Clearly, when looking back at this year’s WorldCon, the beginning and end of the highlight reel is Ursula Vernon’s Hugo win. It’s terrific for her, terrific for Sofawolf and furry fandom in general, and I think in that regard Ursula is owed many many thanks, not only for producing work so brilliant, engaging, and touching that the rest of the world could not help but sit up and take notice, but also for remaining with one foot firmly in the furry fandom sphere when her career is taking off like a rocket with a gorgeous glass base in so many other directions. It is a model that I hope all of the talent in the fandom (yours truly included) will emulate when (not if) the opportunities present themselves. She deserves every vote and more, and I hope there is room on that shelf for dozens more awards, because even an unfair world has to reward the kind of talent, drive, and personality she has.
(Also we had a terrific talk at the Hugo Losers’ Party which is (obviously) not just for Hugo Losers, and even though she confessed to being pretty drunk, she remained awesome. And she didn’t even body-check me into the guacamole.)
So anyway, apart from that, WorldCon was still pretty cool. I gave four panels and did not embarrass myself on any of them as far as I’m aware. “How to Write For Furries” went okay and resulted in one woman coming down to buy one of my books. Gene Armstrong and I talked about the fandom and the way we tell our stories. In “History of Furry Literature,” I led a retrospective of the way the fandom’s stories have been told, from people sitting in a hotel room at Comic-Con to APAs to fanzines to semi-pro ‘zines to novels.
Then I had two non-furry panels. The first was “Fandom’s Blind Spots,” in which we were supposed to discuss diversity in the fandom, and where we still have challenges. It was a unique panel, not in that it contained that person who thinks they should be on the panel, but in that that person was actually invited up onto the panel. Isabel (didn’t catch her last name), a Latina woman, stood up and pointed out that there were no people of color on the panel, and as she had participated in convention programming before, the moderator (Graham Sleight, who later won a Hugo) invited her to join us. She and Amber Clark, a self-described “mouthy broad on the Internet,” more or less dominated the panel, but it remained generally positive, with people agreeing there were problems. My main contribution, which I was proud of, was joining in telling the audience that they are part of the fandom and that what they can do is (a) look for more diverse works by people outside their normal scope, and (b) be willing to talk about those works even if nobody else is. I believe that embracing more diversity can be helped from the top down, but is most effective from the ground up.
(That goes for all of you reading this, too.)
The last panel was on “Getting the Most Out of Writing Groups,” and even though it was at 10:30 am, I had been up ’til 3 and was a little muzzy toward the beginning of the panel. But as people talked, I got better about it. Bill Shunn, the moderator, was terrific, keeping the discussion moving and on track, and the other panelists, David MacDonald and Sarah Stegall, both had great perspectives on writing groups. So I was quite proud to be in their company and feel like I belonged there.
One of the odd consequences of WorldCon is that I had initially registered under my real name, and then, because the Outer Alliance people know me as Kyell, registered for panels as Kyell. So it became harder to split the two identities, and eventually at the con I gave up. Half the authors at the con write under a pseudonym for various reasons, probably very similar to mine, and after I went to an “Erotic F&SF” party Friday night (and met the wonderful Cecilia Tan of Circlet Press, who remembered the story I sold her a year and a half ago), I felt much less self-conscious about my gay furry work.
(Also I read this book recently that had a rave/rape scene pretty explicitly described at the beginning and I was like, my stuff might be more explicit than this–slightly–but it’s NOT more disturbing. Unless you are freaked out by teh gay, but not by a guy drugging a woman to get her to blow him in front of a camera and like a dozen other guys.)
So as not to end on that note: it is a really interesting con not only because there are a million awesome authors there, but also because it really is all about the books. For a lit geek like myself, that’s just amazingly wonderful. So it was very different from a furry con–furry cons feel like home to me, but this felt like visiting a really nice friend’s house. An older friend with lots of books. :)