OH MY GOD

Aug. 11th, 2017 10:31 am
owlmoose: (heroes - hiro jump)
LADY BUSINESS WON THE BEST FANZINE HUGO.

IS THIS THE REAL LIFE?

More when I can actually be coherent about it.
owlmoose: (cats - tori sun)
My regular work schedule is officially Monday through Wednesday, but what with one thing and another I've been working a lot of Thursdays lately. But today, I am not (except for a call in a couple of hours), so I am free! (Mostly.) Currently I am doing the "laptop in cafe" thing, which is usually how I spend my non-working Thursday mornings. Then I'll head home for the call, maybe do a little work, and then I'll have a free afternoon until it's time to meet people for dinner. But I'm sure what I'll actually do is sit around and be jealous of everyone who is in Helsinki for WorldCon.

Speaking of WorldCon, have I told you all how very excited I am for next year? WorldCon in my back yard. And so many awesome people are coming. I wish I could invite everyone to my place and have a big party, but it's 1. too small for a large gathering and 2. about 40 miles from the venue, so it's not like we could just pop over. But if you are attending, and plan to spend any time in San Francisco before or after the con, let me know! I am happy to play tour guide. Everyone should come to San Jose, and we will have excellent adventures together.
owlmoose: (marvel - jessica jones fractured)
On the occasion of Tumblr potentially being at risk because of Verizon's recent purchase of Yahoo, this article talks about the problem of Internet culture websites and their inability to turn a profit. Although the focus isn't on fandom, I feel like it's an encapsulation of everything I've been saying for years about the difficulties inherent in building fannish communities on sites owned by for-profit companies.

I recommend reading the article, even if it does lean a little too heavily on "Tumblr users are mostly excitable teenagers" when the site's own demographic data shows that this isn't true -- in 2015, over 40% of the site's users were 18-34, and only 15% were 13-17 (the same percentage as 55+). It brought me to a lot of thoughts about fandom, and how it operates today, and how it's splintered. Tumblr is still active, but it's not the hub it used to be. LiveJournal is all but dead (I assume coincidentally, today's episode of the Reply All podcast is about the Russian government's concerted, and essentially successful, attempt to kill LJ). Facebook thrives, but it's a terrible place to do fandom, and for once fandom seems to agree. Dreamwidth is seeing a bit of a resurgence, but I doubt it will ever become a thriving community the way that LJ used to be, and the same is true of AO3. The Imzy experiment has come to an end. A lot of the action has moved into walled gardens like Discord and Slack (I myself spend more time on a private Slack than anywhere else on the Internet by a large margin right now), which is understandable from the point of view of wanting to avoid random drama and trolls, but the isolation makes it so much harder to discover new communities and meet people. (Also, I kind of hate the Discord interface; Slack at least is much cleaner.)

I don't have any specific recommendations or conclusions to share right now. But this issue isn't going away any time soon, and if Tumblr closes, the issue may be forced sooner rather than later. Where do we go from here? Is there even anywhere left? Can fandom take the reigns and build a community platform for itself, along the lines of AO3? Or will we end up depending on the goodwill of fandom-friendly for-profits, like Dreamwidth and Pinboard? Time will tell.
owlmoose: stack of books (book - pile)
It's E3 time, and although I haven't been paying super-close attention, a few things have broken through. One of the harder stories to miss is the controversy over The Last Night, a side-scrolling platformer in a cyberpunk setting. Among other issues, the game seems to be set in a dystopia designed to be a critique of socialism (in contrast to most cyberpunk, which tends to be anti-capitalist). I'd seen a number of takes on the issue, but the one that broke through and inspired me to write my own thoughts was this Twitter thread by [twitter.com profile] petercoffin (the thread and replies are recommended reading, both up and down):



I retweeted it a couple of days ago, with a promise to come back and say more, and here we are. My thoughts are going to be less about capitalism vs. socialism and the many issues with this specific game (Peter and the rest of the Internet have that aspect amply covered) and more about the economics of creativity, specifically the economics of fandom, which is where my creativity has lived for the past decade and more. I said in my tweet that I have "literally never" been paid in money for creative work; there are some hairs to split (I've written freelance a little bit, mostly advertising copy, and [community profile] ladybusiness launched a Patreon about six months ago), but I think it's fair to say for the creative work that's personally meaningful to me -- fiction, fannish meta, book reviews, essays like this one, etc. -- I have never received renumeration. I consider this to be choice, because I have immersed myself in fandom, writing fiction of a type that I legally cannot sell. I've chosen not to write original fiction, or file the serial numbers off my fic; I've chosen not to pitch essays or reviews to paying venues; and I've chosen not to set up a personal Patreon or any kind of tip jar. Within my corner of fandom culture, we mostly accept that we're creating for the love of it, and for the personal satisfaction of sharing our creations with others.

