Getting Ready for Readercon 2012

One of the best parts of pre-Readercon planning is when the program schedule finally comes online and I get to pick out the panels I hope to attend. Last year I didn’t make to everything I thought I wanted to go to, because either I got a chance to meet someone I’d only known online before, or I got drug along to a different panel with friends, or because I stole an hour to retreat to my room and take a nap. But still, I like plans, and making plans, and having plans, and being prepared …

Let me say right now that there is one place you will absolutely be able to find me this year:

Friday, 7:00 PM (VT room) Reading. Michael J. DeLuca. Michael J. DeLuca reads “Other Palimpsests,” forthcoming in the anthology Bibliotheca Fantastica from Dagan Books, edited by Claude Lalumière and Don Pizarro.

A reading from a book my company is publishing this year? Don’s first title as an editor? A chance to meet one of our authors? Hell. Yes.

But, you know, other stuff is happening too. Here’s a list of more panels I think I’ll be at:

Thursday July 12

8:00 PM G Genrecare. Elizabeth Bear (leader), Kathleen Ann Goonan, Kelly Link, Shira Lipkin, Barry N. Malzberg. In a 2011 review of Harmony by Project Itoh, Adam Roberts suggests that “the concept of ‘healthcare’ in its broadest sense is one of the keys to the modern psyche.” Yet Roberts notes “how poorly genre has tuned in to that particular aspect of contemporary life.” Similarly, in the essay “No Cure for the Future,” Kirk Hampton and Carol MacKay write that “SF is a world almost never concerned with the issues of physical frailty and malfunction.” As writers such as Nalo Hopkinson, Tricia Sullivan, and Kim Stanley Robinson explore the future of the body, how is SF dealing with the concepts of health, medicine, and what it means to be well?

Friday July 13

11:00 AM F Post-Colonial Independence and the Fantastic. Christopher Brown, Bernard Dukas (leader), Walter Hunt, Vandana Singh. Indigenous peoples in post-colonial nations often use speculative and fantastical works to explore concerns raised by colonization, wars for independence, and the colonizers’ departure. Are there commonalities to speculative stories written in immediately post-colonial nations—say, within the first 50 years of independence—around the world, such as Egypt in the early 20th century, India and the Philippines in the late 20th century, and Croatia today? What about 19th-century Haiti and 16th-century Persia? What do these works reveal about the nature of colonization and the ways that narratives are shaped by the authors’ direct personal experiences of the struggle for independence?

12:00 PM G Writing for Electronic Devices. Kathryn Cramer, Michael J. DeLuca, James Patrick Kelly, Barbara Krasnoff (leader), David G. Shaw. How does the experience of reading speculative fiction on the Kindle, the iPad, and other e-readers differ from reading a codex? What changes in the literature itself might we see as authors write stories and novels intended to be read on electronic devices? Will the ability to link across pages and chapters (as first seen in Geoff Ryman’s pioneering 253) change how plots are developed, or will they act more as memory aids? Our panelists speculate about this unevenly distributed but inevitable future.

2:00 PM F Serendipity in the Digital Age. John Benson, John Clute, Michael J. DeLuca, Michael Dirda, Kathryn Morrow, David G. Shaw (leader). Libraries are closing off their stacks from patrons and sending robots to retrieve requested books; brick-and-mortar bookstores are being supplanted by Amazon’s massive warehouses and recommendation engines. While these arrangements increase efficiency on the business end, they destroy serendipity on the reader’s end. Yet sites like Wikipedia and TV Tropes give us what Randall Munroe called “hours of fascinated clicking,” trails of discovery that strongly resemble the old-fashioned bookstore or library experience. Can those sites teach us how to recreate browsing in our browsers? Should Amazon look more like the new online edition of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia?

3:00 PM G The New New Wave. Elizabeth Bear, Richard Bowes, Gwendolyn Clare, F. Brett Cox (leader), Paul DiFilippo. China Miéville has said that Embassytown is in some ways a reaction to New Wave books by Le Guin and Delany, and Jo Walton’s Among Others engages in a very literal dialogue with the New Wave works of those two authors. Walter Jon Williams’s Implied Spaces and Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Quantum Thief could easily be seen as responses to Zelazny’s work from the same era, which also inspired Elizabeth Bear’s Jacob’s Ladder trilogy. Why is the New Wave cresting again? Are authors looking for something in those older works that they haven’t found in more recent SF? Or is it just easier to critique and converse with the New Wave now that we’ve had several decades to think about it?

6:30 PM NH Reading. Elizabeth Hand. Elizabeth Hand reads from new work.

7:00 PM VT Reading. Michael J. DeLuca. Michael J. DeLuca reads “Other Palimpsests,” forthcoming in the anthology Bibliotheca Fantastica from Dagan Books, edited by Claude Lalumière and Don Pizarro.

8:00 PM NH Group Reading: Cambridge Science Fiction Workshop. Heather Albano, James L. Cambias, F. Brett Cox, Alexander Jablokov, James Patrick Kelly, Steven Popkes, Kenneth Schneyer, Sarah Smith. The members of the oldest extant professional writers group in New England give brief readings from their works.

