If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot.

If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.

If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.

If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.

See, that’s why I don’t get the focus on classifying harassers and figuring out their motives. The victims are just as harassed either way.


Hershele Ostropoler, in a comment on John Scalzi’s blog post, “Readercon, Harassment, Etc.”   

The comment is in reference to sexual harassment that occurred at the Readercon convention and the subsequent defense of the situation by some members of fandom and the Readercon Board.  

It’s also applicable to other situations where someone claims their intentions were pure and they didn’t mean to do something sexist/racist/heterosexist/abelist, etc.  Even if you did not mean to step on someone’s foot–you did.

We’re going into publishing

TL;DR: In two weeks (July 27) we’ll be putting out a call for short story submissions.

I’ve just walked in the door coming home from Readercon. I’m about to sit down, rest my feet, drink a whole lot of water and watch the latest episode of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

But before I do that, I want to immediately inform everyone following watsons-solarpunk that ‘Roses and I are going to start a Solarpunk web magazine. 

We’ve bought domain names, made lists, calculated things on spreadsheets, and decided exactly how much money we’re prepared to lose entirely on the bet that people want a Solarpunk publication and that we can do the management of it.

We have ideas ranging from practical to fantastical, and we’re not quite ready to commit to which ones we want to try first. (Besides, the website’s not built yet.) But the thing we’re prepared to say for sure is that we will be looking for submissions of Solarpunk short fiction, in the ballpark of 2,000 to 5,000 words, and we’ll be paying $0.03/word. 

On July 27, two weeks from now, we will post about a call for submissions here and everywhere else. If you want to be the first to know, you can sign up for an email at, where I promise the only email I will ever send you is the one in two weeks calling for submissions.

We know there are a bunch of excited, talented writers getting ready to bring some new Solarpunk fiction into the world, and we wanted to let you know as soon as possible that, soon, there’s going to be a paying venue looking for your work.

We can’t wait to get started – I hope y’all are excited as we are!

Readercon 26: Solarpunk and Ecofuturism

So, I didn’t end up liveblogging the Solarpunk panel. (I forgot to bring my laptop.) But here is a summary of the major points I got down in my notes and/or remembered:

Romie Stott, the panel leader, is the author of Postorbital, that Tumblr with the really cool, sometimes Solarpunk, tiny super short very brief flash fiction.

The other panelists were Jeff Hecht, who is a journalist for the magazine New Scientist, and writes occasional short SF pieces for the science journal Nature.

Michael J. Deluca is an enthusiastic environmentalist with a house covered in solar panels, and he just edited the last edition of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, a short fiction magazine put out by Small Beer Press. The theme of the issue was EcoFuturism.

Michael J. Daley is a former renewable energy activist (Not, like, no longer supports renewable energy, but no longer currently working for particular campaigns.) He’s written two novels that deal with climate change and solar power. He was by far the panelist most critical of Solarpunk, but for the most part it seemed like it was less a fundamental objection than a not-his-cup-of-tea kind of thing.

Rob Killheffer is an SF/F writer, reviewer, editor and critic, who has been following the trends in climate change SF for a long time. He said he had seen mostly the kind of apocalyptic failure-mode storytelling that the Solarpunk community is specifically responding to.

They talked about the community as a fandom without a subject, or without a specific canon to organize around – the idea that Solarpunk is a fandom for the future, or for a particular kind of future. One of the panelists (I failed to write down which) said that Cyberpunk was similar to Solarpunk in that regard – less deliberately or self-consciously, but that Cyberpunk was at least as much about a particular aesthetic and lifestyle lived in real time as it was about the relatively small core of Cyberpunk literature.

Daley pointed out that the technology Solarpunk is dealing with is overwhelmingly tech that already exists, and that just hasn’t been widely implemented yet. (He explained that he wasn’t very interested in science fiction that wasn’t about science that is, in fact, fictional.)

He mentioned the famous William Gibson quote, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

Stott responded to the point about whether SF about non-fictional tech was boring, saying she’d heard from scientists that they were actively interested in seeing more fiction exploring the meaningful functionality of emerging tech – that it’s the scientists’ jobs to create cool stuff, and other people’s (writers’) jobs to work out how people are going to use that stuff.

