Monday, January 21, 2013

The State of AFRO Sci-Fi at Arisia 2013


Part One

I have returned from Arisia 2013. There is a lot to reveal, examine, and extract, therefore, I will offer my experiences to you in digestible e-chunks.

Arisia 2010 in Boston was my first con 4 years ago. Since then, I have attended other cons  in Atlanta, Georgia (Dragoncon & ONYXCON) and all the way to Madison, Wisconsin (Wiscon) as well as other places in-between. There are hundreds of Cons celebrating science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, urban faeries and so forth every year. Millions of  fans attend cons.  People come in costume (The Weeping Angels and Star Wars Storm Troopers are always a big hit as well as anything Dr. Who).  People also come to talk and learn. There are many, many panels and presentations  on sci-fi/comic cultural icons such as which Green Lantern was best -- Hal Jordan or Jon Stewart -- or who was the best Star Fleet Captain -- Sisko or Kirk. There are conversations on the use of  solar energy or practical travel to another star system.  The politics and economics of science and fiction may take center stage. Writers, artists, editors,  publishers and educators gather to compare notes, plan and build new relationships as well as sign contracts and build agreements to promote science and technology in our schools.

Cultural Diversity was a key word  spoken often at Arisia. Writers and readers sought to explore and expand the presence of  "the other" character  in the books, movies and TV shows that offer science fiction and fantasy. It was agreed that human society must become more inclusive. Big name authors, small press publishers, indie writers discussed  the new trends in speculative fiction to satisfy the desires of a wider audience yet make a reasonable return to sustain this effort.

Arisia 2013 honorees were Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes -- both extraordinary speculative fiction authors, Hollywood film writers, educators, mentors and spouses. The Carl Brandon Society also was out in force as convention panelists, audience participants, late night session moderators, and greeters in jovial hotel party suites.

But before, I reveal more of my journey ot Arisia 2013, we must pause for a word from our sponsor -- me.

"As a member of the Carl Brandon Society, I wholly support the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship fundraiser.  Everyone who appreciates the works of Octavia should donate to Carl Brandon and in appreciation receive the new ebook Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars Edited by Nisi Shaw . Click here to get information on buying the book. "  -- Stafford L Battle"

Now back to my blog: 

Arisia 2013 has come and gone.  The weather was icy cold but the spirits were warm and sometimes very heated. Andrea and Steve locked horns for a blazing moment when the discussion of Sci-fi vs  Fantasy came up. What exactly is culture fail?  Are Zombies the end of the world?  What do you expect from a sword wielding, sexy grandmother? If you missed the pillow fights and rabid debates this time, you can get involved next year. Shields Up! Launch the photon torpedoes!  Arisia 2014 will be in Boston, Massachusetts,  January 17 - 20, 2014.


Part Two: The State of AFRO Sci-Fi at Arisia 2013 -- Barnes and Due