Conventions Feed

Playing Hookey from the WorldCon


Cheryl Morgan has noted that my kids and I are absent from Denvention. Ah, I'm busted playing hookey from the WorldCon. No, I'm not in Denver, I'm in Westport, NY painting my basement and painting pictures of Lake Champlain.

SN852014Meanwhile, Peter & Liz performed last night at the Deport Theatre as part of the theater's summer apprentice program. Amazing action photos here. Today Elizabeth goes on a trip to a local farm.


SN852038This evening, the kids and I are going to an event at an "art farm." If by chance NYRSF wins a Hugo, I'm sure David will bring it home. I will, however, be in Montreal next year.

Confluence Pix

I've created a Flickr photoset for our Confluence photos  and will add more later. Here is the scene so far:

Mike Walsh sells books

Mike Walsh sells books in the Dealer's Room. (Didin't I see him last weekend?)

panel: Is the Internet Essentially Fungal?

Panel: Is the Internet Essentially Fungal? with Kathryn Cramer, Geoff Landis, James Morrow, Mary Turzillo

JJ presides over the beer tasting

JJ presides over the Beer Tasting. (Yummy!)

Charlie Oberndorf & Jim Morrow

Charles Oberndorf & James Morrow at dinner on the terrace.

Greetings from Confluence

confluence t-shirt

I have arrived at Confluence and have my first program item in  about two hours, a panel which I proposed on whether the Internet is essentially fungal, which I think it is.

Here's my program schedule. I'm expecting this will be a lot of fun.

Friday   6:00pm  Is the Internet Essentially Fungal?
      Kathryn Cramer   (M)
      Geoffrey A. Landis
      James Morrow
      Mary A. Turzillo
  In his book  Mycelium Running, mycologist  Paul Stamets argues that fungi are nature's Internet. Perhaps it's really the other way around. Is the Internet essentially fungal? Discuss from the SF  worldview (and perhaps from Lovecraft's as well).

Saturday 1:00pm  Critic Guest Talk: The Game of  Genre
  Kathryn Cramer

Saturday 4:00pm  Trends in Short Fiction: From Original Anthologies to Online Fiction
      Lawrence C. Connolly
      Kathryn Cramer   (M)
      David Barr Kirtley
      Paul Melko
      Karina Sumner-Smith
  Every year, we hear predictions of the death of short fiction. Yet, every year, some of the genres best works are not novels but short stories and novellas. And more new outlets are appearing.  There are more good original anthologies than we've seen since the golden  years of Universe, New Dimension, Orbit, and Dangerous Visions. And online markets are flourishing. The panel looks at some of the best  new short fiction, where it can be found, and the prospects for the future.

Saturday 5:00pm  What's Best?
      Kathryn Cramer   (M)
      David G. Hartwell
      James Morrow
      William Tenn
  Never mind what's best THIS YEAR, how do we decide what is best in  sf and fantasy anyway?

Sunday  10:00am  Kaffeeklatsch/Literary Beer

Sunday  12:00 noon Real Life Utopianism
      Kathryn Cramer
      Joe Haldeman
      James Morrow   (M)
      Kathryn Morrow
      Charles Oberndorf
  SF as a literature is  strongly concerned w /utopias and dystopias. How do we individually relate these visions to our real lives? What  have we done lately at  achieving utopia?

Right now I'm in my hotel room, having eaten lunch andd taken a shower. Against my better judgement, I spent a few minutes on the Internet and found myself trying to parse why    Violet Blue is trying to get a restraining order against some guy who had never previously impinged on my consiousness  (for his Wikipedia edits having to do with her Wikipedia entry).  What he had done to upset her looked to me simply like standard fairly reasonable Wikicrat behavior.  I never did figure out what this particular fuss is supposed to be about.

When oh when will I learn that I really don't need to try to follow the threads of this kind of Internet  mycelium? Fungal. Yes, the Internet is fungal.

Readercon Pix & Others

so many books, so little time!

I have posted our photos from Readercon, which was last weekend, as well as our photos from the NYRSF 20th Anniversary Party the weekend before.

NYRSF party

(Is Donald gesturing, or is that air guitar?)

Now, I am off to Confluence in Pittsburgh, where I will be  P. Schuyler Miller Critic Guest of Honor. Wheee! (Be there or be sqaure!)


(After that, I'm going back to the Adirondacks to rise with the sun and plant pretty flowers in the mountains.)