Someone – I missed who – mentioned Low-Tech Magazine, which is devoted to countering the narrative that every new problem should be solved by the liberal application of new technology. In particular he pointed out that the battery problem with alternative energy can be solved by using power to elevate water, which can then be poured out to generate new power.

Daley brought up the idea of grid parity – the point at which solar panels become economically more cost-effective than running a power grid, which he suggested would be the fundamental tipping point for alternative energy.

There were a couple suggestions about the kinds of stories that Solarpunk writers might tell – one suggestion was about a person dealing with living through an extreme weather event of the sort that climate change will definitely start to cause (and has already started to cause) in a world organized both to diminish or reverse the effects of climate change, and to help people survive in the new reality of the world in which this change did, in fact, happen, and does, in fact, cause problems. Another suggestion was for a power department – like a fire department – whose job is to rush out and restore power to broken personal systems in individuals’ homes before their battery backup runs out, the way fire fighters rush out to put out fires before the house burns down.

They repeatedly used the words Utopia and Utopian throughout the panel to describe Solarpunk, and the criticism of that word choice never came up – but this is a very big topic in an hour-long panel. Hopefully, this is the sort of thing that picks up enough steam to get a whole bunch of panels next year.

Readercon board resigns over harassment scandal

Readercon board resigns over harassment scandal

Two weeks after the sci-fi/fantasy blogosphere exploded over Readercon’s mishandling of sexual harassment claims, the popular convention announced during the weekend that all of its board members have resigned.

The news came as part of an extensive public apology to specific individuals who faced harassment, as well as to the community at large. Reparations included banning offender René Walling from the con for life, a reversal of the board’s initial decision to ban him for only two years despite Readercon’s stated ‘zero-tolerance’ harassment policy. 


As debate took place about “what a Readercon done right” would look like, former Readercon committee members shared stories of past indifference and even overt hostility towards issues of inclusiveness and accessibility.

“On occasion several members of the board told me point-blank that they didn’t want the con to be more accessible,” recalled Hugo-nominated author N.K. Jemisin. The con has long been plagued by accusations of catering to the elderly white male contingent rather than new and diverse voices in fiction. Three years ago, its attempts to tout itself as “your father’s Readercon” resulted in dissatisfied voices.

“I don’t want my father’s Readercon,” stated writer Shira Lipkin at the time. “I want my daughter’s Readercon.”

Read more at The Daily Dot!

io9 has a fantastic article from Annalee Newitz on The Great Geek Sexism Debate.

Over the past few months, three of the most influential conventions in geekdom — Readercon (for science fiction writers), The Amazing Meeting (for skeptics), and DefCon (for hackers) — have been at the center of very public discussions about sexism and sexual harassment in their communities. After all three conventions in 2012, women spoke out publicly about episodes of sexual harassment and humiliation they experienced at the cons. The fallout was ugly — but also awesome. Here’s what happened, and what’s still happening, as formerly male-dominated geek spaces make way for women.

Here I’ve brought together the stories of these three cons, and the incidents of sexism or sexual harassment that affected them this year. I’ve talked to key players in these events to find out what they believe to be true, and I’ve done some analysis. This article is an effort to summarize a few concrete examples of sexism in the geek community — as well as ways people are trying to deal with it.

It’s great to see what some organisations are doing to deal with it effectively, and it gives me hope for future events.  There was a bit of a debate on the EMF Camp mailing list about an anti-harrassment policy, and something like this is totally a great reference when people say “Why do need a policy?”

(Photo used - the Red/Yellow Card Project by KC, used at Defcon 2012)



We’ll be at the ReaderCon tomorrow! Many thanks to Josel for inviting us to table with them! Just a couple of shots of diluted gin, dim lights and loud music and we might say that the dude really knows how to treat a lady. I don’t know why I said that.

Also, this concludes the first half of Barrio Namayapa, AKA, “Aswang Village”. The script’s done, and I’ve laid down the thumbnails, we’re just waiting for the next opportunity to conclude this storyline, sometimes referred to as, “free time”.

