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Posted by Chris W.


This is it.  It all starts today.  Do you have your Pocket Program Book (pick up a paper copy at Registration or W41_PPB-web)?  Or the WisSched app on your smart thing?  (Or both, who are we to judge?)  Have you started to get the lay of the land?  Con Suite’s on 6; Art Show‘s on 1; Registration/Info Desk is on 2.

Don’t forget to get some sleep.  Eat a meal or 2 (or 3!).  Have some fun!  And, by all means, let’s get started planning that revolution, comrades.

Today’s big events

The Gathering

  • 1- 3:45pm
  • Capitol/Wisconsin (2nd floor)

The Gathering is the official start to WisCon — every year on Friday at 1pm sharp!  This is the time and place to decompress from the rigors of travel, meet friends old and new, make the transition to WisCon space-time, and get into the WisCon frame of mind!

What’s happening at the Gathering this year?  This blog post will give you fuller details, but here’s a quick list:

  • Icebreaker Scavenger Hunt
  • Clothing Swap
  • Nail Polish Swap
  • the Fiber Circle
  • Gadget and Device Petting Zoo
  • Fancy Hair Braiding
  • an E-Textiles Activity
  • Tabletop Games
  • Lock Picking
  • Tiptree Auction Preview

First WisCon Dinner

  • 5:30-7:30 PM
  • Outside the Wisconsin Ballroom (2nd floor)

Is this your first WisCon? Or are you a long-time WisCon attendee? Either way, you are invited to meet up as a group right after the end of the first panels (5:15 pm) outside the doors of the Wisconsin ballroom. After meeting, we’ll all head over to a local restaurant. You will be responsible for the price of your meal and for providing the sparkling wit during the meal. For those of you coming to WisCon for the first time, this is a great way to meet and get to know others that share your passion for feminist science fiction and fantasy. And if this isn’t your first WisCon, please join us as well—it’s a great way to meet even more new friends and besides, the first-timers will be looking to you for advice!

Art Show

Opening Reception

  • 6-7:30pm
  • Senate (1st floor)
Come to the Wiscon Art Show and meet the artists. Ask about their work, hear about their process.


Stop by the WisCon Art Show and vote for your favorite art and artists! Voting will open at 6pm on Friday, beginning during Meet the Artists, and will remain open until the Art Show closes at 6pm Saturday evening. This year’s categories are:

  • Best in Show (You’ll have the option to nominate an individual best piece as well as picking an artist.)
  • Best 2D Art
  • Best 3D Art, Non-Wearable
  • Best Wearable Art

Opening Ceremonies

  • 7:30-8:30pm
  • Capitol/Wisconsin (2nd floor)

WisCon welcomes everyone and officially begins the weekend of programming. Guests of Honor are introduced, the Tiptree winner is crowned, and there’s usually some form of entertainment. This is also the time for last-minute announcements and an explanation of some of WisCon’s policies. This is a great event if it’s your first WisCon!


Set-up help needed

We have Braille compatibility kits this year for Pandemic and 7 Wonders, but we need some help setting them up! In particular, we need someone who can read Braille to set them up. Please contact gaming@wiscon.net!

Sign up for tonight’s games!

Want to sign up for tonight’s games?  Drop by the Gathering (1-3:45pm in the ballroom on the 2nd floor) or email gaming@wiscon.net.  For full descriptions of the games, check out this blog post.


  • RPG
  • Friday, 8pm-12am
  • Conference 3

Strange Gravity

  • LARP
  • Friday, 8pm-12am
  • Conference 4

Weekend drabble  challenge!

In the fanfic world, a “drabble” is a work of fic that is very short. More traditionally, “drabble” designates a work that is precisely 100 words long. The constraints of the form, and the challenge they bring, are what makes drabble-writing so fun!

For the WisCon FanFic Drabble Challenge, we’ll be accepting works that are 100-250 words long, from any fandom. Though, the challenge would be to create a work that’s exactly 100 words long — bonus points toward your No Prize if you can manage this!

These works will be included in a collection on the Archive of Our Own. The challenge opens on Saturday at noon — stay tuned for the details of the challenge and how to join in!

The once & future WisCon

WisCon 41

We know things just got started, but as your weekend wraps up please take a moment to fill out our surveys and let us know what you thought and how we can keep improving the convention!

WisCon 42

Did something just happen in a panel to spark a great idea for next year’s WisCon?  Yes, we are taking programming suggestions for WisCon 42 already!  Just complete this form on our website.  No login necessary, but if you do log into your WisCon account you’ll receive an email confirmation of your submission.

WisCon 43

Yes!  We are already planning WisCon for 2019!  First and foremost — who would you like to see as a Guest of Honor?  This blog post talks more about how to nominate someone (and what the process after that is like).  To nominate, just drop a short email to gohnoms@wiscon.net.

Today’s Con Suite menus

This blog post has the full list of menus for the weekend.

Friday dinner

  • Chicago style Italian beef on rolls (GF rolls available)
  • Spinach & potato curry (vegan, GF)
  • Creole roasted sweet potatoes (vegan, GF)
  • Gingered veggies (vegan, GF)
  • Rice

Got an hour or two to volunteer? #WisConGiveBack

What makes WisCon go are the volunteers. Have a free hour or two? Would you like to help out and earn a rebate on your membership?  If you’re up for volunteering, please email us!  volunteers@wiscon.net

  1. We always have a strong need for folks who can help out in the Con Suite.
  2. We also have a regular need for volunteers at Registration Desk and the Art Show desk.
  3. Other specific needs are added as needed to the blog’s volunteers tag.

Need to contact Safety?

Reminder:  Our Code of Conduct

  • email:  safety@wiscon.net
  • phone:  608-957-7233 (957-SAFE)
  • reporting form: wiscon.net/report

Or look for one of our on-call Safety volunteers. They’re wearing bright yellow/green high-visibility vests.

WisCon social media

The post WisCon 41 at-con newsletter — A Momentary Taste of WisCon, Friday edition appeared first on WisCon.

WisCon 41 — Con Suite menus

26 May 2017 03:30 pm
[syndicated profile] wisconblog_feed

Posted by Chris W.

Welcome, WisCon!  Here are the hours and food options for your Con Suite this year.

Con Suite hours


  • Dinner:  5:30-7:30pm
  • Closed for cleaning:  7:30-8:30pm
  • 8:30pm-1am  (ConSuite open but not staffed)


  • Breakfast:  8-9:30am
  • Lunch:  11:30am-1:30pm
  • Dinner:  5:30-7:30pm
  • Closed for cleaning:  7:30-8:30pm
  • 8:30pm-1am  (ConSuite open but not staffed)


  • Breakfast:  8-11am
  • Late Lunch/Early Dinner:  3-5pm
  • ConSuite closes at 6pm for Dessert Salon & Guest of Honor Speeches
  • 10pm-1am  (ConSuite open but not staffed)


  • Brunch:  9-11:30am
  • ConSuite closes at 1pm

Standard fare all weekend long

Coffee & tea

Available 8am-Midnight in room 626

Staples available all day

  • Popcorn (butter, cheese corn & kettle corn)
  • Potato chips & Pretzels
  • Assorted cookies (inc. GF)
  • Scads of candy
  • Raw veggies
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Pop tarts
  • pita chips
  • applesauce (single serve containers)
  • fruit cups (single serve containers)
  • Crackers (inc. GF varieties)
  • Sandwich bread (inc. Udi’s GF bread)
  • Sunbutter (nut free)
  • Peanut butter
  • Jams & jellies
  • Assorted sodas & fizzy water

Grab-and-go (pre-packaged from Willy Street Co-Op)

  • Cheezy pasta salad (vegan)
  • Squash & bulgur with pepitas (vegetarian)
  • Turkey & parmesan pasta salad,
  • Two bean quinoa salad (vegan, GF)

