This Year's Program Schedule
Complete Readercon 26 Program Guide (PDF)
Conference Schedule with item descriptions
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday program grid (PDF version, Excel version)
If you have a smartphone, you can access our schedule, maps, restaurant guide, and more by bookmarking the Readercon Guide in your browser. It's a web page that works like a mobile app, so your browser should cache all of it and make it work when you're offline as well. The guide should work on most computers, phones, and tablets that have some sort of relatively modern web browser, though on Windows phones the "Next" view may be buggy.
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.
Participant and Panel Suggestions
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:
- The broad range of interests and tastes of our attendees should be recognized and satisfied. In terms of genre, attendees may be into any combination of hard science fiction, literary sf, fantasy, horror, or "slipstream" (unclassifiable non-realistic) fiction. They may be variously interested in the writing and reading processes, in editing and publishing, and in the criticism and teaching of sf. They may like to hear panel discussions more than author readings or solo talks or discussions, or vice versa.
- There should be something of interest every hour for all but the most narrowly-focused attendee.
- It's better to force someone to choose between two attractive alternatives than to leave them with nothing of interest in a given hour. However, items with obviously overlapping interest should not be held simultaneously.
- There should be enough programming to keep our program participants reasonably busy: at least one item for everyone, a handful or more for our best speakers.
We've found that we can satisfy these principles by featuring the following simultaneously:
- Two panel discussions featuring five (or occasionally six or four) participants, usually including a "leader" who both directs and takes part in the discussion (sometimes with the more traditional "moderator" who directs but doesn't opine). The participants sit in arm chairs in front of coffee tables, rather than behind the usual table. Usually, the last ten minutes or so are devoted to questions from the audience, but the leader is free to solicit audience input at any stage. Although some of the panels are based on ideas given to us by the participants, they are all ultimately the brainchildren of Readercon's Program Subcommittee (see below).
- Two tracks of author readings. Usually, each consists of a pair of compatible 30-minute readings, but there are 60-minute readings as well. Unlike nearly every other convention, we give you the title (and sometimes a descriptive blurb) in the Program Guide.
- Two tracks of solo talks and/or discussion groups (the "mini-tracks"), usually 60 minutes long, sometimes 30. Unlike the panel discussions, these are the brainchildren of the individual presenters or discussion group leaders.
- Two author Kaffeeklatsches — an intimate get-together between an author and up to 15 readers (who sign up in advance).
- Two autograph sessions in the Bookshop.
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:
- "Welcome to Readercon" on Friday: a great way for folks attending their first Readercon to meet some of the regulars and get into the spirit of the weekend.
- A set of panels appreciating the career and works of our guests of honor, and of the outgoing Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award winner.
- The "Absent Friends" memorial discussion of recently deceased writers, editors, artists, and fans.
- Book clubs: in-depth discussions of some of the major works of the field.
- Talks called "How I Wrote/Edited/Illustrated/Created [Title]." The titles, all recent works, are announced on the web site in June, and you're urged to read as many as possible before the con. (One of our past slogans was "The con that assigns homework!")
- The presentation of the annual Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, Friday night at 10:00 PM. This is followed by:
- The Meet the Pros(e) Party. This is a chance to not only meet the program participants, but also a fragment of their work! See the program listing for any recent convention for the details.
- Interviews with our Guests of Honor from 4:00 to 6:00 PM on Saturday. Our Guests of Honor are eminent and interesting enough that we don't need to program anything else (except an open Bookshop) opposite them.
- The Shirley Jackson Awards Sunday morning. Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, "The Lottery." Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. The Jackson Awards have been established in her name for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic; they are voted on each year by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors. Awards are presented in six categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology. Readercon has hosted the Jackson Award ceremony from its inception in 2008 and is delighted to host it once again.
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.
For recordings of past Readercon program items, see our media page and our YouTube channel.
Thursday July 9
- 8:00 PM F
The Long Slow Burn of Critique. Jedediah Berry, John Clute, Nicola Griffith, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Gary K. Wolfe. A critique can become embedded in a writer's brain, helpfully influencing their future work or causing lingering pain. Nicola Griffith can still quote chunks of the Locus review of her 1992 novel Ammonite. From the other side, Gary K. Wolfe has said he felt haunted after being told that a writer whose work he reviewed subsequently developed a writing block for over a year. Our panel of critics and writers (and critics who are also writers) will share stories of critiques that stuck and stung, ranging from humorous to bitter and back again.
- 8:00 PM G
All Literature is Regional. Susan Bigelow, Leah Bobet, Brett Cox, John Langan, Yves Meynard, Resa Nelson. Canadian author Alistair MacLeod once said, "All literature is regional." How does regionality influence the worlds that speculative authors create, and the ways that readers approach those creations?
- 8:00 PM CO
The Games We Play. Erik Amundsen, Yoon Lee, Alex Shvartsman, Romie Stott (leader), Gregory Wilson. Video games and tabletop games are an influential part of our imaginative lives. Are there times when you're reading a book and feel the game mechanics too clearly beneath the prose? Or do you enjoy imagining what a character's stats might look like? We'll look at tie-in books (like R.A. Salvatore's Chronicles of Drizzt and David Gaider's Dragon Age prequels), book-based games (like The Black Cauldron, Lord of the Rings, and the Mists of Avalon-influenced Conquests of Camelot), and the pleasure of reading gaming sourcebooks.
- 8:00 PM ENL
Take It Outside: The Freeform World of Nordic LARP. Liz Gorinsky. Join live-action roleplaying (LARP) experts Lizzie Stark (author of Leaving Mundania and Pandora's DNA), Emily Care Boss (designer of Under My Skin, The Remodel, and Play with Intent), and Liz Gorinsky (editor at Tor Books) for an introduction to the world of American Freeform and Nordic "art LARP" games, such as the Harry Potter-inspired College of Wizardry, which has been run in a Polish castle. They will discuss academic LARP theory, narrative styles in games, metatechniques for revealing the interior lives of characters, improvisational workshopping, and how science fiction and fantasy subjects can be explored in a low-tech analog game setting.
- 8:00 PM EM Reading: Barry Longyear. Barry Longyear. Barry Longyear reads A chapter from my work-in-progress, The War Whisperer
- 8:00 PM ENV Reading: Walt Williams. Walt Williams. Walt Williams reads My work in progress, the nearly complete novel the Hacker of Guantanamo Bay.
- 8:30 PM EM Reading: Chris Gerwel. Chris Gerwel. Chris Gerwel reads Reading a chapter from a work-in-progress novel (TBD which one).
- 8:30 PM ENV Reading: Erik Amundsen. Erik Amundsen. Erik Amundsen reads TBD or Poetry.
- 9:00 PM F Books in Conversation. Greer Gilman, Catt Kingsgrave, Scott Lynch, Cecilia Tan, Rick Wilber. Books and texts are often said to be in conversation with each other, with some writers openly discussing how they wrote something in response to another work in genre. The classic example is Samuel R. Delany's Triton and Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed, which can both be read as a conversation with each other as well as with Joanna Russ's The Female Man. A more recent example is Lev Grossman's Magicians books, which are particularly in conversation with the work of C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. Our panelists will discuss what their work is reacting to, and talk about where this impulse comes from.
- 9:00 PM G If Magic Has Always Been Real. Karen Burnham, Lila Garrott (leader), Max Gladstone, Romie Stott, Walt Williams. Regarding the challenges of "the world we know, but with magic!", Monique Poirier wrote, "If magic has always been real, why did colonialism and genocide roll the way it did?... It couldn't possibly be the world we know without all the painful, fucked up history. And what good is magic if it can't have altered that?" Naomi Novik's Temeraire books address this by keeping many elements of history familiar but dramatically changing others. In Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries, paranormal entities have always been there, but they hid from ordinary humans for safety and therefore lacked the ability to influence the course of history. How do other authors of historical fantasy and urban fantasy balance the inherently world-changing nature of magic with the desire to layer it on top of the world we have?
