E7: Sirens Part One – It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books – Infinite TBR
At the end of October 2021, Smack and Gabi attended the Sirens Conference in Denver, Colorado. The con dedicates itself to examining gender in speculative literature, and it’s very much a safe space in every sense of the word: it’s a place to share academic analyses, creative works, and a shared love of fantasy and other speculative literature, but the people in charge also work hard to make it a physically safe space to be during the pandemic. Everyone had to wear a mask at all times, prove we were fully vaccinated, and also provide a negative covid test upon arrival and check in. (Phew!)
On the last morning of the con, there’s an auction that offers the coolest fantasy-themed stuff: intricate cross stitched castles scenes, massive handmade banners with dragons on them, and merch for popular book series (among maaaaany other items). The auction is where Sirens makes most of the money that it puts toward scholarships for the following year.
Gabi won a coat that makes her look like an assassin and it would never in a million years fit Smack but she’s still so jealous.
But Smack did talk Gabi into bidding (and winning!) and an entire tote bag of hardcover books, the titles and covers of which are in the “Books Mentioned” section below. (The tote that held all those books reads, “It’s not hoarding if it’s books,” which we all need in our lives anyway.) Smack’s a bad influence during auctions. There’s really nothing else to add to that. She’s a bad influence.
- Spoilers for Last Night in Montreal appear from 34:11 to 40:45.
Other Books Mentioned:
We’ve marked the books that were part of the tote bag auction item Gabi won with an asterisk (*).
(This is a short story published by an online magazine, so there’s sadly no art to accompany it. Enjoy a pic of the author!)
One of our favorite panels at Sirens was actually more of a lecture–Marie Brennan gave the rundown on what kinds of ideas should be considered when building a fantasy world, including the world’s shape and geography, natural disasters, dining- and food-related customs, gestures of both respect and contempt, etc. etc. etc. She’s so smart and trained in multiple disciplines, including anthropology, which makes her an excellent worldbuilder. Her lecture basically followed the path that her New Worlds books (above) follow.
Another favorite was a workshop (we called it a panel in the recording, oops) on writing speculative poetry run by Bethany Powell. (You can track her down at bethanypowell.com or on Twitter at @EverBethany. [Note, though, that at the time of writing, her website is under construction.])
It was a safe space, just like the rest of Sirens. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t scary af to share our poetry to a small group who weren’t allowed to say anything critical! (Gabi was very brave <3)