Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wiscon 30 - journey well

Ooh child.

Sorry, that's the best I can manage at this time! I'm back from Wiscon 30, where I had a wildy fun weekend, yes indeed, and like quite a few others I'm sure, the re-entry back to my everyday world has been swift and sobering.

First thing, after I finally wrenched myself away from new and old friends at the con, sprinting to the shuttle to catch my flight out, don't you know American Airlines had us La Guardia bound folk sitting up in that empty terminal for what felt like ages until they finally told us that "there were problems in O'Hare (yeah, duh!) and your flight will be delayed." Thank you, but we figured that out an hour after we were supposed to be airborne.

Oh well, coulda been worse. Some flights were cancelled altogether, and I did manage to make it out of there on the little eagle. Of course, the taxi queue outside La Guardia was two country miles long, but it moved quickly and I was home, just south of Harlem, around midnight. Something told me to go ahead and check my messages before crashing, just in case somebody had lost their mind the brief time I was gone, when I found that I'd gotten some fairly urgent calls from Joyce Jones down at WBAI who is in the middle of their Spring Fund Drive. Talk about no notice, CPTime, she wanted me to do a joint interview with M. Asli Dukan of Invisible Universe to discuss Octavia Butler. Bless her heart! We are both huge fans of Ms. Butler and can sing her praises at any hour. So I'm on the air, and dear Asli's sounding sleepy as all get out (LOL!), and I'm talking about how moving the Carl Brandon Society's first Kindred and Parallax awards ceremony was.... Walter Mosley's young adult novel, 47, won the Parallax award, created to celebrate a sf/f work by a writer of color, and young adult novelist and Tennessee home girl! yay! Susan Vaught's Stormwitch won the Kindred award, created to celebrate any speculative fiction work dealing with race and ethnicity (nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group). We chat on a few moments more, then say goodnight. A few moments later it hits me that I forgot to tell the listeners about the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship administered by the Carl Brandon Society. Damn! So I'm bleary-eyed and searching for the little Juicy Fruit wrapper I wrote Joyce's number on. Got it! Transmission received, mission accomplished, night night.


Fast forward a few hours, and it's hot as all get out in my apartment. Could it be that summer is actually here in New York? It's been hit or miss for a while, and you never know if you will need to retrieve that winter coat. There's lots to do and I'm still processing the weekend, but I'll post some thoughts soon. In the meanwhile, here are a few random & memorable highlights:

  • Beyon'dusa in da house! Yay! We all made it this year! What a blessin'!
  • Seeing Leslie Howle and Sarah Brandel (Clarion West '99) - ohmygosh, haven't seen them in ages and Sarah looks happy and is doing well, she was the youngest member of our class at age 19. Congrats on her new engagement and upcoming projects! We caught up with Leslie, remembering Octavia. Please enjoy these beautiful photos Leslie has posted on Ms. Butler's webpages at the Science Fiction Writers Association
  • Seeing Nalo and her fab new 'cut. Go on chile wit yo bad self! Meeting Nisi's new love and hearing about Ian's latest bike adventures. Seeing Candra's beautiful books and meeting Nnedi for the first time, yay! Meeting Nora and Gaby. Hearing the SessyMan Voice and narrowly escaping hypnotism... LOL!
  • Watching the historic parade of the Guest of Honors as they followed the lovely WisCon Godmama and her Mojo Wand...
  • Walking into the art show and seeing Chip Delany's buck naked...belly! A very well done nude by photographer Laurie Toby Edison.
  • Eileen Gunn's wonderfully encouraging response to SCARAB, the first book arts effort from Wanganegresse Press. Yay, thank you, Eileen! We sold the first copy of the limited, handmade, Coptic-bound, Spanish marbled end paper thingymajingy edition of the collection which features an original short story by Ama Patterson, chapters from Exploding in Slow Motion, the new novel by Andrea Hairston, memoir and song lyrics by composer Pan Morigan, stories by Gregory Bernard Banks, Celeste Rita Baker, Iyanna Jones, and Liz Rab, poetry by Tony Medina and Dante Micheaux, and others. Good stuff. A beautiful book, me thinks, and a damn good read if I don't sayso myself. Well, I don' said it. Get your copy or one of the more traditional pamphlets we published especially for WisCon.
  • Writing a brand new story and reading at the Spooky Tales from the Tellin' Pot midnight jam session with Andrea Hairston, Pan Morigan, and Gregory Frost (who brought Scotch and an awesome scary story, thank ya!)
  • Hearing the very moving speeches by Guest of Honor Kate Wilhelm and Jane Yolen. With Kate, I felt like I had walked in her spirit, living her life from childhood, when she could not speak (or more accurately, when she was not understood due to a speech impediment), to her many brushes with magic - not a sentimental, fairy dust kind of magic, but those sometimes hard, sometimes bright vital moments when life changes us. This was an extemporaneous speech that left me in awe of her in new ways. Jane Yolen shared new poems as she spoke about the recent loss of her husband David Stemple. She was very moving and funny as well. And yes, she has published more than one hundred books... but my favorite is Briar Rose.
  • Putting lovely faces to long admired names, including several folk on a number of sf/f lists. Good to greet you all!
  • kick ass panels... it wouldn't be WisCon without them! And you know I can't stand no mealymouthed folk, frontin' like they so 'noble,' everything ain't about being noble, sometime you got to tell the truth, so, yes, the panelin' was on. Lots of rich stuff discussed, some interesting, memorable moments, and fascinating panel/audience dynamics. Some folk say the panel is dead...'fo fact, that was one of the panels, but I think it depends on how you approach it. On some topics, the hierarchial, raised dais thing might seem feasible, but the wonderful thing about the WisCon panels is that there is so much good wisdom and experience in the audience. Sometimes it only takes one solid comment from the audience to put everything in perspective, placing the conversation in a new context. I witnessed a couple of panels where the participants took more of a lightly moderated, round table approach, instead of speaking linearally through a specific agenda. Instead, folk in the audience could chime in throughout. This was particularly effective in the Feminist Think Thank panel. I like the talking points Claire Light used for our "Tearing Down the Walls and Windows" panel, and the handwaving code she shared, so that she would know if an audience member needed a point of clarification or wished to ask a question specific to the immediate discussion thread, or if they wanted to pursue another line of thought. Good tech there.
  • The Writers Workshop - this was my first time teaching at WisCon and I had a great time. The novels were interesting and the writers were talented. Strong storytelling voices there. What more could you ask for? Two of them had never been in a formal writers workshop before, but they offered insightful, constructive critiques and hung in there well. Bravo!
  • Is it just me, or does the Concourse Hotel's Elevator Voice sound like a porn star?
  • Random conversation overheard in elevator: "Where ya heading?" "Straight to L!" LOL!
  • Brainstorming at the Afghan restaurant over a plate of steamin' good food. Watch out for Aunt Tee...
  • Playing Bomani "D'Mite" Armah's hilarious song, "Read a Book" for Beyon'dusa. Talk about rollin' in the floor, got to laugh to keep from cryin'... Bomani begins with Beethoven's 5th Symphony and moves into a socio-political rap rant that is not to be believed. I hate to admit that I've wanted to sing its first chorus one time too many before, so to suddenly hear this blaring from my computer speakers after stumbling on it at Myspace (yeah, yeah), was a trip to the say the least. And no, whitefolk, sorry, you can listen, but you might be careful where you sing it! LOL! Actually, I'm gonna be careful where I sing it! Hate to get beat down over satire.
  • Looking out my hotel window and seeing solar panels on the capitol building. Damn. Got to look into moving to Madison...
Mo' later, including the massive "Can Ya Clone Me Now? Stuff I wish I coulda seent at WisCon but there ain't but one of me..." list.