So I look at a sentiment like the one that Peter describes, and it's alien to me. Many years ago, at my first FogCon, I got into a brief debate with a professional author during a panel about fanfiction, and why anyone would put time into writing something you couldn't sell. (Perhaps ironically, it was a panel about cyberpunk and other "-punk" genres.) Although my comments were well-received in the moment, the pro who raised the issue admitted that he still didn't really get it; he offered to continue the discussion over email, but I was too shy to take him up on it, so it ended there. I still think about it sometimes, though. There are plenty of people who undertake creative pursuits with no expectation of making them into a career: crafters, home cooks, musicians. I've never made money off music, either -- I actually pay for the privilege of singing in my chorus. Amateurs often create for love, in all kinds of fields. Why should writing be any different?

Fandom has an economy, of course. Most often it's described as a "gift economy", meaning that you publish your work as a gift to the community, with no expectation of receiving anything in return. Another, in my experience more accurate description, is the "attention economy". Instead of money, creators get "paid" in attention: likes, kudos, clicks, reviews. Both of these models are somewhat limited, and the "attention economy" frame in particular is still rooted in the paradigm of capitalism, but I think there's something worthwhile in both descriptions. One of my favorite articles on the subject is The Economics of Fandom: Value, Investment, and Invisible Price Tags by [personal profile] saathi1013, which goes into detail about the "work" it takes to be in fandom, and the different ways in which we value and/or are compensated for that work.

On the other hand, there are signs that this may be changing. In this respect, there's always been a disconnect in fandom between fanfic and fanart -- unlike fanfic, there's a long tradition of selling fanart: at comics conventions, for example, or via commissions. In professional comics circles, there's an expectation of sorts that artists will cut their teeth on fanart and perhaps even include it in their portfolio. And increasingly, fanfic authors have been questioning why they can't benefit from selling their work, too. I've known fanfic authors to take commissions, or set up Patreons. And the practice of "filing off the serial numbers" has gotten more transparent with the success of authors like E. L. James and Cassandra Clare. Everyone knows that 50 Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight AU, and that Clare was offered a book contract on the strength of her following in the Harry Potter and LoTR fandoms. As IP holders have grown less likely to bring down the hammer on fanfic authors, fanfic is coming out of the shadows. Can a growing commercial acceptance be far behind?

To me, maybe it doesn't matter. Although I certainly appreciate no longer living in fear that I'll receive a cease and desist letter someday, I don't know that I would try to sell my fic even if I were given the opportunity. Essays and reviews might be a different story, further down the road, but for now I'm happier where I am, in (what feels to me) like the lower-pressure environment of fandom, where I can write for the love of it, and in the hopes of finding fellow travelers who will love what I love with me.
owlmoose: stack of books (book - pile)
Links to previous days! Arrival Day / Day One / Day Two / Day Three

This was a programming-free day, because I decided to sleep in and take it easy rather than rush to any of the panels. It was the correct decision. Although I feel much better today than I did at the start of the con, being sick the entire time did put a crimp in my con experience; I didn't sleep as well, had much less energy than I wanted, and my voice was pretty thrashed by the end of every day.

So, anyway, after a casual breakfast, packing up, and checking out, [personal profile] renay and I said goodbye to [personal profile] justira, who had an earlier flight direct out of Madison, and went to the sign-out, where Nay added to the autograph collection in her copy of Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing. It was delightful to join her for this leg of her quest, and to see the reactions of such women writers as Pat Murphy, Alexandra Erin, and Nisi Shawl. I also got Kelly Sue DeConnick to personalize the copy of Bitch Planet Vol. 2 that I bought on Friday.

Then, after a flurry of goodbyes, Nay and I hit the road to Chicago. The drive to the airport was mostly uneventful -- only a little more traffic than on the way up to Madison -- and we are now safely ensconced at our respective gates, waiting for the planes that will take us away from con space and back to real life. Even if the con experience wasn't exactly the one I would have asked for, I'm still so glad I went, and I absolutely plan to make the pilgrimage again next year. If I met you there, I hope to see you again, and if I didn't meet you, I hope I do.
owlmoose: (stonehenge)
I had fully intended to get up for morning panels today, but I guess my body had other ideas because I woke up at 9:55am, and the panel block started at 10am. So instead we bailed on the morning and had a leisurely brunch, followed by a trip to the chocolate shop. (I'm having a delicious fudge snack right now.)

So then came the afternoon panels. First up was a panel about the women of Luke Cage, and it was awesome. Awesome. Probably my favorite panel this year. Five black women, talking about these black female characters who meant so much to them, and the great things and not-so-great things about how the representation. Panelists and audience members discussed issues like respectability politics, colorism, the importance of Eartha Kitt as Catwoman, and also whether Shades is or is not an appropriate Supportive Murder Boyfriend. I highly recommend the hashtag for this one. The panel was recorded, and will be posted on the Nerdgasm Noire Network, and if you get a chance you should totally listen.

