Monday, July 10, 2006

Back from CONVERGENCE

A special thank you goes out to everyone we met while attending Convergence this year in Minnesota.

Once again, the local Asian American writers came together to give a series of panels and presentations to over 1,000 science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages in one of Minnesota's largest conventions.

Hmong, Lao, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese writers were represented by Bao Phi, myself, Shoua Lee, May Lee, Peter Yang and Juliana Pegues.

On Friday, July 7th, at 9:30 PM, we presented our annual Giant Lizard Theater poetry reading, providing a fun and engaging opportunity for families to become familiar with Asian American poetry, and even destroyed a miniature city in the process.

Interestingly, the panels highlighting Hmong American writing as well as tales of the supernatural (both traditional and modern) were very well attended, showing that there is indeed an audience for their writing, despite what some publishers have said.

Other workshops included "Out There: Sulu, Sex and Space," addressing the implications of George Takei's recent revelations that he was GLBT, as well as current issues in the depiction and treatment of GLBT and Asian Americans by speculative media, and why it matters.

We had a packed room for "Heroines and Heroes of the Old Country," where we discussed several figures from Hmong, Lao, Vietnamese and Chinese traditions, including a reading of the original Fa Mulan poem (I should note that it was an edition translated into English, however.)

We also conducted "Yellowspace" a panel discussing the history of Asians and Asian Americans in the popular science fiction of the 21st century. We tackled everything from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to the X-men, Serenity/Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Grudge, and almost every other major film or tv show that had come out during that time.

We even held the first Golden Horde Awards, which gave recognition to the worst actors, actresses and films that set back perceptions of Asians and Asian Americans in the last 6 years. Sadly, there were far too many viable candidates. This year's winners were Tom Cruise, Lucy Liu, and The Last Samurai.

Will we attend next year? Definitely! Once again, thank you all for supporting us!
I'll try to post photos soon!

9 comments:

raacluse said...

Sounds wonderful! Have other AA efforts (programming) been done before, elsewhere (other cons)?

Bryan Thao Worra said...

We ran the first practical trials in 2005 during CONVERGENCE with a small cadre of Asian American writers, and the initial response was positive enough to convince us to try a slightly retuned selection of panels and readings this year. The success of this year's panels suggests we're definitely on the right track.

We also conducted a series of workshops during DIVERSICON, also in MN. That's gone very well, in fact. This year, we'll continue to present Asian American programming.

For others who are reading this particular post with interest, you may want to check out the Carl Brandon Society, which is a network of science fiction professionals and fans who are dedicated to addressing the representation of people of color in the fantastical genres such as science fiction, fantasy and horror. The website is at www.carlbrandon.org and has some great resources.

Avinsen said...

I believe that the reported number of attendees at CONvergence was over 2500.

Also, as we discussed at the con, you should really open up the poetry readings to more than just Asian Americans. Although I understand the stand point of having an AA theme programming track, I think you would get a wider exposure for AA writers if a more open forum was introduced.

Additionally, I'd love to see you guys come up with a Godzilla suit for next year. I'd be happy to help build some mockup buildings for the Big-G to trample!

Anonymous said...

2553, actually.

And he's right - we've been discussing this a lot. And we reach the same conclusion, in different phrasings. We should talk in person about it. Maybe at the ice cream party Wed. (email me for details).

BUT, regarding stomping on cities, we should always remember the classic Xenophile cover where "Gojiro" is about to stomp on "Tokyo" (man in G-suit, women in strategically-placed buildings costume). Ka's "date" poem reminds me of the same concept. . . ! ;)

C

Bryan Thao Worra said...

Well, I think we'll definitely be opening it up for a big show with next year's theme being Creature Feature. :) It's pre-made for us practically, so we have to make it good. :) You've got some great points there.

raacluse said...

So you guys are thinking of an entry in the costume show?

Bryan Thao Worra said...

In the times we've previously done this, we haven't really done the 'costume' element of the conventions.

The closest we came is wearing relevant t-shirts or something green for Giant Lizard Theater (the starting poetry reading on Friday nights.)

However, when you see all of the great and imaginative selections others have come up with, it's hard not to feel wistful and have the gerbil wheels spinning about what you would wear.

Standout costumes worn by others this year ranged from Hello Kitty as a Klingon warrior to several different anime characters, the obligatory Star Trek and Star Wars characters, Wallace and Grommit and the evil gal from The Little Mermaid.

So, right now, costumes for next years Asian American writers are currently a 35% likelyhood. Holding panels and readings is a 100% likelyhood. Hosting a room / cabana is currently at a 45% likelyhood. We'll see. :)

Avinsen said...

You know, C does costuming, and we know plenty of others who do as well. I think a Big-G cosplay is a must.

Cabana Room - Start making your plans. In your own words: "It's pre-made for us practically, so we have to make it good."

We can probably come up with a T-shirt design for give aways at the party. It'd not only be a great promotion for Giant Lizard Theater, but it'd be a great outreach for the AA community at large. I mean, have you guys ever hosted a party?

Now who do I know with a copy of Bio-Zombie?

Anonymous said...

Whoaa, I can't believe you mentioned "standout costumes" and didn't include the Battle Llama, with it's Underworld-werewolf-style feet! That was a professional-level costume, from a guy who's not done this before, let alone stand up and enter Masquerade! He would have won the event, I'd bet, if Elizabeth and her husband (they own The Source shop) hadn't done that silly and wonderful Klingon Hello Kitty. (BTW, it was fun watching them shop for the fabric when they got that $25/yard polkadot-"fur" for the arms. . . we were shopping for fabric for little M. at the same time - funny day.)

C