Daily breakfast

  • Coffee & tea
  • Bagels
  • Cream cheese & Tofutti spread (dairy free, vegan & gluten free)
  • Butter & Earth Balance butter (soy and dairy free)
  • Doughnuts & Kringle


Friday dinner

  • Chicago style Italian beef on rolls (GF rolls available)
  • Spinach & potato curry (vegan, GF)
  • Creole roasted sweet potatoes (vegan, GF)
  • Gingered veggies (vegan, GF)
  • Rice

Saturday lunch

  • Potato salad (vegetarian, GF)
  • Three bean salad (vegan & GF)
  • Carrot slaw (vegan & GF)
  • Jerk tofu (vegan, GF)
  • Sandwich platters
  • Sandwich bread (including GF bread)
  • Cheese slices
  • Sunbutter (nut free)
  • Peanut butter
  • Jams & jellies

Saturday dinner

  • Chili night (beef & vegan)
  • Maple roasted vegetables (vegan & GF)
  • Rice

Sunday late lunch/early dinner

  • Ian’s Pizza! Expect a mix of the weird & mundane. There will be GF and vegan pizzas.
  • Garlic lovers pasta salad (vegetarian, GF)
  • Kale (vegan GF)

Monday brunch

  • Coffee & tea
  • Bagels
  • Cream cheese & Tofutti spread (dairy free, vegan & gluten free)
  • Butter & Earth Balance butter (soy and dairy free)
  • Doughnuts & Kringle
  • Sandwich bread (including GF bread)
  • Ham & Turkey cold cuts (for GF options)
  • Sandwich bread
  • Sunbutter (nut free)
  • Peanut butter
  • Jams & jellies

The post WisCon 41 — Con Suite menus appeared first on WisCon.

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Posted by Chris W.

Welcome to WisCon 41!  The weather is still looking a bit cool, but at least we’re out of the 50s!

This is the first edition of our at-con newsletter, A Momentary Taste of WisCon, where you’ll find short updates on a daily basis (more often if necessary!).  Momentary Taste will be posted here on our blog, which also feeds into the WisSched app under the “Announcements” section.

Enjoy your WisCon!

Where’s the Registration Desk??

For Thursday night only, the Registration Desk will be on the 2nd floor of the Concourse and slightly further down the hall then its usual space.  At the top of the grand staircase, turn left and you’ll find the desk just beyond the double doors.

On Friday morning it will return to its usual spot at the top of the grand staircase, and then remain there for the rest of the weekend.


  • Thursday 7-10pm (For pre-registration pick-up ONLY — No new sales just yet!)
  • Friday 8:30am – 8pm

Concourse info

Pool hours have been extended to 1am for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

Check-out time on Sunday and Monday has been extended to 12pm.

Planning to catch a meal or two at the hotel over the weekend? The Concourse sells food discount cards! The card is $10 and can be purchased at the hotel front desk. The discount is good for 20% off at CIRC Restaurant, The Bar, and room service. (It is NOT valid at the hotel Starbucks.) And it’s reusable for the duration of the conference! Basically if you plan on spending more than $50 in total at the hotel this weekend, it’s worth it.

Today’s big event

Guest of Honor reception and reading at Room of One’s Own

The unofficial but traditional start to WisCon is with a Thursday night reception and Guest of Honor reading at Madison’s feminist bookstore, Room of One’s Own.

There reception starts at 6pm. Wine, cheese, and crackers are served. Our Guests of Honor, Amal El-Mohtar and Kelly Sue DeConnick, will each give a reading.

getting there:  Room of One’s Own is just off State Street at 315 W Gorham St, Madison, WI 53703. It’s about 3 or 4 blocks away walking.  Our Room of One’s Own Reception page has both a Google Map and a photo of the storefront.

This year we are proud to offer an accessible shuttle service between the Concourse Hotel and Room of One’s Own. The shuttle will run between 4:30 and 7:30pm.

Got an hour or two to volunteer? #WisConGiveBack

What makes WisCon go are the volunteers. Have a free hour or two? Would you like to help out and earn a rebate on your membership?  If you’re up for volunteering, please email us!  volunteers@wiscon.net

  1. We always have a strong need for folks who can help out in the Con Suite.
  2. We also have a regular need for volunteers at Registration Desk and the Art Show desk.
  3. Other specific needs are added as needed to the blog’s volunteers tag.

Need to contact Safety?

  • email:  safety@wiscon.net
  • phone:  608-957-7233 (957-SAFE)
  • reporting form: wiscon.net/report

Or look for one of our on-call Safety volunteers. They’re wearing bright yellow/green high-visibility vests.

WisCon social media

The post WisCon 41 at-con newsletter — A Momentary Taste of WisCon, Thursday edition appeared first on WisCon.

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Posted by Chris W.

WisCon ConChairs

Every year, our Access Team works hard to make the con space as navigable as possible for all our members. From the unscented soaps in the public restrooms to the travel lanes on the 6th floor, accessibility is an important priority for WisCon.

A new initiative that we’re very excited about this year is….

Accessible shuttle to / from the Room of One’s Own Reception on Thursday night, for the Guest of Honor readings

Room of One’s Own is about five blocks from the Concourse hotel, which is further than some members are comfortable or able to walk. This year we have reserved a fully accessible shuttle which will be running between the Concourse  and Room of One’s Own!

The reception and Guest of Honor readings start at 6pm.  The shuttle will run between 4:30 and 7:30pm.   The shuttle will be on-demand in that it will collect passengers until it’s full, then make a run and return for more passengers.

A few other notes about accessibility through the rest of the weekend

1st floor carpeting

If you have difficulty navigating the carpeted area next to the elevator bank on the first floor, there is a path to the right of the grand staircase past The Cupboard Under The Stairs™ (previously the business center) and around the far side of the elevators.

Accessible and all-gender restrooms

There are single-occupancy accessible all-gender restrooms in several places in the hotel, including in Conference 1 on the 2nd floor and on the 6th floor between rooms 627 and 629. Panels may be taking place in Conference 1 during the day, but you are always welcome to enter to use the restroom.

Blue tape!

Blue tape is used throughout the convention space to define accessible spaces. Blue-taped areas and chairs in programming rooms are for those who use mobility devices or who may need to sit near the front for whatever reason. Blue-taped lanes in the hallways show you which side of the hall is for walking or rolling and which side is for hanging out — please move to one side if you find yourself stopping to chat in the hall. Blue tape can also indicate where lines should form.

Mobility scooters

Do you need a mobility scooter while you’re in town for WisCon?

Access Do’s and Don’ts

Respect Blue Zones: Please don’t stand in the striped zones. Don’t remove the tape

Do Respect Service Animals  Although interacting with animals is tempting, please don’t pet, distract, or take photos of service animals

Do Use the Quiet Space if you need a break. Don’t Make the Quiet Place a loud place. Respect the space

Do Use microphones on panels. Don’t Ignore requests that you use one.

Do Ask for help if you need it. Don’t feel like asking for assistance is a problem.

Questions, comments, requests?

How can we help make the convention more accessible for you? You can always contact us at access@wiscon.net.

The post A few notes on Access at WisCon 41 appeared first on WisCon.

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Posted by Chris W.

Kelly Sue DeConnick
Kelly Sue DeConnick

From the moment we knew Kelly Sue was going to be one of WisCon 41’s Guests of Honor, we all started counting the days until until Memorial Day weekend 2017.  And we knew late last winter so it’s been a long wait!

AT LAST, the wait is over for all of us.  We are so excited to welcome you to WisCon 41 as we honor Kelly Sue DeConnick and celebrate her work!

About Kelly Sue

Kelly Sue DeConnick is best known for surprise hits like Carol Danvers’ rebranding as Captain Marvel and the Eisner-nominated mythological western, “Pretty Deadly”; the latter was co-created with artist Emma Ríos. DeConnick’s most recent venture, the sci-fi kidney-punch called “Bitch Planet”, co-created with Valentine De Landro, launched to rave reviews in December 2014. DeConnick lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Matt Fraction, and their two children. Under their company Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Inc., DeConnick and Fraction are currently developing television for NBC/Universal.

