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)

LonCon: Captain Marvel

Ms Marvel's first costume

I’ve always had a fondness for Ms Marvel/Carol Danvers, one of those also ran characters you encounter as a kid and feel kindly towards. She was of course a distaff spinoff of Marvel’s first Captain Marvel character, from the same time as Spider-Woman and She-Hulk, created to defend a trademark. Her first series was so-so, though Chris Claremont did his best to make something from it, in its later issues linking it indirectly to his X-Men and Iron Fist series, to little avail. She also had a brief stint in the Avengers, leading to the infamous mindrape in issue 200, later resolved by Claremont in Avengers Annual 10. After that she’s taken to the X-Men as a supporting character, Claremont always loyal to his characters…

Ms Marvel's first costume

Her costume during most of her run was godawful, as you can see from the first picture, a bad knockoff of Mar-vell’s one with added skin. Why the exposed stomach and legs? God knows. Over time they at least closed up the stomach gap, but it remained a dull costume. When Dave Cockrum came aboard for a few issues late in her run, the first thing he did was change it for a much better one, though as you can see there was still the focus on t&a, but at least Cockrum was a good enough artist to use a mirror rather than have her be one of those broken spine girls to show off both. I always liked this costume, even if, yes, it was designed to tittilate. It’s such a seventies Cockrum design what with the mid riff shawl and all that. Cockrum would be back to design Carol’s next costume, Binary in Uncanny X-Men #164

Captain Marvel cosplay at Loncon3

That’s how things stood for Ms Marvel for a while, until she got brought back in the late nineties as part of Busiek’s Avengers and took the name Warbird, then inevitably went back to her old codename and costume. Busiek also gave her alcoholism, which I hated at the time, yet again crippling what could’ve been the strongest person on the team; Ms Marvel just couldn’t get a break. That is until she got a new, longer lasting series as sort of a Marvel counterpart to Wonder Woman or Power Girl in the early noughties, Bendis nostalgia driven New Avengers series finally accomplishing something worthwhile. Not long ago she got yet another relaunch as the new Captain Marvel, severely pissing off Monica Rambeau once again. With that came a new, more respectable costume that I never liked until I saw it on a Ms Marvel cosplayer at LonCon. For once there’s a superhero costume that actually looks better in real life than in the comics. Suddenly the various elements came together in a way they didn’t on the page and looked good. A good cosplayer can of course make any costume work, no matter how ridiculous, but many female costumes do look a bit …uncomfortable? This didn’t.

Your Happening World (August 20th through August 21st)

  • African sf recommendations from Nine Worlds
  • Comet Flyby Missions for Mars Rovers | The Planetary Society – On October 19, the Mars rovers—like their orbiting cousins—will become comet flyby missions. Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass within 140,000 kilometers of Mars. This is less than 20 times the distance from Mars to its smaller moon, Deimos. Those distances provide a sense of scale: Deimos appears only a few pixels across to the rover cameras, so the nucleus of the comet will effectively a point source. The coma of the comet, tens of thousands of kilometers across, will take up a substantial fraction of the sky.
  • Loncon 3 – The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) – Renegade Revolution – To be perfectly honest I had no idea what to expect when going to Loncon 3. Until recently I hadn’t heard of it but the more I looked into it, the more interested I became.
  • Flat Out: Worldcon on Wheels – I rolled up at the Excel bright and early on Thursday 14th, and I have to say Access was excellent. I was greeted by one of the volunteers before I even reached the registration queue, which they told me was 45 minutes long at that point, and whisked away to the Access Desk, where I was given a seat while the volunteer dashed off to pick up my badge and registration packet. Even the failure of the Access ribbons to appear was being dealt with courtesy of improvisation with tape and a marker pen in the best traditions of fandom.
  • WorldCon: some thoughts | Writings from Otherworld – Well, tonight we’re off to Dublin for Shamrokon. Before I haul myself onto the plane, tail-end of conflu and all, here are some thoughts about my first WorldCon experience.
  • The Story of FRES – A Summary – Think Defence – What FRES is remains a puzzle, wrapped in an enigma, an enigma that wears clown shoes.

LonCon3: finding and talking to people

Well, LonCon3, the 72nd WorldCon is well and truly over, the last dregs of it drunk Tuesday morning, when I spent a couple of hours before I had to get my train helping out with the cleanup. It had been a long weekend of drinking of the firehose of fandom, so much stuff and especially people to see that whatever you were doing, there were always two to five more interesting things to do. I had an absolute blast.

What remains now is the inevitable summing up and recounting. If you’re not all that interested in science fiction and fandom, you may want to skip the rest of the week here or so…

the queue for registration on Thursday. A much longer queue to join the queue was upstairs

This was my first Worldcon as well as my first convention in a decade, the last having been the 2004 Discworld con. I can’t say it wasn’t a bit scary getting back after so long, at what promised to be a huge con (the largest Worldcon ever!). Cons can be cliquey and lonely if you’re going to them on your own, when everbody else seems to have come with friends and is having fun with them.

What I also found coming back to my friends from alt.fan.pratchett for example is that it’s harder to talk to people you haven’t seen in some years than it is when you’ve met regularly. Our lifes have moved out of synch, people have gotten older, established relationships, had kids and such. It can all be a bit awkward.

But I worried for nothing. What I should’ve realised is that because of its size, most people would be strangers to each other and that there always would be people willing to talk to you if you were open to it. I had a lovely long conversation with a woman in the fan village on Sunday, for whom it was also her first Worldcon and she’d gotten a membership as a birthday gift. There were similar conversations with other fans, especially during the parties at night, when alcohol and general cheer made it easier to talk.

Apart from meeting new and interesting people what I was also looking for was meeting old friends and online acquintances; I’d made a list of people I was on the lookout for, but with on average some 6,000 attendees present each day, it was hard to find them. And then when I did, there wasn’t always time to chat long, either because I was going to a panel or doing some voluntering or because they were. So e.g. on Thursday I was playing hall monitor for the fan village when Deidre Saoirse Moen walked past (not to mention Robert Silverberg) and a little bit later I ran into Nicholas Whyte at the press stand when I was running an errand. At least I got to say hi to him…

I learned a lesson through this: when you run into people, say hi, because you never know when you’ll see them again at the con. I managed to have several quick conversations with various sf bloggers that way, as well as got several people coming up to me who knew me from various online haunts, including several who knew me from back in the day in the rec.arts.sf.* groups. I also got to talk to some of my favourite authors after panels, or like Paul McAuley, browsing in the dealers’ room. Also met Kev Mcveigh that way browsing through the same stack of DAW paperbacks and who kindly gave up a Doris Piserchia novel I had my eye on. Many others though I never met; never got a chance to talk to Elise Mathesen frex, though we tweeted at each other from the same panel…

me posing with Gay and Joe Haldeman

One meeting happened entirely by chance late at night on the very last day of the con, as some Polish bloke asked me to take a picture of him and his two friends and then the friends turned out to be Gay and Joe Haldeman, who were some of the nicest people you could hope to meet.

So yeah, seize the day, talk to people whose badge names you recognise.

Your Happening World (August 12th through August 20th)