In praise of WisCon

In less than two weeks (gulp) me and Scott will be attending WisCon the feminist science fiction convention in Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve been attending since 1996, I’ve read there, been on panels, been a part of the auction (mostly as a spender of money, but once as one of Ellen Klages’ lovely assistants) and have worked as part of the organising committee— I’m biased.

And yet strangely I’ve come to take it for granted. So much so that my not being able to attend next year (prior engagement to be part of something awesome in Australia) didn’t really phase me. Then I read Sheree Thomas’s eloquent explanation of why she loves WisCon and all of a sudden I’m miserable that I’m going to be missing next year’s WisCon even as I get ready for this year’s.

Sheree loves it so much she’s urging people to attend:

    What I really want to do is encourage you to check out WISCON, because if you don’t never go to but ONE science fiction conference in your big, beautiful life, then let it be, let it be WISCON 30, because this year is going to be amazing.WisCon takes place annually in downtown Madison, WI over Memorial Day weekend (May 25-30) at the Concourse Hotel. It’s considered “The World’s Leading Feminist Science Fiction Convention,” and is attended by a lot of cool and interesting women and yes, men (got to say that because some folk see ‘feminist’ and read ‘man hata’ and ‘crazy’) . Now, I ain’t saying there ain’t no crazy folk there (LOL!), I’m just saying that all kinda folk flow through and it is a celebration of science fiction work. This year, they invited back their previous Guest of Honors, including Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, Nalo Hopkinson, Jane Yolen, Pat Murphy, Pamela Sargent, Vonda McIntyre, chile, I could go on and on.

    And they got damned good child care, too! For real, with Legos and robots n’ shit! I mean really, what kinda feminist gathering would it be without an excellent program track for young readers?

The bad news is that this year’s WisCon is sold out. That’s right, you can put your name on the waiting list, but unless there’s a whole slew of last-minute dropouts you won’t be attending. But don’t let that stop you from going to next year’s. I’ve heard a little rumour about who the guests of honour will be and, well, let me tell you, stellar is the word.

This year’s is going to be unbelievablely fabulous. I was at WisCon 20 and I’ll never forget it. That weekend changed my life. But even the worst WisCon is a million times better than any other convention or conference I’ve ever been to. If you have any interest in genre or feminism or exploring new and old ideas WisCon is the place for you.


  1. Kristine Smith on #

    1996 was your first Wiscon? It was mine, too. I’ve attended every year since except…

    I will be missing this year’s con, but will likely attend 31. I feel funny about missing after having attended so many in a row, but 20 was so special and while I know 30 will be special as well, I don’t feel completely lost because, well, I remember 20.

    And if that makes sense, I’m doing better than I thought for a writing Friday night.

  2. Jason Erik Lundberg on #

    Yay WisCon! This will be year number 3 for Janet and me. Can’t wait.

    Hope to see ya there!

  3. cherie priest on #

    And I will see you there!
    [:: flails into a Kermit-like hysteria ::]

  4. Cheryl on #

    I try very hard not to miss it. And from now on I’ll probably have to go every year because of the danger that the next year may sell out before the current year’s con is over.

    Yes, it is that good. See y’all.

  5. Justine on #

    Kristine: That’s crazy talk! The reason I’m going this year is cause WisCon 20 was so amazing. Though I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous about it being so much bigger this year . . .

    Jason, Cherie & Cheryl: See you there!

    Cheryl: I wouldn’t worry. It’s not going to be so insane next year. From memory the WisCons after 20 were all smaller than WisCon 20. I’m imagine the same thing will happen this year. On the other hand the rumoured guests of honour for next year are pretty bloody cool . . .

  6. Justine on #

    Thanks, Little Willow! We was dead chuffed.

  7. Cyril N. Alberga on #

    sigh, never been (but i’ve never been to any sf con, so it isn’t surprising). i did attend uw madison (class of ’60 — after being a drop-out for a few years — and met my wife there (1957). she is an adamant non-sf person, so we don’t really do much socially with sf types. dance, music and food instead.

    enjoy madison, though the last time we passed through we hardly recognized anything. i wonder if piasian’s pizza is still in business?

    ps am i allowed a language comment? i’ll give it anyway. shouldn’t you be “fazed” rather than “phased”? or is your vibrational plane not shifting?

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