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The Gathering at WisCon 30 (photo by Patrick Nielsen Hayden CC BY-SA)

WisCon bills itself as the world's leading feminist science fiction convention. In addition to being a feminist science fiction convention, it takes up issues such as class, race, sexual orientation, global society (especially linguistics) and gender identification.

WisCon was first held in 1977. WisCon 40 is scheduled for May 27–30, 2016.

Conference details

The convention is entirely volunteer run and limits its ranks to 1000 memberships sold, sometimes selling out in advance. WisCon is held annually on Memorial Day Weekend in the Madison Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to the convention, the well-known feminist bookstore A Room of One's Own hosts the Thursday night receptions for the guests of honor, and stays open the entire weekend of the convention.

Unlike most conventions, WisCon's demographics break down closer to 50/50 female-to-male con-goers with various people identifying outside the binary genders, and a significant portion of the attendants are minorities.

Conference programming

Compared to other science fiction conventions, WisCon is heavier on programming than most, with panel discussions beginning Friday afternoon and ending on Monday, beginning at 8:30am most days and not ending before midnight. As a brief example, panel discussions from previous years have included discussions on feminine icons in mythology, such as the Baba Yaga and the Armless Maiden, erotica's role in deconstructing the patriarchy, feminist linguistics, lesbian fiction, and a conversation with Joanna Russ hosted by Samuel Delaney.

Conference events and awards

Books for sale at WisCon (photo by K Tempest Bradford)

WisCon often hosts the James L. Tiptree Jr. awards annually for feminist science fiction as well as the Carl Brandon Society awards for speculative fiction exploring issues of race in society.

Female guests of honor

  • Eleanor Arnason
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Emma Bull
  • Pat Cadigan
  • Avedon Carol
  • Suzy McKee Charnas
  • Juanita Coulson
  • Beverly DeWeese
  • Suzette Haden Elgin
  • Carol Emshwiller
  • Karen Joy Fowler
  • Esther Friesner
  • Jeanne Gomoll
  • Nicola Griffith
  • Barbara Hambly
  • Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Nancy Kress
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Elizabeth A. Lynn
  • R. A. MacAvoy
  • Katherine Maclean
  • Maureen McHugh
  • Vonda McIntyre
  • Patricia A. McKillip
  • Judith Merril
  • Pat Murphy
  • Trina Robbins
  • Mary Doria Russell
  • Jessica Amanda Salmonson
  • Pamela Sargent
  • Melissa Scott
  • Sheri S. Tepper
  • Joan D. Vinge
  • Elisabeth Vonarburg
  • Connie Willis
  • Terri Windling
  • Elsie Wollheim
  • Susan Wood
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro


Further reading