My Capclave Schedule this weekend

Capclave

I will be my local con, the DC-Area Capclave, this weekend. My schedule is below. I love meeting writers and readers, so come on down!

Friday 4:00 pm: Mindfulness and Habit Training/Tracking for Writers (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Jackson
Panelist:Meriah Lysistrata Crawford (M), Kelly Dwyer, Craig L. Gidney, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Irette Y. Patterson
What works, what doesn’t, resources, how mindfulness helps the writing process
Friday 6:00 pm: Reimagining the Fairy Tale (Ends at: 6:55 pm) Jackson
Panelist:Sarah Avery, Craig L. Gidney (M), Michelle D. Sonnier
Who doesn’t love a fairy tale retelling? Part of the universal appeal of fairy tales is that they were never a static form, at least not as an oral tradition. Re-tellers have used these archetypes and modes to spin new variations ever since these stories first came to the page. Angela Carter once said that “Ours is a highly individualized culture, with a great faith in the work of art as a unique one-off…. But fairy tales are not like that, and nor are their makers.” We can find fresh insight into our own lives and connections through these age old tales. This panel will focus on a variety of approaches in reconstructing fairy tales with a modern bent, both in their favorite respins and in their own work.
Friday 7:00 pm: Taxonomy of Fantasy (Ends at: 7:55 pm) Truman
Panelist:Craig L. Gidney, J. L. Gribble, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Mythic Fantasy, etc. How many types of fantasy are there? Readers’ tastes evolve over time. Which types of fantasy are currently the most popular, which are becoming less popular, where is fantasy headed and why?
Friday 9:00 pm: If I Ran the Studio (Ends at: 9:55 pm) Washington Theater
Panelist:Sarah Avery, Craig L. Gidney, Will McIntosh, Sherin Nicole (M)
What books and stories would you adapt to film?  Live action or animated?  Why do film studios insist on optioning novels when short form fiction is really the ideal length for being adapted to film? Which series or stand alone book that hasn’t been adapted for the big screen or television would you like to see made?
Saturday 10:00 am: I Hate Myself For Loving You (Ends at: 10:55 am) Monroe
Panelist:Alyssa Wong, Jonathan Edelstein, Jim Freund (M), Craig L. Gidney
Guilty pleasures and secret fandoms
Saturday 4:00 pm: Stalker vs. Love Interest (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Jackson
Panelist:Alyssa Wong, Jeanne Adams, Craig L. Gidney, Sherin Nicole, A.C. Wise (M)
Given changing cultural norms is the handsome prince engaged in romantic pursuit or is he a creeper?
Saturday 5:00 pm: Political Dynamite (Ends at: 5:55 pm) Monroe
Panelist:Craig L. Gidney, Larry Hodges, Mark Laporta, Joan Wendland
Writers and editors talk about how they address current events in their work and in social media–and what they don’t.
Saturday 7:30 pm: Mass autographing (Ends at: 8:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelist:Nancy Kress, Alyssa Wong, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeanne Adams, Catherine Asaro, T. Eric Bakutis, Stafford Battle, Jonathan Brazee, Jack Campbell – John G. Hemry, Neil Clarke, Doc Coleman, Wendy S. Delmater, Tom Doyle, Kelly Dwyer, Deidre Dykes, Andrew Fox, Jim Freund, Charles E. Gannon, Craig L. Gidney, Carolyn Ives Gilman, J. L. Gribble, Bjorn Hasseler, Inge Heyer, Larry Hodges, David Keener, Barbara Krasnoff, Mark Laporta, John Edward Lawson, Edward M. Lerner, Will McIntosh, Mike McPhail, Bernie Mojzes, James Morrow, Kathryn Morrow, Lawrence M. Schoen, Darrell Schweitzer, Alex Shvartsman, Jack Skillingstead, Alan Smale, Joe Stech, Michael A. Ventrella, David Walton, Jean Marie Ward, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Joan Wendland, Steven H. Wilson, A.C. Wise, Allen L. Wold
Sunday 10:00 am: 50 Years of The Last Unicorn (Ends at: 10:55 am) Jackson
Panelist:Mary Fan, Craig L. Gidney (M), Yosef Lindell, Darrell Schweitzer
It’s been 50 years since Ballantine published Peter S. Beagle’s Th Last Unicorn. Panelists will discuss the book, what it meant to them and its enduring popularity.
Sunday 12:00 pm: Black Panther (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Washington Theater
Panelist:Craig L. Gidney, John Edward Lawson, B. Sharise Moore, Irette Y. Patterson, K. Ceres Wright (M)
The impact of the movie and the comics. The movie was huge. Nnedi Okorafor has just announced she’s writing the new Shuri comic and Ta-Nahesi Coates has written for Black Panther as well. Panelists discuss the cultural significance of Black Panther.
Sunday 1:00 pm: Stories Lacking in Traditional Plot Structure (Ends at: 1:55 pm) Jackson
Panelist:Wendy S. Delmater, Craig L. Gidney (M), David Stokes
How to approach stories with experimental structure or structures that don’t always follow traditional narrative storytelling such as travel guides, lists, stories via instruction manuals, slice of ice or mood pieces
Sunday 2:00 pm: Why Do We Like Being Scared (Ends at: 2:55 pm) Truman
Panelist:Craig L. Gidney, Hildy Silverman (M), Michelle D. Sonnier, Kenesha Williams
Fear probably developed as a survival mechanism. We fear things that might hurt us. Yet many read horror, go to slasher films, ride roller coasters, and climb cliffs. Why? What does this say about us and our psyches?
Sunday 4:00 pm: Resistance is Never Futile (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Monroe
Panelist:Tom Doyle (M), Aaron Emmel, Craig L. Gidney
What science fiction and fantasy can teach us about being advocates and activists in fraught times. What should the allegorical protest literature of our time look like?

