Category Archives: Readercon

My Hugo Eligibility Post

Hugo Awards nominations are open until March 17th, which means it’s time to write an eligibility post! I didn’t publish any fiction or art or podcasts in 2016, myself, but I did do a lot of fan writing on various platforms, so I am eligible to be nominated as a Fan Writer. I’d be honored and privileged to be considered for your nomination.

Looking back on 2016, there are many things I wrote for and about fandom, but particular things I’d like to highlight are:

This Twitter thread (later turned into a longer essay) on bias in Worldcon bidding.

This post on international SFF reading.

This frank (Facebook) post on the financial cost of bidding for Worldcon, and subsequent discussions on North American and British privileges in bidding.

This compilation of gender inclusive forms of address, which I posted to Facebook & Twitter last year and participated in several SoMe (Social Media) discussions about. The goal was to encourage panelists, moderators, and public speakers in general to be more gender inclusive when addressing groups of people. I can report some concrete success, in that a couple of convention staffers contacted me to say they were updating their panelist & moderator info sheet to include this issue. Yay!

I co-authored the original Worldcon 75 accessibility statement at the beginning of 2016, and took a significant role on this topic within the committee and when engaging with the membership. W75 has since updated their accessibility page to reflect the goals and process of the new leadership, so I’m linking to the Wayback Machine for this.

I wrote parts of the Worldcon 75 website and publications, although I don’t know what parts of what I wrote are still being used at this point. You can see the Progress Reports (PRs) for Worldcon 75 here. I contributed to PRs 0, 1, and 2.

Relatedly, I was also interviewed for several podcasts last year. The most fandom-relevant of them was the Mad Writers Union podcast episode on community building, where we nattered for a couple of hours on conventions, speculative fiction, and communities. In particular, I talked about how Readercon staff, as a community, addressed the incident of sexual harassment that occurred at Readercon 23.

 

Crystal hugging Major Ursa, the stuffed polar bear.

I’m just amused by this photo shoot Worldcon 75 asked me to do with a stuffed polar bear.

I usually don’t write an eligibility post for any awards, and have some trepidation about doing so now. Historically speaking, women are punished for doing self-promotion. Heck, there are several think pieces about how Hilary Clinton’s popularity plummeted any time she asked for a promotion. It was really disheartening. Women and other marginalized people are penalized for promoting diversity of any kind, which is something we’re inherently doing when we’re doing self-promotion and are of a less-privileged identity.

In terms of being the change I wish to see in the world, though, I’ve decided to post this and see how it goes. I  support all the women, People of Color, trans folks, and others who are debating doing similarly. Having been on the receiving end of death threats for my feminist work in fandom, I recognize that everyone should make their own threat assessments and decisions on this topic. Here’s hoping it goes well.

There’s a crowdsourced compilation of Hugo-eligible works available in this spreadsheet, btw, for those who are interested — you may have forgotten some work you wanted to nominate, but maybe someone else can remind you!

PS: If you aren’t sure how Hugo nominations work or whether you are able to nominate, I covered that in a more recent blog post on Worldcon membership benefits. I’m also happy to answer questions, if you have any.
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Filed under Fandom, Helsinki, Hugo Awards, Personal, Readercon, Worldcon

My Finnish Adoption (Into Fandom)

Why are you with Helsinki in 2017?

While working on the bid for Helsinki to get Worldcon for the first time ever (which is being voted on RIGHT NOW, in case you didn’t know! and you can find out how you can still vote here!) … I’m often asked why I’m with the Finns. Now that there’s a competing bid for Washington, DC, why wouldn’t I join the other Americans? I really should’ve written this post ages ago, but love letters take me time to write and are often embarrassing.  This is most definitely a love letter to Helsinki.

Helsinki harbor is beautiful. With bonus sailboat.

Helsinki is freaking gorgeous. Seriously.

What’s great about Finland?

There are many reasons why one might join the Finns. They’re efficient and get shit done. They’re hilarious once you get to know them. They’re respectful of your space and need for silence. They’re an amazing group of people. Their country is also really damn beautiful, has incredible sights to see, and makes gorgeous and strange art. You’ve got to love a country where reindeer sleigh is a legitimate form of travel.

That’s not why I’m with the Finns, though.

Getting personal

My connection with the Finns is a personal one, but not familial. So far as I’m aware, I don’t have a drop of Nordic blood in my family tree. I’d love to be wrong! But there’s nothing to indicate that I’m biologically related to a Finn.

The first time I’m aware of meeting anyone from Finland was in December of 2011. I attended an international convention on convention-running, Smofcon, and it was actually in Europe for a change. Hells yes, I wanted to go. With some frequent flyer miles donated from a friend, it was actually possible to get there, so hells yes, I went!