<<If you like what you’re reading so far, and don’t mind pestering your friends with reposted content, kindly reblog, retweet and/or share our little comic starting with the first episode.

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Guest Etiquette - How To Keep Your Con Experience Safe and Happy

There’s been a lot going around about ReaderCon and the results of an individual’s harassing behavior. This post isn’t a direct response to that. It is a post, however, that I’ve been contemplating writing since last year, when several things happened spread across several conventions that have made me uncomfortable or confused. I wanted to address these things, and it seems that now is the appropriate time to post my thoughts, while these discussions are happening.

*On Being A Guest*
I adore being a guest at conventions. I adore conventions in general. I have been going to conventions since I was fifteen, cosplaying since I was sixteen, and have been panelling since I was twenty five.  I got my first official invitation to be an actual invited guest last summer and it was an absolute thrill to see my hard work and the effort I’ve put into helping support and build my local geek community rewarded in that fashion.

The move from one side of the table to the other has been wonderful, and I am so grateful and lucky that the people I supported in the geek community as a fan are now supporting me as a creator.

I love conventions because it is where my people are. My tribe. My community. My family.

Conventions are where my hobbies and interests are accepted, normalized, and celebrated. It is where my work can find the audience it is most created for, and where we can celebrate it together. It is where I can totally geek out and squee over something and have it be not only accepted but encouraged by the people around me.

It is where I can see what my fellow professionals have accomplished in the past year and pat them on the back for it. It is where I can marvel at the skill and talent of the cosplayers, the fanartists, the gamesmakers and the fanficcers. It is where I can catch up with the people I cherish and only see infrequently.

Its marvelous. And it’s exhausting.

I go back to my hotel room every night completely drained because I have been “on” all day, aware that I am being watched and judged at all times because of the profile of my name. Or, like most con-goers, because I want to indulge and party, stay up late dancing and singing karaoke, and talking with friends.

It also costs money. Unless you’re a very big name guest, you are paying to attend the con, not being paid, or at least having your travel/meals/room expenses covered. Sure, my pass is usually free (and because of the tightness of my pockets I’ve unfortunately had to start turning down any con that won’t give me my pass for free), and sometimes I get two (one for a family member or handler), but I still have to pay for the hotel room, the transportation to the con, and meals. That is money out of my pocket, when I could have easily stayed home that weekend to write books or make films, things that would have put money into my pockets. I’m not saying this to whinge.

I am saying this so you understand that I want to be there badly enough that I’m paying for the privilege, same as the attendees. I want to be there.

And having been a guest of one caliber or another at a good dozen plus conventions, there are some trends and patterns that I’ve begun to notice which I feel need addressing.

This blog post is not aimed at one person or one con specifically, but is a list of suggestions for Guests, Cons, and Attendees to help make everyone’s experience more pleasant and safe, accumulated from several years worth of experience.

*What Conventions Can Do To Make Guests Safer and Happier*

Do a background check on your volunteers. Ensure that your volunteers are not creepy, are polite and cheery, and aren’t rude.  Also, make sure they know exactly to whom they should turn if someone brings them a situation they can’t handle or a question they can’t answer on their own.

Provide a GreenRoom. A ConSuite is a room at a convention where all attendees can chill out, get something to eat or drink, and visit. While in theory, guests should be safe and happy here, it is still a place where the guests have to be “on”. Having a haven of our own is vital for guests; we all need somewhere to decompress, get a cuppa and a sammie, refuel and chill out without the dread or expectation of having to be “on”, and, unfortunately, escape attendees who might be harassing us. It doesn’t have to be large or well stocked or a 24/7 party. It just needs to be a place where we can retreat when it all becomes too much. To my mind, this is the single most important thing you can do for a guest at a con.

If you are asking your guests to attend parties, have a volunteer there to keep a discreet eye on things. If a guest appears uncomfortable or an attendee is getting inappropriate, have the volunteer step in and escort the guest to a different part of the party, or back to their rooms if required/requested.

