K. Ceres Wright

Balticon 53

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May 23, 2019

I’ll be appearing on a few panels, conducting an interview, and helping to host a meet-and-greet for the writers support group, Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction at Balticon 53. Here’s my schedule:

Black Femininity in Afrofuturism: Saturday, May 25, 11:00 a.m.

African American women have been early adopters of national and international initiatives, such as abolitionism, civil rights, women’s rights, space travel, and hip hop—from Maria W. Stewart’s anti-slavery and women’s rights speeches in the 1830s, to Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement in the 2000s. This panel will discuss the contributions of Black women to the progression of the underpinnings of Afrofuturism.

Representation vs. Tokenism: Saturday, May 25, Noon

There is a long tradition of including diversity for diversity’s sake without making it part of the story. What is the difference between shallow and real inclusion? Does it have to be integral to feel like it’s not tokenism? How does this play out in the far future, in the past, or in original worlds?

Cyberpunk Remastered: Saturday, May 25, 2:00 p.m.

With Netflix’s adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon and Pat Cadigan’s adaptation of the manga-turned-Hollywood-movie Alita: Battle Angel, cyberpunk is alive and well after having first been declared dead in the 90s. Elements of cyberpunk have been subsumed into pop culture and can be found everywhere now—movies, music videos, video games, and more. How have the older tropes evolved in the last few years and how do we expect to see them incorporated in future works?

Muse on This Podcast with Sue Baiman: Saturday, May 25, 4:00 p.m.

Muse On This is a podcast focusing on interviews with creative people, and their inspirations and thought processes. Sue Baiman asks the questions to find out what makes the creativity flow. Featuring author K. Ceres Wright.

Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction Meet-and-Greet, Saturday, May 25, 5:00 p.m.

Come out and meet the members of Diverse Writers And Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF). Food, fun, and giveaways! There will also be a free screening of the award-winning short film, Rumination. The writer/director will be on hand to answer questions.

List of SFF Cons for 2019

by , on
May 23, 2019
Con Name and Link Dates
BaltiCon https://www.balticon.org/wp53/ May 24–27
WisCon http://wiscon.net/ May 24–27
BlerdCon https://blerdcon.com/ July 12–14
ReaderCon http://www.readercon.org/ July 11–14
San Diego ComicCon https://www.comic-con.org/ July 18–21
Confluence https://parsec-sff.org/confluence/ July 26–28
GenCon https://www.gencon.com/ August 1–4
WorldCon http://www.worldcon.org/ August 15–19
DragonCon http://www.dragoncon.org/ August 29–Sept 2
Black Readers and Writers Rock http://www.blackauthorsandreadersrock.com/ October 4–5
New York ComicCon http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/ October 3–6
Baltimore ComicCon http://baltimorecomiccon.com/ October 18–20
Capclave http://www.capclave.org/capclave/capclave19/ October 18–20
MultiverseCon https://www.multiversecon.org/ October 18–20
Baltimore Book Festival http://www.promotionandarts.org/events-festivals/baltimore-book-festival November 1–10
World Fantasy Con https://wfc2019.org/ October 31– November 2
New York Book Festival http://newyorkbookfest.brinkster.net/portal/ Not Posted

I’ll be at Capclave, Sept. 28-30, 2018

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Sep 28, 2018
I’ll be joining the Diverse Writers & Artists of Speculative Fiction – DWASF team at Capclave 2018 in Rockville, MD, on September 28-30, 2018. We will be participating on several panels to discuss AFROfuturism, movies, books, genetic engineering, politics, and much more. Also, there will be a DWASF meet-and-greet on Saturday at 4:30 PM. Discussions will be far-flung, thought-provoking, and entertaining with a healthy dose of fun. There will also be food, drink, and giveaways!

Come find out what AFROFuturism is. How does it affect us as human beings not limited by perceived notions of race, religion, or culture. How do “creators” from many different backgrounds make use of AFROFuturism in their works? Is this merely a flashy promotion for more Black Panther movies or a solid foundation for many new things to come?

Website: https://www.capclave.org/capclave/capclave18/

Hope to see you there!

Baltimore Book Festival

by , on
Sep 4, 2015

BBFBanner

I’ll be appearing at the Baltimore Book Festival on two panels:

Future: Charming? Baltimore City as a template for futurism
DATE: September 26, 2015
TIME: 4PM-5PM
LOCATION:
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

What does Baltimore look like in the future? SFWA Guest of Honor Tobias Buckell and a panel of writers, futurists and social designers discuss Charm City’s future through the lens of the engineer, the writer, and the activist. Panel led by Jason Harris (“Redlines: Baltimore 2028”).