- 9:00 PM CO What Don't We Read-and Why?. Scott Edelman, Stacey Friedberg, Natalie Luhrs, Sarah Smith (leader), Patty Templeton. If all of the signals — the reviews, the blurbs, the cover, the author, the publisher — suggest you'd hate a particular book, is that sufficient reason to pass on it? Have you ever tried to read something you thought you'd despise and realized that you loved it? Do you give every book a certain number of pages to win you over, or feel obligated to finish any book you start? If a certain critic praises something, does that make you want to run the other way? We'll discuss these and many other ways not to read a book.
- 9:00 PM ENL How to Write for a Living When You Can't Live Off Your Fiction. Leah Bobet, John Crowley, Michael Dirda, Barbara Krasnoff (leader). You've just been laid off from your staff job, you can't live on the royalties from your fiction writing, and your significant other has taken a cut in pay. How do you pay the rent? Well, you can find freelance work writing articles, white papers, reviews, blogs, and other non-SFnal stuff. Despite today's lean journalistic market, it's still possible to make a living writing, editing, and/or publishing. Let's talk about where and how you can sell yourself as a professional writer, whether blogging can be done for a living, and how else you can use your talent to keep the wolf from the door. Bring whatever ideas, sources, and contacts you have.
- 9:00 PM EM Reading: Lisa Cohen. LJ Cohen. Lisa Cohen reads From ITHAKA RISING, my newest release
- 9:00 PM ENV Reading: Gregory Wilson. Gregory Wilson. Gregory Wilson reads A recently published short story, "Latitude and Longitude."
- 9:30 PM EM Reading: Michael J. Daley. Michael J. Daley. Michael J. Daley reads Racing the Blue Monarch Space Station Rat
- 9:30 PM ENV Reading: Ellen Brody. Ellen Brody. Ellen Brody reads "When It Changed" by Memorial Guest of Honor Joanna Russ
Friday July 10
- 11:00 AM F Mystery and Speculative Crossovers. Meriah Crawford, Chris Gerwel, Greer Gilman, Nicholas Kaufmann, Adam Lipkin (leader). There are many books that draw from both the speculative fiction and mystery toolboxes, in both macro ways (China Miéville's The City & the City and Peter F. Hamilton's Great North Road are catalyzed by hard-boiled murder investigations) and micro ways (urban fantasy was initially defined by its relationship to noir, now often more evident in tone than in plot). Where is this crossover most satisfying? How do magic and advanced technology open up new avenues of investigation or methods of befuddling the detectives? How have trends, tropes, and developments in each genre influenced crossover works?
- 11:00 AM G Drift-Compatibile Fictional Characters. Amal El-Mohtar, Victoria Janssen, Nicole Kornher-Stace (leader), A. J. Odasso, Navah Wolfe. The film Pacific Rim created the idea of two people who are "drift-compatible," able to live inside each other's minds and memories without sustaining massive psychic damage. Let's use this as a metaphor to explore our favorite speculative fiction duos—whether they're friends, traveling companions, siblings, or spouses—and talk about what makes those deeply intimate pairings work.
- 11:00 AM CO The Works of Mildred Clingerman. Brett Cox, Rob Kilhefer, Gordon Van Gelder (leader). Clingerman's work tends to wed a literate tone to subject matters whose ominousness is perhaps more submerged than the horrors under the skin made explicit in the work of Shirley Jackson, but equally as deadly. Married women are vividly portrayed in stories like "The Wild Wood" (January 1957 F&SF) or "A Red Heart and Blue Roses"; they suffer constant violations of body space, male intrusiveness, and the impostures of aliens, and allow this to happen, horrifically. It is understood that Clingerman may have ceased writing around 1975 at the behest of her husband. In 2014 she was posthumously given a Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. Join us for a discussion of her work.
- 11:00 AM ENL When Toxic Masculinity Is the Villain. Erik Amundsen, Max Gladstone, Josh Jasper (leader), Daniel José Older. In the "New Visions of Masculinity" panel at Readercon 25, we discussed the characters in Supernatural dying repeatedly because of toxic masculinity. Fighting demons is clearly easier than fighting the cultural narrative of men as arrogant, emotionally repressed aggressors who refuse to accept advice or reconsider poor decisions. What would it look like if a male character became aware of that narrative and decided to take a stand against it? Instead of toxic masculinity traits being used to generate repetitive conflict, how can authors build the tension between what the culture wants a man to be and who he wants himself to be?
- 11:00 AM EM Reading: Sarah Smith. Sarah Smith. Sarah Smith reads I'll read from the Titanic book. WHICH IS FINISHED.
- 11:00 AM ENV Reading: Daryl Gregory. Daryl Gregory. Daryl Gregory reads A new, not yet published short story I've written for a Saga Press cross-genre fairy tale anthology.
- 11:30 AM EM Reading: Matt Kressel. Matt Kressel. Matt Kressel reads An excerpt from my forthcoming novel, KING OF SHARDS.
- 11:30 AM ENV Reading: Yoon Lee. Yoon Lee. Yoon Lee reads Excerpt from Ninefox Gambit, forthcoming novel.
- 12:00 PM F Writing in the Anthropocene: SF and the Challenge of Climate Change. Gwendolyn Clare, Michael J. Daley, Michael J. Deluca (leader), Max Gladstone, Vandana Singh. Science fiction and fantasy have often dealt with fictional apocalyptic scenarios, but what about the real-world scenario unfolding right now? Climate change, or climate disruption, is the most challenging problem faced by humankind, and some have called it a problem of the imagination, as much as economics and environment. In the wake of the latest scientific reports on what is happening and what might be in store for us, we'll examine how imaginative fiction conveys the reality, the immediacy, and the alternative scenarios of the climate problem.
- 12:00 PM G The Write/Read Balance. Elizabeth Bear, Amanda Downum, Betsy Mitchell, Charles Oberndorf (leader), Cecilia Tan. Young writers are often told to read, read, read, but every hour spent reading is an hour not spent writing. Many novelists make the conscious choice to write (and make their deadlines) instead of reading. But reading other works within and outside the genre can be tremendously valuable for a writer, whether as a pleasant break from creating or as a source of ideas, inspiration, and literary conversation. Our panel of varied creators discuss how consumption of literature interfaces with their creative processes, and how to strike the proper balance of time and attention to reading and writing.
- 12:00 PM CO Welcome to Readercon. Emily Wagner (leader). New to Readercon? Not new, but curious about what might be different this year? Our program chair and other Readercon regulars will give you some peeks behind the scenes and suggestions about all the cool not-to-miss stuff. We're nice. Come hang out.
- 12:00 PM ENL The Contours and Limits of Reading Protocols. John Stevens. In discussions of reading fantastic literature, some observers use the idea of "reading protocols" to describe the particular way that readers engage and process fictional texts. Prominent critics of fantastika (most often SF) such as Samuel R. Delany, James Gunn, and Jo Walton characterize how the literature is read as the embrace of a discernable schema that permits the reader to properly understand fantastic texts. But the idea of a protocol can be a limiting optic for examining how fantastic literature is read. This talk will summarize the prominent uses of reading protocols in fantastic literary criticism; analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the idea; examine how the idea constrains our understanding of the act of reading; and discuss why we need to think beyond this conception to better comprehend how we engage fantastic texts.
- 12:00 PM EM Reading: Michael Cisco. Michael Cisco. Michael Cisco reads "Altar! Altar!" (short story)
- 12:00 PM ENV Reading: Eileen Gunn. Eileen Gunn. Eileen Gunn reads I'll read from my novel in progress. Working title: The Education of Samantha Clemens.
- 12:30 PM EM Reading: Gemma Files. Gemma Files. Gemma Files reads From my novel Experimental Film.
- 12:30 PM ENV Reading: John Chu. John Chu. John Chu reads My short story "The Law and the Profits."
- 1:00 PM F It's Actually About Ethics: Reviewing the Work of Colleagues and Friends. Jonathan Crowe, Elizabeth Hand, Jason Heller, Kathryn Morrow, Liza Groen Trombi (leader). How do we develop a culture of reviewing and criticizing writing within genre communities where everyone knows everyone else to varying degrees? What are the ethics of engagement when we've shared ToCs with the people we're reviewing, or been published in the venue we're reviewing? What about when we're friends with the authors, editors, and publishers whose work we're reviewing? At what point is it appropriate to disclose relationships, and at what point is it appropriate to recuse oneself from reviewing? Is full disclosure enough of an assurance of good practice? How full is full? What other considerations should we include?