Next up was a panel on comics, focusing mostly on recommendations, and featuring "comics matchmaking", where an audience member would ask for a rec based on their specific parameters, and the panelists and audience would make suggestions. There were far too many recs for me to catch them all, but moderator [twitter.com profile] crosberg promised to post up a complete list on their website after the con. (It seems I will have a lot of things that I need to come back and share with you soon.) We closed out the afternoon with perhaps the most entertaining panel of the con: an examination of which superpowers might be the most useful for banging. Pretty much exactly what it says on the tin; the hashtag has more. We laughed, a lot.

After dinner, it was time for dessert salon and the Guest of Honor speeches. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Amal El-Mohtar were both brilliant and moving in their own ways, both of them urging us to stand up and support each other and fight against the terrible and growing injustices in the world. I imagine the full text of both speeches will go up eventually, and I'll make sure to link those too. Unfortunately I had to leave before the presentation of the Tiptree Award, because I had a 10pm panel and the speeches were running over. The late panel was on "how to ship without being a jerk", but the conversation ranged much more widely, into the history of ship wars and fan entitlement (I got to share my favorite story, about Louisa May Alcott getting into a ship war with her own fans), and how and why fandom conversations have gotten to be so toxic. It was more about root causes than solutions, but I still found it an interesting conversation, and we all had fun with it.

Then we hung out in the lobby for a little while, before coming back to the room to wind down and start packing. Tomorrow will be a light day for me -- no panels, probably, just the sign out -- and then we drive back to Chicago to end the weekend.
owlmoose: (hepburn)
So, Saturday. We decided to forgo 8:30am panels, instead having a quiet Starbucks breakfast, then running into [twitter.com profile] butnotdegeneres in the lobby on our way to check out the art show. I did go to a 10am panel, on crowdfunding (hashtag). I took a lot of notes on that one and will try to write it up at some point.

We followed that up with a taco lunch, and then I had to run back for my first panel of the day: It's OK Not to Like Stuff, where we talked about the delicate art of having unpopular opinions on the Internet, particularly as a critic. Although there were only three of us, we developed a great rapport, and afterward, the mod ([twitter.com profile] crosberg) expressed sadness that I live too far away to come replicate the panel at C2E2 next year. The hashtag for that one didn't get too much action, sadly, because it was a fun discussion of how to navigate negative reviews, how we communicate differently when we're being a critic as opposed to when we're being a fan, and how to tactfully disengage when someone insist that you must be wrong not to love the thing they love.

My next stops were a panel on the ever-evolving SF/F canon (hashtag), which may become the fodder for arguments and discussion at a later time, and an entertaining group reading featuring Charlie Jane Anders, Mark Oshiro, and more robot sex than expected. After dinner, I dropped by the Tiptree Auction; [profile] branewane was in top form as auctioneer, just as she was last year, but the highlight of my time there BY FAR was the auction for a bottle of lube autographed by Zoe Quinn on behalf of Chuck Tingle (final sale price: $125).

My last event of the day was my third panel, about fanfic. The description was a little broad, so in our pre-con email discussions we decided to make it a conversation about the connections between fanfic and historical fiction (using Hamilton as a jumping off point), and about older canons like Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen that still have transformative works being made about them. It was a pretty lose panel with lots of audience participation (and a fun, active hashtag, where [twitter.com profile] afranklinhudson helpfully posted links to many of the fics and other works mentioned). Also during that time period was the panel I was saddest to miss, on the joys of Leverage, so I am very glad that it was live-tweeted by a number of people.

It was a good day but also a long day, so after a quick nightcap at Michelangelo's followed by a pass by the Floomp, we are back in our room, typing away on our computers and recovering from a day of talking and sociability (at least I am). Looking forward to tomorrow, but for now I am happy to relax for a bit.
owlmoose: (avatar - korra)
I typed this up before bed Friday, but wasn't able to post it because I got kicked off the wifi and wasn't able to log back on until this afternoon. Now Saturday is over, but both days have been so full that I wanted to keep it all separate. I'm not going to go through and rewrite the whole thing, so consider this a snapshot of my yesterday. :)

---

WisCon proper kicked off this afternoon. We had a very lazy morning, sleeping in and then getting breakfast at Michelangelo's, followed by a trip to A Room of One's Own for some actual book shopping (we decided not to deal with the lines after the reading on Thursday). I got the second volume of Bitch Planet and Rainbow Rowell's Carry On. Then it was time to check out the Gathering, followed by my very first WisCon panel!

The panel was about women who play video games, and it went very well. To get a flavor of the discussion, I suggest checking out the Twitter hashtag, #WomenGameWriters. Of the five panelists, two are professional video game developers, and the moderator, [personal profile] tanyad, is the founder of #INeedDiverseGames; myself and the fifth panelist are gamers with no industry connections. So we brought a nice mix of professional and non-professional, outsider and insider viewpoints to the conversation. We talked about the perception of women gamers -- women don't play shooters, women only play casual games, casual gamers aren't "real" gamers, and so on -- and also about the perception that the people who make and sell games are all cis white dudes (a stereotype with some truth to it, but there have always been women and people of color in the industry, and their numbers are growing all the time, especially in the indie game space). I felt like we had a good conversation and that I made some worthwhile contributions. I was also very glad to have a microphone, because although I'm feeling a little better today, my voice is not in any shape to project.