Tokens or Intruders: The issue of Diversity at SF Conventions

The talented and provocative Jim C. Hines posted a thread on his Facebook about increasing diversity at SFcons. The responses to that thread were for the most part positive about the issue, but, predictably, there were a few ‘trolls’ who raised the de rigueur whining about quotas, political correctness, and, most egregiously, the notion that ‘urban blacks’ don’t read, most of all, speculative fiction.

To that last claim: I live in a largely black city (Washington, DC) and I take public transportation. I can assure you: ‘urban blacks’ read. On buses and subways, a book-reading black person isn’t a Unicorn who only comes out during nights when the moon is blue. If someone is reading something I’ve read—and they aren’t completely tuned out to the world—I will say something to them. “Great book!” or “Have you read <insert name of author>?”

a unicorn who only comes out during nights when the moon is blue
a unicorn who only comes out during nights when the moon is blue

Anyway, I don’t know what strategy would work to get a more diverse demographic to attend. (But I have some ideas—more about that in a later post). But I do know what will drive ethnic and sexual minorities away.

It’s not that cons are whites-only spaces, per se. Rather, they give off the vibe of Stuff White People Like. Stuff White People Like, in case you didn’t know, is (or was) a popular website that snarkily/ironically listed things that ‘code’ as White. Such as, “White people like paninis!” or nonprofit organizations or organic markets. I freely admit, the hipster-modulated joke that website is predicated on is lost to me. Again, I live in a largely black city (though the population dynamic is changing). Seeing black people eating paninis or working for nonprofit organizations or shopping at Whole Foods is just banal. But that isn’t enough to drive people away, in my opinion. A nuisance? Yes. But I and my fellow PoC are made of sterner stuff. That vibe, in my opinion, provides a fertile ground for both macro- and microagressions. It’s the subtle message ‘one of them is here?!!?’ that cause reactions that range from the overly enthusiastic to the downright hostile.

I’ll give some examples.

I was at a con a few years ago (which I won’t name) where my hair was touched and complimented on. The person who did it meant well, but you can’t but help feel like the Hottentot Venus when that happens. I believe the person came from the overly earnest school of liberalism where Othering, rather than meanness, is the form racial microagression takes.

More recently, at Arisia, there were reports of a white male walking into a party hosted by the Carl Brandon Society and informing the group there that slavery wasn’t all that bad. This, of course, is open hostility.

Both examples are unpleasant things that would make most people wonder about the value of spending an expensive weekend where you’re considered either a Token or an Intruder. I love Game of Thrones and China Mieville and Ursula LeGuin, but there are limits.

And here’s another thing. When a ‘troll’ shows up on a message board forum (or Facebook thread) and spews ignorant/hostile/covertly hostile garbage, the Abstract People of Color hordes they’re talking about? They use the Internet, too. They even read entire websites dedicated to Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror. A 15 year-old me, reading stuff like ‘urban blacks don’t read SF’ would sooner go to a Daughters of the Confederacy cotillion than a SF convention. (The food would probably be better there, too.) Whitesplaining is another form of micro-aggression that will push someone away. There is a long and storied history of racism in the SF community that whitesplainers ignore or pretend doesn’t exist.

I am ending my temporary exile from convention-land by attending the 2014 World Fantasy Convention that will be in my own backyard—in DC. I want to bring my younger cousin to it, as well, since he has firm geek credentials. Maybe our presence will make other PoC feel less alone.