The WisCon Chronicles: Vol. 3
In my research into feminist and women's writing, I have found many times and places where women have come together to produce culture—poets of Mercedes Matamoros' circle in Cuba in the late 1800s, for example, or the publishers of feminist newspapers in France in the 1830s, or the Seneca Falls convention, or the Combahee River Collective. What unites all these movements is their collective nature and their visibility...This series of WisCon Chronicles, along with just about all of the publications of Aqueduct Press and many other zines, websites, and small press publications, and hundreds of blog posts and comments, are public writings that will give the fizz of WisCon a lasting place in women's history.
— from the Introduction
The word's been out for some time now that we're living in "post-feminist" times. And yet the world's largest feminist science fiction convention, held annually in Madison, Wisconsin, which many of the genre's luminaries attend, has become so popular that the ceiling limiting attendance to 1000 participants often tops out months in advance. People attend to meet up with friends from other parts of the country (or the world) whom they've come to know online; they attend because the programming goes far beyond the "feminism 101" that is the most they can hope for from most other science fiction conventions. But above all they come to experience the kind of community they can't get elsewhere. Some participants even characterize it as "four days of feminist utopia"—a reference to the communities created in the most famous feminist novels of the 1970s.
This volume explores some of the issues of interest at WisCon 2008: the politics of the intelligibility of stories, internet drama, and feminist fandom. It offers a selection of thoughtful essays and analysis, dialogues, comments, arguments, meditations, and appeals to reason, collected from participants—writers, bloggers, activists, and fans, some of them WisCon veterans and some attending for the first time—including L. Timmel Duchamp, K. Tempest Bradford, Nancy Jane Moore, Alexis Lothian, and many others.
"As with the two previous volumes, there are far too many thoughtful and
intelligent essays, articles, letters and transcripts to cover all the
material. The book is jam-packed, and worth reading from beginning to
end. I was interested that it even incorporated an unpleasant event which
coloured the entire convention - something that most 'con souvenir books'
would not be so hasty to acknowledge in their post-convention haze. A
member of Wiscon 32, referred to only as 'Zathlazip' in the book, took a
selection of pictures of other members and posted them to one of those
hideous websites designed to mock and denigrate people for their amusement
- this was discovered during the con itself, causing a great deal of hurt,
humiliation and sense of betrayal, not to mention the dangerous aspect of
this. And of course there was a backlash, equally nasty...
What I admire most about these Wiscon Chronicles is not just the collection of intelligent thought, and the best example of documenting the convention experience I have ever seen, but the acknowledgement of the bad parts as well as the good - the exposure of privilege, of negative as well as positive reactions to the discussions, and the willingness to shine a bright torch on all the grey areas, for the purpose of greater and more constructive conversation. I particularly liked that this was a space in which women, people of colour and others who are not normally encouraged to display their perfectly reasonable anger or frustration, were able to do so here without 200 blog comments from people telling them that they could get more done if they were just a bit calmer about it. They don't have to speak in reduced voices here - and funnily enough, their opinions still manage to come out perfectly lucidly." ( read the whole review)
— Tansy Rayner Roberts, AS if, Aug. 2009