The next panel block was Mark Oshiro's "Queer Eye for Sci-Fi", which I was very happy to attend for a second year in a row. Similar to last time, the panelists discussed their experiences as queer people of color who are fans of sci-fi and fantasy media, in all its glory and with all its problems. The hashtag for that one is pretty great, too.

Afterwards was dinner; we headed to a local brewpub for some burgers and fried things, where I introduced [personal profile] justira and [personal profile] renay to the wonders of deep fried cheese curds, and then we dropped by the Opening Ceremonies. Just like last year, Katherine Cross gave a stirring speech, this time on the subject of the importance of WisCon and the safer space it provides for marginalized fans, and why it's vital to keep it going in Trump's America. Our next stop was the game tables, to play a long-planned game of Slash hosted by Jed. Slash is a card game in the style of Apples to Apples, except instead of adjectives and nouns, the cards each have the name of a fictional or historical character, and the objective is to make the best pairing. Some of our better results included Gandhi/Hannibal Lecter, Veronica Mars/Marge Simpson, and a whole harem (including Rasputin and Andre the Giant) for the cast of the Golden Girls. Then I dropped by the annual vid party, which was an excellent set list as always. I left after the first half, which ended with a funny and moving tribute to Carrie Fisher that left half the audience literally in tears. I'll post the complete set list when it's available.

---

I plan to type up today's con experience now, but it might not go out into the world until tomorrow, depending on how long it takes. It's going well, and I'm having fun with Ira and Renay, but I so wish this cold hadn't decided to come along. It's kind of getting better, but the amount that I'm talking is probably not helping matters. Stupid cold. But it's not getting me down too much. I just have to take it a little easier than I would prefer, which overall is maybe not a bad thing.
owlmoose: (ffx2 - rikku)
Since someone asked about this on Twitter, and I figure it's handy for me to have the info all in one place for myself as well, I figured I'd post up my WisCon schedule here. I'll be arriving with [personal profile] renay and [personal profile] justira sometime on Thursday evening (in time for the evening reading, I hope, but since we're driving from Chicago I don't want to make any promises), and heading out early Monday afternoon. Also, I've gone from being on no panels last year to four (4) panels this year, one each on Friday and Sunday and two on Saturday. One on gaming, one on fanfic, and two on not being a jerk in fandom. Titles, times, and descriptions are as follows:

Friday, 2:30pm
Destroying the Mythos Around Female Gamers and Games for Women. Moderated by the one and only [personal profile] tanyad! Description: There is a continuing false perception that video games are thoroughly dominated by male gamers and male developers. However data disproves this fallacy. This panel will discuss the actual demographics of gaming, and how to buck the idea of "appealing" to women with old stereotypes and tropes. I.E women are all casuals, and games like FFXV with an all male cast supposedly appeal to women for a change. We'll also look at how narrative can drive an audience to or away from a game series such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc.

Saturday, 1pm
It's OK to Not Like Things (But Don't Be a Jerk About It). Description: It's a wonderful feeling when geeks meet each other and share enthusiasm for the things we enjoy, but what happens when that enthusiasm becomes an obligation? While there are more and more geek and pop culture shows, stories, characters, art, and creators to be fans of and consume, the expectation that fans must like (or at least be aware of) certain things in order to be considered "real" geeks/nerds is still an issue. This panel will discuss what happens when fans are expected to like certain things, what happens when you don't, and how that creates unwelcoming geek communities. The panel will also stress that criticism isn't mutually exclusive with being a fan, as well as elaborate on the difference between criticism and "being a jerk."

Saturday, 9pm
Fanfic, Retcon, and Zombies, Oh My!. Description: Let's talk about what happens in the murky territories where fanfic meets original works. Do writings that use original works in the public domain—modern-day Sherlock Holmes characters, zombies in Jane Austen's worlds—count as fanfic? When a series gets unwieldy or unpopular, it can be rebooted or rewritten with different parameters: maybe a character comes back to life, changes gender, or gets a new backstory. Are there differences between retcon and fix-it fic, other than who owns the copyright?

Sunday, 10pm
How to Ship Without Being a Jerk, and Other Guidelines for Being Good Citizens of Fandom. Description: Everybody hates shipper wars, but nobody trusts the cult of nice, and at some point many of us have been tempted to send a snarky postcard/email/tweet to the Author or Showrunner Who Ruined It All Because They Just Didn't Get It. But just because the Powers that Be are the worst doesn't mean we have to be. How do we have conversations about the fandoms we all love without ruining friendships? Are those even the right goals? If not, what is a better way to look at it?

There will also at some point be an informal [community profile] ladybusiness BarCon gathering. My best guess right now is Friday evening, since I have panels on Saturday and Sunday night, but stay tuned! (I'm actually pushing for a CoffeeCon at Michelangelo's instead, since the hotel bar is small and gets very loud, so we'll see.) Look for an announcement on the [twitter.com profile] feministponies account.

