Potlatch returns!

Guess what?!? Sooner than anyone thought, it's Potlatch! It's Foolscap! Buy one, get both!!! Yes, soon in a Seattle area near you, now with Extra Bonus Foolscap Content, Potlatch 22 is coming: February 1-3, 2013 at the Redmond Marriott Town Center. We'll be sharing the hotel side-by-side with Foolscap 15. The bonus content: your membership in Potlatch gets you all the usual Potlatchy goodness, plus includes a Foolscap membership, with full access to Foolscap program, art show, chocolate reception, and general silliness, plus some cool new fusion items leveraging the resources of both cons.

Gosh. How did we get here? Serendipitous circumstance, plus a touch of evil genius. Team Foolscap needed to move their convention off their long held September dates, and the Permanent Floating Seattle Potlatch Committee had independently been feeling overwhelmed, over-committed, and understaffed at the specter of pulling together a full Potlatch only a year after the last one, without our usual year off. And yet we had no prospects of another city able to run a Potlatch in 2013. The PFSPC thought we would let 2013 go by the way, then see if we could recruit enough new blood to make another run at hosting a Potlatch in 2014. Cue the Foolscap folk, in the person of Dave Howell, evil genius, who thought it would be a pity to let a year go by without a Potlatch, and also didn't want Foolscap to be seen as encroaching on the Potlatch time slot. So when Foolscap decided to move to February they offered Potlatch a chance to play along: two conventions, one hotel, one hospitality suite, two program tracks, and members mingling freely between the two, getting All the Stuff: Clarion West Alumni Readings. Nancy Pearl, Foolscap GoH. Board game night. Book of Honor: Jo Walton's Among Others. You Build It open programming -- where the members brainstorm and create panels on the spot. Taste of Clarion West writing workshop. Book swap. Reading group. More choice, more stuff, and each committee focusing on what they do best.

We think this is a win for everyone: those of us who have been doing Potlatch get to have another one with a significantly smaller people points overhead -- Foolscap has already settled the hotel, for instance. Meanwhile, Foolscap gets an out-of-town attendee bump in a year that might have been small due to the switch in dates. Everybody gets the synergy and cross pollination of mixing the two compatible but slightly different convention cultures and constituencies. Frankly, I think this will be a very cool, very exciting con -- this is the most excited I've been about running a Potlatch in years. I'm hoping you agree, and would like to come out and play along.

If you would like to join us for this effervescently brave experiment, and try a Potlatch with a bit of Foolscap in it (or vice versa) -- please visit the Memberships page to buy your membership today via PayPal or post.

Membership rates are:

Attending Membership: $50
Student Membership: $25
At the Door Attending: $75.

Hotel rates will be $109 per night, not including parking, and will be available through the Foolscap Hotel registration page. But please wait until we announce hotel registration availability to be sure to get the correct room rates. (The linked page does not yet include the correct room rate.)

This sudden, unexpected Potlatch is brought to you by Jack Bell and Jerry Kaufman, Programming; Suzanne Tompkins, Hospitality; David Levine, Communications and Taste of Clarion West writers workshop; Kate Yule, Local Guide, and [Your Name Here] in a dazzling array of supporting and participating roles. If you would like to help make this an even better Potlatch, please contact

Expect lots more updates and announcements as we plot with the Foolscap cabal, invent new ways to party, and build to a massive February Potlatchy crescendo. Meanwhile check us out on Facebook (Potlatch Convention), Twitter (@potlatch22), LiveJournal (potlatchcon community), or the ever popular Potlatch website (

But right now, we're on a short time line here, so please buy your membership now, now, now!

See you in Redmond,

Ulrika O'Brien
P22 Chair


Tough Guide to the Post-Apocalypse

Here are my notes from the Tough Guide to the Post-Apocalypse panel. Sorry, fonts (bold/italic) were lost.

The Tough Guide to the Post-Apocalypse
by Philip K. Slick

Zombies are a stylistic choice - it's hard to do steampunk stuff now that the trees are all gone - they're hard to ignite but they burn quite well - you can use leftover android lubricant as a starter fluid - do zombies use voodoo economics?

