I’ve received my preliminary program schedule for WisCon 36 – it’s subject to change right now, but I’m glad I have the topics so I can make some notes ahead of time!
Fri, 4:00–5:15 pm
Moderator: Victoria Janssen; Rosemary / Sophy; Kelly Sue DeConnick; Lesley Hall; Chris Hill
What is an anti-hero, and what makes a character an anti-hero? How do you know an anti-hero when you see one? Can an anti-hero become a regular garden-variety hero, and if so, how? What is the appeal of an anti-hero? Are anti-heroes more realistic than heroes, and how does this impact the audience?
Short Stories Versus Novels
Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm
Moderator: David D. Levine; Benjamin Billman; Richard Chwedyk; Gwynne Garfinkle; Carolyn Ives Gilman; Victoria Janssen
Some writers claim they can only write short, others insist they can only go with longer works. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each form? Should you force yourself to try the length that doesn’t seem natural for you? What benefits are there to those who can successfully write both types of story? At one time, authors were told they needed three short story sales (of the pro variety) before they should try to sell a novel. Is this true? If short isn’t your form of choice, are you just screwed?
Gender-Variant Characters in Science Fiction
Sun, 8:30–9:45 am
Moderator: Molly Aplet; Kerey Luis; Victoria Janssen
Let’s explore how gender variance and/or variant/trans* characters are represented in Science Fiction. How often are gender-variant characters used for the purpose of examining the experiences of cisgender individuals? How often is the variance of these characters integrated into a character/individual level experience? The example of the former, a planet-of-hats scenario (such as was done on Star Trek) in which a whole society is genderless/gender-variant, comes to mind. Mass Effect is an example of the use of a “mono-gendered” (yet hyper-sexualized) race, the Asari. How about a story where a whole species is genderless or gender-variant? Dragon Age 2 has one of the most prominent examples of a trans* character, Serendipity.
Addiction in Fiction
Sun, 10:00–11:15 am
Moderator: Cassie Alexander; Naomi Kritzer; Victoria Janssen; Derek Silver; Gregory G. H. Rihn
Real drugs, imaginary drugs, and magical addictions to other people’s dreams – how are addictions handled in science fiction and fantasy? Can imaginary addictions be treated with real-world methods? How about fictional worlds in which addiction is not seen as a problem? Or in which addiction has become adaptive (are vampires addicted to blood?)? Possible works to consider: Stacia Kane’s Downside series (beginning with Unholy Ghosts) in which Chess Putnam is addicted to a magical drug, Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah’s Sime~Gen series in which Simes can become addicted to killing Gens, Yarrow by Charles De Lint for feeding on dreams.
Fen to Pro and Pro to Fen
Sun, 2:30–3:45 pm
Moderator: Victoria Janssen; Wendy Bradley; Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey; Neil Rest; Amy Thomson
In many sectors of fandom, those who make money from writing, editing or publishing speculative fiction are set apart from those who are primarily readers. This separation isn’t present everywhere, though. Some “pros” maintain fannish activity and some who primarily act as “fans” might have, for example, sold a novel or two. With the growing popularity of fanfiction and self-publishing, how is the division between fan and pro changing? How do these divisions affect online interactions, live interactions, and how fandom is viewed from outside? Is there truly a “geek hierarchy”?