This Year San Jose has the Whole World Con In Their Hands

Well, it has been a rocky few weeks for WorldCon 76 in San Jose. (See my original article, WorldCon Starts Over: Will It Be Enough for the overview.) Now, though the convention where the Hugo Science Fiction/Fantasy Awards are handed out, is settling down and shaping up. After a bit of “reimagining” — with the respected author/con planner Mary Robinette Kowal joining the staff and bringing on some additional voices to support the work — the programming schedule has been re-released to general satisfaction. You can check out that programming schedule on the WorldCon 76 website.

Programming To Look Forward To

While I was as concerned and critical of the original panels as anyone, I also argued that the staff needed time to go back and make some changes. Which they have done, tightening up repetitive panels and making sure to include as many Hugo nominees as possible. I will be in attendance next week. While I’m looking forward to my own panels, I’m also putting several items on my must-attend list. Here are a few of the panels and events I’m looking forward to the most.

The Mexicanx Initiative

This year there has been a concerted effort, spearheaded by John Picacio (the Artist Guest of Honor) to bring more Mexicanx and Mexican-American sf/f authors to Worldcon. Enter the Mexicanx Initiative, which funded many writers, editors, and culture makers from “the other side of the border” to come up to San Jose. There will also be an anthology of the writers in attendance. Members of the group will be leading a number of panels, including Beyond the Border I: What Is Happening to SF on the Other Side? which promises to be a great introduction to Mexican/Spanish language science fiction/fantasy. You can read more about the project and the writers from their Kickstarter page: The Mexicanx Initiative Kickstarter

Afrofuturism Everywhere

Friends. Rivers Solomon, author of An Unkindness of Ghosts. Steven Barnes, who’s written more content than I can list. Nilah Magruder, illustrator and writer. All three on one topic: Y’all didn’t know about Afrofuturism till Black Panther came out. Well now, y’all gonna learn something. There are three or four panels on Afrofuturism in the convention and I will either be in attendance, or on the panel for *all of them*. I aim to have a reading list long enough to keep me busy all winter, and plenty of fodder for the “Black Science Fiction? Must be Afrofuturism!” debate that goes through my timeline on the regular. (hint: Black science fiction and Afrofuturism are *not* synonyms.)

Belter Creole Class

You know I ride for The Expanse in a big way. One of the most fascinating parts of the fandom is the development of Belter Creole, originally introduced in the books and exploded into a larger vocabulary by Nick Farmer for the television show. This is the mash of English, Chinese, Russian, and whateverall else spoken by the inhabitants of the Belt, who didn’t share a common language but had to get along. The class will be taught by two “super fans” and Lang Belta experts who were instrumental in the #SaveTheExpanse campaign that helped move the show to Amazon next season. This should be pure, fan fun and a nerd badge of honor: knows at least one fictional language.

N.K. Jemisin Worldbuilding

Jemisin is doing a 2-hour workshop on worldbuilding. 2 hours. This’ll be a fantastic look into the process from one of the best out there today. It doesn’t get any more interesting or insightful than this.

Look At Me Now!

I remember the big displays of Hugo-award-winning books at my local library as a kid. I remember the big gold stickers on the dust jackets: “Hugo Award Winner”, “Hugo Award Nominee”. There is a cache to these awards, voted on by readers, that still sits with me, even though the list no longer guides my reading decisions. These awards represented success to me, then, and somewhat, now.

And into that aura of writerly success, I go.

I’m not a fiction writer — which I thought I’d be when I was 10 — I’m a fiction critic. But that doesn’t dull the shine of being not just a paying attendee at one of the biggest, longest running events for fans and writers out there, but of being a panelist. On 3 panels!

  • Saturday: Getting Into Comics: Why You Should, and How You Can
  • Sunday: Black Panther, Luke Cage, and #OwnVoices Creators
  • Sunday: We Will Survive: Diversity in Sci-Fi and Post-Apocalyptic Stories

If you’ve been following me here at BNP, this is pretty much my fandom in a 3-point list. These are the imaginary realms that I love and I’m excited to talk about them with other fans and writers.

I talk about gatekeeping. I talk about the ways that this industry is fundamentally resistant to change, even as writers and readers who have been actively marginalized are pounding on the walls to get in. But, they couldn’t keep me out. It took fussing and fighting and asking for more, but I and a few others have gotten through the cracks. This fight isn’t over — I haven’t won a Hugo for best Fan Writer *yet* — but this is an optimistic moment for me. Ten-year-old me is screaming with excitement. Hell, 40+-year-old me is screaming. I’ll take this little victory into the coming year, as inspiration to keep critiquing, keep reading, keep arguing for our space in the science fiction and fantasy field.

If you’re at WorldCon next week, come find me. It’ll be a great time.

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  • L.E.H. Light


    Editor, Writer, Critic, Baker. Outspoken Mother. Lifelong fan of sci fi/fantasy books in all their variety. Knows a lot about very few things. She/Her/They.

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  • Cheryl Martin

    See you there!

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