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March 22, 2007

Wonder Women of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Gather Force

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Powerful as she is, comic book heroine Wonder Woman is not the only female battling the bad guys in the world of science fiction and fantasy.

In fact, for the fifth consecutive year, Smith College students will host a popular science fiction and fantasy convention to celebrate female characters featured in the genre and the women working in the male-dominated field.

The three-day event, called ConBust, will include panel discussions, workshops, movie and animé (a type of animation originating in Japan) showings, and will be held from March 30 to April 1 on campus.

It seems a fitting event for the college, whose alumna Gloria Steinem featured Wonder Woman on the cover of the first issue of Ms. Magazine in 1972, and wrote an appreciative essay about the character.

“What sets ConBust apart from other conventions of this sort is its focus on the female members of the participating community,” said Katherine Peterson, chair of the conference and a self-proclaimed member of “geekdom,” a slang term for the science fiction and fantasy franchises.

“While various realms of geekdom remain male-dominated, ConBust celebrates the work of women in these genres,” she added.

Toward that end, one of the panel discussions, at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 31, will address the subject of women in the industry, and a second, at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 1, the images of powerful women in science fiction.

Among the women in the industry who will speak about their work are Patricia Briggs and Lynn Flewelling, fantasy novel authors; Jennie Breedon, webcomics artist; and Jess Hartley, a novelist and a writer in the gaming industry.

Other panel discussions will explore various aspects of the science fiction and fantasy genre, including “Interspecies Romance” about the concept of love and romance on alien worlds;  “Elves Among Us” about the long history of elves in fantasy literature; and “Beyond Spandex” about comics without superheroes.

The event, sponsored by the Smith College Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, will also investigate the participants’ interest in the very genre they are celebrating. That discussion, called “Fragmented Fandom,” promises to tackle the question as to whether “geekdom is a literary preference or a lifestyle choice.”

Although registration for the conference has ended, reporters may attend. For more information, go online to the ConBust Web site.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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