WisCon 40 Auction in the Can

The 2016 Otherwise Auction was held on May 28, 2016, at Wiscon 40, in Madison, Wisconsin . New auctioneer Sumana Harihareswara stepped into the shoes (or Superman pants?) of Ellen Klages and put her own stamp on a long tradition.

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The pants went to Nicole and Brit, who were doing the extremely hard work of translating Sumana’s patter onto the screen through CART (Communication Access Real-Time Transcription). Other auction items ranged from a signed Octavia Butler first edition to Space Babe’s blaster, not to mention the opportunity to see Sumana smash a “Pilates for Weight Loss” DVD with a hammer.

How do I donate something to A Future Auction?

We welcome donations of handcrafts, books, memorabilia, games, and art with SF, fantasy, or feminist elements.

Please let us know about any donations for the 2019 Wiscon auction by May 15, so we can plan. You can let us know what you’re donating by filling out this online form.

You can send your donations by mail or bring them to Wiscon. If you want to mail in your donation, we’ll respond to your form by email with instructions.

It’s your donations that make the auction possible! Thanks so much.

History of the Otherwise Auction

Wheaties PosterThe first Otherwise auction Ellen Klages ran happened almost by accident at the Otherwise Award ceremony at Readercon 7, July 10, 1994. It hadn’t been planned. Nobody had thought to bring along auction items, so we had to scrounge a few items at the convention, including a Freddie Baer t-shirt, and a copy of the current Otherwise Award-winning book, Ammonite, signed by the author, Nicola Griffith. Ellen got up onto the stage … and magic happened.

Ellen Klages, Tiptree auctioneer Extraordinaire

People laughed so hard they had to hold their sides, and bids rapidly escalated past expectations. Ellen’s rapport with the audience was amazing. Within a half-hour she had raised just $45 short of $1,000 and a member of the Tiptree motherboard hastily looked through her notebook, found a snapshot of the Tiptree quilt in-progress and offered it to Ellen to auction. Ellen said “we need $45 for this item!” and someone promptly bid $25. Ellen glared at the miscreant: “Didn’t you hear what I said?!” and the bidder promptly changed her bid to $45. Thus, the Tiptree auction was born.

The Tiptree Award has relied on the WisCon auction for the majority of its funding for the better part of twenty years.

After Ellen Klages retired, the 2014 and 2015 auctions were conducted by a rotating crew of auctioneers, with Ellen’s long-distance participation. In 2016, Sumana Harihareswara took the stage, saying repeatedly “I’m not necessarily signing up for the next 20 years.”