LonCon3: A Queerer War

Duncan Lawie, S. J. Groenewegen, Tanya Huff, Ann Leckie

Consideration of sexuality has been part of military SF since at least The Forever War, but while it’s easier than it used to be to find militaristic SF novels that address queer experience — Adam Roberts’ New Model Army, say, or God’s War by Kameron Hurley — they remain uncommon. Let’s talk about the implied or assumed links between combat, straightness, technology and morality, and how science fiction has succeeded and failed at complicating its understanding of the sexuality of war.

Wanted to go to this because it was about mil-sf and because it featured Tanya Huff and Ann Leckie. Managed to confirm my suspicion that the former was deliberately checking off milsf subgenres in her Confederacy series. There was an interesting debate between the panel and the audience (Jo Walton in particular) about whether or not The Forever War could’ve been published today. Jo argued that having queer characters is no longer a taboo, but I think that the way homosexuality is portrayed in that novel is too much at odds with modern sensibilities to have been written that way had Haldeman written it now.

There was also a bit of a Twitter debate about Tanya Huff’s remark that all her characters were bisexual unless stated otherwise, which I asked her whether that meant that yes, they are bi, or whether the reader just shouldn’t make any assumptions. It turned out she meant the former. On Twitter somebody took exception to this and I can sort of see his (iirc) point; you could argue it’s just as erasing as assuming everybody is straight or gay. But then again, it’s only one author.

LonCon3: An Anthology of One’s Own

Alex Dally MacFarlane, Jeanne Gomoll, Alisa Krasnostein, Ann Vandermeer, Julia Rios

Thanks in large part to the efforts of publishers like Aqueduct and Twelfth Planet Press, and the increasing use of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, we are in the middle of a small wave of feminist SF anthologies – including the Twelve Planets series and the Lightspeed Women Destroy X special issues, and with Alex Dally MacFarlane’s Mammoth Book of SF by Women and the VanderMeer giant anthology of Feminist SF still to come. Such anthologies are part of a tradition stretching back at least to Pamela Sargent’s Women of Wonder anthologies in the 1970s. How have they helped to shape contemporary understanding of SF? To what extent have they been successful at rewriting the narratives of SF history (and breaking what are often cycles of discovery and elision)? And have they left any blind spots of their own?

Interesting discussion that went somewhat beyond its brief to look more broadly at diversity in science fiction.

Your Happening World (August 22nd through August 25th)

LonCon3: Critical Diversity: Beyond Russ and Delany

Andrew M. Butler, Liz Bourke, Fabio Fernandes, Erin Horakova, Aishwarya Subramanian

The popular history of SF criticism might just be, if possible, even more straight, white and male than the popular history of SF – but things are changing. Online and in journals, diverse voices are starting to reach a critical (if you’ll excuse the pun) mass. Which publishers and venues are most welcoming to critics from marginalised groups? What are the strengths and weaknesses of academic and popular discourse, in this area? And most importantly, whose reviews and essays are essential reading?

This sort of moved from a discussion about sf criticism to a discussion about science fiction and fantasy itself and how diverse it was and how it could grow. What stuck with me the most was Fabio Fernandes’ experiences of the SFF world in South America and how little of it English language fandom knows of it or is exposed to. And when it is, it’s always magical realism when cyberpunk is huge in Brazil…

LonCon3: Fanshaming

Julie Hofmann, Michele Howe, Gavin Smith, Melissa Taylor, Leo Adams

Everyone has done it as some point, made a passing comment differentiating ourselves from “those” fans, you know the ones who like My Little Pony or fanfiction or dressing up like a Klingon or being a furry or a fake geek girl or not knowing the name of the director of the 3rd episode of Doctor Who …. Whenever we set ourselves apart from another fan as being somehow better, because what we like or how we practice being a fan are deemed more acceptable, we are engaging in an act of fan shaming. In this session we take a closer look at fan shaming what it is, how to recognise it, how to stop ourselves from doing it, and how to stop others doing it.

This is a panel I ended up going to by mistake, as I thought it was the previous panel held in that room, not realising it had been on at the same time as the panel I just came from. I debated leaving early, but stayed in the end and was glad I did. The focus lay very much on the difference between fanshaming and constructive criticism of the more problematic aspects of a fandom, as well as some discussion about the differences between shaming and light ribbing. Good panel with some outspoken but polite people on it, good questioning from the audience.

LonCon3: Codes of Conduct

Crystal Huff, Michael Lee, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, B. Diane Martin, Patrick McMurray

“Cosplay is not Consent,” “Creeper Cards,” and colour co-ordinated lanyards indicating levels of approval for photography are all examples of responses to harassment experienced by convention attendees. In this session we assume the position that conventions need to have some kind of Code of Conduct and a procedure for implementing it, but that this is hard to get right. We explore examples from recent conventions, including Loncon’s Code of Conduct and Listener programme, to discuss best, flawed, and failed practices and how to move ever further towards the “best of the best”.

The last panel I went to on Monday, this was interesting getting the perspectives of people at the coalface of conrunning, with B. Diane Martin and Crystal Huff involved with Readercon and Wiscon, while Pat McMurray was part of LonCon itself, Teresa of course being a long time moderator of various online spaces. What struck me personally was hearing about the insecurity others felt about undergoing or witnessing harassment and whether it was actually something serious or not. That coalesced something about an incident on another panel I witnessed on Friday which I didn’t do anything with then, but now felt I had to report. I talked to Pat, he took it seriously and took me to the listeners who wrote down a report. As expected nothing could be done right then, not that I wanted it to, but it would be taken into consideration for the post mortem.

LonCon3: Hugo Awards

So it was fun being at my very first Hugo Awards evening and great to see so many people who I wanted to win, actually win (and where they didn’t, people I liked just as much did). Especially since none of the wingnut brigade did. The detailed breakdown of the votes (PDF) only confirmed this.

Awards I got right: the Campbell, Fan Artist, Fan Writer, Fanzine, Best Related Work, Best novel. Of the other awards, the only one I was really disappointed in was the Best Fancast award, as that just seemed to trade on familiarity rather than quality; personally I saw SF Signal Podcast as the worst of the nominees.

But apart from that it was a brilliant night, with the people winning firmly part of the future of science fiction, rather than the dead past dragging us down.

Your Happening World (August 22nd)