- 1:00 PM G Winter Is Coming: Feminist SF and the Frozen Tundra Buddy Trek. Gwendolyn Clare, Malinda Lo, Caitlyn Paxson, Sarah Pinsker (leader), Sonya Taaffe. During the Ancillary Justice book discussion at Readercon 25, it was brought up that many favorite feminist SF novels feature pairs of characters slogging through an inhospitable landscape: Nicola Griffith's Ammonite, Maureen McHugh's Mission Child, Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice, and of course Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. Having a pair of characters traveling together generally leads to opportunities for trust and relationship building, but what is it about the tundra trek (or equivalent) that lends itself so well to feminist SF stories in particular?
- 1:00 PM CO How Readers Use Spoilers. Rose Fox, Maria Dahvana Headley, Elaine Isaak (leader), Alex Jablokow, James Morrow. Some readers seek out spoilers so they know what to brace for. Trigger warnings are spoilers that serve a protective purpose. Reading a book constitutes spoiling oneself for the reread, but a book can't become a comfort read until it's well-worn and familiar. Fanfic tags indicating the central relationship of a story can be seen as spoilers, but their purpose is to draw in readers looking for that relationship more than to warn readers away. We'll discuss these and other ways that readers use spoilers as tools to shape the reading experience.
- 1:00 PM ENL The Works of Joanna Russ. Gwynne Garfinkle, David G. Hartwell, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Scott Lynch. Joanna Russ (1937-2011) was, arguably, the most influential writer of feminist science fiction the field has ever seen. In addition to her classic The Female Man (1975), her novels include Picnic on Paradise (1968), We Who are About to… (1977), and The Two Of Them (1978). Her short fiction is collected in The Adventures of Alyx (1976), The Zanzibar Cat (1983), (Extra)Ordinary People (1984), and The Hidden Side of the Moon (1987). She was also a distinguished critic of science fiction; her books include The Country You Have Never Seen: Essays and Reviews (2007). Of her works outside the SF field, she is perhaps best known for How to Suppress Women's Writing (1983). Join us to discuss her works.
- 1:00 PM EM Reading: Susan Bigelow. Susan Bigelow. Susan Bigelow reads I'd love to read a little bit from my latest short story, "Die, Sophie, Die," which was published in Lightspeed. I would also like to read some from "Waking Gifts," my book which is coming out next spring.
- 1:00 PM ENV Reading: Christopher Cevasco. Christopher Cevasco. Christopher Cevasco reads Likely a new historical fantasy story set among the extinct indigenous Arctic people called the Tuniit or, possibly, a new supernatural horror story inspired by Lovecraft's fragment, "The Descendant". Or maybe an excerpt from my latest novel.
- 1:30 PM F Reading: Shira Lipkin. Shira Lipkin. Shira Lipkin reads A forthcoming short story.
- 1:30 PM EM Reading: Nick Kaufmann. Nicholas Kaufmann. Nick Kaufmann reads An excerpt from a new story.
- 2:00 PM F The Future of Speculative Magazines, Part 3. Scott Andrews (leader), John Benson, Leah Bobet, Neil Clarke, Ellen Datlow. At Readercon 20, there were two very well-attended panels that looked at the future of magazines: "The Future of Speculative Fiction Magazines, Part 1: Print Magazines," and "Part 2: Online Magazines." Six years later, we return to this issue to discover what worked, what didn't, whether magazines are any better off, and what the near future might hold.
- 2:00 PM G Where the Goblins Go: A Tour of Hells and Underworlds. C.S.E. Cooney, Greer Gilman, Jack Haringa (moderator), Faye Ringel, Sonya Taaffe. Many types of underworlds feature prominently in religion, folklore, horror, and fantasy. We will discuss the varied roles of hells and netherworlds in world mythology and how authors from Dante to Valente have explored (and exploited) these concepts in fiction.
- 2:00 PM CO What's Cookin', Doc?. B Diane Martin, David Shaw, Fran Wilde. Deconstructed eggs Benedict, meat fruit, turbocharged blowtorches, immersion circulators, an overtaxed waffle iron, and liters of liquid nitrogen: all of these things were used in the Belm Utility Research Kitchen in pursuit of delicious, interesting food. Our panel of experts will discuss cooking techniques, answer audience questions, and perhaps provide a live demo.
- 2:00 PM ENL The Parental Undertones of Fannishness. Toni Kelner, Kate Nepveu, Jennifer Pelland, Diane Weinstein. After the first Peter Capaldi episode of Doctor Who aired, Jet Cuthbertson (@Jet_Heather) tweeted, "Hard to sum up my feelings towards #DrWho- at once completely critical, but protective & adoring. Condemning, but desperate for another fix." This summarizes the conflicting urges that drive many fans to create fanfiction and fan art with the goal of improving a book or show that they find simultaneously appealing and insufficient. But it also sounds like a description of parenting: protective and loving, eager to see achievement that matches potential, critical of shortcomings, concerned about conflicts between the parent's goals for the child and the child's own ambitions. What leads fans to take on this parental role with the works they love? Is it appropriate and respectful, or literally paternalistic? How does it mesh with the parental feelings that creators often have for their own works? And what can fans learn from the struggles and successes of parents?
- 2:00 PM EM Reading: Nicola Griffith. Nicola Griffith. Nicola Griffith reads New stuff--bit or 2 of Menewood (Hild II) and/or bit of new story and/or bit of new essay
- 2:00 PM ENV Reading: Amanda Downum. Amanda Downum. Amanda Downum reads A forthcoming work.
- 2:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Max Gladstone, Charles Oberndorf.
- 2:00 PM E Autographs. Amal El-Mohtar, Gary K. Wolfe.
- 2:30 PM ENV Reading: Allen Steele. Allen Steele. Allen Steele reads An excerpt from the forthcoming novel ARKWRIGHT.
- 3:00 PM F The Genre-Sized Chip on the Shoulder. Nicola Griffith, Sandra Kasturi, Eugene Mirabelli, Kenneth Schneyer (moderator), Peter Straub. Discrimination against speculative literature still exists, but it appears to be fading quickly. Literary awards and critics are recognizing speculative works, and major publishers are publishing them. The nerd/jock distinction still exists among teens, but the line has blurred considerably. Is there value to continuing to see the genre as belittled and beleaguered, and genre fans as an oppressed minority? Or do we have a sort of community PTSD, where we're reacting to memories of mistreatment more than to actual recent events? If the literary world is ready to accept us, are we ready to be accepted?
- 3:00 PM G Women of Technology. Karen Burnham, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Shariann Lewitt, B Diane Martin, Fran Wilde. Current technology is the handmaiden of hard science fiction. What can SF literature learn from the women who have made a difference in tech today? What have been their challenges, experiences, and frustrations? How can we use them as prototypes for the inhabitants of our imagined futures? And from the point of view of women in scientific and technical fields, what science fiction works have succeeded (or failed) in extrapolating not only future technology but the role of women within it?
- 3:00 PM CO Zombies, Vampires, and Capitalism. Chesya Burke, Jack Haringa, Toni Kelner, Barry Longyear, Faye Ringel. In the New York Times, David Castillo and William Eggington opined, "If the modern vampire may have functioned as an apt metaphor for the predatory practices of capital in colonial and post-colonial societies, today's zombie hordes may best express our anxieties about capitalism's apparently inevitable byproducts: the legions of mindless, soulless consumers who sustain its endless production, and the masses of 'human debris' who are left to survive the ravages of its poisoned waste." How apt are these analogies? Are there other ways to link our modern capitalist practices to the creatures of horror and fantasy? And if capitalism is a horror story, do other economic philosophies offer more hope of a happy ending?
