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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Zombies at Wiscon

There was a major zombie outbreak while I was at Wiscon, the world's leading feminist science fiction convention, this past weekend.

While the other inhabitants of Madison, Wisconsin were barricading themselves in homes and malls with shotguns, Wiscon organized a Zombie Outreach volunteer force which met the zombies in the hotel lobby, gave them muzzles, and took them to Zombie Orientation.

There were zombie-free zones for those who wanted a break from the zombies, and zombie-only space where zombies could get together to discuss their experiences. There were shambling and pursuing rights-of-way, marked off in blue tape on the party floor (which also had plastic laid down for easy cleaning of any infected blood). There were panels (ably organized at the last minute by the Programming committee) on "How to be a good zombie ally", "Brain-eating: negotiating consent", and " 'Graaaains!': Vegan zombies and ecological sustainability".

If you were bitten, you were supposed to report to Zombie Orientation where you got a corresponding ribbon for your badge, a muzzle, and tips from experienced zombies on adapting to being differently alive.

By and large, the zombies were extremely cooperative (though there were a couple who refused to wear their muzzles and kept chasing and devouring people during panels, which led to endless and heated discussions by the concom about appropriate measures). It took the non-zombies a little longer to get past some of their prejudices, but some of the non-zombies did important ally work in getting people to see past living privilege, and I think real progress was made.

In general, I'm just really proud of how Wiscon handled the whole thing.

Also, who knew zombies could sing karaoke?

Posted by benrosen at May 28, 2008 11:12 AM | Up to blog

You goon! :-)

Miss you! :-(

Posted by: Mary Anne Mohanraj at May 28, 2008 02:13 PM

I still say this should go into the program for next year.

Posted by: Dave Schwartz at May 28, 2008 02:33 PM

I'm game, but I am not sure who to send it to...

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at May 28, 2008 02:40 PM

You silly person :)

This is brilliant, though: 'Graaaains!': Vegan zombies and ecological sustainability


Posted by: Matt at May 28, 2008 04:01 PM

(Actually Ellen Klages told me the vegan zombie/grains joke, and she got it from a cartoon somewhere, so I cannot take credit)

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at May 28, 2008 04:05 PM

(Also, some of the panelists were arguing that traditional carnivorous zombies had a much more positive impact on the environment...)

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at May 28, 2008 04:06 PM

You forgot to mention the meat volcanos.

Posted by: Scott Janssens at May 28, 2008 05:41 PM

That is the most brilliant con report, ever. I'm so glad I got to meet you.

Posted by: Mary Robinette Kowal at May 28, 2008 09:18 PM

Meat. Volcanoes. At a feminist convention?


Posted by: Matt at May 28, 2008 09:55 PM

Matt, feminism is about getting to enjoy the meat volcanoes when you want to, not when they say so, you know?

Or something.

Scott, I'm hoping someone will send around or post the results of that "Let's Build A World" panel so I can link to it, because it was super hilarious.

Mary, I'm so glad I finally got to meet you too! I finally realized what story of yours I've read -- "The Bound Man" in Twenty Epics, which I really liked.

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at May 28, 2008 10:22 PM

Vectorial analysis of the zombifurcation seems to suggest that copious use of Purell was moderately effective in minimizing accidental transmission. Predominantly only those who wanted to get sick... er, be changed, did.

[backs away slowly from slavering horde]

Posted by: Sean M. Murphy at May 28, 2008 11:17 PM
Matt, feminism is about getting to enjoy the meat volcanoes when you want to, not when they say so, you know?

Oh! I didn't know. Enlightenment seems nearer every day, now.

Posted by: Matt at May 29, 2008 04:14 PM

Thanks for almost making the experience of the past few days bearable.

I know where to send it, Ben -- consider it done.

Posted by: Jesse the K at May 30, 2008 09:04 PM

For your dining and dancing pleasure.

It was great to meet you!

Posted by: Kristine at May 31, 2008 03:32 AM

Ben, I'm so glad you posted this! I keep trying to explain to people what Wiscon's all about . . . now, I'm sure they'll understand.

Posted by: Ellen Kushner at May 31, 2008 03:38 AM
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