There are three things you can do while at Readercon during the day: talk to friends, browse and patronize the Bookshop, or attend the program. This is a significantly shorter list than provided by other science fiction conventions (which typically include an art show, gaming, musical performances, and so on). It's thus not an exaggeration to say that Readercon is all about the program. As we used to say, it's not just the heart of the convention, but also the lungs, brain, liver, and kidneys.
Readercon covers the whole of imaginative literature (or "speculative fiction") from hard science fiction to fantasy, horror, and the unclassifiable, but with a special emphasis on the most literary, ambitious, and cutting-edge work in the field. Our regular Program Participants include writers, editors, publishers, and critics from the Northeast, and those from around the world with a special affinity for our emphasis.
Each year, we further supplement the program with experts on individual program items, such as our panel discussions appreciating the works of our Guests of Honor.
Readercon Program Participants pay no membership fee. Our Program Guide includes brief bio-bibliographies of all participants, and an index of their appearances at the convention.
Much of the credit for Readercon's programming goes to our program participants, and we're always looking for exciting new people to add to their ranks. If you would like to apply (or suggest someone) to be added to our invitation list, please submit an extremely persuasive application using this form. We are especially eager to recruit scientists, historians, artists and musicians, and others who work in fields of interest to genre fiction writers and readers.
Readercon is committed to diversity in its program; we believe a wide range of voices makes for better conversation. We strongly encourage members of minority and underprivileged groups to apply. While no one is required to provide information on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, religion or lack of religion, sexual or relationship orientation, age, or other personal characteristics, if that information is provided we will take it into consideration when we build our program. If you are suggesting someone other than yourself, please do not provide contact information, minority status, or other personal information without that person's explicit prior permission.
If you would like to suggest a program item, please do so using this form. We welcome anything from interesting links and vague concepts to full-fledged proposals complete with suggested panelists. Be adventuresome and creative; remember that Readercon's program starts where other conventions leave off. The programs for our past conventions, which may be perused using the links in the sidebar, will give you an idea of what we're looking for.
If you are a past Readercon program participant or have received an invitation to the upcoming convention, and you would like to submit a proposal for a solo talk, performance, discussion, workshop, special-interest panel, or group reading, please use this form (which also provides definitions of those terms). If you've never been a Readercon program participant and have not received an invitation, please submit an application first.
The form and content of the Readercon program are shaped by the following principles:
We've found that we can satisfy these principles by featuring the following simultaneously:
The items in any hour are carefully selected to avoid overlaps of genre and topic. If there's a hard sf panel discussion, there will rarely if ever be a hard sf author doing a reading, autograph session, or the like at the same time. (There's another reason for this: we want them in the audience of the panel discussion). If there's a panel we deem useful to aspiring writers (who are legion in our audience), it will not be up against a solo talk about writing. In fact, someone with a fairly narrow set of interests should be able to pick and choose their way through the program: first a panel discussion about fantasy, then a reading by a fantasy author, now a discussion, another panel, a Kaffeeklatsch, and so on. The attendee with broader tastes finds themselves (we hope) at a sumptuous but well-balanced buffet.
Very simply, we pride ourselves on doing panel discussions you haven't seen at previous sf conventions. We develop our ideas at meetings of our Program Subcommittee (there were ten of us this year, which is to say roughly half of the entire convention committee). If we have a driving principle, it's to start the panel at the right point, which is often roughly where the typical panel on the topic ends. In other words, we strive for panels that ask the next question (the driving cognitive philosophy of sf great Theodore Sturgeon, Memorial GoH at Readercon 2).
If this sounds attractive (or like a bold claim we need to back up), we urge you to read through the programs of past Readercons!
The convention begins Thursday at 8:00 PM with programming open to the public. (There's no registration, and we provide a handout with the evening's schedule in lieu of the full Program Guide.) Programming runs until 10:00 PM and consists of a relatively intimate, stripped-down version of what's to follow: a track or two of panels, a track of solo talks/discussions, and two tracks of readings.
Friday we begin at 11:00 AM with a full slate of our multi-track programming (local attendees who take the day off will thus be rewarded with the same wealth of programming that our out-of-towners enjoy). Since many local attendees do arrive after work and hence at dinner time, there's no dinner break. Special events start at 10:00 PM.
Saturday's full schedule runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. After 4:00 PM, there are yet more special events sandwiched around a dinner break. This year, due to popular demand, we hope to schedule a half-program (one track each of panels, readings, and solo talks/discussions) during the dinner break from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.
Sunday programming once again begins at 10:00 AM and ends at 3:00 PM.
While there are no lunch breaks at Readercon, we do try to populate the lunchtime hours with some of our more specialized programming — and if that fails, there's a concession stand that sells very satisfying sandwiches!
While the bulk of the program items at every Readercon are novel, there are a handful that you can count on:
Readercon records audio and video of many program items, and is in the process of making those recordings accessible to the public as part of our educational mandate. Anyone who would like to individually record a program item and make that recording public is welcome to do so with the prior consent of the program participants. Attendees should be aware that audience contributions are often captured on these recordings.