- 3:00 PM ENL How We Wrote Get in Trouble and Archivist Wasp. Nicole Kornher-Stace, Kelly Link. Kelly Link and Nicole Kornher-Stace converse about how they created their recent works: Link's collection Get in Trouble and Kornher-Stace's first YA novel, Archivist Wasp. Link's book of stories for adults continues her explorations of myth and human relationships, while Kornher-Stace's novel (published by Link's Big Mouth House) explores what happens when the underpinnings of myths are discovered in a society where those myths still matter very, very much. The two will discuss their work and their strategies for writing.
- 3:00 PM EM Reading: Kit Reed. Kit Reed. Kit Reed reads excerpt from WHERE
- 3:00 PM ENV Reading: James Morrow. James Morrow. James Morrow reads New short story, "Tactics of the Wraith"
- 3:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Suzy McKee Charnas, Betsy Mitchell.
- 3:00 PM E Autographs. Alex Shvartsman, Allen Steele.
- 3:00 PM IN How to Read Poetry. Kythryne Aisling, Michael Cisco, LJ Cohen, C.S.E. Cooney, Elaine Isaak. Those who have never read poetry for pleasure often aren't sure how or where to start; even a short poem can look arcane and daunting. This workshop will explain how to get the most out of poetry on the page, from humorous doggerel to more complex works.
- 3:30 PM ENV Reading: Paul Tremblay. Paul Tremblay. Paul Tremblay reads From an as of yet untitled novel coming in 2016
- 4:00 PM F What Makes Fiction Immersive?. Stacey Friedberg, Matt Kressel, Barry Longyear, Sarah Smith (leader), Rachel Steiger-Meister. What is it about a work that makes you fall into it and not want to come out? What makes another time or place so attractive that you find yourself living there in odd moments? Rather than discussing this in terms of writing techniques, we'll focus specifically on the reader's experience of a work as immersive, exploring the intersection of escapism and reflection of the reader's needs and desires.
- 4:00 PM G Dhalgren at 40. Jim Freund, Max Gladstone, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Shira Lipkin, John Stevens. Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren was first published in 1975. It is now widely considered a classic, yet there is also the perception that it is a "difficult" book. How much has it influenced other authors and works? Does its dream-city serve as a predecessor for more recent fantastical places such as Ambergris or New Crobuzon? How have its experiments with the form of the narrative inspired more recent works? And how might a reader approach it for the first time from the vantage point of 2015?
- 4:00 PM CO Stop, Collaborate, and Listen. Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney (leader), Eileen Gunn, Malinda Lo, Michael Swanwick. The speculative community is full of collaboration: writers who write a story together, musicians who work with writers to create incredible performances and multimedia experiences, artists who work with writers both to illustrate and to create original works. Our panelists will discuss their experiences with the benefits and challenges of collaboration. How many people can collaborate on a project before it becomes unwieldy? How do methods of communication, issues of dividing payment, and other practical considerations influence collaborative artistry?
- 4:00 PM ENL Joanna Russ: Critical Importance Then and Now. Gwynne Garfinkle, Lila Garrott (leader), David G. Hartwell, Barbara Krasnoff. How has the importance of Joanna Russ's critical work changed over time, and in what ways? Younger writers and readers are still discovering How to Supress Women's Writing and finding that it resonates, but what of her other work? We'll discuss the writers she's influenced, the availability of her nonfiction, and the resonance of her work today.
- 4:00 PM EM LCRW. Christopher Brown, Michael J. Deluca, Eric Gregory, Deborah McCutchen, Alena McNamara. Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet Group Reading
- 4:00 PM ENV Reading: Scott Edelman. Scott Edelman. Scott Edelman reads "The Pillow of Disappointment and What Was Found Beneath It"
- 4:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Michael J. Daley, Mary Rickert.
- 4:00 PM E Autographs. Elizabeth Bear, Amanda Downum.
- 4:30 PM ENV Reading: Alex Shvartsman. Alex Shvartsman. Alex Shvartsman reads An excerpt from "H. G. Wells, Secret Agent" since it's releasing the same month as Readercon.
Parodying, and Critiquing Cultures from Within and Without. Phenderson Clark, Max Gladstone, Mikki
Kendall (leader), Malinda Lo, Walt Williams. On a 2014 Wiscon panel on
cross-cultural writing, Daniel José Older noted that representing the rituals
of another culture with factual accuracy isn't sufficient; writers also need to
understand what those rituals mean to that culture. In response, Nalo Hopkinson
tweeted, "And if u have that knowledge, then is it ok 2 subvert the
tradition? Beginning 2 think that may be the core question... not so much who
gets 2 appropriate a traditional cultural artifact as who gets to subvert
it?" Older responded, "We rarely even get to talk about subversion in
this context but it's a huge part of the story." This panel will move
beyond basic questions about cultural appropriation to discuss the power
dynamics and moral nuances of cultural subversion, parody, and critique by
insiders and outsiders.
G I Put Books in Your
Books So You Can Read While You Read. John
Clute, Amal El-Mohtar, Francesca Forrest, Greer Gilman, Kenneth Schneyer
(leader). Nested stories consist of at least one outer story and at least
one inner story. Usually the characters in the outer story are cast as the
audience of the inner story, as in Hamlet
or the Orphan's Tales books. But inner stories have another audience: the
reader. How do we read inner stories? When our attention is brought to its
story-ness, are we more conscious of being the audience than when we immerse
ourselves in outer stories? Do we see ourselves as separate from the audience
characters—thinking of them as the "real" audience even though
they're fictional—or do we connect with them through the mutual experience of
observation? And when do inner stories take on lives of their own, separate
from their frames?
CO Biology as Destiny.
Daryl Gregory, Charles Oberndorf, David
Shaw (moderator), Rick Wilber. The biology of a fantasy creature or alien
can influence their personality, character traits, and culture; how do writers
incorporate that influence into the development of a story, while still
building characters with plausible individuality? And how can authors create
settings that make sense for their inhabitants' abilities and limitations?
ENL The Works of
Nicola Griffith. Jonathan Crowe,
Kelley Eskridge, Alena McNamara. Nicola Griffith was born in Yorkshire,
England, but has lived in the U.S. for many years with her wife, Kelley
Eskridge. She began publishing SF with “Mirror and Burnstone” in Interzone in 1987. Her novels include Ammonite (1992, Tiptree and Lambda Award
winner), Slow River (1994, Nebula and
Lambda winner), The Blue Place
(1998), Stay (2002), Always (2007),
and Hild (2013). She has also
co-edited three anthologies with Stephen Pagel: Bending the Landscape: Fantasy (1997), Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction (1998), and Bending the Landscape: Horror (2001).
She has published a memoir, And Now We
Are Going to Have a Party: Liner Notes to a Writer's Early Life (2007),
another Lambda Award winner. Join us for a discussion of her work.
EM Reading: Elaine
Isaak. Elaine Isaak. Elaine Isaak
reads "Grail Maiden," a Dark Apostle novella
ENV Reading: Tom
Purdom. Tom Purdom. Tom Purdom
reads Probably one or two essays I've written. I could also read some things
I've written about my Casanova stories, which were just collected in a book.
- 5:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Karen Burnham, Troy Wiggins.
- 5:00 PM
E Autographs. Mike Allen, Chesya Burke.
EM Reading: A. J.
Odasso. A. J. Odasso. A. J.
Odasso reads I would plan to read primarily selections of poetry from my newest
poetry collection ("The Dishonesty of Dreams," Flipped Eye
Publishing, August 2014), as well as from my previous collection ("Lost
Books", Flipped Eye Publishing, March 2010) and two chapbooks. I might
also read a brief excerpt of short fiction, as I do write the occasional short
story, but it's likely to be 80% - 90% poetry in content.
