s.e. smith (@realsesmith)
The diversity of programming is always amazing. I will never forget attending a live workshop where we discussed fencing techniques and choreography—as a fencer, I found it really enlightening to see how other people fence and integrate the sport into their work. I’ve also attended some fabulous roundtables, including one where we went in deep on reproductive issues and the day-to-day of life in fantasy landscapes, and the role that women play—where do people get their clothes, how do they prepare their food, and who cleans the toilets? My all time number one favourite panel, though, has to be one I was on (of course)—in which Andrea Horbinski, Jen Michaels, Rae Carson, and I took on the strong female character archetype and deconstructed it, all while drinking wine, beer, and cocktails.
Sherwood Smith (@sherwood_smith)
It is difficult to choose which program items were amazing because there have been so many, on such a variety of subjects. If I have to pick one, it would be last year’s panel on religion in fantasy. The panelists were from a diverse range of religious viewpoints, plus non-religious, and yet the atmosphere was never acrimonious. All treated one another with respect, while delving deeply into the topic.
One of my favorite workshops was a class on the language of the fan taught by author Sherwood Smith. We talked about different books that used fans as a language. Then we divided into groups and made up our own languages. We came up with a message and the other groups had to see if they could figure out what we were saying. Some of the misunderstandings had us in hysterics laughing.
Another high point for me is the Bedtime Story sessions. Getting to hear the Guests of Honor read from their unpublished works is a treat. The variety is amazing. I have heard everything from poetry written as a teenager to sneak previews of works in progress.
Faye Bi (@faye_bi)
I love all of Sirens’s programming, to the point that my fellow staff-people know that they can’t take programming away from me! (Not that they would ever.) Besides the atmosphere, programming is the highlight of my Sirens experience–I’ll share one of my earliest Sirens memories, which was the roundtable led by Katie Hoffman back in 2009, called “Finding Femininity in a Warrior’s World.” I distinctly remember going around the room, having the moderator ask us to give an example of what it meant to be “feminine,” and listening to everyone’s responses, like “curves” and “nesting in one’s home.” We went on to analyze examples of femininity of characters we read in fantasy books, from Kel’s cool-as-a-lake competence to Nimiar’s strength in etiquette. It was one of the best conversations I’ve had about books, and the stuff college-discussion-section dreams are made of.