Kelly Sue @ WisCon 41

Room of One’s Own Reception and Readings

  • Thursday, 6–7:30pm
  • Room Of Ones Own

Readings by the Guests of Honor at Room of One’s Own Bookstore.

Following and Friendship: Social Media Etiquette for Fans

  • Saturday, 10–11:29am
  • Capitol A

When our faves share their thoughts and give us a peek into their personal lives, it’s enticing to engage as much as possible, but when we’re one of their thousands of followers and they’re likely to receive several notifications at once, where should we draw the line? As creators and creatives, the tenuous balance between being approachable and setting boundaries can take a huge emotional toll on us. How do we encourage fan interaction while holding a reasonable amount of space for ourselves to exist as humans? This panel will explore the nuances of being an inclusive, friendly internet community while still being respectful of the privacy and dignity of people with large public platforms.

Kaffeeklatsch and Guest of Honor Reading

  • Saturday, 4–5:29pm
  • Assembly

Guest of Honor Kelly Sue DeConnick reads from her work and chats with her fans over snacks and coffee.

> Attendance may be limited: Please check with the Registration desk to see if there is a sign-up sheet.

Comics Are for Everybody (with Comic Matchmaking)

  • Sunday, 2:30–3:59pm
  • Wisconsin

The lack of access to local comic shops and fandom culture of exclusion can make it hard for people to feel like there are comics out there “for them”. Comics Are for Everybody is all about proving that there is a comic for every taste.The panel will start by highlighting some lesser known comics and creators for the room, then to do some highly interactive matchmaking. Audience members will name a beloved genre/author/movie/etc. and the group will come up with suggestions for comic books they might not have read, the more under-the-radar the better. Web comics, self-published comics, and manga of course would be welcome (and encouraged).

Guest of Honor Speeches (and Tiptree Ceremony)

  • Sunday, 8:30–10pm
  • Capitol/Wisconsin

This Guest of Honor event is the high point of WisCon programming; it’s the formal event at which we honor our guests and listen to what they have to say to us. In the past, we’ve heard rallying calls to political action, humorous anecdotes, scholarly treatises, exposes, autobiographies, earthshaking ideas, and passionate and lyrical speeches. For instance, Pat Murphy initiated the Tiptree Award as part of her 1991 Guest of Honor speech at WisCon 15.

The post WisCon 41 Guest of Honor — Kelly Sue DeConnick appeared first on WisCon.

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Posted by Chris W.

Amal El-Mohtar
Amal El-Mohtar

Word is when we asked Amal to be one of our Guests of Honor, she read the email three times to make sure it was real.  When she accepted?  We pinched ourselves to make sure we were really awake.

This is definitely the best reality, because it’s finally time — We are so thrilled to welcome you to WisCon 41 as we honor Amal El-Mohtar and celebrate her work!

About Amal

Amal El-Mohtar has received the Locus Award, been a  is(!) a Nebula Award winner for her short fiction, and has won the Rhysling Award for poetry three times. She is the author of The Honey Month, a collection of poetry and prose written to the taste of twenty-eight different kinds of honey, and contributes criticism to NPR Books and the LA Times. Her fiction has most recently appeared in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Uncanny Magazine, and The Starlit Wood anthology from Saga Press. She divides her time and heart between Ottawa and Glasgow. Find her online at amalelmohtar.com, or on Twitter @tithenai.

Amal @ WisCon 41

Room of One’s Own Reception and Readings

  • Thursday, 6–7:30pm
  • Room Of Ones Own

Readings by the Guests of Honor at Room of One’s Own Bookstore.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

  • Friday, 4–5:29pm
  • Conference 2

Amal El-Mohtar has a history of collaborating with likeminded souls, from editing a poetry zine to performing with a troupe of writer/musicians to co-writing fiction and beyond. How is it possible to discover fellow travelers and co conspirators across space and time(zones)? What are the benefits of such long distance collaborations, and how do different kinds of collaborative projects come together?

Music & Miscellania

  • Friday, 9–10:29 pm
  • Michelangelo’s

Come and enjoy a musical extravaganza concocted by bewitching sensations Amal El-Mohtar and C.S.E. Cooney. Their repertoire includes singing, musical instruments of undisclosed types, moderate mayhem and poetry.

Direct Payment and the Creator/Fan Dynamic

  • Saturday, 10–11:29 am
  • Caucus

We’re interested in examining, through a feminist lens, the economics around SFF for writers and creators. With many emerging artists asking for support online through sites like Patreon, writers have more income avenues than ever. How does a direct connection between artist and supporter change the power dynamic? Does this give marginalized creators more direct access to the people they want to reach? Does the ability of working class folks to support the creators they admire change when writers seek funds individually? What do artists end up owing their patrons, supporters, Kickstarter backers, or universities that provide graduate student stipends?

Dance Apocalyptic: Dystopian Fiction and Media In a Dystopian Age

  • Saturday, 1–2:29 pm
  • Capitol A

What is the function of dystopian media in a dystopian world? When fans (and academics) talk about the functions and roles of dystopian stories, it is often assumed that they are worse than the world that the storytellers live in. What about worlds where this isn’t true, or might not be true for very long? Does how we react emotionally to these stories change? Has their function changed? What do we learn from these forms of media?

Guest of Honor Reading

  • Saturday, 2:30–3:59 pm
  • Assembly

Consuming Media

  • Saturday, 4–5:29 pm
  • Conference 2

“Geek” seems to be increasingly defined as a form of material “consumption”. We no longer “watch, read, play” but rather “consume”. How does materialism define geek culture, and how doesn’t it? Is it possible — or desirable — to separate geek culture from materialism?

Borders, Boundaries and Liminal Spaces

  • Sunday, 10–11:29 am
  • Capitol B

Politics has us talking about borders constantly. Not just geopolitical borders but also ones around gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and language. We examine and re-examine how they affect feminist discourse and intersectionality, as Gloria Anzaldua did in her semi-autobiographical book on Mexican and Latinx culture, Borderlands / La Frontera. How do our notions of gender, race, and orientation shift? What kinds of liminal spaces and identities exist for people who regularly cross borders (geographical and otherwise)?

Tastes of Honey with Amal El-Mohtar

  • Sunday, 1–2:29 pm
  • Room 627

In The Honey Month, WisCon Guest of Honor Amal El-Mohtar uses the taste of different varieties of honey as gateways into stories, poetry and more. This honey tasting will allow attendees to enjoy a variety of honeys and get a sense of some of the flavors which inspired The Honey Month.

> Attendance may be limited due to room size: Please check with  the Registration desk to see if there is a sign-up sheet.

Comics Are for Everybody (with Comic Matchmaking)

  • Sunday, 2:30–3:59 pm
  • Wisconsin

The lack of access to local comic shops and fandom culture of exclusion can make it hard for people to feel like there are comics out there “for them”. Comics Are for Everybody is all about proving that there is a comic for every taste.The panel will start by highlighting some lesser known comics and creators for the room, then to do some highly interactive matchmaking. Audience members will name a beloved genre/author/movie/etc. and the group will come up with suggestions for comic books they might not have read, the more under-the-radar the better. Web comics, self-published comics, and manga of course would be welcome (and encouraged).


  • Sunday, 4–5:29 pm
  • Wisconsin

The ninth installment of this popular and amazing panel! Writers of color working in F/SF face unique challenges, it’s true. But, at the end of the day, being a “person of color” is only one aspect of what makes up our identities as writers. While it’s very flattering to be asked to be on panels, most of these panels never crack the ceiling of Race 101. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be nice for multiple writers and fans of color to sit on a panel that isn’t about race at all? Here’s our chance to do just that. So, what are we gonna talk about, instead? Practically anything! Presented in game show format, SIX SEASON SERIES BASED ON THE THREE-PART TRILOGY BASED ON THE SINGLE BOOK OF THE NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL brings together writers and fans of color to get their geek on about any number of pop culture topics — none of them race related.