ENV Reading: Sandra
Kasturi. Sandra Kasturi. Sandra
Kasturi reads A story or stories from "Mrs. Kong & Other
Monsters." Possibly a poem or two from "Snake Handling for
F From the French
Revolution to Future History: Science Fiction and Historical Thinking. Christopher Cevasco, Phenderson Clark,
Jonathan Crowe, John Crowley, Victoria Janssen (leader). Arts journalist
Jeet Heer wrote, "It's no accident H.G. Wells wrote both [The] Time Machine and The Outline of History (one of the most
popular history books ever), [and] it's no accident that science fiction
writers are also often historical novelists: Kim Stanley Robinson, Nicola
Griffith, etc." For Heer, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction,
and horror can all be grouped under the meta-genre of fantastika, and all
emerged from the "epistemological rupture" of the French Revolution,
which "forced us to think of history in new way, with new emphasis on
ruptures and uncontrollable social forces." Is Heer right to see these
commonalities? Is it useful to think of historical fiction in fantastika terms?
And how do speculative genres borrow from historical ones?
G Being a Better Fan:
How to Give Awesome, Appropriate Compliments. Toni Kelner, Mikki Kendall (leader), Sarah Smith, Diane Weinstein. After
Readercon 25, John Chu wrote about experiencing a number of racial
microaggressions: people mistaking him for another Asian-American author,
asking him to autograph work he hadn't written, or admiring his prowess with
English—his native language. "In every case, people had intended to be awesome
and simply failed," Chu wrote. "No individual act is big deal.
However, as the saying goes, it becomes the water in which you swim."
Authors of color aren't the only ones who receive inadvertently offensive
compliments: for example, women are told they "write SF surprisingly
well" and people with disabilities are held up as role models simply for
existing. This panel will identify common pitfalls for fans complimenting
authors; discuss the cultural context that leads to these missteps; and suggest
alternatives that leave the complimentee feeling genuinely appreciated.
CO Web Serials
Toolkit. Cecilia Tan. Webfiction
(aka web serials) are the fiction cousin to nonfiction blogs, the prose cousin
to the webcomic. A web serial is a unique creative experience that can be
launched without a lot of money or even a pre-existing following. Many writers
describe writing a serial like a high-wire act without a net, but it's also one
of the most satisfying ways to receive feedback on your writing, and a way that
even a little-known writer can build a fandom because of the way a web serial
engages the participation of readers. This talk will cover everything one needs
to launch and sustain a successful web fiction serial. We'll touch on creative
questions (what makes a web serial different from a novel, if anything?) and
practical ones (should I host my own website? should I take donations from
readers?). We'll talk about crowdfunding (Patreon, Kickstarter), monetization
(donations, ads, merch, ebooks), marketing, and more. All the technology you
need to run a successful web serial can be had for free or very close to it! If
you're intrigued by this old-yet-new-again medium of storytelling, this
presentation is for you. Come prepared to take notes and ask questions. There
will be handouts and a lengthy resources list.
ENL Solarpunk and
Eco-Futurism. Michael J. Daley,
Michael J. Deluca, Jeff Hecht, Rob Kilhefer, Romie Stott (leader). In
August 2014, Miss Olivia Louise wrote a Tumblr post proposing the creation of a
new subgenre: solarpunk. Solarpunk, sometimes called eco-futurism, would be set
in a semi-utopian future visually influenced by Art Nouveau and Hayao Miyazaki,
and built according to principles of new urbanism and environmental
sustainability—an "earthy" handmade version of futuretech, in
opposition to the slick, white, spacebound surfaces of 1980s futurism.
Solarpunk blogs have since proliferated, as Tumblr users like SunAndSilicon
create and aggregate concept art and brainstorm solarpunk's technological and
societal shifts, enthusiastically building a shared-world fandom with no single
owner or defining central text. For some, building solarpunk is an escapist
fantasy. Meanwhile, in San Francisco there have been meatspace conventions to
develop some kind of manifesto, with the hope of eventually moving realworld
society in a solarpunk direction. What, if any, are the precursors to this kind
of grassroots genre creation? Is it an inevitable outgrowth of fan-funded niche
publishing through crowdfunding? Is solarpunk's locavore pro-tech optimism in
the face of climate change a distinctly Millenial backlash to Gen-X dystopias?
And can the inevitable contradictions of a crowdsourced utopia survive the
rigors of critical reading?
EM Reading: Scott
Lynch. Scott Lynch. Scott Lynch
reads Excerpt from a forthcoming novel, TBD.
ENV Reading: Caitlyn
Paxson. Caitlyn Paxson. Caitlyn
Paxson reads Excerpts from my current work in progress, Ruinous, a YA portal
fantasy about all-consuming friendships. Think. Buffy meets the Magician's
Nephew meets Beyond Thunderdome.
- 6:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Elizabeth Bear, Nicholas Kaufmann.
- 6:00 PM
E Autographs. LJ Cohen, A. J. Odasso.
EM Reading: Carlos
Hernandez. Carlos Hernandez. Carlos
Hernandez reads Fantaisie Impromptu No. 4 in C#min, Op. 66
ENV Reading: Sonya
Taaffe. Sonya Taaffe. Sonya
Taaffe reads New poetry and an excerpt from "All Our Salt-Bottled
Hearts," an Innsmouth novelette forthcoming in Dreams from the Witch
House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror.
F The Plausible Normal
in Future Societies. Chesya Burke,
John Chu, Sarah Langan, Adam Lipkin, Scott Lynch. According to author
Charles Stross, "If you're not doing [far-future extrapolation] to the
cultural normals as well as the
setting and technology, you're doing it wrong." Many far-future SF stories
are set in a universe with an interstellar polity, advanced transportation
technologies, and familiar political structures. The planetary civilizations
they tend to portray, however, are middle-class white suburbias that barely
exist now. Where are the far-future stories that explore novel and radical
gender politics, religious frameworks, ideologies, fashions, and cultural
attitudes? What are some tools authors can use to get out of their here-and-now
mindsets and imagine a truly transformed future?
G Modern Gods. Amal El-Mohtar (leader), Natalie Luhrs,
Romie Stott, Ian Randal Strock. Corporations, multinationals, and governments
(or seats of office) can be like modern gods: they exist solely because people
believe in them and build up rituals to affirm and perpetuate that belief.
Non-governmental entities often have political power, and they can
theoretically live forever if they can find ways to remain relevant. They fight
with other "gods" and may be broken into multiple demi-gods, a place
from which they rise again or simply fade away. How do portrayals of gods
reflect our interactions with the godlike legal and corporate entities of the
modern world? When works such as Ken Liu's The
Grace of Kings, Max Gladstone's Craft sequence, and Daniel Abraham's Dagger
and the Coin series explicitly address corporations, systems of government, and
economic systems in fantastical settings, how do those stories resemble or
diverge from folklore and fantasy about more literal gods?
CO How Intelligent Are
We, Anyway?. Judith Berman, Ted
Chiang, Gwendolyn Clare, Alex Jablokow, John O'Neil, Bud Sparhawk. Countless
science fiction novels include intelligent beings, whether aliens from another
planet, artificial intelligences, or uplifted animals from Earth. But what does
it really mean to be intelligent? Will reason and self-awareness automatically
emerge in a sufficiently complex mind? Or is there something unique to humans
that makes us different? How have different authors and novels answered this
question in the past?
ENL Recent Fiction
Book Club: Persona. Victoria Janssen, Kate Nepveu (leader), Fran
Wilde. In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador
survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in
a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young
country in this near-future political thriller. For author Genevieve Valentine,
restraint is a mode of composition, both in the beautifully understated
sparsity of her prose and in her protagonists' taut, tense stillness. In Persona, where the degree to which one
has or has not smiled reveals or conceals a wealth of information, restraint is
crucial to a Face's survival. Persona
brings up questions of identity and celebrity, managing to be a tense,
carefully wrought thriller while still nodding and winking at the camera.
You'll never look at a red carpet the same way again.
EM Reading: Toni
Kelner. Toni Kelner. Toni Kelner
reads An introductory section from THE SKELETON HAUNTS A HOUSE.
ENV Reading: Gwynne
Garfinkle. Gwynne Garfinkle. Gwynne
Garfinkle reads I will read from an ongoing series of poems inspired by classic
films, TV, and pop culture.
- 7:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Yoon Lee, Shira Lipkin.
- 7:00 PM
E Autographs. Barry Longyear, Tom Purdom.
EM Reading: Lila
Garrott. Lila Garrott. Lila
Garrott reads The first chapter of my novel in progress.
