So, I went to a lot of panels at WisCon 37. I picked most of them based on my own needs for writing, world-building, or character development. Some made me uncomfortable (but I suspected it would happen) and I learned a lot of things.
Intergenerational GLBT Dialogue
This was a really interesting panel talking about, effectively, labels. Labels that were used in one generation of the QUILTBAG community and have different meanings in another. Something that was insulting for one group (queer for example) has been reclaimed by another and is considered a positive thing.
Language is a hard thing, mainly because people give strength to labels. Unfortunately, as a programmer, a label for me is just a handle to use and has very little meaning other than a grouping function.
I had a lot more on this panel, but then I realize that I need to think about it a lot more. It's one of those topics I'm afraid of insulting people because I'm finding that my mind is getting slower to adapt to changes. The very nature of labels, and what this panel was about, is that what makes it hard for me to describe my opinions. So, maybe in a later post, I'll write about it if I can figure out how.
The Female Soldier in Science Fiction and Fantasy
This was my first panel. Four weeks of preparation of watching movies and reading books. A lot of worrying. I thought I was in good shape when I walked in the door.
Actually, it was a completely humiliating experience for me. Mostly because I focused on the wrong things and the points I could bring up ended up feeling like "I have to say something" besides really contributing to the panel.
The main reason is that I didn't read the right books. I knew a lot about what I had, but the audience was looking for discussions on integrated (e.g., 50-50 male-female mix) militaries and related topics. It was frustrating, to say the least, but I did the best I could.
I pride myself on being a huge repository of useless knowledge, but this was one of those cases where I was lost. And it didn't help that I had only three hours of sleep and it was after midnight.
Strong Female Characters vs. Kickass Babes
This was a fun panel about the differences of a kickass babe verses a strong female character. There were some really good points about how the kickass babe is mostly about their ability to fight (Buffy Summers for example) and they are identified by their martial prowess. I never heard the time "pixies with hammers" to describe characters who violate physics in their fighting (huge hammers, most of the girls from Sucker Punch, etc).
There was some commentaries that we have a dozen Superman movies but no Wonder Woman, which has much of the same powers as Superman. I completely agree with this one since I really want to see a strong, super-powered female character movie instead of the current Marvel movie universe leads.
Strong females are harder to describe because they aren't always obvious. It has more to deal with their struggles and what they experience more than punching someone's lights out. I got a lot of really good ideas out of that panel (and two pages of notes).
This is the panel I got an idea for C, but it's going to be a long time before I can get to it.
Someone also mentioned that I didn't suck that hard at the Military panel, so that helped a little.
This was a little lunch to talk about the software behind WisCon's interface. I was surprised to find out it was a Perl-based system, but I can see that. I gave a little feedback on what bothered me:
- Lack of iCalendar support (which I may be providing at some point)
- Right-clicking on event items
The one thing I wanted to mention was the confusion I had with the panel selection. Sadly, it didn't come up and I felt like I was speaking too much already.
Since I've dealt with iCalendar before, I may be looking into the code to get it working properly. While most people are switching over to the Android/iOS applet, I don't.
I was surprised to see that they decided to have two completely different code bases for the iOS and Android versions. It also seemed pretty obvious that a lot of people weren't fond that the Android version trailed behind the iOS significantly. For me, it seems like it would be a lot of duplication of code and harder to maintain, but the lady in charge insisted that it was the best way to do it (and started to list her pedigree in mobile development). I disagree, but since I'm not writing it and probably won't use it, I'm not going to harp on it.
There was a discussion about creating an API (RESTful maybe) to the system to allow people to get what they want without having everything funneled through a single developer.
Crafting, Making, and the Intersection of Gender and Creationism
I'm interested in the Maker movement in general, though I don't actually seem to interact with people in those communities. This panel talked about a bunch of things that interested me, mostly in the different arts that people were interested in.
There really wasn't much that I got out of it, except for a few historical facts about crafting (usually the trend that if it made money, men probably did it).
There was a lady with a hat with large feathers in the middle front, which made it really hard to see anyone until I moved. Minor thing, but it was frustrating because they were blocking everything.
Realistic and Unrealistic Sex in Fiction
This was a really fun panel. Mostly talking about reality verses fiction portrayal of sex. There weren't a lot of examples, but a lot of discussions of why realistic sex appeals to some people and why unrealistic appeals to more people.
There were some uncomfortable moments for me, mainly because this is where people started really talking about how "white males" can't understand anyone because they're on top. Nothing I could say, but it is interesting to be on the edge of a conversation when I'm being described as basically the villain. Now, part of this is expected at WisCon, it is a feminist convention, but still was discomforting.
Some of the panelist's opinions were interesting. My interpretation of one statement was that the mainstream's interest in vampires and werewolves (in specific about sexuality) was a sign of deep-seated destructive and psychological issues, but somehow aliens were perfectly fine.
The Glitch Memorial Panel
This was the second panel I was on and I was very nervous after the horror of the first one. I ended up bringing my laptop (just in case), which was good since I ended up bringing up things as people talked.
Throughout the panels, we brought up everyone's avatar on Glitch and talked about what we liked and didn't like about the game.
One of the biggest questions was an alternative to the game. There was a lot of options, but no really big ones. For such a whimsy and amusing game, there is very little that hits that exact market. Sad, but I can also see what Glitch failed.
Interestingly, I couldn't project at the panels. Normally, I'm not bad about speaking up, but my voice refused to carry into the room properly. I'll have to practice more next time (or be slightly less shy).
Because I was a lot more comfortable with the topic, it went well. I contributed a fair amount but didn't feel like I was trying to dominate the conversation. I met a lot of neat people and generally had a ball.
Class Markers: The Obvious and the Subtle
This was a really cool panel talking about classes in society. It started off with a definition about the different classes (the panelist use Capitalist, Middle, Working, and Poor) along with talking about class movement. There was someone from the UK who help contrast the US verses UK differences in classes.
The latter half of the panel talked about the markers themselves. Things like body language, outfits and dress, expected behavior, and the like. It was interesting to see what things people (audience and panelist) mentioned as class markers.
I got a lot of really good notes for my own world-building on this one.
Fear and Masculinity in SF/F
This was a panel that talked about fear in stories. It was an interesting topics, but I got turned off by the "men can't ever understand females" discussions near the beginning and then I just kind of zoned out. I wish I didn't, but... I think I was tired.
Build a World
This was the final panel I was on, and it was a ball. We created realistic world based on a mobius strip (instead of the gas giant/pizza world from two years ago). There were some really fun discussions of technology, magic, and continental drift. The world was similar to the one in Dragon Hunters.
I got two short story ideas out of it and there are some other people who said they'll try to write a story in the world. If there are enough, we might have a reading on the stories next WisCon.
Fight Scenes for Women
On Monday, I only went to two panels. The first was fight scenes for women. This is relevant to me because in Sand and Blood there are quite a few of them and I liked the tips about describing the differences based on physical form.
I also remembered most of the panelists from two years before. I got a lot of really good advice then and in this one when it comes to making more realistic fights.
Rules of Magic
The last panel I went to was the rules of magic. This talked about the different aspects of magic in fiction. It included rules on the source of power, how it changed the rules. And, my personal favorite, how would society change if magic was universally available.
I got a lot of really good notes on this one for my own world.