YouthCan 2007

Monday, I took my son Peter to YouthCan 2007, a conference for kids on helping the environment through technology held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Most of the people attending were part of school groups, some from as far away as Argentina, Russia, and Iran, though most from the US. In all, attendance was about a thousand.

A couple of years ago, I tried to arrange for a delegation from my son's school to attend, but in our district there were too many bureaucratic obstacles, and so I failed. This year, when I received a reminder of the event via email, on whim I decided that Peter and I would attend.

I decided to drive in rather than take MetroNorth from Pleasantville, since once you get off MetroNorth it is a bit cumbersome to get -- via public transportation -- from Grand Central Station to the museum. We left home about 8:30 AM and got a nice parking space in the museum parking garage (for which I later paid a hefty sum: $43).

(I had arranged for a babysitter for my daughter in in the afternoon [$30-something], and for the Mother Hen bus service [$30] to get her from pre-school and take her there, so Peter and I had as much time as we needed. Museum admission was free with the event, but I had already run up over a $100 tab as soon as I set the plan in motion. And Linda Hirshman wonders in a New York Times OpEd piece wonders at the struggle of moms rejoining the work-force, or meditates on our competing obligations; or something. It cost a hundred bucks to spend the day with one child in NYC without the other. In my utopia, this would be cheaper.)

IMG_0264.JPGWe arrived before opening ceremonies began; opening and closing ceremonies were held in the Hall of Ocean Life -- with the full scale model of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling -- a great venue for any event. The room full of kids and chaperons was better behaved than one might have expected as we waited for the rest to arrive because there was so much to look at just in that one room.

Andrew RevkinAndrew Revkin, a science writer for The New York Times and author of the kids' book about global warming, The North Pole Was Here, gave what was essentially the keynote speech. He made the interesting point that he realized that after writing 300 NYT articles, the people he should have been writing to were kids, since the decisions affecting our current climate are already made and that the decisions made now and in the near future most affect those under 19. I would have liked to see his one-hour presentation on his trip to the North Pole, but I had Peter signed up for something else, and so just bought a copy of his book to read later.

There were three program slots to sign up for. Our first was EcoMedia, held by The Bronx River Art Center:

Become educated about the Bronx River environment through several student multimedia approaches with different tools involving ecoTV, ecoGames, ecoWeb, ecoSound, and ecoPhoto.  See an amazing project unravel before your eyes as students in this ecological workshop, translate ideas like invasive species or watershed physics.

This was my first exposure to 13-year-olds giving software demos. I suppressed the impulse to try to help. It made the biggest impression of all on my 9-year-old son, who had seen mommy do many or all of the things the kids were showing him how to do, but having kids show him was different.


Miamia Country Day School on combating world hungerThe next session we went to was held by third graders from Miami Country Day School and consisted of a series of presentations by groups of third graders on solutions to the problem of world hunger.

How much land is actually useful for agricultural purposes? Find out and learn about a more effective way to grow crops in many of the poor regions of the world. Be ready to take home all you need to make your own container garden. Make up a recipe with organic herbs flown fresh from our school garden for your enjoyment! This workshop is hands-on, nose-on, and mouth-on.

The kids were doing a splendid job. But the room was hot and crowded (too small for the number of people there) so we slipped off for lunch before the end.

In the cafe, we found the group who had given the ecoMedia presentation, so we sat with them when we ate our lunch.

Guerilla GardeningThe third session we attended was Guerrilla Gardening, held by sixth graders from the Salk School of Science in New York City.

Save the plants and save the world! Learn how you and/or your school can create amazing indoor gardens while recycling and reusing your kitchen refuse. Plant beans, corn, potatoes, ginger, and much more. Leave with a head start on your own garden!

The students collectively taught a lesson that they might have had at school with their teacher. We drew sketches of various kinds of seeds found in many kitchens (kidney beans, bird seed, popping corn, etc.) then we made planters for them out of clear egg cartons and each came home set up to sprout the seeds on our windowsills.

IMG_0306.JPGAfter that, we attended the lively closing ceremonies in which there was some moderated discussion of what we had gotten out of the day. One of the teenagers attending had submitted a compelling short essay that was read out loud.

