I had a great time chatting with folks at the ConCarolinas party on Saturday night (where I wisely imbibed only one cup of the PegaPanther Punch). Sunday morning I enjoyed breakfast with a dear friend I never see often or long enough, and it was great to catch up for a little while before his first panel of the morning.
The first panel I attended was “Raising the Next Generation of Geeks”, featuring James Fulbright, Peter Prellwitz, Gail Z. Martin, Stuart Jaffe, and Jonny Lupsha. With children ranging in age from 4 to upper teens, the panelists had a lot of great insight about including children in their “geek” activities, allowing their children to discover and explore their own geek interests, and as the children grow older, enjoying “cool parent” moments :)
Later I had a hall conversation with Tera Fulbright and James Fulbright about Disney expanding fantasy themes in their mainstream movie offerings. Tera and I have shared a love for the video clip of “Let It Go”, spectacularly sung by Idina Menzel in Disney’s recent movie success, Frozen. There’s a moment in the movie that has rubbed me the wrong way, however, when Elsa changes her gown in the ice castle into a very sexy one. Tera had a great insight about this showing Elsa accepting herself for who she was, and fully embracing herself as a powerful, adult young woman. I had an “ah-ha” moment, realizing that my resistance to the scene is likely a throwback to my “good Southern girl” upbringing, which didn’t exactly foster that kind of feminist empowerment, especially with regards to sexuality and sensuality. I plan to watch the scene again with a newfound appreciation for this viewpoint!
My final panel of the con was “Challenges of Diversity in Speculative Fiction,” with John Jennings, Bill Campbell, Nicole Kurtz, Sunny Moraine, and Travis Surber. I came in a few minutes late, in the middle of a discussion of “indigenous futurism” – which I’ve now Googled and will enjoy reading up on this larger conversation. The panel provided a lot of great insights, and several sources of strong diversity in spec fic. I’m going to include a smattering of both here:
- Interesting commentary on the old guard vs the new guard – it will happen every few years on different issues/topics, and the new guard inevitably becomes entrenched as the new-old guard.
- As soon as the old guard starts fighting back, the new guard has already won
- But it’s disturbing to see that no matter how much progress may have been made on various fronts, we can still backslide
- February is Women in Horror Month (!)
- Great stories are about diverse characters resolving conflict
- People should be able to tell their own stories (not forced into someone else’s mold)
- Sociology study about a teacher calling on boys and girls the same number of times, but boys perceived that the teacher called on the girls *more* than the boys and called it unfair
- “This is what equality looks like!”
- The flip side – working women are more likely to lose custody than in the past, as it’s no longer assumed that the mother is the “better” custodial caregiver
- “I want to tell great stories and make great art and have the freedom to do that!”
- Make it, and the audience will find it
- The mainstream follows the money
- Is there still really a mainstream?
- Public stereotypes – there are lots of idiots out there :(
- Cheerios’ ad – they got flack and doubled down with their SuperBowl ad
- Coca Cola’s multilingual “America the Beautiful” ad – they got flack at the SuperBowl and doubled down at the Olympics
- Intersectionality – another great theme to Google :)
- “If you’re out in the world and you find somebody to love, why is it anyone else’s business? Good for you!”
- If you special order in your local Barnes & Noble, they often add to shelves books they otherwise would not – you can influence what they bring in!
- Girls in Geekdom – a new group in fandom
One longer discussion surrounded writing about someone other than yourself – a man writing as a woman, a white person writing as a black person, differently gendered, etc. General agreement that you should find someone to read your work and give you advice on your success in that voice. Also that you are *going* to make mistakes, so acknowledge, apologize, and move on. And do your research, just as you would for any other aspect of your story with which you’re not familiar
- We See A Different Frontier, anthology
- Long Hidden, anthology coming out in May
- Nnedi Okorafor, YA science fiction, won 2011 World Fantasy award for novel Who Fears Death
- Steve Barnes and Tananarive Due, “Danger Word”
- Sofia Samatar, “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” in Strange Horizons
- Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel, Jacqueline Koyanagi
- Mocha Memoirs Press (18+)
- Larime Taylor, A Voice in the Dark (comic)
- Bayou, Jeremy Love (sort of a mashup of Song of the South, Alice in Wonderland, and Swamp Thing!)
- A.J. Hartley’s (Mysticon guest in the audience) books include great diverse characters!
- Strange Horizons
- Crossed Genres
- LightSpeed is beginning to put more emphasis on diversity, and is seeing huge interest in their “Women Destroy” [all genres] anthologies
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