Opening Ceremonies

Welcome and introductions, hosted with verve and great brevity by your committee.


Hidden Gems and Buried Treasure – A Collective Reading List

Guilty pleasures or unfairly passed-over masterpieces, everyone has books they love that never caught the popular imagination. Wonderful authors have labored in obscurity or fallen prey to changing publishing fashions. What works do you love that nobody else seems to know? Come prepared to talk up one or two of your particular favorites, and we will compile a book list that we can all share.


Read Me a Story – A Sharing Circle for Readers

Not just for writers: everyone who loves stories can play. It’s a read-aloud party for the whole convention. Bring a favorite passage to share: something funny, wonderful, smart, or eye-opening. Or just come to listen and appreciate. No limits on genre or form, but we’ll start with shorter readings to fit the most variety in an hour of program time. If people still want to read and listen after that, we can add some longer pieces. Rotsler’s rules are still a great roadmap to success: short is good, funny is better, short and funny is best. And for those who find a toddy makes a party more convivial, note that we are welcome to bring drinks from the District Lounge along to program items.


The Smartest Science Fiction You Never Saw – Panel Discussion

Cory Doctorow suggests granting any science fiction story one impossible premise to get going, be it time travel or faster than light drives or instant cloning, and after that the world imagined must be consistent to its own rules. Larry Niven posits that the presence of an impossible premise is what differentiates fantasy from science fiction. But SF/F readers and writers can agree that the number of impossible premises needs to be small, or the story breaks. Yet too many impossibilities before breakfast are the red meat of film and TV SF/F. Where is the smarter media SF/F? Often, well hidden. We’ll discuss favorites you may have missed.


Women Destroy Science Fiction Out Loud – Reading Panel

Experience excellent fiction with your ears. Curated short selections from the Book of Honor.


Living in a Fantasy World: The 21st Century Appeal of Fantasy Fiction – Panel Discussion

Lev Grossman suggests that fantasy, as distinct from SF, has finally been elevated to mainstream culture. Pet dragons and boy wizards are not just for geeks and freaks any more. Why now, though? Are we just seeking refuge from our re-Tweeted, GIF-spangled, friends-listed, smart phone-mediated lives or are other powers at work? Is this just another epiphenomenon of the mainstreaming of geek culture? Is the real parallel to the marketing of teen culture in the 1950s?



Women Destroy Science Fiction: Not Again! – Panel Discussion

Why are we still talking about this? Is there something about science fiction that eludes the female gaze? Something about the male gaze that renders women invisible? Or are a crowd of new iconoclasts smashing a whole different trove of icons? Bring your agenda, and be prepared to give it a good airing.


The Culture, Remembered – Panel Discussion

Ian M. Banks is sadly gone, but his books are still very much a presence in the field.   We discuss Banks’ Culture novels, set in a distant, post-scarcity future, and ponder how well Banks grappled with the contradictions of a peaceful, anarchic, utopian civilization that’s forever spawning wars and meddling in politics.


What Dreams Need Come: A Task List for Visionaries – Panel Discussion

At the National Book Awards, Ursula K. Le Guin issued a call to auctorial arms. She warns of hard times coming, charges us to dream alternatives to the ways we live now, in the sway of fear, obsessive technologies, and corporate profiteers.   What stars should we navigate by to take up her call? What existential threats to society, to freedom, to the makers and making of indispensable dreams, loom largest? We’ll try to map the shoals together.


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Trivia and Chocolate Fling

A fun time for know-it-alls, chocolate lovers, and agents of chaos. Our MC will test your knowledge of science fiction and fantasy arcana, and reward the righteous with airborne theobromine. Beware of low-flying kisses.


Clarion West Benefit Auction

Signed first editions, loose gem stones, vintage Encyclopedias Britannicas, eccentric handcrafts made by famous authors, finely feathered furbelows, or one of a kind art pieces? You never know quite might pop up at a Potlatch benefit auction, but you can bet that Ellen Klages and the rest of our team of crack auctioneers will make it lively and entertaining, and that the proceeds will go to benefit the Clarion West writers workshop and all of their good works.


Potlatch Banquet Brunch


Women Ruin War – The Gendering of MilSF – Panel Discussion

What do women bring to telling stories of war and soldiering? Is there a commonality in the MilSF works of Mary Gentle, Lois McMaster Bujold, Ann Leckie, Elizabeth Bear, and Kameron Hurley that is not found in the works of Jerry Pournelle, John Scalzi, David Weber? Do women have a clearer eye for the human consequences of war, the dirt, the damage, the doors that close forever, or do male writers deserve more credit? Have women taken the fun out of war?


The Phoenix Cycles – Things Fly Apart, But Must They? – Panel Discussion

Opposition and reaction to prevailing models, approaches, beliefs, or regimes is certainly one important source for creative inspiration and change, but often the opposition and reaction come with a lot of acrimony, hostility, and community ruptures. Can we change and evolve, as a genre or as a society, without going to war over it?


That was the Potlatch That Was/W(h)ither Potlatch – General Discussion and Feedback Session

Well, we’ve made one more Potlatch together. How was it for you? Share your thoughts and experiences of the convention and how it went. And too, the perpetual topic from recent years: should we keep doing this? If so, how will YOU be helping to make that happen?

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