Guest of Honor Speeches (and Tiptree Ceremony)

  • Sunday, 8:30–10pm
  • Capitol/Wisconsin

This Guest of Honor event is the high point of WisCon programming; it’s the formal event at which we honor our guests and listen to what they have to say to us. In the past, we’ve heard rallying calls to political action, humorous anecdotes, scholarly treatises, exposes, autobiographies, earthshaking ideas, and passionate and lyrical speeches. For instance, Pat Murphy initiated the Tiptree Award as part of her 1991 Guest of Honor speech at WisCon 15.

The SignOut

  • Monday, 11:30 am – 1pm
  • Capitol/Wisconsin

Come and get things signed! Come and hang out and wind down before you leave.

The post WisCon 41 Guest of Honor — Amal El-Mohtar appeared first on WisCon.

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Posted by Chris W.

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

Ah, the humble convention badge. In its most basic form, it says simply, “Please let me into all your sweet programming spaces, for I am a member of this convention (having agreed to your Code of Conduct).” Often, it also says, “The name printed here is my nom de convention. Please use this and no others.”

But at WisCon, our badges say so much more.

The back of the badge

The first line on the back of your badge tells you the name(s) you used during registration — there may be two names listed if you indicated you wanted a specific badge name. This line also lists what type of membership you have (e.g., Adult, Teen, Youth) and how many tickets to the Dessert Salon you purchased (D:0, D:1, D:2, &c.).

On the back of everyone’s badge, we also print the contact information for our Safety team. This includes Safety’s phone number and (new this year!) the URL to use to get to Safety’s online reporting form.

Are you participating in programming this weekend? Your schedule is also printed on the back! This includes the day, time, location, and title of each programming item.

The front of the badge

On the front of your badge we print your name as large as we possibly can so that it’s easy to read from a comfortable distance. Under your name (much smaller) we print you home city, state/province, and country.

And that, in a nutshell, is the stock WisCon badge.

But wait, there’s more!


Pronoun stickers at WisCon 40.
Pronoun stickers at WisCon 40.

We also provide — available at our Registration Desk whenever you’d like to stop by to take them — pronoun stickers. This year’s stickers include she / he / they / e / xe / ou / ze / zie. As well as “any pronouns” and “singular they is always grammatical”. You can absolutely choose to not wear a sticker. You can choose to wear multiple stickers! You can change your sticker(s) throughout the weekend if you want! And if you don’t see the pronoun you need, please email us and we’ll try to get one custom printed for you: registration@wiscon.net If you’d like to know more about our pronoun stickers, this post from last year does a great job of covering the etiquette and protocol of navigating pronouns.

Interaction indicators

A full set of interaction cards at WisCon 40.

Our interaction indicators are an idea that comes from the autism community, and we are proud to offer them for everyone who feels it’s helpful to give folks some guidance on the best way to approach you in any given moment. The cards are designed to fit into your badge holder right behind your badge, with the top portion sticking out to indicate which interaction you prefer. Here’s a quick guide to how to use the cards.

First, take the whole set! You’ll need all of the cards — red/hexagon, yellow/triangle, green/circle — for the system to work. Each of the cards is marked in three ways: by color, by symbol, and with text that spells out the name of the color.

  • Red / square*: STOP. Don’t talk to me! (* A change from WisCon 40 when it was a hexagon.)
  • Yellow / triangle: I only want to talk to people I know in person — not strangers or people I only know from the internet.
  • Green / circle: I would like to talk to people, but I may have trouble initiating conversation.

Please respect these badges! It’s okay to mess up at first — you’ll soon learn to look for them and follow their cues.

“Ask Me!” buttons

“Ask Me” — now in button format for WisCon 41!

Who are these folks with the teal/turquoise buttons that say “Ask Me”? These are concom members and other long-time WisCon attendees who have volunteered to share their vast wealth of WisCon information. Have a question about WisCon? “Where’s the Con Suite?” “When is the Tiptree Auction?” “Can I register for next year’s WisCon yet?” “Which way to the pool??” Anyone wearing an “Ask Me” button can likely answer any of these questions — and many more! Don’t be afraid to ask!

Return your badge holder before you leave

As much as possible, WisCon reuses its badge holders from year to year. This saves us money and reduces waste, which is important for our commitments to affordability and sustainability.

This also means that we ask you to please not affix stickers to your badge holder. Please stick them directly on your badge!

And we also ask you to please not stick convention ribbons on your badge. We especially ask those of you planning parties or readings, and so forth, to not have badges for your event. Yes, badge ribbons look totally awesome! An amazing technicolor convention coat of sorts! But… then we can’t re-use the badge holder, and we’d really like to.

So please, as much as it’s possible, keep your badge holder in pretty good shape and return it to the Registration area as you leave WisCon this year. If you forget or something unspeakable happens to your badge holder, no harm done. We’ll have one for you next year!

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Tiptree @ WisCon 41

22 May 2017 04:07 am
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Posted by Chris W.

Levi Sable
SF3 Communications Committee

WisCon will once again be hosting the Tiptree Award and Tiptree Auction. This year marks the 26th annual Tiptree Award!  We are delighted to welcome back our Tiptree friends and to host the Award ceremonies and (one of) their annual Auction(s).

The Award

A sneak preview of possible auction items — custom Coke bottles, a Wonder Woman doll, and a copy of Octavia Butler’s “Dawn.”

This year’s Tiptree Award goes to Anna-Marie McLemore for her novel When the Moon was Ours.  Anna-Marie will be at WisCon, receiving her Tiptree crown at Opening Ceremonies on Friday night.  Keep an eye out to congratulate the fantastic individual in the Tiptree crown!

Want to learn more about what goes into choosing a Tiptree winner?   On Saturday, 10-11:15am, stop by Room 605 for “Judging the Tiptree.”  Current Tiptree jury members will discuss the process of judging and selecting the Tiptree Award winners.

The Auction

We’ll be previewing the Tiptree Auction items at the Gathering on Friday afternoon. Items this year include specially labeled bottles of Coke; a Wonder Woman doll; a signed, first edition copy of Octavia Butler’s book Dawn; an enamel pin which says “Write Hard, Die Free;” a first edition, boxed set of the 4-volume history Chicago by Mary Hastings Bradley (Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr.’s mother); a Space Babe Blaster; and much, much more.

Sumana Harihareswara will be Tiptree’s trusty auctioneer again this year — we are so happy to have her back. The Tiptree Auction happens on Saturday night at 7pm until late.  We recommend arriving early and to grab a spot for a fun-filled evening!

The Tiptree folks are still collection donations of books, original art, jewelry, Space Babe memorabilia, and other odd items that fit in with the Tiptree spirit. If you’d like to donate a book, please let them know by filling out their auction Google form ASAP. The sooner they know what things are coming their way, the better the auction will be.

Tiptree = Resistance

And something brand new!  This year the Tiptree Motherboard worked with our Workshops coordinators to develop “Reading Tiptree Winners as Models for Resistance”:

Resistance is so vital to our survival right now. Join this session to participate in a discussion of how stories—specifically, Tiptree-winning stories—can serve as a lens for how to enact resistance. Let’s keep each other alive.

Sound interesting but you missed the Workshops’ sign-up period?  The facilitator has confirmed that they’ll take walk-ups as long as space permits!  And you can follow along with the discussion via the #TiptreeAsResistance hashtag.

Tiptree t-shirts

The 2017 Tiptree t-shirt design, by Freddie Baer.

Another way to help support the Tiptree Award is by purchasing a t-shirt.  Tiptree has a new design annually, so they’re worth collecting!  You can pick one up from the Tiptree table in our Art Show.