Leftover computers may or may not be available, depending on whether there was an electromagnetic pulse (but zombies have no pulse) - computers may be reduced to "person who computes" (mentat) - there may be computers in orbit that zap any resurgence of technology

Shortage of power means that computers and other tech can be used in places where solar power is available - hydroelectric and wind power may also be used

A single übercomputer may have caused the apocalypse in the first place and is now worshipped as a God - an ex-California Governor may be involved

The Apocalypse is the end of Life As We Knew It, or the way your mouth looks after eating that sour Japanese candy - a "lifting of the veil" to display that which is behind the world, the dawn of the New Jerusalem - like Utopia, which means both "good place" and "no place," Apocalypse is both the end of the old world and the dawning of a new and better world - not with a bang or a whimper, but a pratfall

Fashions in Apocalypse depend on the politics of the time and place in which the work was written - the current fashion depends on the fears of the time (atomic armageddon, ecological catastrophe, overpopulation) - the presentation may be science-fictional or horrific - the apocalypse may be escapist wish fulfillment, a chance to build the world as you would like it - the Cosy Apocalypse

People return to their old ways - the world becomes large again, in the absence of modern transportation and communication technologies - return to colonial or medieval lifestyles

Comedies about the end of the world include Dr. Bloodmoney, Dr. Strangelove, Good Omens, The Bed-Sitting Room - the apocalypse need not be grim

Why do we love the end of the world? It's a chance to start over with a clean slate - what if all the people vanished? (e.g. After Man, The Harvest, Re-Birth) - it's a chance to break all the rules - a chance to have the whole shopping mall to yourself - a chance to confront your fears about the worst the future may hold - a tremendously simplified world - it's very hot in YA right now (e.g. Hunger Games, Uglies, Ship Breaker) - we think of ourselves as the survivors who get to build the new world - a lot of good stories can be set in the rubble of the old world - a reaction to guilt about the current state of the world: we will be punished for our sins, but eventually redeemed - it also makes the lives we have now look ever so much better - we like to be scared - its a way of knocking the characters back along the Hierarchy of Need, reducing their priorities to the most basic - apocalyptic stories are a way of knocking issues of class away - the readers of apocalyptic fiction are those who are not currently fighting to put non-radioactive bread on the table - "what would we do if we couldn't continue our current cushy lives?" - people love to watch a train wreck or slow down to lookie-loo at automobile accidents - people are interested in things that are rare, distant, but could be potentially life-threatening - it's an evolutionary advantage to pay attention to rare and unlikely but potentially threatening event - a way to learn through observation or imagination

Apocalypse depends on point of view - from the perspective of the humans who have Left The Building, or the trees or the grass or the cockroaches, the end of the world could be a very good thing

Post-Apocalyptic fiction before the Bomb includes The Scarlet Plague, The Purple Cloud (a reaction to the gas warfare of WWI) and the entire New Testament

Alien invasion is a form of apocalypse (e.g. The War of the Worlds)

Darth Alfalfa says "I am your fodder" (I just thought of that one)
"Yonder lies the castle of my fodder"

Investigation of How Things Work - post-apocalypse as insight into human society - a kind of small-scale experiment in sociology - recolonization of a world without the need of interstellar travel - not all apocalypses involve humanity (e.g. The Star)

Use of humanity rather than technology - development of human power, human computers, selective breeding

Compound apocalypses involve the end (or the threatened end) of what's left of the world

Apocalyptic mission statement: often post-Apocalyptic fiction involves The Search for The Thing Left Over from the Old World, or the Attempt To Prevent Being Overrun by Mutants - in The City Not Long After the mission of the post-Apocalyptic society was to make art - some post-Apocalypse societies are focused on restoring civilization, others are focused on avoiding the mistakes of the Before Time

Tragedy can be found in many ways in post-Apocalyptic fiction - often those things that were important in the Before Time break down and become a sad parody of themselves