It's so soon! I'm so excited! I hope to see some of you there. :)
owlmoose: (hp - a few words)
Lady Business is once again a finalist for the Best Fanzine Hugo!!

Thank you, so so much, to everyone who reads us and supports our work and who nominated us. And heartfelt congrats to most of our fellow finalists!

The whole ballot is really pretty amazing this year. Not a single white dude in the Best Novel category, and many other categories are similarly diverse. I have a lot of great and exciting things to read and watch! And many of my favorites got the nod. Basically, this is the happiest I've been about the Hugos in awhile, and that is a very good thing.

Congrats to everyone whose work was nominated! As I said on Twitter, I am humbled to be in your company.
owlmoose: (quote - questions)
I have returned! Yet another successful FogCon: in the books. Probably jamming two days into one post is too much, but no matter how much I tell myself I can wait for tomorrow to write about today, the fact is I'm very unlikely to do it.

My first panel of the day might also have been the best of the con, and certainly the one that I heard the most people talking about over the rest of the weekend. It was entitled "When Do You Pick Up A Blaster?" and was about revolution: how revolution is depicted in speculative fiction, what fiction gets right and wrong, what can we learn about real-life uprisings from fictional ones, and what is, or should be, the tipping point for the decision to use violence as a tool. One of the panelists, guest of honor Ayize Jama-Everett, suggested that there are types of violence other than physical, namely social and economic violence, and said that the "objective of violence is free the colonized mind from the colonizer. How you define violence is an interesting topic -- another panelist said that he doesn't consider property damage, like bombing empty buildings and shattering store windows, to be the same thing as violence, and although I'm not convinced I agree, it's an interesting point. (Or going back to the previous point, you could consider it a form of economic violence against the property owners). To cover the discussion property would take better notes than I took, but a few other points I wanted to consider: a definition of revolution as when the unimaginable becomes commonplace; the suggestion that you should be willing to risk dying before you risk killing; that you lose something when you fight, even when you win (sometimes it's worth it, but take the costs into considerations); revolution will always take longer than you think it will. As you might imagine, I got a lot to think about here, and took more notes than during any other panel. Lots of discussion centered around the Black Panther Party, and although I'm going to save most of my book recs for another post, I wanted to make note of one here: Black Against Empire, a recent history of the Black Panthers.

Lunch was the annual FogCon banquet, where I sat with friends old and new and chatted about a number of things -- for one, I ran into a fellow Dragon Age fan, and then we decided to stop boring the rest of the table to death and talk about the Hugos instead. Then my afternoon consisted of two guest of honor events. First was an interview with the other guest of honor, Delia Sherman, who talked about her writing process and her stories. After that, Ayize Jama-Everett gave his GoH presentation, a conversation with Afrofuturist Lonny Brooks. The theme of the talk was Jama-Everett asking Brooks to help him imagine a future that isn't bleak. A challenging project in these times, but I think also a worthy one. Some of Brooks's ideas included looking at Peter Diamandis and his thoughts on abundance, platform cooperativism (a worker-centric alternative to the so-called sharing economy promoted by companies like Airbnb and Uber), and diverse communities that celebrate difference rather than fighting against it or practicing separatism.

After dinner -- I crashed an event for members of a writing message board, and had a great chat with a doctor from Illinois whose name I unfortunately cannot remember -- was my one panel of the con, "Between the Pixie and the Crone: Middle Aged Women in Speculative Fiction". Other members of the panel included the aforementioned GoH Delia Sherman and the always-entertaining Ellen Klages, so that was not intimidating at all. Unrelated in any way to the panelists (they were all great), the discussion got tense in a couple of places, which I think is a risk with any panel on a topic that deals in a trope about women at a con that tries to be feminist -- it's going to hit too close to home for some people, feel completely off the mark to others, and it's easy to fall into talking stereotypes. But overall I think it went pretty well. Folks seemed engaged, asked good questions and made good recommendations, and almost no one left before the end, which are all positives, and I got to make most of the points I had planned, including a comment about not falling into the trap of defining all women by their relationship to motherhood, even including women who are mothers, which got a little "whoop!" from someone in the crowd. Last up was a panel on podcasting, which focused almost exclusively on fiction podcasts and never even got to fannish pop culture reviews, although I did get to rec Black Tapes and found a few new shows to look up. Afterwards I wandered by the bar, where I hung out for a little bit before bedtime.

Today I took it a little easier, as I usually try to do on the last day of the con. The first panel of the morning was the guest of honor reading, which I always try to attend and almost never disappoints. I was completely sucked in by Ayize Jama-Everett's reading and bought all three of his books (the only other time that's happened was all the way back in FogCon2, after Nalo Hopkinson read from The Chaos). For lunch I walked over to the farmer's market with [personal profile] forestofglory, and after I went one last panel on how to write dystopian fiction in the age of alternative facts. The panelists agreed that, for all the stories where false information is commonplace and fed to people by the government, no one ever saw coming that we would impose the world of wrong facts on ourselves, without a repressive regime forcing us into it. The discussion was mostly about real-world information bubbles and info overload, less about fiction, but it was still interesting. As usual in this type of conversation, I walked away convinced that librarians are more necessary than ever, and I need to do a better job of turning my information literacy skills into political activism.