I don’t remember much about the Finns from that visit. I definitely met Jukka Halme and Eemeli Aro there, amongst other international fans. Later on, what was more important was that the Finns remembered meeting ME.

Readercon impacted everything, for me

A year later, I chaired my first Readercon. I was nervous because I’d been to only one day of Readercon prior to chairing the convention.

At con, it seemed to go well. I had a good time. Everyone else seemed to, as well. After the con was over, however, an incident of harassment was reported to us. The Readercon board failed to handle it at all well, initially. You can read more about that on the Geek Feminism Wiki (and other, related issues on the Timeline of Incidents). Rose Fox and I organized a reversal of the board’s decision and (in a loooong committee meeting) finished hammering out a public apology and statement of actions we would take as a convention committee (“concom”) to start to address the issue of harassment within Readercon’s community.

That was an incredibly intense time for me. Among other things, I received a metric ton of email, before and after the reversal of the board’s ruling. My inbox could be easily divided into categories:

  • What Readercon (or I) did that we shouldn’t have
  • What Readercon (or I) didn’t do that we should have
  • What Readercon (or I) should do now
  • What Readercon (or I) shouldn’t do now
  • Hatemail in general (lots of it…)
  • Death threats

There were only two emails that fit into that last category, but they were … memorable. I did not appreciate them, shall we say. Who sends death threats to a stranger on the internet? Horrible people, so far as I can tell. To receive death threats over a science fiction convention seemed particularly absurd. By and large, however, my email’s tone was incredibly shouty. Everyone was angry with me, it seemed.

One singular email from Finland

I received one incredible email in that deluge that fit into a category of “other.” Eemeli Aro emailed with a much simpler message. He said that he saw on the internet that something was going down with Readercon. He asked if I was okay. He expressed appreciation for me as a person, and hoped to see me again at a Worldcon in the future.

When I go back and read Eemeli’s email now, it’s a pretty normal-sounding email from one semi-stranger to another on a sensitive subject. At the time, though? He didn’t yell at me or threaten me. He didn’t treat me as someone whose “fannish reputation” was ruined (in fact, he argued it wasn’t). He sent kindness my way.

So when people ask me why I’m with the Finns, that’s the first reason. The Finns reached out and treated me like a real person when it felt like the rest of fandom was screaming at me and might never stop.

Visiting Finland, myself!

After such kindness from the Finns, I figured I wouldn’t be able to afford to visit their country, but I could help the (sadly unsuccessful) bid for Worldcon in 2015. I joined up and threw a few rather popular parties at conventions in the US. Then, due to an incredible salary raise (50%!) in 2013, I suddenly had extra money in my budget. I decided to go to a Finnish SFF convention myself so I could tell people about it from personal experience!

One of the highlights of my year in 2013 was therefore my first Finnish SFF convention, Åcon6.  This was exciting not just because I got to go to a Finnish con for the first time.  It was fantastic in particular because at the end of the convention, I was part of something particularly special and unique as far as I’m aware.

I was officially adopted into Finnish fandom.

My Finnish fannish adoption certificate, signed by Eemeli Aro and Karo Leikomaa. Finnish SFF characters around the border and an alien baby wrapped in a Finnish flag feature prominently in the art.

My Finnish fannish adoption certificate, signed by Eemeli Aro and Karo Leikomaa.

No, really! That happened!

I and a couple of others were called into the bar (the major social space of the con after the function rooms were closed down). There was some laughter, and then, along with three others, I was declared officially an adopted Finnish fan. I have framed the adoption certificate they presented to me, which was drawn by my friend Petri Hiltunen and features several Finnish SFF characters around the border.

I am apparently the alien baby at the top, wrapped in a Finnish flag. I adore this piece of paper. It hangs proudly in my dining room.

I didn’t have to learn any Finnish in order to be accepted into this group, although I have tried to retain basic greetings and courtesies such as “kiitos” and “ole hyvää” (aka “thank you” and “you’re welcome”). I am having great difficulty learning how to roll my R’s, I must say.

Pic of me with Johan and Johan, my new siblings!

Johan and Johan became my new siblings at Åcon6! I make much hay of calling them my siblings. As is my right.

Now I have Finnish siblings!

I wasn’t the only one that Finnish fandom decided to publicly claim that evening. Johan Jönsson, Johan Anglemark, Linnéa Anglemark, and Cheryl Morgan all joined me as siblings. I’m honored to be in such great company! (Cheryl and Linnea weren’t available at the time we took this photo, unfortunately.)

So here’s something I know now about the Finns — they can easily be inspired to do amazing things! They took an offhand remark someone made months prior and from it created this most treasured memory of mine. There was a kind of semi-official ceremony, and they presented us with a very remarkable and unique piece of art. It was fantastic.

(Just saying, Åcon was awesome in 2014, as well. I met Karen Lord! Who is fabulous! I didn’t get adopted there, though.)

