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May 28, 2013

What is a Wiscon, you ask? It’s an annual feminist Science Fiction convention in Madison, Wisconsin, and Joan Slonczewski was one of the two guests of honor this year; the other was Jo Walton.  Joan invited me along and I accepted to spend some time with Joan, find out what a SF convention would be like, meet the other guest of honor, and see the place I was born (my parents moved before I turned one).

Aside from the total hell that is airline travel these days, the weekend was fabulous, in every sense of the word. I met friendly people who read as much as I do. We all had SF in common  (Jo Walton said during one discussion that what makes a book good is “starships and aliens”) but I also met specialists in children’s fiction, people who wanted to talk about Michel Foucault, and scientists who taught me a specialized definition for “mutualism.”  20130525_182204

Here is a photo of me with Joan, Kafryn, one of the convention organizers, and Jesse the K, Joan’s guest of honor coordinator, after Joan’s reading (she read the first chapter of her work in progress, in which Jenny–from The Highest Frontier–enters her sophomore year at Frontera College).


And here is a photo of me and Jo Walton in the hallway of the convention center. (I said I met people who read as much as I do, but she is a person who has read more than I have.)  You may remember my review of her dragon (in the Victorian drawing room) novel, Tooth and Claw, or of her fictional memoir Among Others.

There was a lot of autograph signing by authors, and I was even asked for my signature on the dedication page of Joan’s book The Children Star, which is dedicated to me and Ron!

I asked Jo to sign a copy of her book Lifelode for me, and she inscribed it like this:  photo-45

The inscription made me almost–but not quite–speechless.

During the hours we spent sitting in airports getting to and from Madison, I was reading Jo Walton’s early novels The King’s Peace and The King’s Name, which were especially good for taking a person out of the moment, what I want from airport reading.

Now I have Lifelode to read and a list of SF titles and authors as long as my arm. I arrived home around 1 am on Tuesday, and Walker and Ron got in about an hour and a half later from the Chicago Open, where Walker had a great tournament for his first in the open (above 2300) section, beating another Master and an International Master and drawing with two Grandmasters.  Eleanor kept the cats and rabbit happy, saw some of the alumni in town for reunion weekend, and introduced her friend Olivia to the delights of Veronica Mars.

What’s the most exciting thing you did over the weekend?

32 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2013 8:05 pm

    Sounds like a very satisfying weekend altogether. As for me, I sewed, Kent sewed and we celebrated his birthday.

    • May 30, 2013 9:38 am

      Sounds so domestic. Do you talk to each other while you sew, or watch tv or something? It seems like it would take more of your hands than your brain.

      • May 31, 2013 7:10 am

        Depends on the project. Kent generally works with one-way plaids so getting them lined up is very tricky. We don’t talk then.

  2. May 28, 2013 8:20 pm

    Wow. Sounds like a great time! My weekend was not nearly as exciting. Unless you find making jam and watermelon limeade fun. Coupled with finding a baby snake in the house.

    • May 30, 2013 9:40 am

      Finding a snake in the house sounds pretty exciting! I’m used to mice, chipmunks, and birds, but never (so far) a snake!

  3. Mike Levy permalink
    May 28, 2013 10:54 pm

    Jeanne, it was really nice meeting you. Come back next year!

    • May 30, 2013 9:42 am

      It was nice to meet you and Sandy, too. I’m thinking about next year; I notice that Madison is only a couple of hours past the location of the Chicago Open, and Walker will be 18 next year and could stay in a hotel room with another chess player rather than a parent.

  4. May 29, 2013 8:33 am

    What a fantastic inscription! So glad you had a wonderful weekend – it sounds as if the atmosphere was really special.

    • May 30, 2013 9:47 am

      It was fantastic; Jo was telling me about other SF conventions I might like, and I said I’d have a little more time next fall, with Walker going off to college, and she said that she knew that, she reads my blog.
      The atmosphere was special; it’s so inclusive and accepting that you want to make sure you do your part to keep it that way.

  5. May 29, 2013 10:20 am

    Jo Walton loves your blog! So very cool. This sounds like a fun convention. I never went when I was in Madison, but I don’t have much of a deep background in SF. I love that your party was so well-attended too, yay!