Next up: WisCon! Two and a half months away, and I can hardly wait.
owlmoose: (lost - sawyer)
It's actually now the end of Day 2, but last night I was out and about and doing stuff, and I haven't had many opportunities to sit down and take some notes. Much much good stuff has happened today, too, but I want to keep this shortish as I need to get to bed soon, so for now I'll limit myself to yesterday.

Yesterday I went to four events. First up was a panel that ended up more of a round table discussion on how games of all kinds are changing. It's a pretty broad topic, but we still managed to hit the three major types of games -- tabletop (meaning board and card games), role-playing games, and videogames -- and many current trends in gaming, both good and bad. Topics included the role of Kickstarter (great for board games and card games, perhaps less suited to videogames), the rise of co-op board games and how that might relate to the popularity of Pokemon GO, and the ways in which gaming relates to learning, such as this research on virtual reality games as a potential treatment for dementia.

The next panel I attended was entitled "Looking Forward/Looking in the Mirror", regarding the ways in which stories about the future inevitably reflect the time in which they were written. The panelists freely admitted that this question has a different weight to it than it would have in early November, and there was some speculation about how speculative fiction written in the next year or so might change. One panelist freely admitted that she has much less interest in writing dark futures right now, to the point that she's trying to revise story to give it a more hopeful ending. There was quite a bit of talk about Arrival, and the ways in which it sometimes feels like we're living in a dystopia right now (to quote Debbie Notkin, "Get me out of this bad Harry Turtledove novel!"

Next up was dinner with [personal profile] forestofglory and Robyn, a writer who we'd sat next to during the previous panel. After that we went to our last formal panel of the night -- which Robyn happened to be on, although we'd already been planning on it -- which was about writing across genres. Discussion began with the question of why we have so many sub-genres in speculative fiction anyway; marketing is the obvious answer, although some panelists also talked about the value of knowing what to expect from a book before you open it. Sometimes you want a new and exciting experience from a story, but sometimes you want predictability, and ultimately there's nothing wrong with that. Of course, this brought us to one of the inherent dangers of cross-genre writing, because when readers doesn't get the experience they were expecting, the resulting disappointment can affect book sales and reviews. The panelists, who were all pro authors, each brought up various examples from their own experiences, some causing more trouble than others. Someone in the audience asked why genre bending seems to be more of an issue with speculative fiction than other genres, and after some discussion we all came up with an intriguing theory: other genres of fiction (mystery, thriller, romance, etc.) tend to be defined by their plot structures, while speculative fiction genres are defined by their elements (spaceships, wizards, being set in the future...) but can follow almost any structure. I suspect this makes specfic highly flexible but also gives the writer more places to "go wrong" in terms of reader expectations. In the end, the panelists concluded that you can't be too worried about those expectations -- write the story that calls to you, and worry about how to sell or market it later. Lots and lots of book recs out of this one.

Last but never least: ConTention, the annual tradition where a bunch of con attendees get together and argue for an hour and fifteen minutes. This year's debates included some oldies but goodies (Star Wars vs. Star Trek, privacy vs. safety) and some newer ones (The Force Awakens vs. Rogue One, what's the scariest Dr. Who monster, can WorldCon survive if it continues to be primarily based in North America).

And now it's late (and soon to be even later, yay Daylight Saving Time), so I'll come back with today's report tomorrow.
owlmoose: (da - brosca)
The Dragon Age Kiss Battle got so little participation the last time I ran one, in 2015, that I didn't do it last year, and no one asked where it was. So maybe I should just assume that the time for this game has come and gone... and yet, I also feel like it could be the perfect thing for a tough time, to have some no-pressure, light-weight fandom fun.

So I throw it out to the masses. If I ran a Dragon Age kiss battle (here's the 2012 edition, for anyone who's not familiar), would you play? Would you create, leave prompts, and encourage others to do the same? My biggest concern is actually prompts; so few people left prompts in 2015, and without prompts there's no game.

Let me know your thoughts! And if your honest thought is "sorry, no one cares about that any more", I genuinely want to know. Thanks.
owlmoose: (yahtzee - out of context)
Using the same template as last year.

Your main fandom of the year?
Gotta be Critical Role (see below).

Your favorite film watched this year?
The new Ghostbusters. Arrival was objectively a better movie, and I have more fannish attachment to Civil War, but no other movie was quite as much fun.

Your favorite book read this year?
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan, the fourth book in the Lady Isabella Trent series. I love the directions this story took, and the way the ending has set up the final book in the series. I also need to give a nod to the last Temeraire book, for providing a satisfying and surprising end to one of my favorites series of all time.