All Best


Blogger Federico Perazzoni said...



5/30/2006 3:19 PM  
Blogger WriterChick said...

I thought the hotel elevator sounded like Majel Barrett in the original Star Trek episode where the computer went nuts and started talking in a sexy bedroom voice. I kept expecting it to rebel and refuse to carry me to my floor, or say something bizarre. And I did talk back to it. I probably need medication.

5/30/2006 5:17 PM  
Blogger Sheree Renée Thomas said...

No, you don't need no meds, but we do need to get you on the Today Show or Oprah. I always thought Octavia Butler should have been there to discuss *Parable of the Sower,* as wonderful and scarily prophetic as it seemed to be, but I 'had heard' that Oprah don't like no science fiction. Maybe we should reach out to Gail, instead!

On another note, I propose that we rename that first elevator Majel and make a whole new one, "CrankyMan." He can cuss folk out for standing in the doorway too long, or holding up progress by not knowing where they're supposed to be. Imagine this, "2nd floor, NEXT! Keep it movin'!" or "Excuse me, what are ya waitin' on? An invitation? GIT YO' BUTT OFF and let these folks out the door. Geesh...." That would be the NYC-Krunk elevator.

Okay, I do need sleep now. Glad you made it home safely.

All Best,

5/31/2006 3:57 PM  
Blogger WriterChick said...

Anybody got Gail's number? Go, Gail. I can't believe Octavia never sat on Oprah's stage. What an opportunity O missed! I grieve that I never got to see the woman in person, but at least I have volumes of her wonderful words.

See, I think we should get the whole CBS on there, and the judging panel for the awards, too. The sheer number of IQ points would blow the audience out of their seats. Then Ellen could auction off all the stuff in Oprah's warehouse to buy books for children all over the world, and and and. . . .

I'm all for CrankyMan and Majel. They could even have fights with each other.

I saw you're from Memphis. I lived there from 8th grade through high school and still have friends thereabouts. I'll be in Knoxville Saturday for a children's book event.

I'm going to bed early tonight, and hope I get to blog and put up convention photos before next week. I've got 'em--just no time!


6/01/2006 9:27 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hey Sheree -- you were one of several people I'd hoped to meet at the con and never did bump into. Next time, I hope. (If I can go all fangirl, I've got a copy of Dark Matter I'd like you to sign...)

And the Concourse elevators are bizarrely porn-o-riffic. "Going down..."

6/02/2006 8:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home