This year at Austin’s ArmadilloCon there were three panels on feminist science fiction and fantasy: one on the classic examples, one called “Badass, Babe, or None of the Above” on the archetypes for women in SF/F, and one on new works and trends. I can’t remember ever being at any other con, except for WisCon, where feminist SF/F was taken so seriously.
Usually there is a general panel on gender issues or something on women in military SF (which usually devolves into whether it’s “realistic”). But not only were there three distinct panels, they all took the issue very seriously. I couldn’t make the one on the classic books, since I was on another panel at the time, but I attended the “badass” one and was on the third. Lots of books and ideas got discussed.
Part of the reason for all this interest was that L. Timmel (Timmi) Duchamp of Aqueduct Press was the editor guest of honor. Aqueduct, of course, publishes feminist SF/F. But I think she was a guest and the topic was covered so seriously because feminist SF/F is now getting noticed in the broader community. Hooray.
There were many other reasons to enjoy ArmadilloCon this year. I was on a panel on the work of James Morrow – which sent me scurrying to the library when I realized I hadn’t read any of his work in a few years. I particularly enjoyed The Philosopher’s Apprentice in my catch-up reading.
The panel was a little daunting because Jim was in the audience along with his wife, Kathy Morrow. When she nodded when I made a point, I breathed a sigh of relief, figuring I must be on the right track.
Another highlight of the convention for me came during a discussion period at the end of Timmi’s reading, when she mentioned those “shift” points that have occurred in our lifetime. I am well aware that the rapid expansion of the Internet, followed by smartphones and related devices, has changed the way things work, but she suggested several other points when the world shifted and things that had come before faded away. I want to do more thinking on this subject.
Since I was living in Austin before I moved to Oakland, this was a visit back to my roots. To that end, I did a reading at the wonderful BookWoman bookstore – a feminist bookstore that has been around for almost 40 years. The picture above is of friends who came out to hear me read (and to buy both my book and others from the store).
I also had great fun at a book party thrown by my aunt and uncle, Cindy and Bob Peterman, in New Braunfels on Sunday night. Lots of people came, listened to me read, bought books, and drank some wine and beer, as is appropriate at book party in a German-heritage town!
It’s such a joy to be feted by family and friends and to see the SF/F community on my Texas stomping grounds.
And the best part was that it wasn’t near as hot as I feared it would be. All that rain in the first half of the year left Austin with a mild summer. It hit triple digits for the first time while we were there. Generally, it was hot but tolerable. I got out for walks.
Though I still think ArmadilloCon needs to move the convention to February. I’ve spent a lot of summers in Texas and every time I do it, I swear that it’s the last one. I might even keep that promise this time.