    • May 30, 2013 9:49 am

      Joan and I are not what you’d call big party people, but we both had a good time. I texted Ron the next morning and told him we were up partying until one in the morning, central time, and I hoped he hadn’t had breakfast yet, because by my count that was two impossible things.

      • May 30, 2013 6:11 pm

        I’m pleased you enjoyed your stay in the land of WisCon. I believe the feeling was mutual. On Tuesday I realized it’s the only event I know of where intellect is challenged and emotions are welcome: I think that’s the secret sauce for our best behavior.

        I know you don’t need another book or seven for your TBR, but Laurie Marks’ Earth Logic explores how to win a war by refusing to fight.

        • May 30, 2013 10:33 pm

          Part of what made it so enjoyable was how well-organized it was. Oh, and I always need another book recommendation! Thanks.

  6. May 29, 2013 10:45 am

    How fun you got to go to Wiscon! And what a great inscription Jo Walton left in your book. Worth all the trouble of airplanes 🙂

  7. May 29, 2013 11:54 am

    That sounds like an awesome time! I love Sci-Fi, especially stories written by women authors (Anne McCaffrey and Sheri Tepper are two of my favorites). I’m always keeping an eye out for others whose writing I haven’t discovered yet.

    • May 30, 2013 9:53 am

      Pamela Dean and C.J. Cherryh are the two authors I kept hearing about the most, and haven’t yet read. Joan and Jo are definitely two you should read.

  8. May 29, 2013 6:54 pm

    You look very happy in that picture! I vacuumed moldings, watched tv with M, moved the furniture around, ate delicious food at my friend Anne’s. Not bad at all.

    • May 30, 2013 9:55 am

      I had my extrovert face on for that picture with Jo in the hallway. Eleanor blurred the faces of the people in the background at my request (so they wouldn’t be recognizable on the blog of a stranger) and I like the way it makes it look like my face is in a glow from Jo’s radiance, don’t you?

  9. May 29, 2013 7:40 pm

    How wonderful! And you’ve had a book dedicated to you, too! The highlight for me this weekend was walking in the sunshine. We’re straight back to bad weather so it was nice to have a few days free of it.

    • May 30, 2013 9:57 am

      Yes, the book dedicated to me and Ron is The Children Star.
      The weather wasn’t very nice while we were in Madison, but living in the north has decreased my expectations for summer by Memorial Day weekend.

  10. May 30, 2013 8:47 am

    Cool! I love your blog, too. Will have to check out these authors. I recently had very pleasant flying experiences (to Florida) so I know it is still possible. Glad the rest of the time was fun.

    • May 30, 2013 10:03 am

      Thanks! And yes, you should check out these authors. I think it’s fun to start with one of Joan’s early novels, A Door Into Ocean. And you might want to start with Jo’s dragons, Tooth and Claw.
      My whole family is flying this summer, so I’m glad to hear it’s possible to have a pleasant experience. Partly it’s that it’s hard to get anywhere from here; we drive an hour, take a little flight to a bigger city (usually Chicago) and then we get on a flight for wherever we actually want to go.

  11. May 30, 2013 1:34 pm

    What a fantastic weekend! I absolutely need to bump Tooth and Claw up my TBR list. I have it sitting on my shelf at home and have no excuse for not reading it.

    • May 30, 2013 1:58 pm

      I think you will like it, and then you’ll want to read Among Others.

  12. June 1, 2013 1:35 pm

    This whole post made me happy 😀 Thank you for the vicarious experience. And that dedication is the best.

  13. Jo Walton permalink
    June 2, 2013 1:21 pm

    I really do love your blog!

  14. June 3, 2013 11:04 am

    Wiscon sounds like so much fun, I wish we had something like that over here (maybe we do and it’s under my radar?) Glad you had a great weekend and looks like you had lovely company, I visited Wales and went to see some motorbike racing.

    • June 3, 2013 12:05 pm

      You visited Wales, and I heard a Welsh accent.
      Also yes, you would love Wiscon. Next trip to the US, time it for Memorial Day weekend and we’ll go!

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