Potlatch 17

They’ll help make your gay Celtic cyborg warrior believable

I spent my early formative years in Potlatch, a small logging town in the Idaho panhandle known for the mill that used to be there and for regular community feasting at the Lutheran church. Many years after leaving, I was desperately trying to stay awake through a Washington state history high-school class when we came across one of those little blue sections all about potlatches. Apparently before it was a town, it was an event at which Pacific Northwest tribes would gather for trading, feasting, and general celebration. Throw in a tater-tot casserole and tubs of spaghetti and it wasn’t that far off from what I remembered at church. Bastardizing native traditions is sort of the American way, and the latest group to put their own spin on the potlatch isn’t old ladies with the surname Olson but Terry Pratchett aficionados who know all the words to the Buffy musical episode. Potlatch 17 is the latest in a series of annual literary Science Fiction Conventions along the West Coast raising funds for Clarion West, a six-week intensive sci-fi writing workshop. It’s too late to submit your own stories to the short Potlatch sessions, but you can still get in on the bio-modification debates (is Wolverine possible?), the explorations of gay and lesbian characters in new sci-fi and fantasy, and the panel discussion of this year’s book of honor, Parable of the Sower by late local author Octavia Butler. Secret love for Philip Pullman? Working knowledge of Klingon verb conjugation? These are your people—write long and prosper. Hotel Deca, 4507 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., 652-4255, www.potlatch-sf.org. $50 advance/$60 door. Today through March 2. LAURA ONSTOT

Feb. 29-March 2, 2008

 
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