Your favorite album or song to listen to this year?
If I'm being honest, probably Hamilton again.

Your favorite TV show of the year?
Either the final season of Agent Carter (sniff) or the most recent season of Orphan Black, which returned to form after a slightly off third year. Honorable mentions: Luke Cage, the current half season of Agents of SHIELD, Top Chef season 13.

Your favorite video game of the year?
I haven't played many games this year. The only one that really sticks with me is Solstice, which I mentioned in my mid-year roundup, the new game from the makers of Cinders.

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?
I think you already all know the answer to this one: Critical Role. My first new fandom in the last couple of years, I spent the second half of 2016 watching the series, then re-watching it (I caught up to the most recent episode and then re-watched it a couple of days ago), wrote a handful of stories, and basically became completely consumed. A part of me is glad that the rewatch is over so I can have my life back. A part of me wants to go back and start all over again, again.

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?
US presidential election season finale Agent Carter not being renewed for a third season. :(

Your fandom boyfriend of the year?
Matthew Mercer. Is it weird for your fandom boyfriend to be a real person? But it's true -- Matt's performance on Critical Role, both as DM and as a large percentage of the cast, is a huge part of the show's appeal to me.

Your fandom girlfriend of the year?
Peggy Carter, forever.

Your biggest squee moment of the year?
"Anything can happen in the woods..." (Spoilers for Critical Role Ep. 72)

The most missed of your old fandoms?
Oh, I don't know, all of them? I feel very out of touch with fandom right now. But at least lately, I suppose I'm most disconnected from Dragon Age. Maybe it's the lack of new content, and also I basically quit all my replays when I started spending all my free time on Critical Role instead. Now that the catch-up project is over, I hope to get back to that.

The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?
I never did get started in Supergirl or Star Wars, despite my interest. Solstice might have some possibilities, too.

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?
Star Wars: Episode 8. The final Lady Isabella Trent book, and the last of the new N.K. Jemisin trilogy. The Defenders on Netflix.

Imzy?

Aug. 25th, 2016 10:09 am
owlmoose: (owl)
I joined yesterday, mostly to snap up my name and look around. Who else is there? How do you find people? Also I have invites, although I imagine that everyone who wants to be there has already joined by now. But if not, and you'd like one, let me know!

I gather it's based on Reddit structurally, which is an interesting idea for a community-based site, although I still think I like the DW-type platform better. Especially the ability to have an individual journal, instead of having to create a "community" for yourself (although I gather the personal journal aspect is coming?). Anyway, we'll see what happens. If it ends up being a viable replacement for Tumblr, I'm all for it.
owlmoose: (cats - teacup)
I ended up being too busy attending WorldCon (and staying up late hanging out in the evenings) to have much time to write about WorldCon. Now it's our last night and I'm full of so much to say that I don't know where to start. I attended so many great panels and readings (and a few duds), reconnected with a few people and met a ton more, and basically had the best time I have ever had at a con entirely because of the people. It seems clear that the way to fix the feelings of social isolation I sometimes deal with at cons is to know people. Talk to people, get introduced to people, and spend a good amount of time hanging out with people I already know. In this case, having [personal profile] renay, [personal profile] justira, and [personal profile] seimaisin as my social center gave me a comfort zone, and the opportunity to be introduced to more people helped me make more connections -- and hopefully lasting ones. I want to talk more about specific panels and events, but that will be better served by a fresher brain, so I'll leave it for now.

If you've followed the news at all, or follow me on Twitter, you already know that Lady Business did not win the Hugo award for Best Fanzine. File 770 is a deserving winner with an amazing community and a long history in fandom, and its editor, Mike Glyer (who also won Best Fanwriter), did amazing work last year to track and report on the developing Hugo controversy, among everything else that goes on. Really, it's an honor to have taken a strong second place (as borne out by the stats), especially in our first year on the ballot. The ceremony was excellent, both entertaining and well-run -- and fortunately Fanzine was pretty early in the program, so we were able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the show! And then we had an awesome night, making the rounds of the parties, including George R. R. Martin's legendary Hugo Losers Party. (After File 770's win was announced, we literally turned to each other and said "now we can go to the Losers Party!") Even if we're never nominated again (although I do hope we will be), the experiences we had last night will be with me always. If you were there to be a part of it, thank you. And to everyone who voted for us and supported us in so many ways, THANK YOU.

Although next year's Helsinki WorldCon is probably out of my reach, I am delighted that San Jose, CA won its bid to host in 2018. Barring some catastrophic event or schedule conflict, I will be there, and I hope to get the chance to form such wonderful community bonds again. Come if you can! I'd love to see you there.
owlmoose: (star wars - han woohoo)
My connecting flight yesterday was delayed, so I didn't get into the Kansas City airport until after midnight, and it was almost 1am by the time I got to the hotel. Fortunately, my roommates had already arrived and checked in, so all I needed to do was crash. Unfortunately, it was too early for me to try and sleep (given the two hour time difference), so I slept poorly. While I was in go mode at the con, things were fine, but I started fading around 10pm and decided to head back. So I'm now in my hotel room, kicking back and checking in.

