Back Under the Rainbow

I spent almost all of the past weekend at Gaylaxicon 2008 in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’m really glad I did. If you don’t know, Gaylaxicon is a rather boutique science fiction convention that is given yearly by the Gaylactic Network, a smallish but national fan organization. It’s generally very civilized and small. If you are a GLBT fan who likes science fiction/fantasy/horror this is a great thing. If you are a fan of GLBT sci fi/fantasy/horror, this is also for you. They draw several small press owners and reps, and that provides a lot of the “boutique” I spoke of.

Back last summer one of the ConComm wrote and invited me to be a guest—a speak on panels and amuse the attendees sort of thing—probably since I was the Artist GOH in 2000. It took me a while to get my head together on the subject and I did reply in the affirmative in August. Organizational issues not withstanding, Peter (who was doing registration) was gracious enough to let me in as a guest. Kay had to pay her own way, so I bought her lunch both days. The things she’ll do for sushi, honestly.

I got a much warmer reception than I expected, really, given that Kay and I were fairly cheesed off when we withdrew from those groups almost seven years ago. However, the hatchet’s been buried—and not in anyone’s head. The Gaylactic Network folks are decent people. As an organization, it has its flaws, but no more or less than many such. We ain’t none of us perfect. I’m glad that their current Speaker (president) is minded to make some changes, and I wish him luck with it. I just don’t have the time or energy to devote to that again—and Kay and I tried to make changes, too. Hopefully we planted some seeds way back then, and Wayne can make it work now.

Their current webgeek, Andrew, asked me what we could do with their site, and what do you know? The Open Source CMS that I use for the Great American Stations web site (I’m the site producer and webmother) is primarily a community-building tool. Hah. Building a Plone site is no picnic, let me tell you. However, it’s not that awful if you use a lot of the out-of-the-box features. Tweaking the skin really hard, however, as we did at Amtrak, is a trying enterprise. The learning curve can be steep, in that case. Nonetheless, Plone will let you build a really useful object base and let you concoct custom views into it. The Network needs something that will help them create a knowledge base, and special hosting needs aside, this will do the trick.

So, back to the convention. I sat on two panels, “How do you like your women,” and “Erotica in the Genre.” Egad! Smut AND geekification. Can it get any better? I don’t think so. The first panel didn’t do much, since opinion panels are full of…well, opinons. Boring. I sat and looked out upon the four or five women who had wandered in and they gazed back unconcernedly. I whispered to the butch next to me, who whispered back. Bad manners, that. Sorry. We all agree that Amanda Tapping is Hot. So is Gina Torres.

The second panel was quite interesting in that it talked about how mainstream or not erotica had gotten for sci fi/fantasy/horror (in books and media), and the GOH, Geoff Ryman, was fun to listen to. No, not THAT kind of interesting. Many useful writerish tidbits in that discussion. An interesting observation: men having the sort of romantic relationships women write about (especially in slash) IS the fantasy part of the story…which I thought was pretty funny. It made me think that what I’ve written isn’t too far off the mark, in terms of describing believable males.

Geoff also said something along the lines of men’s taste in erotica basically stultifying at age 13. Delicately put, that’s a partner ready to do the deed around every corner. This is interesting in light of people’s comments read on the DAZ3D Commons in a recent debate on the subject of “Have Women Lost Their Femininity,” which provided weeks of entertainment and many fine opportunities for absurdity. There were several gentlemen who allowed that they do say no, from time to time. Or that they just can’t find someone appropriate. In other words, they sounded like adults…but that’s real life, not fiction. No telling what they fantasize about…but of course, a look at their 3D Poser galleries would tell you in an instant.

All in all, things went rather better than expected. I did talk to Alicia Austin at length, as well as Geoff Ryman, and enjoyed both conversations immensely. Alicia’s been in fandom as an illustrator for donkey’s years, and her fine draftsmanship hasn’t wavered in all this time. She’s quite a lovely, down-to-earth person, too. Geoff is droll, witty, and Englishy. Kay got her sushi lunch, we caught up with old friends, and made some new ones. Well done. Thank you, Kay, for kicking my butt and making me go.

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