F Revealing the Past,
Inspiring the Future. Amal El-Mohtar
(leader), Max Gladstone, Alena McNamara, Sarah Pinsker, Julia Rios. When
writing Hild, Nicola Griffith was
aiming for historical accuracy where possible, including in her depictions of
women, queer characters, people of color, and slavery in seventh-century
Britain. She writes, "Readers who commit to Hild might see the early middle ages differently now: they see what
might have been possible, instead of the old master story about the place of
women and the non-existence of POC and QUILTBAG people 1400 years ago. And if
it was possible then, what might be possible today and in the future?"
What other books and stories expand our notion of the possible by revealing the
truth of history? How can creators of future settings learn from the suppressed
or hidden past?
G The Fascination with
Hannibal Lecter. Lisa Bradley, Meriah
Crawford, Ken Houghton, Sarah Smith (leader), Allen Steele. Readers and
TV/film viewers can't get enough of fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter.
We'll use him as a way of examining why some evil characters are celebrated
while others are loathed. Do style, vengeance, and seductiveness in otherwise
repulsive characters motivate us to describe their victims as deserving, or
reduce them to mere objects whose suffering serves to develop the
villain-hero's personality? These characters can be deeply fascinating as a
sophisticated form of evil we can imagine in our midst. What does it say about
us that we love reading about and watching them so much?
CO Dealing with
Discouragement. Susan Bigelow,
Michael J. Daley, Scott Edelman, Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Shariann Lewitt. As
writers, we learn very early on to handle rejection, but how do you handle it
when a story you're sure is good is rejected by 20 different publications? Or
when your carefully crafted novel is shrugged off by five different agents? Or
your self-published novella is bought by only 25 people, all of them friends
and relatives? Or your fantasy novel disappears from public view after a couple
of weeks? We'll explore personal strategies to deal with disappointments,
rejection, and other setbacks.
- 8:00 PM
EM The Monstrous .
Gemma Files, John Langan, Peter Straub,
AC Wise. The Monstrous Group Reading
- 8:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Beth Bernobich, Gary K. Wolfe.
- 8:00 PM
E Autographs. Kit Reed, Cecilia Tan.
- 9:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Daniel José Older, Cecilia Tan.
- 9:00 PM
E Autographs. Suzy McKee Charnas.
F The Cordwainer Smith
Rediscovery Award. Gordon Van Gelder.
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 Barry 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
F Meet the Pros(e).
Gordon Van Gelder. Each writer at the
party has selected a short, pithy quotation from their own work and is armed
with a sheet of 30 printed labels, the quote replicated on each. As attendees
mingle, the request "May I have a sticker?" provides a convenient
icebreaker for tongue-tied fans approaching the pros whose work they love.
Atheists, agnostics, and the lazy can leave the labels 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.
- 11:30 PM F Eighties Dance! Come dance the night away to your favorite eighties hits! Coming in eighties costume is encouraged but not required, coming in costume from an eighties SFnal music video would make you our heroes.
Saturday July 11
F The Author's Voice.
Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Kate Marayuma,
Tom Purdom, Paul Tremblay, Gregory Wilson. An old writing advice chestnut
is that you should read your work aloud; supposedly this will help you notice
awkward phrasing. Let's dig a little further: when, how, and why do writers do
this, if at all? How has it helped—and has it ever hindered? Do authors who are
performers have the opposite problem, where their ability to make something
come alive in a reading obscures the fact that it's a bit dead on the page? How
does reading aloud square with things like footnotes, parentheticals,
illustrations, digressions, or visual representations of dialects? Is anyone
emphatically against the practice of reading aloud as an element of process?
G Zombies as a Crisis
of the Ecosystem: A Holistic Perspective. John Benson, Gwendolyn Clare, LJ Cohen, Meriah Crawford, Catt
Kingsgrave. Zombie plagues, like all pandemics, are ecosystem crises. What
aspects of the human ecosystem make it possible for such a plague to spread?
(Long distance air travel, say, or science fiction conventions.) What would its
effects be on agriculture, infrastructure, labor availability, public health
(aside from the plague itself), telecommunications, and other elements of human
civilization? Where most disaster novels zoom in on the struggles of a few
people to survive such a crisis, we will zoom out and consider large-scale,
CO Betrayal With
Integrity: Conformance and Estrangement in Translating Chinese SF. Ken Liu. Ken Liu will discuss translation
theory as applied to the specific case of Chinese works of SF, with a special
emphasis on the origins of Chinese SF via translation of Western works,
translating THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM into English, and its reception by readers
in the West. The talk pays attention to an aspect of translation that is not
often addressed: transporting a work across a boundary formed by prestige and
power differentials between two cultures. It will conclude by extending the
theoretical framework of “translation” to Liu's own debut novel, THE GRACE OF
KINGS, which can be viewed as a translation of a fundamental narrative from the
Chinese literary tradition into modern English epic fantasy.
ENL Classic Fiction
Book Club: Herland. Ken Houghton, Victoria Janssen (leader),
Sarah Langan. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a prominent social critic and
lecturer at the turn of the 20th century, is perhaps best known for her short
story "The Yellow Wallpaper," a chilling study of a woman's descent
into insanity, and Women and Economics,
a classic of feminist theory that analyzes the destructive effects of women's
economic reliance on men. In Herland,
a vision of a feminist utopia, Gilman employs humor to engaging effect in a
story about three male explorers who stumble upon an all-female society
isolated somewhere in South America. Noting the advanced state of the
civilization they've encountered, the visitors set out to find some males,
assuming that since the country is so civilized, "there must be men."
A delightful fantasy, the story enables Gilman to articulate her
then-unconventional views of male and female roles and capabilities,
motherhood, individuality, privacy, the sense of community, sexuality, and many
EM Strange Horizons.
Gillian Daniels, A. J. Odasso, Sonya
Taaffe. Group reading of Strange Horizons affiliates.
ENV Reading: Bud
Sparhawk. Bud Sparhawk. Bud
Sparhawk reads DISTANT SEAS, Fnatastic Books, 2015 by Bud Sparhawk
- 9:00 AM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Nicola Griffith, Elaine Isaak.
- 9:00 AM
E Autographs. Samuel Delany, Rick Wilber.
ENV Reading: Alena
McNamara. Alena McNamara. Alena
McNamara reads "Starling Road" (a short story forthcoming in LCRW
#33), or else part of an unpublished novel.
F Successfully Writing
About Horrible Things. Mike Allen,
Catt Kingsgrave, Kate Nepveu (leader), Mary Rickert, Patty Templeton. If
you're not writing horror but your plot calls for something horrific to happen
to a character, how do you handle it? You might go overboard and be detailed to
the point of undermining or derailing the narrative, or might be so vague that
the horrific event has little effect on the reader or the story. A reader who's
been through a similar experience might be offended or distressed by a
description of awfulness that's lurid, gratuitous, clichéd, or bland. What
strategies can writers use to help readers empathize with the characters'
suffering and build stories that respectfully handle the consequences of
terrible events, without falling into these traps?
G Joanna Russ:
Reminiscences. Michael Dirda, Jim
Freund (leader), David G. Hartwell, Tom Purdom. Writers and critics who
knew Joanna Russ will discuss her life and works from a more personal vantage
CO The Works of Gary
K. Wolfe. Karen Burnham, John Clute,
Brett Cox, Elizabeth Hand, Rob Kilhefer. Gary K. Wolfe has been an SF and
fantasy critic for several decades. He studied under James Gunn at the
University of Kansas, and then earned his PhD at the University of Chicago. He
has for many years been a Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University,
Chicago. He written monthly for Locus
magazine since 1991, and is their lead reviewer. His many books include Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy
(1986), Harlan Ellison: The Edge of
Forever (with Ellen R Weil, 2002), the BSFA Award–winning Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 (2005), and
Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic
Literature (2010). He also edited the Library of America’s recent 2-volume
set of classic SF novels of the 1950s. Among his many honors are the Eaton
Award and the Pilgrim Award for lifetime contribution to the field of SF
criticism. With Jonathan Strahan, he currently hosts the Hugo-nominated Coode
Street Podcast. Join us to discuss his work.
