May 29th, 2007

red panda eating bamboo

If you have been thinking about maybe trying an membership plan, they have a nice offer right now:
If you refer others to, they can receive 30 days of the AudibleListener® Gold plan free of charge. And for every new trial membership from this offer that begins within the next 30 days, Audible will donate $10 to the Newark Literacy Campaign.
I use their service basically because it's the only game in town, and it's far from perfect, but it's a satisfactory way to get digital audio books/magazines at not entirely unreasonable prices (buying the CDs costs a lot more).
red panda eating bamboo

Wiscon panel report: Putting the "D" in "InterDisciplinary"

Putting the "D" in InterDisciplinary
Craft And Business of Writing SF&F track
Saturday, 4:00-5:15 p.m.

Panel description:

There are commonalities between many arts; what elements do writing, dancing, painting, cooking, and the other arts share? How does the artist, of any discipline, organize her practice for the maximum output of both quality and quantity? And do elements of one discipline carry over into another? Darlene Coltrain is a jewelry artist who also paints and creates costumes for dancers; Kay Kenyon was an actress who is now a writer. The discussion will trace the interdisciplinary effects of these varied careers.

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red panda eating bamboo

Wiscon Panel notes: Transsexuality as Trope

Transsexuality as Trope
Feminism, Sex, and Gender track
Sunday, 10:00-11:15 a.m.
Much science fiction and fantasy of recent years deals with changing sex. But it treats it as a trope rather than a process: Larque on the Wing, I Will Fear No Evil, "Changes," the work of John Varley. While there is no denying the usefulness of transsexuality as a trope in discussing the social construction of gender, what are we missing by eliding transsexuality's nature as a process?
M: Lyda Morehouse, Charlie Anders, Elizabeth Bear, BC Holmes, Jennifer Pelland

bcholmes mostly speaks for me in her report about this panel. So I'm just listing here some stories/books mentioned in the panel that sounded interesting.
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red panda eating bamboo

Wiscon Panel report: Just How Smart Are Animals, Anyway?

Just How Smart Are Animals, Anyway?
Science and Technology track
Sunday, 2:30-3:45 p.m.

Did you know that dogs laugh, and wolves can count? Elephants and dolphins recognize themselves in mirrors; ravens display senses of humor; bears have figured out how break into practically every food container designed to keep them out; and cuttlefish apparently communicate by changing color. What do we really know about animal cognition and communication ... and what, if anything, sets humans apart?

M: Cat Hanna, Carol Emshwiller, Paula L. Fleming, Tom La Farge, Heather Kinast Porter

firecat's review:
I felt very fussy about panels this year. This one was not as bad as I feared it might be and not as good as I hoped it would be. It ended up being mostly a forum for people to discuss what smart things they noticed their pets or local wildlife doing. Some longer-term / scientific studies about animal behavior were mentioned, but I had already heard about many of them. One of the panelists talked a lot more than the others, and a couple of the ones I would have liked to talk more were fairly quiet.

Following are some general notes I want to remember. Collapse )
red panda eating bamboo

Wiscon Panel report: How To Do Good Work in High Fantasy

How To Do Good Work in High Fantasy
The Craft And Business of Writing SF&F track
Sunday, 4:00-5:15 p.m.

How do writers work within the genre expectations of traditional high fantasy? What limitations do they face, and how do they challenge and stretch those limits? It's possible to write good fiction without churning out yet another young-man-in-a-remote-village-discovers-his-hidden-destiny plot, isn't it? Let's explore inspirations and ideas for this popular but critically suspect genre.
M: Delia Sherman, Patricia Bray, Kelly D. Link, Sarah Monette

I wasn't expecting a lot out of this panel (which mirrors my attitude about high fantasy in general - but I tend to write it at times and I would like to have a more positive attitude toward the possibilities) and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of discussion (which was almost entirely among the panelists).

Following are some of the interesting things that were said. Collapse )