Peter at the microscopeAfter the official conference was over, we paid a visit to the Discovery Room, one of Peter's favorite parts of the museum. He looked at live grubs and butterfly wings under the microscope. We also spent a while in the museum's enormous gift shop.

eathing a snack at the end of the dayAfter a snack in the museum's main dining room, we went up to the top floor and saw the Audubon exhibit and the dinosaur skeletons. we saw a few more exhibits and then headed home.

For next year, when Peter will be in middle school, I think I'll try again to get a school delegation together to give a presentation.

Kathryn Cramer complains about conventions and childcare, part 463

It says a lot about American conventions and conferences of all types that Harry Brighouse had to write this sentence:

The topic was Rethinking Gender Egalitarianism, and I was leaving my wife at home much of the weekend with a 4-week-old baby and the girls.

There was aparently much discussion of the issue of society & childcare which followed once he'd arrived at the conference. But, speaking as a wife who these days frequently stays home from events she would have preferred to have attended, I do wonder which voices in this discussion did not show up to be heard because the problem is not adequately addressed by our cultures' public gatherings.

Capclave Pix

I've got photos from Capclave up on Flickr.

Xtreme Ruffles at Albacon

Albacon is being held in an Albany, NY hotel that is also hosting a pagent for little girls. So girls in Xtreme Ruffles and pancake makeup are occasionally visible from the Albacon function areas. My three-year old daughter caught sight of some of the pagent proceedings and exclaimed that she wanted to go to "the face-painting."

Cory Doctorow & his MacBook

I tried to get Rudy Rucker to take this shot of Cory Doctorow yesterday, after the "Bloggers as Public Intellectuals" panel at the WorldCon (featuring, in addition to Cory, Kevin Drum, Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden, MaryAnn Johanson, & Phil Plait) and but Rudy didn't do it. So I took the shot myself today.

There is a better version of this to be had, but I thought it was interesting to pose.

Here's a fuzzy shot of yesterday's panel I took with my cell phone:


Not Going to WFC

A couple of people have asked whether I'm attending the World Fantasy Convention in Madison. Yes, my husband is heads the board of directors of the organization that oversees the convention from year to year, and yes, this year's theme, "The Architecture of Fantasy and Horror," would be a perfect venue for me, since in the 1980's I edited two anthologies of architectural horror, The Architecture of Fear, for which I won a World Fantasy Award, and Walls of Fear, for which I was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. But NO, I'm not going.

I would leave it at that, because of course with every convention there are some people who can attend and some who can't and many of those who can't can't for reasons that are not fair, like not having enough money. And certainly, over time, I've gotten to go to a lot of conventions. But I wanted to spin this out for you a little in terms of science fiction and its social policies and what happens specifically to women.

A while back I wrote a bit about the situation of childcare at conventions at which I was able to show up. I had great difficulty being able to attend the convention program because of the lack of childcare at conventions. While other people attended the program, I would usually be in the halls with my kids, no matter how interesting I might have found the goings on inside.

People took me seriously. In response to may complaints, some changes were made. Not enough, but some. I had an impact.

But now, for the most part, I am not getting to those halls in the first place. One of our book contracts was not renewed and so money is tight. The Glasgow Worldcon had put me on the best batch of program items I had ever been assigned. But I had to cancel because the plane fares never came down to the level we could afford for a family of four. And back last fall, I had to eat a ticket to France for Utopiales because our family-member childcare for the trip fell through, and we couldn't afford to buy childcare on the open market in Westchester. (I haven't managed to get to Eurpore since Peter was born in 1997.) Between Utopiales and the Glasgow Worldcon, that's two trips to Europe cancelled in the past year.

And I'm not going to Madison. With my son in an elementary school that is very pushy about its attendance policies, we couldn't really bring him given the complexities of getting to Madison. Childcare for the weekend while I went out would be amazingly expensive here. We make $90,000/yr below the median income for our school district, so for the most part, I can't buy babysitting at market prices. (A sitter for an evening out costs about $15/hour around here, so I don't get out much.) The noose tightens, so I'll probably seeing less of people who expect to just see me around, if only in the halls though not in the panels or evening parties.

I would lay on you my grandmother's line, "I'm not complaining, but. . ." (When I was a kid I would always believe her: that she wasn't compaining, even though that line always prefaced a complaint.) But it would be a lie: I am complaining. But I'm telling you folks in the science fiction field about this not because I expect you to fix it for me, but because I'm sure I'm not the only woman you are losing access to over things like this.