ENL Odyssey Writing
Workshop. Jeanne Cavelos. Director
Jeanne Cavelos describes the Odyssey Writing Workshop, an intensive six-week
program for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror held each summer in
Manchester, N.H. Guest lecturers have included George R.R. Martin, Elizabeth
Hand, Ellen Kushner, Jane Yolen, and Dan Simmons, and 59% of graduates have
gone on to be professionally published. Cavelos explains the structure of the
program, the work required, and the pros and cons of workshops. Graduates
discuss their personal experiences. The many free resources offered by Odyssey
will also be described.
- 10:00 AM
EM Tabula Rasa. Jen Brissett, Barbara Krasnoff, Terence
Taylor. Tabula Rasa Group Reading
ENV Reading: Michael
J. Deluca. Michael J. Deluca. Michael
J. Deluca reads A short story, 2900 words, forthcoming in Mythic Delirium.
- 10:00 AM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Jeff Hecht, A. J. Odasso.
- 10:00 AM
E Autographs. Ellen Datlow.
ENV Reading: Kenneth
Schneyer. Kenneth Schneyer. Kenneth
Schneyer reads My short story "You in the United States!"
F Not Just
Pointy-Eared Humans. Susan Bigelow,
Don D'Ammassa, Sioban Krzywicki (leader), Allen Steele, Fran Wilde. How do
authors create aliens that are drastically different from humans, and how do
readers respond to them? Many non-humanoid aliens are insectoid, such as the
Buggers of Orson Scott Card's Ender's
Game and the parasites in Octavia Butler's Bloodchild; to what extent does this allow for aliens who are
clearly nonhuman but still recognizable? How do aliens like Octavia Butler's
Oankali, who evolve to become more humanoid, or China Miéville's sexually
dimorphic species, which have one humanoid sex and one nonhumanoid sex, play
into or subvert this dichotomy? And how might portrayals of truly alien aliens
continue to evolve?
G When Should We Argue
with Reviews?. Michael Dirda, Amal
El-Mohtar (leader), Adam Golaski, Resa Nelson, Vinnie Tesla. When is it
appropriate to argue with reviews of your own work? The usual rule is
"never"—but that "never" is a one-size-fits-all solution to
an increasingly complex issue, especially when the categories of reviewer,
reader, and writer are increasingly blurred. Is "appropriate" the
same as "advisable"? What are the limits and ethics of responding to
or arguing with reviews?
CO Dog, Cat, Snake:
Predicting Pets with Literary Taste. Beth
Bernobich, Stacey Friedberg, Sarah Pinsker, Rick Wilber, Navah Wolfe. Let's
play a game! Can you predict whether someone is a cat person or a dog person by
what they read and write? Do you think dog people prefer predictability while
cat people like surprises? Are horror fans more inclined to keep spiders and
snakes? Panelists will discuss their literary preferences and see whether
others can guess their pets.
ENL Fictionmags. John Clute. The listserv Fictionmags has
been in existence since 1999. Formed by David Pringle, ex-editor of Interzone,
its formal remit is the study of all fiction-bearing magazines throughout
history. Featuring approximately 175 members at any one time, it boasts such
luminaries as Ellen Datlow, Gordon Van Gelder, Barry Malzberg, John Clute, Paul
DiFilippo, and Scott Edelman. This panel will discuss Fictionmags and the
resources it provides.
- 11:00 AM
EM Broad Universe.
Marcy Arlin, Terri Bruce, LJ Cohen,
Randee Dawn, Elaine Isaak, Jill Shultz. Broad Universe Group Reading
ENV Reading: Daniel
José Older. Daniel José Older. Daniel
José Older reads SHADOWSHAPER
- 11:00 AM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Chesya Burke, Kate Marayuma, Kit Reed.
- 11:00 AM
E Autographs. Nicola Griffith, Paul Tremblay.
ENV Reading: Charles
Oberndorf. Charles Oberndorf. Charles
Oberndorf reads "Trinities," a fantasy story dressed in sf clothing.
F Insider Tips and
Tough Truths of the Publishing Business. Neil Clarke, David G. Hartwell, Brett Savory, Gordon Van Gelder, Sheila
Williams. SF/F publishing can seem intimidating and shadowy from the
outside. This panel of experienced professionals in the field—authors, editors,
agents, and others—will shed light on some of those dark corners and share
insider secrets and other key information about the current state of the
G Our Panel of
Experts…. Scott Andrews (leader),
Gwendolyn Clare, John O'Neil, Chad Orzel, Bud Sparhawk. Having trouble
creating your world? Are there social complexities or changes in scientific
laws that are confounding you? Bring your very specific questions about
worldbuilding in your current project, and polymath scientists will do their
best to answer. No advance sign-ups; five minutes of answering per question.
CO The Animate
Universe. Judith Berman, Max
Gladstone, Mikki Kendall (leader), James Morrow. In Western
post-Enlightenment thought, the universe is seen as inanimate, acted upon by
other forces. In some cultures, however, the universe is an actor with agency.
What is the role of the universe in our stories, and in the worlds we create to
house them? How does an animate universe inform or subvert the author's and
reader's understanding of meddling gods, dead gods, prophesies, fate, Chosen
Ones, and quests?
ENL “Bad” Influences.
Suzy McKee Charnas, Ellen Datlow
(moderator), Kelley Eskridge, Elizabeth Hand, Maria Dahvana Headley (leader),
Kit Reed, Julia Rios. This female writer and editor roundtable discussion
will focus on the non-genre, possibly "inappropriate" readings of our
formative years that contributed to our current careers in the feminist
fantastical universe. Teenage obsessions with Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller,
Herman Hesse, Salvador Dalí, and Vladimir Nabokov often led us to people like
Angela Carter and Claude Cahun. What do we keep of those first artistic
obsessions, and what do we critique? Which of our early influencers helped make
us into the artists we are today—and which ones make us shake our heads in
- 12:00 PM
EM ChiZine. David Baillie, Elaine Chen, Gemma Files, Nicholas
Kaufmann, Yves Meynard, Paul Tremblay. ChiZine Group Reading
ENV Reading: Nicole
Kornher-Stace. Nicole Kornher-Stace. Nicole
Kornher-Stace reads from my post-apocalyptic descent-into-the-underworld novel
ARCHIVIST WASP (Small Beer, May 2015). Or possibly from the sequel! Or both!
- 12:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Amanda Downum, Eileen Gunn.
- 12:00 PM
E Autographs. Malinda Lo, Sarah Pinsker.
ENV Reading: Fran
Wilde. Fran Wilde. Fran Wilde
reads Updraft (Tor, September 2015)
F Making SF/F Careers
Viable. Sandra Kasturi, Matt Kressel,
Bart Leib, A. J. Odasso, Alex Shvartsman (leader). Writing, editing
anthologies or magazines, running small presses, creating artwork... these
pursuits demand a great deal of investment, and returns are unreliable. Few
people can spend weeks writing a story on spec, wait months for a contract and
longer for a check, or absorb financial losses for years while trying to make a
business profitable. Let's talk frankly about how low pay rates on all fronts
affect the demographics of professional SF/F, and what we can do to make SF/F
careers more accessible to people with limited tangible and intangible
G Confronting the
Gods. Chris Gerwel, Alena McNamara,
Anil Menon, Eugene Mirabelli, Ann Tonsor Zeddies. In the last few years,
N.K. Jemisin, Max Gladstone, Jo Walton, and Robert Jackson Bennett have written
some intriguing new takes on interactions between gods and mortals. Have
cultural shifts made it easier to freely imagine different deistic dynamics?
How do we read these books while living in a world full of complicated and
conflicting attitudes toward religion?
CO Hero/Antihero. Jeanne Cavelos, Daryl Gregory, Elaine Isaak,
Scott Lynch, Sonya Taaffe. The more well-rounded and realistic a character
is, the less they seem like a traditional hero. Is it possible to have both
heroism and realism, or does the introduction of multiple character flaws
automatically make that character an antihero? How do shifting and competing
definitions of heroism influence this discussion?