10:00 PM F/G The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. Barry N. Malzberg. The Smith Award, honoring a writer worthy of being rediscovered by today’s readers, is selected annually by a panel of judges that includes Readercon 4 Guest of Honor Malzberg. Past winners include Olaf Stapledon, R.A. Lafferty, Edgar Pangborn, Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, William Hope Hodgson, Daniel F. Galouye, Stanley G. Weinbaum, A. Merritt., and Katherine MacLean.

10:30 PM F/G Meet the Pros(e) Party. You and nearly everyone else. Each writer at the party has selected a short, pithy quotation from his or her own work and is armed with a sheet of 30 printed labels, the quote replicated on each. As attendees mingle and meet each pro, they obtain one of his or her labels, collecting them on the wax paper provided. Atheists, agnostics, and the lazy can leave them in the order they acquire them, resulting in one of at least nine billion Random Prose Poems. Those who believe in the reversal of entropy can rearrange them to make a Statement. Wearing labels as apparel is also popular. The total number of possibilities (linguistic and sartorial) is thought to exceed the number of theobromine molecules in a large Trader Joe’s dark chocolate bar multiplied by the number of picoseconds cumulatively spent by the Readercon committee on this convention since its inception.

Saturday July 14

11:00 AM ME Genre Magazines in the 21st Century. Scott H. Andrews (leader), Steve Berman, Neil Clarke, Shawna McCarthy, Gordon Van Gelder. What goes into keeping genre magazines fresh and afloat in current times? In this open discussion, magazine professionals provide advice to would-be editors and publishers regarding securing distribution, finding material, marketing and promoting, etc. along with success and cautionary stories.

12:00 PM NH Group Reading: Crossed Genres. Carrie Cuinn, Kay T. Holt, Barbara Krasnoff, Sandra McDonald, Daniel José Older, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Crossed Genres (http://www.crossedgenres.com) started out with a monthly online magazine, and has now developed into a full-scale small press publisher of genre anthologies. Recent and upcoming books include Subversion: Science Fiction & Fantasy Tales of Challenging the Norm (Dec. 2011), Fat Girl in a Strange Land (Feb. 2012), and Salsa Nocturna (July 2012). This reading will feature several writers whose work is represented in Crossed Genres publications, and will be moderated by publisher/editor Bart Leib.

Please note! I’m not actually going to be reading here. The list was put together of “required” and “optional” readers before all the participants got back about their availability, and there won’t be enough time to for me to read. But I am looking forward to what other stories are read and I always want to support a great small press.

1:00 PM VT Reading. Paul DiFilippo. Paul DiFilippo reads “Specter-bombing the Beer Goggles,” published in The MIT SF Review.

2:00 PM RI The Future of Copyright. Ken Liu, B. Diane Martin, Eugene Mirabelli, Kenneth Schneyer (leader), Jacob Weisman. SFF authors have two reasons to care about the future of copyright: both as a novum for fiction, as in Spider Robinson’s Melancholy Elephants, Charles Sheffield’s “Out of Copyright,” and Randy Henderson’s “Surviving the eBookalypse,” and as a basis for long-term career strategy (see the blogs of Cory Doctorow and Kristine Kathryn Rusch). All we know for sure about copyright is that it’s going to change, but how? Will it become ever more stringent and draconian, with publishers charging separately each time a reader opens a book? Will it vanish altogether in favor of a fee-for-service or “revenue rights” model? Will authors have to start beating the bushes for rich patrons? Join in the wild speculations and crackpot theories. Proposed by B. Diane Martin.

3:00 PM RI Theories of Reading and Their Potential Insights into Fantastika. Suzy McKee Charnas, John Crowley, Shira Daemon, Kate Nepveu, John H. Stevens (leader), Gayle Surrette, Eric M. Van, Rick Wilber. We talk about reading at Readercon every year, but we rarely talk about our understanding of reading as a mental process of cultural practice. John H. Stevens will summarize some recent theories of reading from neurological, psychological, anthropological, and literary perspectives, followed by a discussion about what these ideas might be able to tell us about how we engage, interpret, and codify fantastic literature. In what ways is fantastika read like any other sort of text, and in what ways might we read (and write?) it differently?

4:00 PM F Caitlín R. Kiernan Interviewed by Elizabeth Hand. Elizabeth Hand, Caitlín R. Kiernan.

5:00 PM F Peter Straub Interviewed by Gary K. Wolfe. Peter Straub, Gary K. Wolfe.

7:00 PM F 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.

10:00 PM F Reading. Howard Waldrop. Howard Waldrop reads from a forthcoming work.

Sunday July 15

10:00 AM RI Speculative Poetry Workshop. Mike Allen (leader). Speculative poetry can be defined a number of ways, but one way is this: a speculative poem uses the trappings of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or more unclassifiable bends in reality to convey its images, narratives, and themes. Speculative poetry can unfold with the same subtlety and power that speculative fiction does, with considerably fewer words. Come prepared to write. Workshop led by Mike Allen. (this is 2 hours long)

And then … heading home!

You may notice some gaps – that’s either because I’m torn between a couple of events (for instance, the Fri 4 pm “weird erotica” panel is at the same time as the IAF meeting that I missed last year) and don’t know yet which I will be at, or because I scheduled time to meet friends or take a shower. Showers are good.

Attending Readercon? Get the program here: PDF version, Excel version

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