2020 Sirens Conference Report
The 2020 Sirens Conference, “Sirens at Home”, an “intersectional, interdisciplinary conference on gender, fantasy lit, and other speculative spaces,” was held October 22-25, 2020, online in lieu of the usual Denver CO event. Amy Tenbrink and Hallie Tibbetts are the Sirens co-founders. Tenbrink was con chair and Tibbetts served as programming director. Tenbrink said, “In a year in which we all feel such isolation, we need each other more than ever.”
Over 500 people from around the world registered for the weekend, over twice the typical in-person attendance. Programming included two panels with discussion sessions, “Here Be Dragons: Gender and Speculative Spaces” and “Anxiety, Rage, and Attempting the Impossible in a World on Fire”, the Sirens ball (a virtual costume and dance party), and a wide variety of Zoom community gatherings. These ranged from networking sessions for scholars, publishing professionals, booksellers, and librarians, to regional meetups and safer spaces for attendees identifying as BIPOC, LGBTQIAP+, and disabled/neurodivergent. Supplementary content included scholarly essays, recommended reading lists, an online bookstore and reading challenge, and more.
Sirens at Home was offered for free. A concurrent fundraiser earned $9,400 for 12 new scholarships to attend in 2021, in addition to 16 scholarships that were awarded earlier this year. The original in-person Sirens Conference planned for 2020 has been postponed to October 21-24, 2021 in Denver CO. Communications director Faye Bi said, “In most years, we select an annual theme to help get people thinking about gender and fantasy literature, and our 2021 conference will have the theme of ‘villains’ with guests of honor Dr. Kinitra D. Brooks, Rin Chupeco, Sarah Gailey, and Fonda Lee.” A satellite event, Sirens Studio, is scheduled for October 19-20, 2021, featuring intensive workshops, writing, and socializing time, and a keynote from GoH Joamette Gil, also in Denver. Registration is open at <www.sirensconference.org>.
This report and more like it in the December 2020 issue of Locus.
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