LaShawn’s Wiscon 35 Schedule

It feels like I’ve barely caught my breath from going to Mo*Con last weekend before running out the door again to Wiscon. I’ll do con reports next week, but first, let me post where I’m gonna be this weekend:

Friday 1pm: The Gathering (though I’m going to arriving a little late because I get off of work at 1pm)
I’m going to be at the Gathering doing temporary tattoos. Stop by!

Sunday 10am: Once Upon A Time
Participants: Vylar Kaftan, Kimberly A. Blanchette, Christopher Davis, Julia Rios, LaShawn M. Wanak

Panelists use the card game "Once Upon a Time" to tell half-baked fairy tales for laughs. Find out what happens when panelists play tug-of-war with a story, trying to bend it towards wildly different endings.

Sunday 2:30pm: SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL
Participants: K. Tempest Bradford, Amal El-Mohtar, Victor Raymond, LaShawn M. Wanak
Back for a third go-round, by popular demand! Writers of color working in F/SF face unique challenges, it’s true. But, at the end of the day, being a "person of color" is only one aspect of what makes up our identities as writers. While it’s very flattering to asked to be on panels, most of these panels never crack the ceiling of Race 101. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be nice for multiple writers of color to sit on a panel that isn’t about race at all? Here’s our chance to do just that. So, what are we gonna talk about, instead? Practically anything! Presented in game show format, SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL brings together writers of color to get their geek on about any number of pop culture topics—none of them race related.

Sunday 4pm:For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Shapeshifting, Teleporting, & Conjuring….
Participants: K. Tempest Bradford, Neesha Meminger, Nnedi Okorafor, LaShawn M. Wanak, Ibi Aanu Zoboi
Five women writers of color read from their speculative fiction featuring extraordinary WOC in extraordinary circumstances. (I don’t know if I consider my characters extraordinary, but I will be reading an excerpt from "She’s All Light".)

***

I won’t be doing the writer’s workshop this year, sadly, mainly because I didn’t have anything ready by the deadline (story of my life these days). However, because all of my panels are on the same day, Sunday, I decided I’m going to go all out and go baby doll goth. Because I got the dress. Y’all. The tricky part would be finding a big white flower to stick in my locs.

Other than that, I’ll be roaming around when I’m not at panels or scheming my way into the Governor’s Club, so feel free to say hi!

GoodReads Book Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okurafor

(Lately, I’ve been posting more and more of my book reviews on Bookreads. I like the site and the social network feel of it, and if I just want to post something short, or nothing at all, I can still rate the book. I’ll still post longer reviews here at the Café though, starting with the one I did of Nnedi Okurafor’s Who Fears Death.)

It’s been several days since I read this book and I’m still thinking about it. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow…

"Who Fears Death" is amazing. Nnedi had me hooked from page one. It deals with some heavy issues from the get go–children born from brutal rapes, female circumcision, genocide, child soldiers–but it’s not graphic. Onyesonwu has to deal with all that and learn how to control her magic before her natural father kills her. But in spite of all those heavy issues, Onyesonwu keeps persisting for truth and calling attention to the injustice of her people.

I liked how Onye had to deal with consequences of magic, like coughing up feathers when she changed into a bird. I liked how Nnedi doesn’t provide easy answers: Onye is strongly against female circumsion, but her friend sees it as protection against her father sexually molesting her. I like how the characters are willing to change. One of the more powerful scenes is a person cursing Onye for something horrific she’s done–then the next night coming to her, talking to her, agreeing to listen why she did what she did, and ultimately forgiving her. Reconciliation is a strong theme in this book.

And I deeply love the relationship between Onye and her friends. They bicker. They make up. They avoid each other. They confront each other. They slap each other. They defend each other. They have sex with each other. Well, I take that back. Sex does play a role in this book, but while there’s plenty of sexual escapades among Onye’s friends, they respect the bond between Onye and her soulmate, another Ewu. But the lengths Onye’s friends go to in order for her to learn magic is amazing and humbling. In a way, Onye and her friends acted immature when it came to relationships; but the circumstances they were in helped balance it out and made them grow. The ending was devastating to me–but in a good way. It had me thinking about it for a long time.

I gave this book as a gift to my grandmother without reading it first. Now I wish I didn’t–I would’ve held on to it with both hands and feet. This book ranks 5 vultures out of 5, and leave it to Nnedi to have me not think of the vulture as a creepy bird anymore.