Yep, Readercon is one of my favorite conventions, and this year I’m at it again. Stand by for my jam-packed convention schedule.
Ready? Here it is:
Friday July 13
8:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Rosemary Kirstein, Joan Slonczewski.
Sunday July 15
11:00 AM F Performing Books to Ourselves. Ellen Brody, Andy Duncan, James Patrick Kelly, Rosemary Kirstein, Ellen Kushner (leader). In a 2011 blog post, Daniel Abraham wrote, “Reading a book is a performance by an artist (the writer) for an audience (the reader).” But readers also perform works to themselves, imagining characters and settings and events, and perform works to others when reading aloud. In those cases, is the writer taking more of a directorial role, or is there a more complex synergy afoot, especially when we get into audiobooks, fiction podcasts, and other carefully produced performances? How does awareness of these layers of performance shape the ways that writers write and readers read?
12:00 PM E Autographs. Rosemary Kirstein, Ellen Klages.
No, no I do not complain! Because, you know what? Every year, at every convention I attend, I’m so wound up about what I’m going to say in the panels I participate in that I rarely have time and mental space to enjoy watching other people’s panels. This time, I’ll be more free to absorb and enjoy.
Seriously, I could use some inspiration right about now, and conventions are one of the best ways to get some.
So, here’s the list of events I plan to attend:
Right after my kaffeklatsch, at 9:00 John Crowley is reading. Is he reading for a half-hour, or an hour? Because at 9:30, Walter Hunt is reading. I’d like to hear them both. But if Crowley’s reading for an hour, he’ll probably win.
At 10:30, there’s the Meet the
Schmoes Pros (e) party. I’ll both be attending and gawking at my favorite writers. And collecting quotes. For those of you who don’t know: Most of the authors will have a sheet full of peel-off labels containing a single line from one of their works. Collect ‘em all! Mix and match! One of the best things about this (for the shy) is having an excuse to interact with a writer you might admire but who, after all, is really a total stranger. Works pretty well.
10:00 AM Book Learning. Gregory Feeley, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Katherine MacLean, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Ann Tonsor Zeddies. In an article for The Guardian in 2008, James Wood wrote that “novels tend to fail not when the characters are not vivid or ‘deep’ enough, but when the novel in question has failed to teach us how to adapt to its conventions, has failed to manage a specific hunger for its own characters, its own reality level.” Not mentioned is the question of what readers bring to this educational experience. Some readers see plenty of character depth in the works of Asimov, Card, Herbert, or Heinlein, but others disagree; are the readers who find those characters too cardboard actually stubbornly refusing to be taught how to like them? When and why do readers choose books that require education in character appreciation, and when we encounter them by accident, what makes us decide to stick with them?
Ah, theoretical stuff — always a good way to rewire my brain. Plus: Ann Zeddies, a pal and always a treat on a panel.
11:00 AM Samuel R. Delany’s Golden Jubilee. Matthew Cheney, Ron Drummond (leader), L. Timmel Duchamp, Elizabeth Hand, Donald G. Keller, Jo Walton. 2012 can be seen as a milestone year in the career of Samuel R. Delany: his 70th birthday; the 50th anniversary of his first novel, The Jewels of Aptor; the 35th anniversary of his classic critical work, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw; the 24th anniversary of being GOH at Readercon 2. Few writers have contributed so much over so long to all aspects of our field—science fiction, fantasy, critical theory, comics, autobiography, editing, teaching, even a documentary film. And he’s still going, with a new novel out this year! This panel will celebrate Delany’s past, present, and future contributions to the field.
I was once introduced to Delaney. The next time he saw me, he remembered my name. I can’t think of one other giant of the field of which that’s true. The man puts my brain in knots. That’s a good thing. Ooh, and bonus Jo Walton, whom I love.
Lunch: I’m hiding out with friends for lunch. Don’t look for me — I won’t be found!
3:00 PM The Rhysling Award Poetry Slan, The Rhyslings are the annual awards of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and Readercon is proud to be their ongoing annual host. (A poetry “slan” — to be confused with “slam” — is a poetry reading by sf folks. If you don’t get the in-joke, ask an sf fan above a certain age)
I was never particularly interested in SF Poetry; then one year I happened to radomly wander into this event at Readercon. Now I try to never miss it. Every time, there’s been something that moved me so deeply I had to leave the room to compose myself.
6:00 PM Writing Motivation Toolbox. Luc Reid. Leveraging recent psychological and neurological research, Luc Reid offers a brief tour of human motivation mechanisms as well as specific ways to get past writer’s block, inspire enthusiasm, sharpen focus, and get words onto the page. Many of the ideas from this talk about writing can be carried over to other areas of life, such as health, business, organization, and relationships.
Okay, naturally I’m interested. Could be schlock, could be crap, could be pop-psy garbage, or might actually be useful. We’ll see.
7:00 PM Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza. Matthew Kressel, Veronica Schanoes, Brian Francis Slattery (leader), Jeff VanderMeer, Jo Walton. ONCE AGAIN AND FOR THE SECOND TIME, Eric Rosenfield and Brian Francis Slattery of the Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza Series will orchestrate yet another INCREDIBLY FANCY SONIC ART EXPERIMENT consisting of ESTEEMED LITERARY PERSONAGES reading TEXTUAL OBJECTS in short bursts, one after another accompanied by LIVE, IMPROVISED MUSIC provided by a FULL BAND, with the intent of creating a kind of unbroken MOSAIC of what Readercon FEELS LIKE. Come witness our spectacular SUCCESS and/or FAILURE
I have no idea what this is. I guess I’ll find out.
8:00 PM The 26th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. Mike Allen, Rose Fox, Craig Shaw Gardner (leader), Yves Meynard, Eric M. Van (moderator).
I’ve seen a LOT of these, so I probably won’t stay for the whole thing. I’ll wander in and out, and visit with pals and readers in between.
10:00 AM The Seven Deadly Myths of Creativity. Andy Duncan, Joe Haldeman, Steve Kelner (leader), Toni L.P. Kelner, Matthew Kressel, Jennifer Pelland, Luc Reid. What is creativity, really? How does it work? Many people think of it as somehow magical, but in fact there has been considerable neuropsychological research devoted to the process of creativity, and current evidence makes it clear that it is inherent in the human brain: everyone is creative; the question is how to harness it. There are many myths about creativity that not only are unhelpful but have actively blocked or inhibited writers. Fortunately, many of these myths are entirely explicable and avoidable. Stephen Kelner, a research psychologist who is also a professional writer, will give an overview of the myths and the realities, and discussion will further explore individual participants’ questions or challenges.
I might drop by for some of this if I’m not too wound up about my own panel at 11.
And for the afternoon, after my autographing, I’ll just generally hang around and schmooze and socialize, and generally try to delay the inevitable return home, with the DayJob waiting to pounce on me Monday morning.
So… thinking of coming?