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Posted by Chris W.

Are you driving into Madison for WisCon this year?  Here’s our annual construction update to inform your trip.

39/90 between Madison and the Illinois state line is under heavy construction basically all the time, as they’re expanding it to six lanes. Some bridges are also closed. Godspeed.

There are some construction activities in the city, including near the Concourse, but no worse than usual. Gorham Street has been closed intermittently. The south side of the Capitol Square is being rebuilt, so there will be dust and mobility issues over in that area. Navigation tip: the Concourse is on the west side of Capitol Square.

And as always, the marathon is next weekend, which means buses will be detoured and some roads will be closed on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Info on the races is at runmadtown.com and bus detours are at www.cityofmadison.com/metro/detours/.

Travel safe and see you soon!

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Posted by Chris W.

Dealers’ Room Coordinator


There are a lot of things to enjoy at a convention — seeing old friends, making new friends, discovering new authors, and having a few days away from the rest of the world.  But, be honest, the shopping is a major part of it.  Online shopping cannot compare to actually seeing, touching, and smelling the goods.

And we have the goods!  The vendors who will be with us this year are below.  Enjoy the con!

20th Century Books :: New and used books, magazines, graphic novels, comics and fantasy-related toys.

A Room of One’s Own Bookstore :: A Room of One’s Own is Madison’s local independent bookstore, serving the WisCon community for over 40 years! A few years ago we moved our store from its former location to combine with Avol’s Used Books, and can now be found at 315 W Gorham Street.

Abby Howard :: I create the webcomics Junior Scientist Power Hour and The Last Halloween, the latter of which recently had a Kickstarter for a huge and beautiful book. I create webcomics and enjoy researching ancient beasts in my spare time.

Alex Heberling :: Alex Heberling draws comics and puts them on the internet. Creator of the magical girl webcomic “The Hues”.

Aqueduct Press :: We publish feminist science fiction & fantasy & books about feminist science fiction & fantasy as well as the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Armory Quest :: We specialize in high quality foam weapons, swords, and masks. All of our products are made for all ages and abilities.

Asha’s Homemade Candles :: I hand pour all natural soy wax candles. I’m inspired by finding scents that remind me of my favorite fictional places and characters. I love mixing candle making with all things geek by finding ways to tie fragrances in with my favorite shows in clever ways! Currently I have candles from many fandoms including: Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of Rings, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Firefly and more!

Book Lynx :: We sell used, rare and vintage SF, fantasy and other books.

Broad Universe :: Broad Universe is a group of women-oriented (not necessarily female) fantasy and science fiction writers. The group promotes our books, and the table will sell members’ books.

Clipped Arts :: Clipped Arts creates a variety of unique items, most which are made from and centered around found objects—especially items which may be overlooked or thrown away. Note card sets, magnets, small mixed-media drawings, and coasters are made from old maps, sheet music, Calvin and Hobbes books, as well as other children’s stories and books of interest. Carefully chosen charms and beads adorn dangle-style earrings. Tiny origami paper cranes can be found inside corked glass bottle ornaments, on jewelry, and inside a gumball-style toy dispensing machine.

DreamHaven Books :: One of the oldest and largest Science Fiction/Fantasy specialty bookstores in the world, now celebrating its 40th year.

Dylan Edwards :: Dylan Edwards is a queer trans artist who creates comics focusing on LGBTQIA+ themes. Notable works include Transposes, Valley of the Silk Sky, Politically InQueerect, and QAT Person. His all-ages monster creations, Feeping Creatures, include handmade art and figurines, jewelry, onesies, and other accessories.

Frugal Muse Books :: We’re a Madison based brick and mortar book store that has supported the local science fiction community since 1994. We hold a monthly SF book discussion and offer new and used books.

Fused Glass by Kathie :: I create one-of-a-kind Fused Glass jewelry and mixed media Fused Glass and Metal wall hangings I call my Tiny Universes. Fused Glass inspires me. It’s about mixing varying shapes and colors of glass, often combining dichroic glass with textured glass to get a 3D effect and not knowing what the result will be until I open up that kiln door. And when it works, it’s glorious. When I look into the depths of the dichroic I see a myriad of colors, enough to fill a universe…at least a Tiny Universe.

Geekery Gal :: Geekery Gal Jewelry and Sass lovingly recycles old comics and other materials into wearable art. 10 percent of all sales go to charity. We also design personalized items for cosplayers and undercover geeks who want just a little geek in their bling.

Ginger Kitten Enterprises :: Ginger Kitten Enterprises is run by Sarah, a mixed-media artist, and sells art for display, as well as jewelry and accessories like magnets, planters, keychains, and more!

The Heathersmith :: Erika Hammerschmidt, author of the science fiction novel Kea’s Flight and other works, makes a wide variety of fantasy-style wire-wrapped gemstone jewelry. Pieces include crowns and tiaras, elf-earrings that make the ears look pointed, jeweled-dagger letter openers, gemstone chess sets, rings, earrings, and necklaces made with crystals, geodes, meteorites, and fossils.

Holly Morningstar Art & Illustration :: Holly Morningstar creates fantastical feminist watercolor paintings rooted in symbolism derived from fairy tales, mythology, and pop culture. Her work focuses on feminine empowerment, sexual liberation, and thriving with disabilities.

Jo Edits :: I am offering my editing service as well as sell writing critiques and quick edits to any interested parties. I’m an editor with twelve years of experience in a number of genres–SF, fantasy, horror, and mostly romance these days. I’m the editor of WisCon Chronicles 7: Shattering Ableist Narratives and dedicated to helping writers of all backgrounds, particularly those who are marginalized. I’ve also taught at the writer’s workshop from 2011-2014.

Lethe Press, Inc. :: We are a queer and speculative fiction press that has been in business since 2001. We hope to provide an outlet for authors wherever they might be in the gender and sexuality spectrum. Our books have won numerous Lambda Literary Awards and the Shirley Jackson Award; our titles have also been finalists for the Andre Norton Award, the Golden Crown Literary Award, and the World Fantasy Award.

Lioness: ornament for people and places :: Shinies! So many shinies! Necklace-crowns, earrings, pendants, necklace, and other named jewelry, some bead and charm assortments, and copies of the anthology “Glass Bead Games” containing stories inspired by the shinies.

Mama’s Minstrel :: Mama’s Minstrel offers spiritual growth workshops, retreats, keynotes, and the sale of my book and my CD. Copies of my book “The World is Your Oracle,” just published by Fair Winds Press, will be for sale, as well as “World is Your Oracle” t-shirts, and CDs of “Chants for the Queen of Heaven,” a recording of Goddess chants from around the world.

Maps and scraps :: We make unique sewn goods from repurposed t-shirts, jeans, and other fabrics. We strive to make each item special. Frequent themes are rock bands, nerdy stuff like Doctor Who and superheroes.

Nerdtastic :: Nerdtastic specializes in handmade jewelry, bath and body products with a pop culture inspiration.

O Human Star :: O Human Star is a science fiction LGBT comic serialized online since 2012.

Oooh Pretties :: Handmade sterling silvery jewelry with amazing stones, ranging from small, simple bead work to larger hand fabricated pieces with something for every budget.

Other Side Press :: Melanie Gillman is a nonbinary graphic novelist who specializes in positive YA comics for queer and trans young readers. They’re the creator of the Eisner- and Ignatz-nominated webcomic “As the Crow Flies”, which follows a group of LGBTQ teens who meet in a Christian youth camp. In addition, they are a co-editor of “The Other Side: An Anthology of Queer Paranormal Romance” and the writer of the “Steven Universe” comics series, published by Boom Studios. They currently live in Tulsa, OK, where they are a 2017-2018 fellow in the Tulsa Artist Fellowship program.