Rebuilding - some post-Apocalypse fiction covers the crash, some covers the rebuilding afterward (e.g. Lucifer's Hammer), some both, some take place a long time later - we like to see both the tearing down of the old world and the building of the new world (e.g. Farnham's Freehold) - Ballard did this several times - Short story "Lot" covered only the end, the movie Panic in Year Zero based on it showed the rebuilding as well - many of the most tedious New Wave stories were nothing but "everything breaks down, everybody dies" - sometimes there are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know and there's conflict between those who wish to rediscover the old knowledge and those who want to stop them

Glass half empty / glass half full / glass turned into radioactive slag

Even Cicero said that "times are bad, children disobey their parents, and everyone's writing a book" - every generation believes it is the last

Mortality - Apocalyptic fiction is young people's way of dealing with the realization of extinction of ego - the world today is different from what I expected and I'm more philosophical about it - what if we did manage to change the world? - what happens when we outlive our parents? - we live "larger" lives than our parents did; an apocalypse is a way of making the world smaller and more comprehensible again - we simplify the lives of people of an earlier generation, but their lives were as complex as ours

The post-apocalyptic world is a stand-in for our world - our world has finite resources, conflict, existential threats, fears about the future etc. but the apocalypse strengthens and focuses attention on these problems - "how can we bring children into such a horrible world?"

Saving the Library is a demonstration of the writers' fannishness - "my obsession is the thing that will save the world!"

Reinvention of technology - any reinvention will perforce be different from today because the post-apocalyptic environment is different - many resources were relatively easy to obtain when we first began to exploit them (literally lying around on the ground) - on the other hand, post-apocalyptic societies will find many resources conveniently pre-mined and left lying around in the form of manufactured goods

Post-apocalyptic picaresque novels (e.g. Davy, Julian Comstock) show adventure in a new, bucolic world

Wish fulfillment - we fans assume that we will be among the Heinleinian survivors - most women carry bags containing everything needed to re-start civilization - "if the apocalypse happens, at least I've got my Leatherman"... "and a book to read!" - Diana Paxson's post-apocalyptic world is basically the SCA - in Sterling's Dies the Fire the filkers defeat the SCA because, as goddess worshippers, they are nicer

If I survive the apocalypse I will finally be able to finish reading my To-Be-Read pile, and I'll have space to store it - just don't break your glasses

The apocalypse represents the end of time - you now have all the time in the world - do you or do you not restart time? (So far we have restarted it every time this has happened)

The post-apocalypse as morality play - the population reduced to such a small number of people that it becomes a question of psychology, denial, and interpersonal dynamics

The Last Fan On Earth Sat Alone in a Room - there was a LoC on the door

Repopulation - We Who Are About To and other works deal with the question of reproduction and repopulation - who should breed, how much, and why? - should the "imperfect" (e.g. insulin-dependent diabetics) be allowed to survive and breed?

Two raccoons look out on the human world - one says "now?" and the other replies "be patient, they're screwing it up as fast as they can" - one Rotsler cartoon shows a fuggheaded character saying "what, you mean evolution isn't over?"
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Whither Potlatch? Talk about it now, and/or come to the panel!

At 9 am next Sunday morning (March 6) at Potlatch 20, there will be a panel called Whither Potlatch? Here's the description: For a while it looked like Potlatch 20 might be the last one in its current form. A Potlatch 21 committee has now been formed, but this is still a worthwhile discussion to have. Let’s have a general conversation in the Potlatch community about when, how, and whether to keep holding Potlatches. What are the possibilities?

And here's an excerpt from an email that Suzanne V. Tompkins, one of the co-chairs of Potlatch 19, sent out last month: We think that the entire Potlatch community is entitled to have a say in what happens next. If Potlatch is a coming together and sharing event as it's meant to be, then how it evolves isn't strictly up to this small group of old fans and tired, here in Seattle.

Whaddya think? I won't be on the panel myself, but I'll be there in the audience, hooting and hollering at Tom Becker, Jack Bell, and Ulrika O’Brien and generally making a nuisance of myself. No, wait. We're talking about 9 am on a Sunday. I'll be there, calmly and quietly listening and pretending that I'm not just finishing my breakfast. I hope to see you there, too, or in discussion here.