If the guest informs you that they have a stalker/creeper/etc. they fear may appear, take it seriously. They wouldn’t have said anything if they didn’t mean it. If that person tries to buy a ticket, give them a full refund and kick them out. If they somehow get in, kick them out. If they keep trying to get in, call the police and have them escorted off premises. Press charges if necessary.

*What Guests Can Do To Make Their Experiences Safer and Happier*

Remember that you are among colleagues, and you never know who knows who. If you want to gossip, tear down another professional, or complain, do so with close friends in the privacy of your hotel room or back at home. There is nothing less professional than guests sniping other guests, or other professionals in their field who aren’t present. If you have legitimate complaints about how the con is run, bring them to the appropriate people and address them in a mature, discreet fashion.

Retreat to the GreenRoom if you need to. Tell people no, if you have to. Yes, you are there for the attendees, but your off time is your off time, and you have the right to an uninterrupted drink or meal. (Of course, we all know the difference between someone who wants an autograph and a quick chat, which is usually most welcome, and a linger-er).  Don’t be afraid to say, “Thank you, but I’m afraid I’m in the middle of dinner/on my way to a panel/on my way out/ need to be somewhere else right now” and go if someone is making you uncomfortable.

Thank the ConCom for inviting you when you get home, and let them know in a nice little letter what you enjoyed and what they did right. Also, make any suggestions you may have to improve next year’s experience.

Bring the GreenRoom attendants something to show your appreciation - whether it’s a large tip, a box of Timbits, a bottle of wine, or a piece of your work, etc. I know one author who gives the security team a free copy of their new book every year, and it gets passed around and read by at least ten people that weekend while they’re bored and guarding doors. Make it clear that you appreciate the space they are providing for you.

Inform the security team if you have a stalker/creeper/etc. you fear may appear,  and make sure they take it seriously. If that person gets in and harasses you, call security and have them escorted off the premises. If the con does not take the concern seriously, pack up and go home. You are under no obligation to remain at the con if you do not feel safe there.

*What Attendees Can Do to Keep Guests Safe and Happy*

Remember that the Guests are probably knackered and/or rushed. Respect their schedules where possible. However, this doesn’t mean never say hello or give them a high five in the hallway or anything like that. Just be respectful. Remember, we guests want to be there just as much as you do, and we’re probably looking to have just as much fun as you. We want to engage with you, party with you, dance with you, laugh with you. Just be mindful of how much attention is appropriate, and at what times. And dear gods, the toilet is never a good time or place to chat, pitch, get a photo or shake hands.

Don’t be entitled. Remember that as much as you admire this guest and their work, they don’t know you. Even if  you’ve met them before, they probably don’t remember you. Even if you’ve sent them a billion letters and they’ve answered every one, these people are not your friends and they do not know you. Keep your creepy sex fantasies to yourself, don’t be handsy or grabby, and be respectful of the guest as a human being. I’m not saying to not write fanfic or make fanart, or have all the sex fantasies and tabloid-fed gossip you want, but be aware that it might be unwelcome in an actual interaction, and don’t push your desires or expectations on the guests. (i.e. That cute actor is not your real boyfriend. Have all the fun envisioning it you’d like, but don’t make a lunge for his lips if you meet him.)

Guests owe you nothing. They don’t have to answer your questions about errors they made in their last book, they don’t owe you a photograph with them, they don’t owe you a hug or a kiss on the cheek or a handshake. They don’t owe you an explanation, or a spoiler, or a chat. Unless you’ve paid for the privilege of getting a photo or autograph, the guests owe you exactly nothing that exceeds their contracted requirements (which usually includes an agreement to be present, a certain number of hours of programming, and attending a certain event at the con, such as a dance or awards ceremony.)  Their job is to create; if you find problems or want to discuss their creations, then please do so in a respectful, non-attacky manner. If you don’t like what they create then… stop reading/watching it. Don’t insult or harass the creator over it. And for goodness sake, please don’t insult a guest’s work to their face. Having particular tastes is one thing, but to call all their work objectively bad to their faces is poor manners of the highest sort. (Guys, we’re already terrified to be there; afraid that no one will want our autographs and that we’re frauds and that we’ll be laughed out of the con. Please be tender with our feelings! If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.)

