Jul 16 2014

Readercon weekend


My first actual out-and-about public appearance since — well, since the diagnosis in December.

Everyone was perfectly lovely to me.  Most people had heard about what’s been going on in my life, and were glad to see me, and welcoming.  And those who didn’t know me at all did not look askance at my odd hairdo.  Because that’s how we roll in SF/F.   I’ve given up wearing hats because: hair coming back in!  Plus: summer.  Hats are far too hot.

I did have some trouble with my energy levels.   I seem to have two settings: 1) Perfectly fine, let’s chat! 2) Okay, I go lie down now.  These alternate at apparently random intervals.

I skipped all the usual huge group dinners in favor of room service.    Because, even if I felt good at the start of the dinner, I might suddenly not — so I played it safe.

I only had the one panel, on why schools and the education experience show up so much in SF/F literature (with Greer Gilman, Lev Grossman, Faye Ringel, Delia Sherman, Rick Wilber).   I think I wasn’t my sharpest, having just fought my way through stop-and-go traffic on the Mass Pike, followed by more stop-and-go traffic  on route 95, arriving at the hotel exactly one hour before the panel, and discovering that valet parking was not an option in my case because the valet could not drive a manual shift car!  Which mine is.  Because I like it.  And all the nearby parking spots were taken — but after much explaining on my part, hotel security said that I could leave my car out front until after my panel.  Which was nice of them.

Oh, and my car’s air conditioning is broken.  Did I mention that?  Yeah.

So, I arrived already exhausted, and I feel I could have done much better on that panel…  I could have said quite a lot about the Steerswomen’s Academy, but didn’t quite have the nimbleness of mind to insert my counterpoints at the right moments.   Because, of course, the Steerswomen’s Academy is so very different from other school experiences presented in literature.

At the Meet the Schmoes Pros Party, James Patrick Kelly had the misfortune of being the first person I ran into.  Since I haven’t really seen many people other than Sabine and some close friends  for the last four months, I had to say All the Things!  Right Away!  Non-Stop!  He endured it bravely and graciously.   What a sweetie.    And of course, Ellen, and Delia, and Elaine Isaacs.  Oh, and Yves Meynard, who is such a dear.  And newly married!

And not to forget mad book collector and pal Michael Tallin, who lives on the opposite side of the country, and I only see at conventions.   His book-and-autograph fever often sends him to Readercon, and I get the pleasure of his conversation and company, without actually having to foot the bill for a flight to California!

It was lovely to be out in a social situation again, with people who are of My Tribe.

But it did wear me out.  I did not rush to get up the next day.   And rested often.

I managed to catch a couple of panels on Saturday.  When the Other Is You, where the panelists, all members of minorities or marginalized groups,  spoke of the difficulties and pitfalls in writing about their experiences.   (That was Chesya Burke, Samuel Delaney, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, Vendana Singh and Sabrina Vourvoulias.)  Later, I caught New Models of Masculinity,(Erik Amundsen, John Benson, Kameron Hurley, Catt Kingsgrave and Bart Leib)  wherein the panelists discussed the fact that SF/F too often uses the default cliche version of the manly man, and what are the other options?  And how does it operate in the real world today?  Fascinating.

I also caught great readings by Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Daryl Gregory.

There was no Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Science Fiction and Fantasy Competition — and that’s okay.  Kirk Poland was a brilliant, hilarious idea, and thrived for many years — but it has basically run its course, and is best retired.   We shall remember it fondly.  Time to do something else.

The something else was A Most Readerconnish Miscellany: readings, music, poetry, by all sorts of people, as part of a fundraiser for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and Operation   Hammond, which teaches convention runners and volunteers about first aid, both worthy causes.   I arrived late, and left early, later discovering that I’d missed a performance by Ellen Kushner!  but I caught a vivid, rousing poetry recitation by C.S.E. Cooney.   I had heard her do “The Sea King’s Second Bride” in the past and was blown away; this time I arrived partway through her poem, which involved a woman, a double-bass, and the Devil.  It was awesome.

A reading by one of  the guests of honor, Andrea Hairston, also included a banjo-player who had put some of the song lyrics in Hairston’s work to actual music with actual banjo.  Excellent.

And Daniel Jose Older did an excerpt from his work — completely amazing.   A true performer and storyteller, with this brilliant, crazy urban edge. After his bit, I waved over the person collecting the donations and handed over forty bucks, because damn! I now have to run out and get everything available by Older.

Then my Kaffeeklatsch, which I think went well.  We merged the the other person klatsching, one Adrienne J. Odasso, a poet new to me.   I bought one of her chap-books, but haven’t delved into it yet…

Oh, look!  My indicator just flipped over from Perfectly Fine! to I Go Lie Down Now.  I shall do that, soon.

I do regret that I wasn’t able to meet & greet and hang with all the people I’d hoped to… but my on again/off again energy level kept me from being as social as I’d have liked, and from seeing as many panels as I wished I could have seen.  I passed people in the halls who I wanted to talk to, or hang with… but I just couldn’t do all I wanted.

So if I missed you, I do apologize (looking at you, Kate Nepveu!).

But I was so glad to finally get out into the real (as in SF/F fan and writers’) world again.

In other news: Radiation is going well. About which, more later.