Panel Description: Back for a second 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 and, 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, 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.
Panelists: Yoon Ha Lee, Cecilia Tan, Shveta Thakrar, Julia/Sparkymonster (moderator), Andrea Hairston, Amal El-Mohtar
Panelists introduce themselves while the topics are taped to the wall. Topics are as follows:
1) Apocalypse A-Go-Go
2) Super Michael Jackson Ballerina
3) Zombie Care Bear Stare
4) What would Johanna Do?
6) [Blank] in spaaaaace!
7) Sparkle Pony
8) We welcome our robot overlords!
“What is your favorite Michael Jackson song?” (topic 2)
Amal: “Free Willy”, Andrea: Can’t remember the name, and is reluctant to try singing or humming it. Julia: “Beat It”; Shveta: an Indian video version of “Thriller”; Cecilia: “Beat It”, because of the unstated masturbatory reference: Yoon Ha: “Ben”. (she only knows two MJ songs)
“Slow zombies or fast zombies?” (topic 1)
Amal: she is sick of slow zombies, she wants fast ones like velociraptors. Andrea: “I hate binaries.” Julia: slow zombies, because she isn’t a sprinter. A nice old-fashioned, shambling, parts-falling-off zombie. Shveta: “I’m still hung up on the idea of eating brains. Brains are smelly.” Amal: “they’re also delicious!” Cecilia: As a science fiction fan, she finds herself wondering: why are they slow or fast? They’re slow at first because of rigor mortis, then they loosen up and are faster, until they slow down again because their limbs have fallen off. Yoon Ha: Fast zombies would make for a better apocalypse, so she’s in favor of them.
“What small furry animal would make the best zombie?” (topic 3)
Julia: a badger. With Linux installed. Andrea: wallabies or kangaroos, something that can hop and has pouches for body parts. Amal: Bunny zombies. She is trying to imagine them bounce-shambling. Yoon Ha: Ferret. Small, cute and vicious. Cecilia: She also goes for ferrets. Shveta: A peacock zombie.
“How many bad fics did you write after reading Mercedes Lackey when you were a child?” (topic 7)
Some back history on the blue-eyed telepathic sparkling ponies that choose the saviors of the kingdom. Amal: “I didn’t realize this was the bare-all panel.” She wants to read Mercedes Lackey now. She never wrote fantasy fanfic; Star Trek was her stuff. She used to write stories about being BFFs with Deanna Troy. Andrea: She used to act her fanfic. She does her Spock imitation. “Fascinating, but incorrect. Why would you think of making such an assumption with so little data?” Julia: she has a long history of embarrassment with Mercedes Lackey. She summarizes the plots of some of the books to much laughter from the audience. Shveta: she is not sure if she is happy or unhappy to have never read Mercedes Lackey. She used to write stories about getting together with Link from the Zelda video games. Cecilia: she came to Lackey too late and was just fed up with it. When she was younger she used to play Batgirl/Catwoman with a friend. There was a lot of tying each other up. Amal (sarcastic): “That was not an indication of anything to come.” When Cecilia was in high school, she was the president of the largest Menudo fanclub in the world! Ricky Martin was pretending to be asleep in the next bed when she lost her virginity. Later he said that that was what turned him gay! Yoon Ha: Pern fanfic. Unicorn riders who fought dragons. The dragons were mutant unicorns.
“Tell me about mutant unicorn dragons.” (topic 7 again)
Julia: I am concerned about how this affects the children. I think they should practice safer riding. Andrea: they were the results of artificial insemination. They are circling the convention even now, waiting to have their way with us! Amal: “I made this mutant to please you, but you don’t seem to like it. What’s with all the screaming?” Shveta: I AM a mutant unicorn dragon. Cecilia: It is totally plausible that dragons are mutant unicorns, just like orcs were mutant elves. Yoon Ha: Does this count as talking about race?
“Can you remember a time you tried to adapt a recipe to make it vegan or gluten free, and it went horribly wrong – or surprisingly right?” (topic 4)
Julia: Yes. Her mother is celiac, and she made a cake soaked in bourbon that her mother didn’t want to share with anyone else. Andrea: Her father was a red meat fan and hated bananas. Rather than catering to his desires, she made him a tofu meal with banana cream pie as dessert and didn’t tell him what was in the food. He ate large amounts without knowing what was in it, then acted sickened when he found out. His wife called him on his bullshit! Amal: She is only a vegetarian by association. A lot of her friends have a lot of other dietary restrictions besides being vegetarian. One friend is a vegetarian, but hates vegetables. She subsists on pasta and cheese. Shveta: she has no funny stories; she passes. Cecilia: in charge of making dessert for a seder for vegans. Almond cookies with vegetable shortening. The cookies looked beautiful, but tasted like nothing… until drenched in chocolate! Yoon Ha: she is a terrible cook, but managed to make a vegan meal out of only three ingredients. She has learned not to disrespect cornmeal!
“If the robot overlords come and insist that we all get a cybernetic enhancement, what would you choose?” (topic 8, and also a repeat question from last year)
Amal: “Is it too much to ask to have a Tardis inside me?” Now that the show is getting crappier, the Tardis is all she cares about. Andrea: I want to BE a robot overlord, so fuck just having a single enhancement. I want to go all the way! Julia: She wants a jack in the back of her neck. Yoon Ha: A gun. Shveta: She’d like some eye implants so she can read in boring meetings and look like she’s paying attention.
“In your favorite SF TV show, who do you think is hard done by, and why?” (topic 5)
Amal: a toss-up between Guinan and Worf. They both have war-torn backgrounds. Guinan was an underused character with an amazing backstory who should have gotten more development. Andrea: “I feel for the redshirts. If you’re going to die for me, I’d like to have at least 30 seconds of backstory.” Julia: she was just rewatching the Wrath of Khan: Carol Marcus, the mother of Kirk’s son, and the pathetic son who dies. Uhura. She has untapped depths of awesomeness. Cecilia: Sulu. The only guy on television besides Bruce Lee who looked like her father. Yoon Ha: incomplete data, because Star Trek aired at 1:00 AM when she was a kid, so she hardly ever got to watch it. She wanted to know more about Geordie. Shveta: she has only seen a couple of episodes of Star Trek! Does this mean she loses her geek cred? The audience says yes. Doh!
“What will be the first fast food franchise in space?” (topic 6)
Julia: A Dunkies (as they call it in Boston). Amal: Starbucks. She hates them and boycotts them, but she thinks they’ll be first. Andrea: This company doesn’t yet exist. It will go closer to the speed of light. It will not need to be ingested, it will be an experience of calorie enhancement. Shveta: A huge ugly megacorporation, a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Cecilia: Something like In-and-Out Burger that continues the Gernsback tradition of transportation and eating. No… it will be Soylent Green. Yoon Ha: something non-Western. Cecilia interjects that Pizza Hut is the most popular restaurant in China.
“A Khaaaaan! yell that isn’t Khaaaan? Go!” (topic 5)
The unanimous answer is “WisCoooooooon!!!!”
“Tell us something about Finland.” (topic 4)
Reindeer meat. Lots of Finnish people. Light and dark at different times than we are familiar with. Nokia phones and lots of booze. (I lost track of who said what on this one.)