Programming invitations for this year’s World Fantasy have been going out, and this has resulted in a certain amount of venting on Twitter.
A couple of days ago author Tom Pollock enquired about panel parity, and was told that WFC does not do that. Wanting panel parity was apparently sufficient to disqualify Pollock from programming, though it wasn’t clear whether this was a punishment being imposed on him or simply that the con wouldn’t be running any panels with more than one woman on them.
Further information came to light today when Kameron Hurley was offered this program item:
The Next Generation: Broads with Swords. Once upon a time the heroic fantasy genre was—with a few notable exceptions such as C.L. Moore and Leigh Brackett—the sole domain of male writers like Robert E. Howard, John Jakes and Michael Moorcock. Those days are long gone, and it seems that more & more women writers are having their heroines suit up in chain-mail and wield a broadsword. Who are these new writers embracing a once male-dominated field & how are their books any different from their literary predecessors?
So that explains everything. All of the girl cooties will be safely contained in a panel especially for girlies, whose panel description neatly erases the existence of many of the women writers who will be at the convention.
I note that the 2004 WFC had a theme of “Women in Fantasy”. Nine years later that has all been forgotten.
Meanwhile I also got a programming invitation. I was rather surprised by this. What did they think I was qualified to talk about? This:
The Next Generation We’re All Bloggers Now. Being a columnist or a critic used to be a skill, combining knowledge and the ability to write with insightful observations. These days it seems that everybody has an opinion and evolving technology has given us numerous platforms through which to make our views known. Have we degraded the true art of criticism to a point where it has lost all value?
It did not escape my notice that I was being asked to be on a panel that starts from the assumption that the thing I first became famous for has been a disaster for the field. It rather reminded me of the days when conventions would ask me to be on “Online fanzines, threat or menace?” panels.
I shall be asking John Clute for some input before the panel. Given that this morning we were having a conversation about how being published online can free you from the tyranny of word limits (and if you are laughing, just look at how little space most printed reviews get) I suspect he won’t be any happier with the panel’s assumptions than I am.
I may also write an online review of the convention. It is a long time since Torcon 3 and I’m worried that I might be out of practice of using my skill, skill and expertise to provide insightful observations on the subject of con-running.