*Con Creepers*

Ladies and Gentlemen, you know exactly what I mean by a Con Creeper if you have been around them before. They are the person who behaves entitled around a guest. They are the ones with poor ability to read body language, who don’t know when to lay off or disappear. They are grabby. They are the creepy ones who stare at your tits or your package, who oogle, who linger too long and too close, who make everyone around them cringe. They are the ones who talk to and behave towards and touch guests as if they are the dearest and oldest of friends when theyare not. They are the ones who demand things of guests that they have no right demanding. And the biggest problem with Con Creepers is that they usually have no idea that they are Creeping. So here is what you do:

If you know a Con Creeper, call them out on it when they start Creeping. Better yet, warn them in advance of the Con that some people find their behavior inappropriate and hurtful, and counsel them on how better to show their appreciation for the community around them.

If you are an attendee and you see a Creeper creeping on anyone, you come to that person’s rescue. You offer to escort that person to coffee, for air, to the GreenRoom, anywhere the Creeper can’t go. (And don’t expect anything in return for the rescue). If you can’t do that or aren’t comfortable doing that, then you find security and you tell them that you think that someone is the recipient of unwelcome attention and make sure security follows up. At no time engage in a fight or confrontation with the Creeper. That’s for security to do, if it is necessary.

If you are with the ConComm, ensure that your security knows that they must take reports of this nature seriously. Brushing it off because the person receiving the unwelcome attention is in cosplay, or because they’re a guest, or because they’re a cute boy/girl/gurl/boi/etc. is not okay. You wouldn’t tell a person who’s about to be raped that it’s their fault for dressing like a slut; so don’t support this sort of behavior by not engaging with it, not stopping it before it gets worse, or someone gets hurt.

Have an absolutely iron clad system of responses on paper and ready to be implemented if your staff or volunteers end up in a situation where they have to deal with a Creeper. Call the police if you/your staff/volunteers cannot handle with situation. Press charges. Let the world know you are serious about the safety of everyone at your convention.

People who make others fear for their safety do not have to be a way of life at cons. We all know people who have come away from an extremely unpleasant interaction, complaining of harassment or molestation, or inappropriate comments, only to have someone else say: “Yeah, but that’s just So-and-So. He’s socially inept, but he’s a good guy. He doesn’t mean anything by it.” <– That? That right there is totally invalidating someone else’s right to police their own comfort and bodies and that is not okay. And there are people who go to cons and do it every time and the community turns a blind eye, because Creepers are a fact of life at Cons.

Well guess what, folks? When that person finally stops taking “no” for an answer, because people have never stopped him or her before, never told him or her that their behavior is unwelcome, and assaults someone, it will be partially your fault. Because you didn’t make it clear that you will not tolerate that behavior in your community. Report these people. Get them kicked out. And follow up to make sure they’re never allowed back in.

So that’s my list. Seems a bit grim, but a lot of it ought to be common sense. In the end, I just hope that everyone remembers that everyone is there because they want to be, and they have the right to have a good time without fear of harassment, stalking, groping, rape, or physical harm.

This is your con, and your community. Take pride in it, and protect the people who are a part of it, including yourself.

Any more suggestions, folks?
Recent Important Examples Of Geek Sexism

Over the past few months, three of the most influential conventions in geekdom — Readercon (for science fiction writers), The Amazing Meeting (for skeptics), and DefCon (for hackers) — have been at the center of very public discussions about sexism and sexual harassment in their communities. After all three conventions in 2012, women spoke out publicly about episodes of sexual harassment and humiliation they experienced at the cons. The fallout was ugly — but also awesome. Here’s what happened, and what’s still happening, as formerly male-dominated geek spaces make way for women.