Rosarium Publishing :: Rosarium Publishing is a fledgling publisher (est. 2013) specializing in speculative fiction and comics—all with a multicultural flair. We simply believe that talent does not inherently have a gender, race, religion, or region; talent is everywhere, and we will comb the four corners of this globe to find it. We like to be crazy, wild, provocative. We also like to chill, and there’s never a moment where you won’t find us laughing. If you try to paint us in a corner, we’ll go all TAKI 183 on you and cover it with graffiti. We say that we’re here to “introduce the world to itself,” so you never know where you’ll find us.

Semi-Precious Therapy :: Hand-made jewelry featuring a variety of materials, including semi-precious gemstones, crystal, glass, silver, and copper. Custom orders are also available.

Sign of the Unicorn :: Hand-sculptured jewelry — mostly one-of-a-kind — designed in feminist, mythic, science fiction, and fantasy themes using lost-wax casting and incorporating sterling silver, bronze, 14k gold, and semi-precious stones, and including rings, earrings, and pendants in feminist designs. Additionally, Laurie Toby Edison’s books and photographs Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes, Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes, and Women of Japan, all works done in collaboration with social change activists and feminists, will be available.

Small Beer Press :: Small Beer Press publishes short story collections, novels, and translations, and twice a year, a paper zine, LCRW. This year we will publish Sofia Samatar, Christopher Rowe, Lydia Millet, Juan Martinez, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Kij Johnson, among others.

Unlikely Heroes Studios :: An independent comic book company with a team spread out all over America. They create, print, and publish high-quality comics. Their current piece de resistance is Super!, which follows a ragtag team of amateur heroes as they struggle to make a name for themselves in a universe dominated by more popular, established teams. The group is led officially by Max, the billionaire inventor bankrolling the team, but the true leadership lies within Blitz, the daughter of a hero aspiring to be great in her own right. In the grand tradition of “The Venture Bros.” and “Mystery Men”, “SUPER!” is a loving homage to the genre that knows when to laugh at itself and isn’t afraid to poke fun at comic tropes along the way.

We’re sorry to share that Dealers’ Room favorite PM Press aren’t able to join us this year after all. They sent this message to WisCon:

If you and those you know that will miss us this year, want the consolation of cheap browsing on our website instead (a paltry second best, I know), if you use the coupon code FOPM at the checkout page, it’ll automatically apply a 50% discount to your entire order. There’s no minimum order as such, and that code can be used multiple times. So please feel free to share it with any/all deserving Wisconites…

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Posted by Chris W.

The Gathering

The Gathering is a great place to meet new people — or reconnect with folks you’ve met at prior WisCons — while learning or helping others to learn a new game or skill. We’ve got ten activities this year, all happening 1-4pm in the Wisconsin Ballroom on the second floor.

Looking for a way to strike up conversations with some of your fellow con attendees? We’ll have an Icebreaker Scavenger Hunt, where you can search for characteristics and experiences. To participate, put stickers from the Icebreaker table on a badge card marking which broad categories apply to you, then start conversations with other people with stickered cards in order to fill out your own scavenger list.

Continuing this year are two well-loved swaps: Clothing and Nail Polish. Calling them “swaps” is a little misleading, everyone is welcome to peruse and take home anything that strikes your fancy — there’s no need to bring things in exchange, though we love it when you bring items to donate!

Our Clothing Swap is a great place to bring those treasured pieces of clothing that you can’t quite bear to donate without assurance that they will be loved by their next owner. The formal gown that no longer fits, the perfect waistcoat that you just can’t justify keeping, or parts of that well-crafted cosplay for a fandom you’ve lost interest in — they can all find new homes! Any clothing is welcome, but we do ask that you don’t just clean out your closet. Rather, bring a few things that you think other WisCon members will love.

New this year for the Clothing Swap:  Please mark whether you’re clothes have been washed with scented laundry products or if you’ve used scent-free.  The scents from laundry products can linger for years in garments, so please only mark your donations as “scent-free laundry products” if you’ve never used scented products!  Our valiant Clothing Swap volunteers will be working to keep scented and scent-free items separate this year.

This is the third year of the Nail Polish Swap. Is your nail polish stash overflowing with colors that looked promising in the store but not quite right on your nails? Come trade for something more your style! Bring some unloved bottles and your enthusiasm for sparkly fingers and find some new colors to experiment with. Even if you don’t have polish to swap, come pick up a bottle to take home. We know you’re eager to swap your neglected polishes for some new pretties, but remember to make sure they haven’t dried out before you pack them up!

When do you drop off your donations for the Clothing and Nail Polish swaps?  You can stop by the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Concourse on Friday starting at 11am.

In addition to swaps, the Fiber Circle returns for those who knit, spin, crochet, embroider, and more. Just bring your yarn, needles, thread, scissors, and beads.

The Gadget and Device Petting Zoo isn’t a swap, but it is a way to share any neat devices you own, and to try out some of the neat devices belonging to other folks in the WisCon community. The table will be staffed throughout the Gathering, but nonetheless we strongly recommend that if you don’t want to lose it, don’t leave it unattended.

Returning this year is the ever-popular Fancy Hair Braiding, with a braiding expert in attendance to teach techniques and demonstrate rope, round, French, Dutch, and crown braids, shapes like hearts and spirals, and other advanced ideas like 5- and 7-strand fingering techniques. Unfortunately, our second braider, with expertise in kinky, coily hair, is no longer able to attend.

Local makerspace the Bodgery is running a simple e-textiles activity where participants can learn how to combine fiber arts with electronics. As part of this activity, they’ll teach people how to sew a simple circuit using some felt, an LED, a coin-cell battery, and some conductive thread.

We’ll have Tabletop Games, too. You can join the WisCon Gaming team for some light and accessible games while you learn about the variety of gaming offered at WisCon 41. Browse our board game selection, meet GMs and fellow players, and sign up for role-playing games running this year!

Have you ever wished you knew how to pick locks? You can learn at the Gathering this year! Locks and picks will be provided; you just need to bring a steady hand and a sense of curiosity.

As always, the Tiptree Auction Preview will be happening at the Gathering so you can you can view and write bids in advance of the auction on Saturday, where all proceeds support the James Tiptree Jr. Award for thought-provoking SF&F that expands and and explores gender roles.

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Posted by Chris W.

Kristin Livdahl

WisCon is organized and run by volunteers and there are many ways to help out this year. We’ve highlighted a few of those opportunities in recent posts, but we also have opportunities in almost every department. Below is a list of many of the departments that use volunteers — most still need more help. We hope you will give a little bit of your time to help keep WisCon the great event it is!

Each year volunteers receive a special commemorative thank you gift that is only available to volunteers — we’re excited to offer badge wallets/holders this year. After requests for a more neutral color,  we’re going with a black holder with white printing this year.

Also, if you volunteer 6  or more hours (participating in programming counts, too!), you can receive a $20 rebate on your registration as funds allow. Volunteering can be a great way to give and also get a little back to help with convention expenses!

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator: volunteers@wiscon.net


Often needs someone local to help with directing the movers for convention set-up and tear-down on Thursday and Tuesday.

Con Suite

This area is often understaffed. We need volunteers throughout the convention to provide hospitality to congoers. We also have a need for a few more volunteers who are SafeServ certified or willing to become certified.

Art Show

This area is also often understaffed. Volunteers are needed to help with set-up, tear-down, sales during open hours, and during the show preview.


Needs 1-2 people throughout the convention to set up blue tape — early mornings and before the Opening Ceremony, Tiptree Auction, and Dessert Salon.  Also needs 1-2 more people to help put up signs on Thursday and take down signs on Monday.

Green Room

Needs volunteers throughout the convention as programming runs.


Is open almost the entire convention and needs volunteers throughout.


Various shifts open throughout the weekend. Training provided.

Bakesale for Tiptree

Needs volunteers for shifts from on Saturday.

The Gathering

Volunteers are needed to help with set-up and tear-down and to give the people staffing booths breaks during the event.

