably enough to have one person to take lead for each night. You would be overseeing the set-up, clean-up, and operations of the gaming area.
  • A Pre-Con Head for the Green Room to organize the schedule for the Green Room, set up volunteer time slots and work with the Volunteer Coordinator to fill them before the convention begins. You will also set the menu for the Green Room and may make changes to its layout as necessary.
  • Programming can always use more people!
  • In order to ensure the Bake Sale comes off, we need someone who can act as a second to the organizer with an eye towards taking over the role in the future. Due to external uncertainties, there is a chance you may become the primary organizer on-site at the con.
  • Last but certainly not least, our current ConCom chairs (Mikki Kendall & Levi Sable) would like a 3rd or even 4th Chair for WisCon 39 to share duties and expertise.

If you’re interested in filling any of these roles and joining the ConCom, send a query to For general volunteering during the con, send an email to

*Time travelers are by definition always welcome.