Panelists: Anatoly Belilovsky, Tobias S. Buckell, Jason Harris, Nia Johnson, K Ceres Wright

Earl Grey, Hot: Future Food, Fantastical Food
DATE: September 26, 2015
TIME: 5PM-6PM
LOCATION:
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

From food pills to food printers to the latest in Elven lembas bread, our experts will whet your appetite for fictional food.

Panelists: Diana Peterfreund, Cat Rambo, Lawrence M. Schoen, Bud Sparhawk, Fran Wilde, K Ceres Wright Signing Table: Cinda Williams Chima

Confluence SF Convention

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Sep 4, 2015

I attended Confluence in Pittsburgh/Cranberry, PA, last month. Here’s a pic from a panel I was on, “Not Just Anglos,” and a picture with Jennifer Barnes and John Edward Lawson of Dog Star Books/Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Confluence

Confluence2

Diversity in Fantasy

by , on
Jan 28, 2015

I attended the World Fantasy Convention during the weekend of November 7–9, 2014, and was honored to serve on the panel, “Everybody was There: Diversity in Fantasy.” I learned much from my esteemed fellow panelists: Sarah Pinsker (moderator), Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kit Reed, and S. M. Stirling. I didn’t get a chance to touch on everything I wanted to say, so I’ll include it in this post.

The issue looming over the convention was the World Fantasy Award and whether the board would decide to keep the caricature bust of H. P. Lovecraft or scrap it. Lovecraft made significant contributions to fantasy, but was also known for his racist views toward African Americans, Asians, Jews, and just about everyone who wasn’t White. But what do we owe Lovecraft and his literary contributions?

I think you have to assess a book by both past and current standards in order to see how societal views have changed over time, and ultimately, why societal views have changed. To me, it’s not owing the past anything or forgiving the past, it’s understanding how historical events have molded world views. It’s good to have a holistic overview of the era in which the book was written, rather than taking views out of context.

I think we acknowledge Lovecraft’s contribution to the fantasy genre, but we also recognize his flaws, as with any writer. It makes them more human in our eyes. However, we, in 2014, are not beholden to Lovecraft. If handing an award with his likeness to people makes them uncomfortable because of his racist views, then I think the award needs to be changed.

Change is the nature of our society. As far as fantasy is concerned, I think we’re starting to see more change in YA fantasy, because I think younger people are more willing to entertain change. They’re growing up in a more diverse culture and open to seeing that diversity reflected in their media. However, I think a major problem is that children are not usually taught history from the person of color’s point of view. I was grown before I knew about Alessandro de’Medici, the Duke of Florence; Saint Maurice of Switzerland; or Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. By the time kids are grown, they believe they know exactly what shaped Western culture, and when they find out that yes, Blacks and Asians and women and others besides white males also played prominent roles in history, it upsets their world view. And people are loathe to change. They don’t like it.

I think that diverse books will allow readers with different abilities, backgrounds, and cultures, to see themselves reflected in the books they read. And diverse authors may encourage them to aspire to become writers of diverse books themselves. I know some writers may be hesitant to write about other cultures for fear of offending someone, but if one intends to become a serious writer, one has to learn how to research other cultures and incorporate that knowledge, in some way, into one’s writing. For example, don’t assume that the same standards of beauty cut across all cultures. I have a cousin who’s 6’3” and model thin, and felt she was discriminated against in the Bahamas because she was not overweight. I watched a documentary of an African man who wanted his wife to weigh 200 pounds for their wedding, so she sat in a hut and drank goat’s milk for weeks.

The incorporation of research makes for richer prose. If you’re worried about offending someone of a particular group, get on the Internet and ask someone to read some of your work and offer advice. Read the works of other writers of color, or women, or those who are differently abled to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Also, read “Writing the Other” by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.

I know it’s all about money in the world of publishing. But a recent Pew study showed that the most likely reader was a college-educated Black woman. I think there needs to be a paradigm shift across the industry, from the CEO, to the acquisitions editor, to the copy editor, to the book store owner. New audiences may require new marketing methods, but as I said before, change is the nature of our society.

One way to help bring about positive change surrounding diversity in fantasy is for editors of anthologies and magazines to solicit stories from diverse authors to let readers know about the existence of writers from different cultures and backgrounds. I think the traditional publishers aren’t taking risks as they would during flush economic times, so people looking for something different are starting to turn to small, independent, and self-publishers.

And if you want some recommendations, try Abengoni: First Calling, by Charles Saunders, who has been writing diverse fantasy since the seventies. There’s also the Constant Tower by Carole McDonnell, Changa’s Safari by Milton Davis, Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective by Valjeanne Jeffers, Taurus Moon: Magic and Mayhem by D. K. Gaston, Ghosts of Koa by Colby R. Rice, Sacrifices by Alan D. Jones, the Scythe by Balogun Ojetade, Sineaters by Kai Leakes, the Seedbearing Prince by Davaun Sanders, and Neon Lights by Zig Zag Claybourne.