The post Volunteering at WisCon 41 — Lots to do! appeared first on WisCon.

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Posted by Chris W.

Kristin Livdahl

Are you looking for a quiet place to get away from the big crowds for a couple hours? Do you need a way to meet new people at the convention but are more comfortable having people approach you? Do you want to help out with the convention but need a position where you can sit or stay sitting most of the time? We have volunteer opportunities that allow for all of those.

Art Show

The Art Show is usually a quiet oasis during the convention and there are many shifts available during the convention. Volunteers staff the desk during the show preview, assist with sales and check out sold items near the end of the convention. This area has traditionally been understaffed.


Helping check people in and register new arrivals is one of the best ways to meet new people and put faces with names. Email in advance if you are interested in taking a shift — or stop by at the beginning of the convention to see when they need help. Volunteers are needed for shifts from Thursday until Monday.

Green Room

We can always use a few more dependable volunteers to take shifts helping in the Green Room which is open during all the hours programming runs. Volunteers count attendance at programs, assist programming participants with name tents and other duties. The Green Room is great way to meet some of the interesting people who are participating in panels, readings and other programming in a relaxed environment.

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@wiscon.net

The post Volunteering at WisCon 41 — Art Show, Registration, & Green Room appeared first on WisCon.

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Posted by Chris W.

Kristin Livdahl

Volunteers are the lifeblood of WisCon and essential to keeping the convention the wonderful, diverse gathering that it is. We will be featuring a few of the many volunteer opportunities available during the con over the next few days and hope you will consider giving back to WisCon by volunteering.

Providing hospitality is part of our commitment to making WisCon affordable and accessible to everyone and the Con Suite is one of the busiest places during WisCon. Because of this, it is also the one that often needs the most volunteers. We have ConSuite shifts available starting at noon on Thursday (for set-up) and running throughout the convention. Please help us out by signing up for a shift or two. Most shifts are two hours long and we have times to fit everyone’s schedules.

We also still have a need for ServSafe certified (a requirement of our providing food for congoers) volunteers to take the lead on a four hour shift . There is still time to get certified: the course and test is online and will only take a couple hours and WisCon will reimburse you for the course fee of $15-16.

(This post from last year provides some useful info about ServSafe — what it is and why we need it.)

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@wiscon.net

The post Volunteering at WisCon 41 — the Con Suite appeared first on WisCon.


19 May 2017 09:08 pm
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Posted by thebrightspark

I’ve covered climate change a little here before, but this is one of those pieces of news that just might help to bring it home.

In the Arctic, there’s a vault set up — a seed bank, holding seeds which could help to restore the Earth’s genetic diversity of crops if disaster really strikes. I’m pretty sure they thought about climate change when they did this, among the other disasters that it could potentially help the world recover from (presumably with human help). It was meant to ensure humanity’s food supply forever.

Entrance to the Global Seed Vault in the Arctic. Photo credit: John Mcconnico/AP

It’s sited on permafrost, 1,300km (over 800 miles) beyond the Arctic Circle. It’s meant to be impregnable.

But, due to the warm weather, the permafrost has melted.

The clue is in the name. Permafrost. This should not be happening. The vault was set up in 2008, and they thought it would be totally safe. Just nine years later…

The seeds are all fine, according to the people in charge of the vault, but this is concerning. This is no time to be rolling back climate protections or getting all gung-ho about fossil fuels, and this is just one more proof of that.

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Posted by Chris W.

WisCon Chairs

The Gathering is the official opening to WisCon. On Friday afternoon the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Concourse Hotel turns into a fair of sorts. Activities range from a Scavenger Hunt to Tabletop Games to a Nail Polish Swap to a Fiber Circle. It’s a fun, laid-back way to ease (or jump!) into just the right mindset for a WisCon weekend.

This year we need a few more volunteers to help make the Gathering come to life. Would you like to accumulate time toward earning a rebate on your membership cost? Would you like to help WisCon members look fabulous? Join us as a Gathering volunteer!

Urgent — Clothing Swap seeks fashion mavens!

The Gathering's Clothing Swap at WisCon 40
The Clothing Swap at WisCon 40’s Gathering.

Our Clothing Swap is the only Gathering activity that isn’t run by the folks who propose it — because it’s so popular that we just keep holding it no matter what! That means we need YOU… to help out at the Clothing Swap. We’re in search of at least two people who love recommending clothes and giving opinions about what would look great on folks — but who also are willing to hang, sort, and set out the clothes that members bring in to gift to each other prior to the opening of the Gathering. Interested? Give us a holler at chair@wiscon.net and we’ll make sure you get first crack at the treasures.

The post Volunteers sought for the Gathering at WisCon 41 — Clothing Swap appeared first on WisCon.

Two gray yarns in seed stitch

19 May 2017 02:23 am
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Shawl, mixed fibers: ombre dyed wool, silk,  size 5 cable needle, 39 in.
Work in progress.

This has been a delight to knit because the colors of the yarns are constantly changing so that the fabric has a dynamic color scheme.

She's Out

18 May 2017 12:59 pm
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Tomorrow is a highway broad and fair,
And we are the many who'll travel there.
Tomorrow is a highway broad and fair,
And we are the workers who'll build it there;
And we will build it there.

Come, let us build a way for all mankind,
A way to leave this evil year behind,
To travel onward to a better year
Where love is, and there will be no fear,
Where love is and no fear.

Now is the shadowed year when evil men,
When men of evil thunder war again.
Shall tyrants once again be free to tread,
Above our most brave and honored dead?
Our brave and honored dead.

O, comrades, come and travel on with me,
We'll go to our new year of liberty.
Come, walk upright, along the people's way,
From darkness, unto the people's day.
From dark, to sunlit day.

Tomorrow is a highway broad and fair
And hate and greed shall never travel there
But only they who've learned the peaceful way
Of brotherhood, to greet the coming day.
We hail the coming day.

("Tomorrow Is A Highway" -- words by Lee Hays, music by Pete Seeger)

We didn't know how it was going to turn out. We thought she'd be in prison for decades more. And then, even after President Obama commuted her sentence, I remained privately worried that something would happen, some snag or tragedy. Yesterday she got to have a hot slice of pizza -- so a few people gathered at my apartment and shared pizza and toasted her release. It was so good to have something to celebrate with friends.

I've been listening over and over to "Tomorrow Is A Highway". It's got some lovely stark lines, like "leave this evil year behind." Time and space have unified ; it doesn't say that we'll walk into the future, but rather, that the future is this journey, and there are only two time durations in this song, days and years -- tomorrow is a highway upon which we'll travel to a better year. And it's sort of a mix of prescriptive and descriptive, prophetically defining us as the people who are making this tomorrow. This song does not explicitly say "this might happen" or "we should hope for this to happen"; instead it combines "this will happen" and "let's make it happen". It's less a song of hope, and more a song of faith and promise and invitation.

It can be hard to let go of hope, and it can be hard to let go of dread. I can stop holding my breath now. She's out. We've moved from promise to fact.

I can't seem to find my copy of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed at the moment -- did I lend it to you? In it, Shevek thinks a few times about how our conception of time and promises and intentions work together -- a coherent future doesn't just happen, it's intentional human actions that make a "road" and breaking promises denies and breaks that "road" connecting past, present, and future.

I have been feeling as though nothing is solid under my feet. And part of that is that I couldn't trust that she'd really get to be free. But now she is. And for the sake of my own forward motion I shall work as though the next stretch of the road exists too -- perhaps every step is in some measure a leap of faith.

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Posted by Chris W.

WisCon Chairs

We’re looking for people who have been to a few WisCons already to lead a group for the First WisCon dinner — is that you? We already have a few, but we need at least two more! If you’re interested, please email chair@wiscon.net and we’ll put you in touch with the First WisCon Dinner coordinator — and yes, leading a group is volunteer time that can count toward eligibility for a WisCon membership rebate of 40% of the registration fee!