Here I’ve brought together the stories of these three cons, and the incidents of sexism or sexual harassment that affected them this year. I’ve talked to key players in these events to find out what they believe to be true, and I’ve done some analysis. This article is an effort to summarize a few concrete examples of sexism in the geek community — as well as ways people are trying to deal with it.
Readercon goes for the save

For those who haven’t been following the big-in-fandom scandal, Readercon is a fandom convention that recently sorta kinda TOTALLY MESSED UP regarding the implementation of their own sexual harassment policy. And lo, the fandom called them on it.

In light of which, Readercon has of course…unequivocally apologized, corrected their error and begun taking serious steps towards making sure this never happens again. No, seriously. That is actually what happened. Check the link.

I don’t expect this’ll get half the network boost the original screw up did, but I really feel it should. Because being wrong and making mistakes sucks and saying sorry is hard, but it’s also the only way things ever get better. Not by everyone being right the first time all the time, but by people going “Whoa, sorry, we’ll change that.”

This might seem like a tiny bit of news in light of everything else happening today- but it’s a victory for Team Progress and * especially * in light of the darker events this summer, I think it’s worth celebrating the victories.

Look for me at Readercon 25: recognize me by my neck, depcited above. I’ll be lecturing on the economics of sf corporate dystopias, running a workshop for speculative poets (both established and wannabe), discussing the intersection of narrative writing and a visual arts practice, and shooting my mouth off on assorted panels. (My full schedule here.) For a recap of some of what I did last year, here are summaries of a few of my appearances last Readercon.

So let's talk about Readercon

Somehow, we’re still talking about what happened at Readercon – and by extension the problem of rampant sexual harassment in fandom, how it threatens to shatter many people’s “Fans are Slans” view of fandom, and how little Convention Committees have done over the decades to address this problem.

In particular, I’m seeing people expressing confusion over why this got “blown out of proportion,” I’m seeing misappropriation of the term “lynching”, etc.

So let’s talk about why the reaction is as big as it is, and not blown out of proportion at all.

Readercon Con Com set and publicized a policy that said zero tolerance and lifetime ban.  They profited directly by setting this policy.  For some people, that policy was a deciding factor – if not the deciding factor – on whether they attended Readercon in the first place.  That’s no exaggeration: I’ve seen more and more women over the last decade announce that they’re done with Cons because of how little Cons do to counter the rampant sexual harassment that goes on.  I’m pretty sure they passed that policy in response to their awareness of the issue.

But here’s the thing about policies:  once policy is set, it must be followed.

When Readercon didn’t follow its policy, the message to fandom was “Sure, we talk a good game, but if you’re a SMOF we’ll give you a pass” and all that good stuff they generated by passing the policy in the first place turned into a sense of betrayal.  Feelings were intensified exponentially because both the reaction to Mr. Walling’s behavior and the Concom’s betrayal were in place and interacting.  That’s not overreaction, though.  That’s reaction to far more than some people think is being reacted to.

That’s why it was appropriate – necessary in fact – for Mr. Walling’s 2-year ban to be brought into compliance with policy.  That’s why it was appropriate for the entire Concom to resign for blatantly ignoring the policy it set.

If they have the wrong policy – a topic for a different post – policies can be amended.  Lifetime bans can be rescinded or commuted once there is a new policy.  Or a door can be opened for someone to make the case that they are ready to be welcomed back into civilized company because they have learned how to conduct themselves in a civilized manner and make amends to those they’ve wronged – for certain, small, values of wrong.  But that can’t suddenly happen in the middle of the event, and especially not when it looks like the only reason it’s happening at all is that the offender in question is a personal friend of one or more members of the group who set the policy.

But it still leaves the elephant in the room:  rape culture is alive and well at SF Conventions, from harassment to rape and everything in between.  Every single Concom is now on notice that they need to take a stand by setting and enforcing policy with the same rigor they use for their weapons policy – and for the same reasons. 

And every single fan who hasn’t figured it out yet needs to get the memo:  We’re not Slans.

I’ll be a panelist at Readercon 24 in Burlington, MA on July 11 and 13, where among other things I will read a few poems, give a lecture on economic systems past and present, discuss fictional/mythological representations of the American Civil War, and interview some fairly knowledgeable people about how apocalyptic fiction compares to historical examples of regime collapse. Be there and be square?