During the now-legendary “Family Trees of Fantasy” panel at SFContario, Michael Swanwick uttered what may have been the line of the convention. While arguing for what he saw as the rather progressive sexual politics in E. R. Eddison’s work, he described a scene, from what I think must be Mistress of Mistresses (1935), in which a man returning home to his wife learns from her that the king is dead. His thoughts turn from the long-anticipated erotic encounter: “We must go to our plotting chamber and scheme.”
Oh, we loved that line (especially the way that Swanwick delivered it: he’s a fantastic panel performer). We used variants of it for days afterward. (“We must go to our [gerund] chamber and [verb].” Use your imagination.) In the comments to Jo Walton’s post about the panel, I wrote: “‘We must go to the plotting chamber and scheme’ is now a catchphrase in our house. I want a sign on my office door: ‘PLOTTING CHAMBER. Scheming (in progress / not in progress)’ with a little arrow.”
It seems that Jennifer was paying attention. Look what she had done:
(Alas, “chamber” wouldn’t fit on the board, so “room” had to be substituted. Ordering this sign apparently raised some eyebrows.)
Now I have to figure out where to put the damn thing. I suspect it’s too heavy to put on my office door, and too wide to put beside it. It can’t go in my office: if scheming is in progress, after all, it’s best not to disturb it. That’s the point of a plotting chamber: you can’t scheme just anywhere.