Potlatch is on Facebook

Per request, Potlatch now has a Facebook feed as ‘Potlatch Convention’. We’ll be posting updates there and you can post to the Potlatch Wall to share your thoughts with other FB friends.

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Programming Questionnaires sent out

We sent out he Programming Questionnaires last night to all the Potlatch 21 members we have email addresses for. If you are a Potlatch 21 member and didn’t receive your questionnaire, please email programming (at sign here) potlatch-sf (dot here) org and let us know. If you are not a member, but do want to be on programming, then join right away and we’ll get a questionnaire out to you!

The deadline to get your questionnaire back to us is Friday, February 3rd, 2012. If you have knowledge about any of the potential panels, please respond with your interest — even if you have never been on programming for a convention before. Remember, Potlatch is about sharing equally: your knowledge, opinions, and ideas are as good as anyone else’s. We have no guests and only members can participate.

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Winter 2012 Progress Report: The Countdown Begins

Less than two months to go and the clock is ticking! Are there things you haven’t done?

If you haven’t purchased your membership yet, please go and do so soon! We are excited to let you know it is now possible to register online and pay for your membership with PayPal instead of sending in a check. Related: if you are interested in being on a panel, make sure you have a membership as we will only be sending out panelist questionnaires to members. Also related: membership prices are going up! Until the day of the convention, registration rates are $65. They will be $70 at the door. Please get your membership in now!

If you haven’t reserved a room, please go and do so right away! We are about to lose our room block and the prices for the block are really great this year. If you reserve a room later you will be paying a higher price. Related: Alaska Air has round trip faires from the Bay Area for the convention dates under a hundred bucks right now. Likely these prices will only go up.

If you haven’t sent in your Clarion West Auction donations, dig through your treasures and send email to chair (at sign here) potlatch-sf (dot here) org letting us know what you want to dontate. We’ll respond with an address to mail it to or (if you are bringing it with you) will add it to the auction catalog. Related: if you are a publisher or author who wants to provide something for the goodie bag, send email to the same address.

If you haven’t signed up for the ‘Taste of Clarion’ writer’s workshop (and want to), the cut-off date for applications is January 31. We are excited to report the estimable David Levine will be leading the workshop this year.

If you are a vendor and want a table, we still have some available for $90 (including one membership). Send email to dealersroom (at sign here) potlatch-sf (dot here) org and we will get back to you right away.

In other news, we can report the talented Freddie Baer is once again designing a T-Shirt for us. Prices will be $18 (s to xl) and $20 (xxl and larger). We will get a pre-order form up on the website soon.

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What is Potlatch, Really?

Someone interested in the writer’s workshop, but unfamiliar with Potlatch was asking for more information about the events at Potlatch. I had to think it over, as the listing the events does not really capture the spirit of Potlatch. Instead, I wrote this:

Potlatch is a small convention for writers and fans; it is a single track of programming usually centered around the “Book of Honor” — which this year is Walter M. Miller Jr’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz”. Potlatch is a “travelling con” — it is always held in the pacific northwest (we include San Francisco as an honorary member of our region), with a visit to Seattle every 2-3 years.

Other events include a banquet, an auction, lots of member-driven, informal events, and good times to be had in the hospitality room.

It’s hard to describe Potlatch by the events, however: what makes Potlatch so rewarding for people who like the literature of science fiction is the real conversation with other smart, creative people who also love to read science fiction. It’s not about the industry, it’s not about the politics of fandom, it’s not about movies or tv, it’s not about costumes or games. I love all that stuff too, and I love conversations about all of that stuff, but Potlatch is a time away from all of that to share our love of the ideas in science fiction literature. Our love of the writing, the craftsmanship, the history, the future.

Potlatch can best be described as a single, swirling conversation, hopefully sparked by one book, and often thematic around the ideas of that book… but a conversation that travels far-flung interesting terrain.

Bigger conventions can accomplish these goals, too, of course. But many writers, and many readers are introverts. The big crowd of big personalities can become exhausting. Again, Potlatch, as a smaller gathering, is far more friendly to most readers and writers. I find that I, along with many others, come out of a Potlatch more excited to write and with more energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and new ideas than when I went in. And that’s not the case for most cons I go to.



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End of 2011 Book of Honor/Programming Progress Report

Well, the votes are in (mostly from ConCom) and A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr is the winner for Book of Honor.

Canticle is an interesting choice for BoH in a couple of ways. On the one hand it is a Post-Apocalyptic novel (a theme we worked over well at Potlatch 20) and it addresses religion and the power of religious institutions (which we touched on, albiet from a Buddhist viewpoint, at Potlatch 19). On the other hand Canticle is a broad-sweep novel, delivering a wide and deep future history and showing how those who do not know history tend to repeat it.

