Potlatch 20: March 4 - 6, 2011



Potlatch has strong traditions around its program. They didn't start out as traditions; they were meant to encourage interesting discussions and a sense of shared experience. There are no guests of honor, but there is a Book of Honor. Instead of moderators, there are "ringleaders," which basically means that panelists are encouraged to participate in planning and organizing their panel. There is a single track of programming. Nobody is scheduled to be on more than one panel. Panels that we can't fit in to the program, or that are spur of the moment, or that benefit from a more informal structure, can happen as "algonquins." These ideas have worked well, so we keep doing them.

Here is our working schedule for this year:


Friday (4 March)

4:00 pm:
   Registration and Hospitality Suite open

5:00 pm:     Dealers Room opens

8:15 pm:    Opening Ceremonies

10:00 pm:
 Tough Guide to the Post-Apocalypse

David D. Levine (moderator), Tom Whitmore (moderator)

Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland takes the overused tropes and cliches of fantasy and skewers them in the form of a traveler’s guide to the standard fantasy universe. The standard post-apocalyptic landscape has become equally well-visited in recent years and we think it deserves a Tough Guide of its own. Audience members will suggest entries for the book, in categories such as What to Pack, What to Wear, How to Make Friends and Influence People, and Things to Watch Out For. David Levine and Tom Whitmore will moderate and collect suggestions into a first draft guide. Who knows? We might even get a book deal out of it.

9:00 pm:    Dealers Room and Registration close

2:00 am:    Hospitality Suite closes

Saturday (5 March)

8:30 am:    Registration and Hospitality Suite open

9:00 am:    Fables and Storytelling

Lenny Bailes (ringleader), Randy Smith, Amy Thomson

Are there common storytelling values that most “fable tales” share, which make them both accessible and compelling? The source material from Aesop, Mother Goose, and the Brothers Grimm has been reapplied in many novels, short stories—and now graphic novels. How have the classic tales been successfully reworked in new treatments? Snow White, Cinderella, and Aladdin live again in the Datlow/Windling anthologies and in Bill Willingham's long-running Fables comic book series for Vertigo.

10:30 am:  Book of Honor: Earth Abides

David Bratman, Ian K. Hagemann, Howard V. Hendrix, Laura Majerus (moderator), Alan Rosenthal, Don Scott
Paula Butler, Ctein (moderator), Howard Davidson

2:45pm:    Break for Algonquins, Readings, Tiptree Bake Sale

4:45 pm:   The Left Abides

Terry Bisson, Eileen Gunn (ringleader), Nick Mamatas, Rachel Swirsky,
Naamen Tilahun

6:00 pm:   Dealers Room closes

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm:     Dinner Break

8:00 pm:   Clarion West Auction

We will accept cash, check, Paypal, and credit cards processed through Paypal at auction checkout. To ensure that Clarion West receives the maximum benefit of your winning bid, we will add California’s 9.25% sales tax to your total due at auction checkout. If applicable, Paypal's processing fees of 2.2% + $.30 will also be added to your total bid amount.

2:00 am:   Hospitality Suite closes


Sunday (6 March)

8:30 am:    Hospitality Suite opens

9:00 am:    Whither Potlatch?

Tom Becker, Jack Bell, Ulrika O’Brien

For a while it looked like Potlatch 20 might be the last one in its current form. A Potlatch 21 committee has now been formed, but this is still a worthwhile discussion to have. Let’s have a general conversation in the Potlatch community about when, how, and whether to keep holding Potlatches. What are the possibilities?

10:00 am:   Dealers Room opens

10:30 am:  Alan Rinzler: Secret Master of Publishing

Debbie Notkin, Alan Rinzler

Especially outside of the science fiction field, most book editors are unsung heroes (and sometimes unsung villains), working behind the scenes to get books published, improve their quality, and find them wider audiences. Alan Rinzler is perhaps the best-known and most remarkable editor of his time. Alan was an editor for Rolling Stone magazine back in the day. In the late 1960s, he acquired Toni Morrison's first book for Knopf. Since then, he has worked with writers from Hunter Thompson to Shirley MacLaine, from Tom Robbins to Robert Ludlum. Alan is now a full-time “book doctor,” and one of the many things he’s doing as part of that work is reviving an old interest in science fiction.

Debbie Notkin will interview Alan about fiction, book doctoring, and the publishing industry. Some of his illustrious past (and great stories) will probably make their way into this one-of-a-kind program item.

11:45 am - 1:00 pm:     Lunch Break

1:00 pm:    Hospitality Suite closes for party

1:00 pm:    Potlatch Birthday Party

  Come help us celebrate 20 years of Potlatch, with cake, ice cream, and conversation.

2:00 pm:    Potlatch Memories

Karen Schaffer (moderator) and a cast of dozens

Past Potlatch committee members and attendees will tell their favorite stories from Potlatches past. Were you there? Come and tell your story.

2:00 pm:  Dealers Room closes

3:00 pm:  Hospitality Suite reopens


Algonquins (Howto)


Algonquins are named for the meetings of Dorothy Parker and her peers (Harold Ross, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, and others). The Algonquin Round Tables of the 1930s were held at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where lively discussion took place.

Our Algonquins can be anything you like, a continuation of discussion from a panel; a demonstration of craft, art, technology; a trip to a favored restaurant or to investigate a new one; a reading from a work in progress or an old favorite.

To create an Algonquin, use the signup board. It will be by the convention registration desk.

If you have an idea in mind, sign up early, or a soon as you have an idea.

You can use the seating area in the lobby, or the landings outside the program room for your Algonquin. The Summit Room (ground floor, near the bar) is also open to Algonquins whenever it hasn't been previously reserved.


Currently submitted Algonquin suggestions:


Mog Decarnin Memorial

FOGcon (Vylar Kaftan)

A Saunter through the life and work of George R. Stewart (Donald M. Scott)

The hero's and heroine's journey (Valerie Frankel)

The Genre-Crossing Poem: Ursula Le Guin, Ana Maria Shua,
Emily Galvin, Ilsa Efland and others (Carol Dorf)

Journey to Neon, auction item demo (Ellen Peel)

(Artist, Julie Newdoll, is donating a copy of her chemistry board game, "Journey to Neon" to the Clarion West auction. "Journey to Neon" is a series of board games featuring rubber stamps based on the first 10 elements. We'll be showing off this unique and entertaining game during the Saturday afternoon bake sale, tea, and algonquin break, so look for our demo table and experience the game before it comes up for auction.)

Author Readings:

Rachel Swirsky

Vylar Kaftan

Nick Mamatas

Howard Hendrix

Eileen Gunn

Terry Bisson

David D. Levine