The First WisCon Dinner is our effort to welcome new attendees, share hints of what not to miss, and dispel the misperception that everyone at WisCon already knows each other. Everyone — whether it’s your first, fifth, or fifteenth WisCon — is invited to meet right outside the doors of the 2nd floor Wisconsin ballroom after the end of the first panels (between 5:15 and 5:30 pm) on Friday. We’ll organize ourselves into groups small enough to allow conversation, then each group will head to a different local restaurant chosen to suit dining preferences and your budget. Over dinner, we’ll all get to know each other and WisCon veterans will share memories and advice with new arrivals!

It’s a wonderful way to spend the first evening of the convention.

The post The First WisCon Dinner — seeking leaders and diners! appeared first on WisCon.

File under: totally cool

17 May 2017 09:00 am
[syndicated profile] neatscience_feed

Posted by thebrightspark

We think of planets as solid, because we’re stood on a solid planet right now (or the houses we’re in are stood on solid ground, or when our aeroplane lands we’ll be on solid ground, or… you get the picture). But researchers from Lehigh University have found a new exoplanet orbiting a bright star which turns out to have the density of styrofoam. A whole planet like a disposable coffee cup?!

KELT-11b is the designation of this planet, and it’s a sub-Saturn sized planet. It actually has a fifth of the total mass of Jupiter, but it’s puffed up to an almost comical size. So far, researchers are still debating how such huge inflated planets come about, because KELT-11b isn’t the only one — it actually has only the third-lowest density of the planets we know.

Study of KELT-11b is going ahead to test out techniques for measuring the amounts of various gases in exoplanet atmospheres.

By the way, KELT stands for ‘Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope’, the telescope the project use, and the whole study involves astronomers all over the world — including citizen scientists!

PyCon & WisCon

16 May 2017 09:56 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
I just updated my "Talks" page -- I'll be at PyCon May 19-25, to represent Zulip at a booth and then to help run the Zulip development sprint. I will likely also have a new zine to share!

And then I'll fly straight from there to Madison for WisCon. I am not on any panels at WisCon this year but I'm the auctioneer for the auction benefiting the Tiptree Award. This year's auction includes a signed first edition hardcover of Octavia Butler's novel Wild Seed, an "Elect Alison Hendrix" pin from Orphan Black, an art print of "Aswang, at Night" by M Sereno, and a bunch more.

(As much as I love Open Source Bridge, I won't be there this year, and I won't be at Worldcon 75 (Helsinki) either, in case you're wondering.)

Have you ever noticed…

16 May 2017 11:00 am
[syndicated profile] neatscience_feed

Posted by thebrightspark

What is confirmation bias?

This question comes via Cantras from Twitter.

“Confirmation bias” is a concept from psychology which refers to the way people tend to look only for the information that confirms what they already believe. This can encourage belief in conspiracy theories and the supernatural, even where evidence exists disproving them. For example, I’ve noticed that my rabbits will often startle before the doorbell actually rings. This would imply some sort of sixth sense, if it were true, because we live up one storey and not near the actual front door. However, if I treated this as a scientific experiment and recorded how my rabbits react every time the doorbell rings, I would probably find that for a significant portion of the time, they don’t actually startle before the doorbell rings.

Not actually one of my rabbits, but it sure looks attentive.

In other words, the fact that they’ve startled just before the doorbell rings on some occasions is down to pure chance. It doesn’t seem that way to me, because I noticed it apparently happening once, and then searched my memory for other occasions when it did happen — not for occasions when it did not happen! Our brains automatically give more weight to events we think are significant.

Confirmation bias can be a problem for scientists as much as anyone else. If you have a great theory, you want it to be true. That’s why scientists have to be very careful in setting up their experiments and recording data: if they only take note of the times when their experiments work, for example, they could be seeing an effect which is actually just down to luck.

It’s a natural way for our brains to work: it’s useful to find patterns in the world around us. If you always hear a particular noise just before a predator attacks, it’s prudent to react to the noise. It’s possible that in reality that noise isn’t made by the predator, but if the two are linked often enough, noticing that linkage can save your life out on the savannah. In other words, noticing that pattern is “adaptive”, and people or animals who can do that are more likely to survive and reproduce.

However, it becomes a problem for us in society because it’s not just about survival. It can cause us to subscribe to harmful stereotypes, and can even allow people to hijack our minds to spread prejudice, despite our best intentions. We can fight back against that individually, though, by always trying to think of when a given statement wasn’t true. If someone tells you “all eggs are brown”, you might think back to the eggs you buy in the shop and agree — but if you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably remember seeing eggs with different coloured shells.

[syndicated profile] wisconblog_feed

Posted by Chris W.

WisCon is less than two weeks away!  Here are some updates and upcoming deadlines you’ll want to know about as Memorial Day weekend draws ever nearer.

Pre-con registration closes Monday, May 15 (11:59pm Central Time)

Want to make sure you have a pre-printed badge waiting for you at the convention?  Online registration is still open!  You can pay right away via PayPal.

Did you know you can register now online and then pay in person at the Registration Desk?  You can!  This is a good option if you want to ensure that you’re registered and have a printed badge, but would rather pay in cash.

We do cap membership at 1,000, and we make no guarantees that memberships will be available at the door, but this year chances look pretty good for at-the-door memberships.

WisCon's registration desk, staffed by 2 volunteers
The Registration Desk at WisCon 40, staffed by the friendly Sheree (left) and Lenore (right).

Single-day memberships

Want to try out WisCon without committing to a full membership?  In town for only a day?  We offer — for purchase at the door only! — single-day memberships at the following rates:

  • Friday: $0
  • Saturday: $25
  • Sunday: $25
  • Monday: $0

Yes, Friday and Monday are FREE!


WisCon offers Childcare at a cost of only $1 for children ages 0-6 — but you do need to register them in advance!  Childcare registration closes on Monday, May 15, along with online registration.  You can register your child for Childcare by logging into your WisCon account and using the registration system.

Dessert Salon tickets

The Dessert Salon is capped at 400 tickets, and we have sold out!  If you’d like to be added to the wait list, please email: registration@wiscon.net

Hotel cancellation policy

Huge news for reservations at the Concourse hotel — we now have a 24-hour cancellation policy!  Our room block with the Concourse used to come with a full week cancellation policy, but that’s been changed starting this year.  If you need to cancel your Concourse reservation, you can now do so with only 24 hours’ notice before your reservation begins.  If you wait too long to cancel your reservation, you will incur a cancellation fee.

If you need to reach the Concourse, call: 1-800-356-8293

If you have questions for our hotel liaisons, email: rooms@wiscon.net

See you soon!!  🙂

The post Updates on — Registration & Childcare, Dessert Salon tickets, and hotel cancellation policy appeared first on WisCon.

Sex appeal

13 May 2017 10:00 am
[syndicated profile] neatscience_feed

Posted by thebrightspark

Why do males and females of some species look so different?

Question via Chimera Liana, from Habitica!

The phenomenon in which males and females of the same species look very different is called “sexual dimorphism”. At the most basic level, it develops because there are different demands on the two sexes. For example, in a given species males need to defend territory, while females rely on the males for defence and focus on bearing young. Males are often bigger than females because of their increased need to fight, where being larger is an advantage in helping them to win.

Peacocks put on a show.

Sometimes display is a big part of this: among peafowl, the peacock is extremely showy because each male is competing with the others. Glossy feathers and an elaborate display help to convince the peahens that a given male is healthy and strong, i.e. going to be the best possible father for her brood. In peafowl, the males compete for female attention, which is why they need to be showy, while the females have their pick of the males, and don’t need to have the same displays.

In other species, females can be the larger sex, and again this would depend on their role. If it’s females that hold territory in a given species, then they’re likely to be bigger, on average, than the males.


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