And that is the theme we intend to focus on for Potlatch 20: the life-cycles of civilizations. The wheel of history. Certainly we want to touch on the role of religion in the turning, but it is the wheel itself we fix our gaze on. And there are other forces than religion driving the axle: myths and myth-makers, conquerers and power seekers. But in Canticle, who are the most important forces of all? Why, librarians! Of course!

(How could we pass up a chance to finally celebrate librarians as the heros they are? Who of us does not yearn to read the ‘Librarians Militant’ works of the fictional writer Jerzy Hacek? For a second best, we will be scheduling a librarian-focused panel or two at Potlatch 21.)

Thus Potlatch 21 programming will peer into the cycles of history and the forces driving those cycles. What better way to do this than to examine our present day and ask ourselves what cycles are repeating around us? From the Occupy movement to the rise of Imperial America, we can find many parallels in history to our current milieu. There is much to think about here…

Of course Potlatch 21 programming will include lots of the usual panels, including writing/editing discussions and some pure fluff. We will be sending out program-participant questionnaires soon; make sure you have sent in your membership so we can include you in the mailing. Also, if you know a fan, writer, editor, or (most especially) a librarian who you think would be great on a panel then please encourage them to get a membership and join us.

For more information about the convention hotel and how to join Potlatch, see the Fall 2011 Hotel Progress Report/Membership Reminder.

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Fall 2011 Book of Honor/Programming Progress Report

At Potlatch 20 we promised to involve the membership more in the Book of Honor selection. However this turns out to be more difficult than you might think! In the end the logistics of creating and managing a process that involved the entire membership proved insurmountable for this year. With time running out, we punted. The truth is we need to pick a BoH and we need to do it now.

Why? Well, for one Potlatch programming tends to be built around the BoH to some extent. How great an influence on programming choices the BoH exerts varies from year to year and there have been years without a BoH, but it is still something to keep in mind. Considering that we have no guests and all our panelists are drawn from the membership, we need to tie these kinds of things down before too much of the programming is set in mud brick.

In any case, one programming item I can promise for Potlatch 21 is a discussion of what makes for a good BoH. The purpose of this is manifold; including educating the membership as to the decision-making process a ConCom goes through, getting input from the membership as to what makes for a good BoH (from their viewpoint), and discussing alternative models for choosing a BoH in the future. What happens from there will depend on who takes up the reigns for Potlatch 22, 23, 24, and so on.

We’ve discussed potential BoH’s at length internally and have considered everything from the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy to Feersum Endjinn by Ian Banks. Finally the Potlatch 21 ConCom narrowed down the choice to the following four novels:

Why these books? Well, obviously, these are all books our ConCom feels worth honoring and celebrating. Moreover, these are all books that have been mentioned by others in the Potlatch community as good choices.

Some, like Canticle and Stars, are traditional ‘safe’ choices for a Potlatch BoH. Dragonflight is, frankly, a bit lightweight when placed in such august company, but it has a history (first novella Hugo and Nebula by a woman) that lets us expand our programing into gender issues and female genre writers in general. (Yes, that was already done at Potlatch 4, so?) Neuromancer breaks the ‘the author must be dead’ rule, but it’s Neuromancer! (Who doesn’t want to deconstruct Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, especially as to how well it holds up to our actual future-now of computer-mediated lifestyles and out-of-control global corporations?)

So that’s the list. We (the Potlatch 21 ConCom) intend to make a final decision in the very near future, so watch this space! Feel free to comment here with your own input as well.

In the meantime, we’ll continue working on panel ideas and will be sending out programming questionnaires to the membership soon. So, if you haven’t purchased your membership, please do so without delay. We wouldn’t want to miss what you have to say at Potlatch 21!

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Fall 2011 Hotel Progress Report/Membership Reminder

For Potlatch 21, we are back at the Best Western Plus Executive Inn, a hotel located near Seattle Center, the Space Needle, and the EMP Museum, just north of downtown on Lower Queen Anne Hill. Our hotel room rates are: $79.00 for single/double (same rate as 2002, 2004 and 2006); $89.00 for triple; $99.00 for quad (all prices before tax). Ask for the Potlatch group rate.

Full hotel details are available at the Potlatch web on our hotel page. Directions to the hotel are on our : ‘Getting There’ page.

Please make your reservations soon and help us fill our room block!

This means Potlatch 21 is confirmed for February 24-26, 2012. The only thing missing is you! Advanced Registration is currently available at the rate of $60 per adult membership. Of course you can find the membership form on our ‘Join Potlatch’ page.

If you aren’t sure if you have registered, we have a list of current members.

Prices will be going up in the near future, so now is the time to get your registration form and check in the mail.

If you prefer to use PayPal or some other online payment method, we haven’t cleared all the hurdles for that yet. We are working on it and hope to have something soon.

Thanks, and see you all soon!

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