On the road – old dog learning new tricks

I write non-fiction, as a journalist, as a blogger, as a freelancer, as an author of books. Given that I’ve never had any fiction published, attending WisCon, a feminist sci/fi and fantasy convention in beautiful downtown Madison, seems like a strange way to spend Memorial Day weekend. While spending a weekend with my daughter was a major motivator, I was also intrigued by the possibility of learning about a genre that is not my own.

Last night, at a panel on Lady Gaga introduced me to what everyone else already knew about – her music videos. While I like her voice and her music, I’d never looked at the videos. Whew!

First of all, they are clearly Film – with references to Quentin Tarantino, Thriller, Madonna, Thelma and Louise and a myriad of cultural icons that I only sorta-kinda recognize, especially as I’ve spent decades resisting high-brow Film (and its criticism) and insisting that I only like low-brow movies. Who knew that Lady Gaga would inspire me with regret for my failure to pay close enough, analytic enough, attention to Film and other cultural criticism? (If you want more, see the Gaga Stigmata blog and Atlantic’s Deconstructing Lady Gaga’s Telephone Video.)

Two favorite quotes from that panel:

Eddie McCaffrey (from Gaga Stigmata): Lady Gaga’s performances are “not critiques, but problematizations.”

Lady Gaga: “Art is a lie, and every day I kill to make it true.”

Not every panel is equally interesting, but this afternoon’s panel on left of center science fiction and fantasy is.  Besides noting that much earlier science fiction was rightwing and militaristic, the panel raised interesting questions about the lack of portrayal of working class people in today’s science fiction – including lefty sci-fi. And I learned that I can look for feminist sci-fi at Aqueduct and for lefty sci-fi at PM Press.

I don’t know a lot about science fiction, but the panelists listed a lot of interesting writers (and don’t get me started on the book market room!) Since I’m not part of the aficionados, a lot of the names went right by me, but Google helped me locate some of them. One caveat: this list includes only a very few of the names mentioned, and is heavily weighted toward (1) those I could spell and (2) those who have web pages. Some of their websites have excerpts, links to short stories and parts of novels, and just plain interesting writing.

Eleanor Arnason is one of our own, a Minnesota science fiction writer who lives in St. Paul. She moderated this panel, is a guest of honor at the conference, and Aqueduct has just published her latest novel: Tomb of the Fathers – and PM has just published her Mammoths of the Great Plains.

Paolo Bacigalupi wrote The Wind-up Girl, a novel nominated for Nebula award, also a just-released YA novel, Ship Breaker. One reason for writing YA – influence people before their minds are made up.

China Miéville writes adult and radical fiction, but also YA – Un Lun Dun – Wikipedia has more bio and bibliography than his own blog.

Chris Nakashima Brown was described as “gonzo leftwing” and “totally balls out weird.”

Terry Bisson is known for short stories and comic books and has won Hugo and Nebula awards.

Anne Harris wrote The Nature of Smoke and writes YA under the name of Pearl North, most recently Libyrinth.

I’ve noted those who write YA (Young Adult) fiction, because I find some of today’s most appealing and interesting fiction in this genre.

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1 Comment

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One response to “On the road – old dog learning new tricks

  1. Thanks for the mention, Mary. I hope you enjoyed the rest of the con. WisCon is unique.

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