There are a ton of interesting sounding panels and readings at this con, way more than I know I'll be able to attend. So I'm picking and choosing as I go, based partly on my own whims and partly on what other people are doing. This is the first time I've ever really come to a con with a group ([personal profile] renay, [personal profile] justira, and [profile] ecthroi), and it's a different experience than being mostly on my own. I think I prefer it, although it's also good that we generally each feel comfortable going off on my own -- and of course I know other people here, the most exciting being that I finally met [personal profile] seimaisin for the first time today!!

Some other highlights: a reading by Courtney Schaffer, whose work I wasn't familiar with before but will certainly be looking for now; a panel about the definition of fan writing, which ended up being mostly about fanfic; the "Bad Boy Woobie" panel, lead by Mark Oshiro, a fun and awesome conversation about who gets to be woobified and why; another fanfic panel, this one about the relationship between fanfiction and pro writers (which can be summed up as excellent panelists, wrong moderator); a live recording of the Ditch Diggers podcast, which is about the business of writing and today featured a panel of three agents answering questions with a hilarious Dungeons & Dragons framing (seriously, go look it up when it's available); and one last great panel, on LGBTQIA representation in media, with a focus on lesser discussed identities such as asexuality, non-binary genders, and polyamory.

Obviously none of this does any of these panels justice, so hopefully I'll be able to get back with more details later. But for now, time to crash. See you tomorrow, MidAmeriCon 2, hopefully with brighter eyes and a bushier tail.
owlmoose: (heroes - hiro jump)
I'm basically all packed, except for things that will be sitting on chargers until it's time to leave, but don't need to head for the airport for over two hours.

I signed up for a free trial of YouTube Red so that I could download Critical Role episodes to watch on the plane. What even is my life?

So excited to see people soon! So ready to escape into con world for a few days. I've needed this getaway from the real world for awhile now, and I'm so happy it's finally almost here.

I'll be around on and off, probably mostly on Twitter, but watch this space for updates, too.

If you're not at the con, have a glorious week and weekend! If you are, see you there!!
owlmoose: (star trek - bones and sulu)
Given my interest in copyright and fair use in fandom, it was probably inevitable that I would write something about the new guidelines for Star Trek fan filmmakers that CBS and Paramount published recently. My post about it is up on [community profile] ladybusiness, here.
owlmoose: (hp - a few words)
WisCon actually ended yesterday, but between travel and tiredness I didn't get the chance to write about it. I definitely want to, though, because I wrapped things up with my favorite panel of the entire con -- Rethinking the "Gift Economy" for Fanworks. The panelists led a fantastic conversation on the history of the gift economy, the limitations of the model, the differences between fanfic (where many people recoil from even the idea of monetary gain) and fanart (which gets bought and sold all the time). There's an expectation that professional genre artists create fanart, especially in the world of comics (it's even expected that you'll have fanart in your portfolio), whereas it's only recently become acceptable for a pro writer to admit to writing fanfiction (except for official tie-in novels). We talked about all kinds of things, from the presumption that capitalism is the default economic model (newsflash: it's not!), to the relationship between IP holders and fans, to the backlash fans (especially female writers) can get for going pro, to the growing popularity of Patreon for fan creators, and how expectations change in male-dominated corners of fandom. I could seriously have spent another two hours in that room, talking with those people, and I hope to see the conversation continue in other venues. The Twitter tag is, as usual, excellent.

Things started winding down after that. I packed, checked out, and then dropped by the Sign Out, which is a tradition of setting up tables for creators to sign their work. Because I neglected to bring anything, and didn't want to buy a ton of books to lug back, I decided to mostly skip it. Naomi Kritzer was signing cat pictures, and those I couldn't resist. After one last meal with [tumblr.com profile] pierceaholic and [tumblr.com profile] magnetsorwhatever, it was off to the airport and back to real life.

To sum up... I don't know that I can really sum up. To say that I enjoyed myself, that I found the panels thought-proking and energizing, that I emerged with a sense of having rediscovered my people, would be an understatement. And yet I did have my moments of newbie angst -- feeling like an outsider, the fear of breaking into a group that already coalesced long before I arrived in the room. Multiple times, I thought of going up to someone and saying hello to someone, to complement them on their work, or something they said on a panel, or to renew an acquaintance from FogCon, and then didn't. A con is a tough place to be a social introvert, especially when you want to be with people but aren't sure where to start. Fortunately, I knew enough people there who were able to introduce me to other people, and I came out feeling both like I'd made a couple of new friends, and like I've laid the groundwork for next time.

Because there will definitely be a next time. I'm already hoping to make next year work, and although I can't promise that I'll become an every-year attendee (if nothing else, BMC reunion is also often on Memorial Day weekend), I certainly hope to do my best. This is a community I would like to be a part of, and that's worth some effort.

October 2017

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