wealhtheow: sepia close-up of Medusa (Default)
Think Galacticon 3 was this weekend! It's a leftist sf/f con held in Chicago every other year, and it's one of my very favorite cons. It's significantly smaller than most other cons I go to (100-150 attendees, maybe?) which means it's far more intimate. The panel format is an obvious example of this--instead of having panelists, who speak for the majority of the time slot and then take questions/comments from the audience, all the panels I went to were modded by a facilitator. I loved having the chance to participate in actual discussions and feeling like my voice had equal weight to it--as well as the chance to hear a multitude of different voices coming from a wide array of experiences.

Think Galacticon is also the only con I've ever been to where the opening and closing ceremonies were almost *better* than the rest of the con, as opposed to being the boring bits. Plus! The consuite! So delicious whilst so healthy and friendly to dietary choices and needs and ecological considerations. But mostly I cared about the deliciousness. Feeling gutsy I tried the pumpkin-seed-and-chai cookies instead of the familiar chocolate chip, and holy god they were good. Heather Galaxy is like a god among bakers.

I didn't actually spend all my time stuffing cookies in my face. The first panel I went to was "Octavia E Butler and Emergent Strategies," led by Adrienne Maree Brown (the Activist Notable Guest) and it blew my mind. Details herein. )


I didn't take notes during Nora K Jemisin's (SFF Notable Guest) leading of "In Fantasy, Servitude," but we mostly talked about class, not servitude itself. The idea of The Chosen One being a servant to the prophecy got brought up, but I don't really buy that interpretation. We had a hard time thinking of sff works that focused on servants, particularly servants who stayed servants. Servants are generally in the background, or are revealed to be a wizard/future king/whatever. The only sff I can think of wherein the main character starts out in servitude and is still in servitude by the end of the work is Sarah Micklem's Firethorn and Wildfire, both of which I highly recommend.


Next I went to "How Can We Do an Industrial Revolution Right?" How to imagine an industrical revolution with ethical choices for labor, food, and fuel? )


Andrea Hairson (Wiscon's Guest of Honor next year!) and Pan Morigan put on an electrifying performance of selections from Andrea's book Redwood and Wildfire and Pan's songs, which were inspired by it. I'd never heard banjo live before--I had no idea it could be so loud or sound so beautiful!


Andrea led a discussion of "New Tales for the 21st Century" the next morning. How to tell new stories and get audiences engaged? )

At the end of the con, the notable guests spoke for an hour about what fiction shaped them, the powers and pitfalls of activism and sff, and what they hope congoers take away from Think Galacticon. I was too busy listening to take many notes, but basically, Adrienne said Butler's Wildseed helped her jailbreak her mind. She said (I'm paraphrasing, of course) that we get told we have to make all these choices between binaries, but what we need to do instead is give everyone the space/freedom/permission/inspiration to try on all aspects of themselves, find the people they want to be, without getting boxed in.
Nora said that sff helped her to understand that this set of inequalities and isms is only our latest iteration, and the current prejudices and dominance can change. It's not immutable, it's not eternal.


In sum, I left the con feeling tired but energized. I can't wait for the next one!

wealhtheow: sepia close-up of Medusa (Default)
This weekend nerds from all over descended upon Roosevelt University's beautiful building in downtown Chicago. There was crafting, a block printing workshop, a LARP, dessert salon, board gaming--and of course, panels all day. For someone like me, who adores political, thoughtful discourse on geeky topics, a con like Think Galacticon (or the con that inspired it, Wiscon), is like Disneyland. In fact, experiences like these have spoiled me for most cons. As a kid, I was so pleased to meet other, "grown-up" geeks that I enjoyed huge cons that focus on the dealers' room and a famous actor. But nowadays I find the crowds overwhelming, meeting a famous actor or stunt person less enthralling, and the obvious commercial aspect off-putting. I can buy pretty much anything off of the internet--what I can't get is in-depth, face-to-face discussions with twenty people about disability in Star Trek or superheroes' totalitarianism.

Therefore, thank goodness for TG and Wiscon!

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wealhtheow

July 2014

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