As well as a great dinner with fellow writers & associates of writers, and a great time hanging out with readers & associates of readers, I got to hear some good panel discussions. As ever, I missed some that I had really wanted to catch, due to timing and sleeping, and food and panels conflicting with each other.
I also got to hear Daryl Gregory read from a new story. I love Gregory’s work — but you know that. I’ve already mentioned it here. He was one of my Christmas shopping recommendations last year.
The last time I heard Gregory read, I was impressed with both the story and his skill at reading it for an audience. This time, in the intro, he casually mentioned that he was a former Theater major.
Aha. That explains it — his reading skills are absolutely outstanding, and this story in particular (a humorous SF/fairy-tale cross, whose title I did not catch) gave him lots of scope for inspired delivery. And he never overdid it, either. It would have been easy to be over the top — but nope. Exactly the right tone.
I caught a bit of the panel “How Intelligent are We, Anyway?” whose members included my later dinner companions Judith Berman, Alex Jablokow and Ted Chiang. (Alas, the entire contents of the discussion have since slid out of my brain. I blame the day job.)
I had hoped to catch “How to Write Successfully About Horrible Things”– but I was busy writing successfully about actual other things!
Ha! Yes, I was actually so glad and inspired at Readercon that basically wrote every day, sometimes twice in a day.
I did manage to catch “Our Panel of Experts”consisting of Scott Andrews, Gwendolyn Clare, John O’Neil, Bud Sparhawk , and physicist Chad Orzel (of Eureka and “dog physics” fame). It was a nicely cross-discipline crew. The idea was to have the audience toss out any question they had, especially if they needed to clear up the science on a story or novel that they were working on. After some initial shyness, the audience dove in.
I actually had my hand up at one point — then quickly put it DOWN again. Because if I asked that question, it would constitute a major spoiler for the next few books! I’ll just have to save the question for a much less public forum…
Also: “A Palantir in Every Pocket,” which had a great line-up with Ted Chiang and Daryl Gregory and Chad Orzel, plus science writer Jeff Hecht, rising star Ken Liu, and David Shaw (who is on the program commitee, and is a masterful panel leader, but whose website I cannot find…). This was about how science and magic are treated in urban fantasy, which then led to explorations in how the two are regarded and used in literature in general. One thing Ted Chaing said stayed with me — how magic (I’m paraphrasing, here) is assumed to be dependent on something inherent in the user, and implies that there exists a personal relationship between the universe itself and the magic user; but science and technology assume a completely impersonal universe, and can be worked by anyone.
…Hm, I seem to have run out of time again… I’ve got stuff going on that needs attention!
I’ll do part 3 in the next couple of days, which will include the after-party!