Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

27 May 2009, 18:30 p.m.

One Of My WisesCon

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2009 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

One narrative of my Memorial Day weekend is:

I arrived at WisCon Thursday night, made a flyer (PDF, 2 pages, 7 MB) to advertise the anthology (using the hotel's free wireless and free printing), went to the get-together at Room Of One's Own, dined with acquaintances old and new, got complimented in a way that made me blush, returned from dinner, and saw Jed Hartman's arrival blog post inviting people to socialize with him. I had sneakily obtained his cell number weeks prior to pick his brain about editing while sitting in Penn Station, so I texted him. We hit it off incredibly well. My roommates told me too late of the phenomenon of the "con boyfriend" (gender-neutral usage apparently), the person you randomly meet at a con and instantly find yourself spending all your free time with. But they didn't arrive till Friday, so they weren't there to warn me, and I fell into the Jed/Mary Anne/Ben Rosenbaum/Strange Horizons cabal.

This astonished me and I evidently had WisCon-specific Impostor Syndrome about it. This is additionally hilarious if you go back and read about-my-age-now Jed trying not to be a hanger-on at the Westercon where he happened to meet Mary Anne, or another irony-seeking-missile from that same trip:

But the best part [of VRML 97] was that I wasn't just some random stranger introducing myself: they knew who I was, and most of them praised the Handbook to the skies, and all of them were happy to meet me. Major egoboosting for three solid days. It's a marvelous feeling. Sometime on Tuesday I realized that this was exactly what I've longed for all my life in the science fiction world: the ability to introduce myself to people I respect and admire, and have them know who I am because they've seen my work. So this experience wasn't quite the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, but pretty damn close, and possibly as close as I'll get to that particular dream...

Uh, newsflash, 28-year-old Jed.

Mary Anne Mohanraj and Sumana Harihareswara at WisCon 33

So flash forward to Sunday night. I'm actually mildly dressed up, literally sitting at the table with these pros (as the field defines them), listening to the Guest of Honor speeches and the Tiptree Award speeches. Jed mentions that a lot of people leave somewhere in the middle, but Mary Anne says she has to stay till the end, but can't tell me why. I assume she's in a skit or a filk or the like.

Evidently my "freakout" of happiness and surprise amused them. I was told the next day, by another attendee, that I had woken his infant with my shout. Whoops. My joy is evident in a snapshot of me & Mary Anne together: "a future WisCon Guest of Honor and her esteemed publisher," captions the photographer, E. J. Fischer. Thanks, E.J.!

Some linkdumping before I run off to Ben's reading (post-con methadone):

Mary Anne's amazing essay on how hard it is to make sexual requests in bed. Among other things.

Jed on short fiction, reminding me of a post-VP essay of Leonard's -- short stories as the garage rock of scifi.

Jed and Mary Anne conversed a while back and Jed noted, "I'd love to see authors giving each other suggestions about themes and styles and experiments to try and so on." Well, a few years ago Ben Rosenbaum helped define infernokrusher, and then Leonard wrote an infernokrusher story that Strange Horizons loved.

On Monday night, Guest of Honor Geoff Ryman sat down at my table at the Great Dane to chat with us and take a break from shooting pool. One interesting thing he said: "genre is a matter of reader strategy, not content." I'm not sure whether or whom he's quoting, but I'll have to read up on related thoughts to help me understand, among other things, why I love scifi and its fans often have characteristics I find essential for friendship.

I guess I accidentally followed Jed's panel signup rule, or spun interesting BS even when in over my head. Susan Marie Groppi and Mary Anne were on a panel with me about reviewing submissions (excellent moderation, Susan!), where she touched on their magazine's interesting gender-balance problem. Leonard's "How To Do This And Why" was invaluable in my preparation.

Maybe tomorrow I can talk about the conversations about racism.


28 May 2009, 7:55 a.m.

Reading your happy posts is contagious. SumanaConAwesomeness++!