Inasmuch as I can sum up …

So, yes. Why am I with the Finns for Worldcon?  I have a great love of the Finns, at this point. I’ve now been to several events with them (in Finland, the US, Canada, the UK, as well as other countries).  I would love to share Finnish fans with Worldcon (and vice versa). The Finns are, frankly, amazing.

If nothing else, a group that gathers for scifi-themed summer picnicking and sings songs to Cthulhu is a group we should all embrace! (Or possibly fear …?)

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Filed under Fandom, Helsinki, Personal, Readercon, Worldcon

Yes, Codes of Conduct Are Required.

Anyone who’s spoken with me over the past couple of years, after Readercon 23, probably knows that I have a strong opinion about harassment and how we handle it, particularly in fannish events like conventions (and parties, and work weekends, and all sorts of other fannish gatherings).  I’ve also been in HR in my professional life, so hopefully I know something about the topic, at this point, from multiple perspectives.

Let’s be clear, though — I developed some of my strongly-held opinions and beliefs after experiencing harassment myself, and I did a lot of reflecting on the topic during my three years as chair of Readercon.  It infuriated me to read the following email about whether or not a convention needed to have a code of conduct (which I won’t attribute because I don’t have permission to do so and suspect I’d never get permission from the person in question)…

“Do we need such a thing?   I have never heard of this being an issue at [convention name redacted] and see no reason to open a can of worms that is best to keep closed until there really is a need to open it.

“And if we do need one, I’d rather have a very short ‘act reasonable, don’t do dumb things, or we may ask you to leave.'”

I would like to say, unequivocally, that we DO need such a thing as a code of conduct.  The time of pretending that harassment doesn’t happen is behind us (not that that was ever an appropriate decision to make, on the part of people running events).  Now is the time of making sure that our conventions are as safe as we can make them, and that when someone behaves in an unsafe fashion, their behavior can be addressed in a clear and unambiguous fashion.

As for a “don’t be stupid” statement in lieu of having a real policy?  Pardon me, but that’s bullshit.  Poorly-developed policies don’t serve anyone well, as we’ve experienced in the past.  Poorly-defined policies don’t set people’s expectations for what they can or should do when they have a problem, other than that people might expect the problem won’t be handled well by the event organizers.  The only thing a lack of policy or barely-existing policy might do is send people the message that you don’t care if they harass other members of your convention.  That’s not quite putting out a welcome mat at the door of your convention for poorly-behaved attendees, but I do note this:  at [convention name redacted] referenced above?  I experienced being harassed multiple times, and no longer want to attend it.  I don’t trust the convention staff to take it seriously if I report a problem, nor address problems appropriately.

I have been the convention chair of Arisia in the past.  A few years ago, despite some objections about it “not being relevant to science fiction” (among other things), I was one of the people who started the tradition of inviting BARCC (the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center) to run workshops with Arisia staff in order to offer some helpful training and tools for addressing harassment and other inappropriate behavior at our conventions.  Since then, I have helped coordinate workshops with BARCC for Readercon, Arisia, Vericon, and local SCA staff.  Readercon ran BARCC workshops as part of the convention programming in 2013 (and possibly also 2014; I can’t recall).

I believe it really helped to have these workshops.  Fandom is not historically good at dealing with harassment, but I hope we are improving, as evidenced by things such as this post about harassment at RWA 2014 and this post about dealing with harassment at Arisia 2014.  I have hope.

But I base that hope partly on having codes of conduct that help set the tone for attendees.  So yes, I think codes of conduct are required.  Not having one is a different message you send to your attendees, if that’s what you choose to do.

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Readercon 25, Meet the Pros(e)

It’s not the most essential thing I’ve been writing a post about, but I wanted to follow up on a request from this year’s Readercon.

Every year for the past several, at least, Readercon has had an event called “Meet the Pros(e)” on Saturday night of the convention. The program participants are given stickers with quotes from their work (which they’ve previously selected for this purpose) and encouraged to pass them out to fans and pros alike at a meet-and-greet type of setting.  I’ve collected my stickers for the past couple of years, but this year, I was asked if I could post them online somewhere with the attributions.  Sometimes, uh, many of us don’t remember whose words are which after the convention is over.  😉

So here are my pics from my notebook, presented for your perusal.  Enjoy!

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Readercon 25

I don’t have time to blog about it, really, but Readercon 25 started last night. This is the third and final time (at least in a row, at least for now) that I’m chairing the con. I’m so very proud of this team, glad to be a part of it, and excited to see things working. Just wanted to take a moment to note that, since too often we blog about and commemorate the challenges rather than the triumphs.

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Also, here is an adorable photo of one of our guests of honor, Andrea Hairston, with her birthday cake. 🙂

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