If you find a diverse book you like, call or write the publisher and let them know you appreciate their efforts, and tell them you’ll purchase more books like that.

As Barbara Deming once said, “The longer we listen to one another—with real attention—the more commonality we will find in all our lives.”

World Fantasy Convention 2014 Photos

by , on
Nov 12, 2014

Here are some photos from the World Fantasy Convention:

Panel on diversity in fantasy
WFC-Diversity-Panel

At the mass book signing with Lyle Blake Smythers and John Edward Lawson
WFC-Book-Signing

At Heidi Ruby Miller’s reading with Tom Connair
WFC-Heidi-Reading

With Maria Alexander at the Raw Dog Screaming Press party
WFC-Maria-Alexander

World Fantasy Convention 2014

by , on
Nov 12, 2014

I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel at World Fantasy Convention 2014. The name of the panel was “Everybody Was There: Diversity in Fantasy.” My esteemed fellow panelists included Sarah Pinsker (M), Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kit Reed, and S. M. Stirling.

Description: Fantasy has had characters of many races, some human and others beyond. Whether it’s the young soldier woman in Deeds of Paksenarrion being asked whether she minds sharing a dining hall with “elder races” (elves and dwarves), or the alternate orientations of characters in Marion Zimmer Bradley Darkover series or Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, or the beauty of a foreign culture, such as that depicted in Bridge of Birds, fantasy authors have bravely gone where others feared to tread. How has diversity of race, ability, gender, sexual orientation, or belief system in fantastic literature changed over time? ​

WFC-Diversity-Panel

Having a Sexual Harassment Policy is not Enough

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Aug 22, 2013

The topic of sexual harassment, in general and specifically at science fiction (SF) conventions (cons), has been discussed online at length lately, due in part to the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) controversy (for a timeline of events, go here: http://www.slhuang.com/blog/2013/07/02/a-timeline-of-the-2013-sfwa-controversies/).

In response, John Scalzi, former SFWA president, has developed his own convention harassment policy (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/07/02/my-new-convention-harassment-policy/), which has been cosigned by more than 1,000 people.* Scalzi essentially says that a con must have a clear harassment policy, that the policy be well-publicized, and that complaints be dealt with promptly and fairly. But is just having a policy enough? I have worked in federal government contracting for 17 years, and although a con is not the same as a work place, following similar anti-harassment guidelines would not be a bad place to start. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-sex.cfm). While the subject of filing a complaint has been addressed by Scalzi’s policy, the subject of sexual harassment training has not, which is an action the EEOC encourages. There are free online training courses that cons can make available on their website to those interested in taking them, or even as hard copies at the site of the con. One of these online courses (University of North Carolina [UNC]: http://freedownloadb.org/ppt/sexual-harassment-training-2006513.html) has a specific policy for not using “dangerous words” when addressing sexual harassment complaints:

  • “It’s just teasing. No big deal.”
  • “I know he/she didn’t mean anything like that.”
  • “It’s your fault for dressing so provocatively.”
  • “Just ignore it.”
  • “He puts his arms around everyone.”
  • “We’ve never had a complaint, so we don’t have a problem.”

These phrases should be avoided at all costs. However, similar phrases have been offered as excuses or justification when discussing sexual harassment at cons. If nothing is done to proactively change the culture of “business as usual,” then it will remain the same, or change too slowly. Ultimately, sexual harassment prevention should be a goal of any con, not the parsing of fine distinctions of how many times a person has to initiate unwanted behavior before it’s considered harassment. UNC has a handy checklist of self-reflective questions to ask before initiating any questionable behavior (some are listed below):

  • Does this behavior contribute toward achieving our goals?
  • Could this behavior be sending out signals that invite harassing behavior on the part of others?
  • Would you say it in front of your spouse, parent, or child?
  • Would you say it if you were going to be quoted on the front page of a newspaper?

And some general tips:

  • Keep your hands to yourself.
  • Keep compliments casual and fairly impersonal.
  • Avoid jokes, words, phrases, and gestures with sexual meanings.
  • Don’t assume that a friendly woman/man will be willing to go to bed with you. Assume only that friendly people are friendly.
  • Respect a person’s personal space.

These lists can be posted around a con site, on the con’s website, and/or discussed at a panel or opening ceremony. I personally believe that since unwanted behavior seems to be pervasive at cons, every con should have at least one panel on sexual harassment. In such a venue, the topic could be discussed civilly, with a moderator, and perhaps even with limited roleplay to instruct participants in how to recognize sexual harassment and decide how to react to it. Changing a particular culture is not easy, but it can be done, with time and effort. So let’s put in the effort to make cons fun and safe for everyone. *[Ed. Note: Including signed by the publisher of Amazing Stories.]