Diversicon 2015

Sahtu Press founder Nor Sanavongsay recently provided the convention art for this year's Diversicon in Minnesota, with Rob Callahan and Afrofuturist Ytasha Womack. The posthumous guests included jazz musician Sun Ra, and writers Gene L. Coon and Leigh Bracket.

Ytasha L. Womack is a filmmaker/author/journalist and choreographer. She is the author of Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture (2013), and author/creator of the popfuturist novel 2212: Book of Rayla, first in a series. Her other books include Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity (Lawrence Hill Books). She also co-edited the anthology Beats, Rhymes and Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip Hop (Harlem Moon/Random House). Her film projects include The Engagement (director) and Love Shorts (producer/writer). She is a Chicago native.

Rob Callahan is a professional purveyor of made-up stories about the way we really are. His works of fiction include the novel Hellbound Snowball and the short story collection A Wish Upon a Fallen Sky. He has written and performed two award-winning spoken shows, Idiosynchronicity and The Last Ditch (co-written with Allegro Lingo), and he regularly joins the Minneapolis entertainment troupe The Rockstar Storytellers on stage. His nonfiction has been featured in Secrets of the City, Salon.com, l'etoil Magazine, and Cracked.com. He lives in the Twin Cities.

Diversicon is an annual speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy, or SF) convention held the first weekend of August in the Minneapolis-Saint PaulMinnesota area. Diversicon provides programming and social opportunities to encourage the multicultural, multimedia exploration and celebration of SF by those within and outside of the traditional SF community. Diversicon includes both live and posthumous guests. It is sponsored by SF Minnesota.

Diversicon's programming—typically three simultaneous tracks—focuses on literature but also includes items related to film, TV, comics, art, science, and other subjects. Science fictionfantasyhorror, and slipstream/magic realism genres are all represented.

Programming topics are solicited from preregistered attendees.[2] Programming items often focus on authors and/or fictional characters from underrepresented groups; how work deals with themes of race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, dis/ability, and other definitions of "difference"; and how contemporary issues around diversity influence the reading and writing of SF.

Most programming items are panel discussions. In addition, guests of honor are interviewed and participate in Q&A with the audience. Other formats include roundtable discussions, film screenings, informational presentations/workshops, and concerts.

The convention includes an Art Show; displaying artists are encouraged to attend and be available to discuss their work with attendees. It also includes a Dealers' Room where various jewelry, books, magazines, clothing/accessories, and other items are for sale. The ConSuite is a room with comfortable, informal seating and light food and drink. Parties are held each evening. [3]

In addition, there is an auction of speculative fiction books, collectibles, and other items to raise money for SF Minnesota

Diversicon is sponsored by SF Minnesota, a nonprofit organization. SF Minnesota was founded in February 1992 by a group that wanted to create a Twin Cities speculative fiction convention with a different tone and focus from what already existed. They decided that Diversicon would celebrate and explore the connections between speculative fiction (SF) and diversity, particularly in three areas:

  • Cultural diversity. Slightly more than two thirds of Diversicon's guest professionals have been women. A number of guests have been persons of color. A number of guests have been openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual and/or have written SF that explores issues of alternate sexuality.

  • Diversity of fan groups. Diversicon would be openly welcoming, friendly, and respectful to the wide range of SF-related organizations in the area, ranging from book clubs to writing groups, Star Trek and anime clubs, creative anachronists and futurist organizations, and anyone else who shared an interest in diversity and the imagination.

  • Diversity in media. Recognizing that different people come to SF through different paths, Diversicon would be inclusive of all media. In addition to a strong core of literary programming—including items for both writers and readers—the convention also includes a rich sampling of panels and discussions related to SF in film, TV, graphic arts, and other media as well as speculative science.

Diversicon 1 premiered in June 1993 and subsequently settled on August as its regular month. The convention hosted the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 2000.

Bryan Thao Worra