ENL In Memoriam YA
Fiction Book Club: Hat Full of Sky. Stacie
Hanes, Victoria Janssen, Shira Lipkin, Rachel Steiger-Meister, Emily Wagner. The
second book in the Tiffany Aching series sees Pratchett's young heroine ready
to begin her magical apprenticeship, which goes nothing like she expects and
leads to trouble, especially with other young witches-in-training. What she
doesn't know is that something insidious is coming after her, and none of the
other witches can help. We wanted to do something to mark the death of genre
giant Pratchett, and while any of his books would be worth talking about, the
Tiffany Aching series is some of his most thoughtful work. The adventures of a
young girl learning what it means to be a witch speak deeply to readers, as she
demystifies some aspects of witchery and finds deeper mysteries of life and
magic in others, all while learning to be clever, kind, and brave. Readers of
all ages are welcome to join the conversation.
EM Reading: Henry
Wessells. Henry Wessells. Henry
Wessells reads New stories, "The Beast Unknown to Heraldry" and
ENV Reading: Greer
Gilman. Greer Gilman. Greer
Gilman reads From a third Ben Jonson mystery, a work in progress: A Robe for to
- 1:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Samuel Delany, Barry Longyear.
- 1:00 PM
E Autographs. Michael J. Daley, Ken Liu.
EM Reading: Leah
Bobet. Leah Bobet. Leah Bobet reads
A selection from my upcoming novel AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES.
ENV Reading: Adam
Golaski. Adam Golaski. Adam
Golaski reads A weird short story or essay that everyone will relate to and
F What Joanna Russ's
Work Meant to Me. Elizabeth Bear,
Lila Garrott (leader), Nicola Griffith, Eileen Gunn, Gary K. Wolfe. Russ,
Alice Sheldon, Ursula K. Le Guin, and other feminist writers of the 1970s
inspired a whole generation of female writers and readers—and also stirred
things up within fandom as a whole, upending expectations of what women could
write and what they should write. Now a new generation of writers is reading
Russ through the lenses of third-wave feminism, womanism, and other
philosophies both distinct from and responding to that pioneering work. Our
panelists will talk about their experiences of reading Russ (and her
contemporaries) and the ways that her work invigorates, challenges, and
connects with today's writers and readers.
G Imagining the
Author. John Crowley, Natalie Luhrs,
Kate Marayuma, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Diane Weinstein. Is it possible to
read a piece of fiction without keeping in mind that the author has a gender,
an age, a profession, an ethnic identification, a height, a weight, or a race?
And if it is possible to truly do away with assumptions, without inserting
one's own characteristics as a supposed neutral state, is it a good idea? How
does assuming that the author is like or unlike the reader influence the
reader's experience of a piece, or a critic's analysis of it? Is imagining the
author a necessary starting point for any deep read or critique, or is this all
ultimately a distraction from addressing the work itself?
CO The Definition of
Reality. Anil Menon, Kit Reed, Kenneth
Schneyer, Sarah Smith, Romie Stott (leader). Many forms of entertainment
conflate fiction and nonfiction. It's well documented that so-called reality TV
is highly staged, directed, and manipulated to highlight conflict and
manufacture happy (or tragic) endings. A number of memoirs have been revealed
to be fiction. Some still want to believe professional wrestling is real.
Fiction provides plenty of conflict, coherent narrative arcs, and satisfying
endings, so why do we also demand those things from our nonfiction? Does
believing something is "real" make it more entertaining? Or is this
an expression of our dissatisfaction with the loose ends, bewildering
occurrences, and interrupted stories of our own lives?
ENL Recent Non-Fiction
Book Club: Dataclysm. Alex Jablokow, Rob Kilhefer, Patty
Templeton. Our personal data has been used to spy on us, hire and fire us,
and sell us stuff we don’t need. In Dataclysm:
Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking), Christian Rudder uses it to
show us who we truly are. For centuries, we’ve relied on polling or small-scale
lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As
we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly,
in vast numbers, and without filters. Data scientists have become the new
demographers. Rudder grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a
world where these explorations are possible. The possibilities of data
collection and the future of privacy are deeply relevant to alternate-present
and near-future SF, and this book will provide a great deal of valuable
information for both readers and writers.
EM Reading: Elizabeth
Hand. Elizabeth Hand. Elizabeth
Hand reads Hard Light, the forthcoming third Cass Neary novel
ENV Reading: Max
Gladstone. Max Gladstone. Max
Gladstone reads The beginning of Last First Snow, my next novel—due out on July
15. Or maybe the first chapter of the book after that, depending on what people
are in the mood for.
- 2:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Bud Sparhawk, Sheila Williams.
- 2:00 PM
E Autographs. Gemma Files, David G. Hartwell.
IN Speculative Poetry
Open Mic. Mike Allen (leader). Speculative
poetry covers a broad range of forms and topics. Creators and fans of
speculative poetry are invited to come to this open mic and perform their
favorite works. Sign up at the info desk.
ENV Reading: Rick
Wilber. Rick Wilber. Rick Wilber
reads Brand. new short story, "Rambunctious." Written to be read aloud,
so I'm anxious to give it a reading at Readercon.
F Shifting the Realism
Conversation. Leah Bobet, Michael
Cisco, John Crowley, John Langan, Yves Meynard. In a 2014 interview, James
Patterson, not generally thought of as a fabulist, declared, "I don't do
realism. Sometimes people will mention that something I've written doesn't seem
realistic and I always picture them looking at a Chagall and thinking the same
thing." Meanwhile, the SF/F world is engaged in ongoing discussions about
the value and meaning of realism in epic fantasy, particularly the variety that
uses claims of realism to justify portrayals of violence, bigotry, and misery
in cod-medieval settings. What shifts in these discussions if we adopt
Patterson's framing, setting modernism and abstraction in opposition to
realism? What would abstract, modernist, Chagall-like epic fantasy look like?
And would it work, or is some adherence to the real necessary in stories that
explore the unreal?
G Beautiful and
Terrible as the Morn: Celebrating Spec Fic's Older Women. Beth Bernobich, LJ Cohen, Samuel Delany,
Kelley Eskridge, Eileen Gunn, Diane Weinstein. In a 2014 blog post, Kari
Sperring wrote, "Most women who are now over about 40 have been told their
whole lives to be good, to keep their heads down, to keep on working away
quietly and to wait their turn. And now, within sff, at the point when their
male contemporaries are celebrated, these same women are being told, No, it's
too late for you, you don't matter enough; that space is needed. Get out of the
way." Judith Tarr concurred in a post on Book View Café, saying, "Our
culture makes a cult of youth.... But males as they age manage to stay visible,
and even manage to keep matinee-idol status—and if they’re writers, they become
literary lions. Females simply drop off the radar." Women over 40 have
been shaping the genre since its beginning, as readers, writers, editors,
agents, publishers, artists, critics, and more. This panel will celebrate the
past, recent, and forthcoming work of older women, and help to put it back on
CO The Influence of
James Blish and Damon Knight. Karen
Burnham, John Clute, Gordon Van Gelder, Gary K. Wolfe. Damon Knight's In Search of Wonder and the two Issues at Hand by William Atheling (aka
James Blish) were for many years the standard books about science fiction,
which everyone with a serious interest in the field had read. Reputations were
made and broken in their pages. The whole way we discuss science fiction has been
enormously influenced by these two writers. How much influence do they still
have today, directly or indirectly?
ENL Interstitial Arts
Foundation Town Hall. Mike Allen,
Tempest Bradford, Sarah Smith, Emily Wagner. The IAF is a group of "Artists
Without Borders" who celebrate art that is made in the interstices between
genres and categories. It is art that flourishes in the borderlands between
different disciplines, mediums, and cultures. The IAF provides border-crossing
artists and art scholars a forum and a focus for their efforts. Rather than
creating a new genre with new borders, they support the free movement of
artists across the borders of their choice. They support the development of a
new vocabulary with which to view and critique border-crossing works, and they
celebrate the large community of interstitial artists working in North America
and around the world. The annual Interstitial Arts Foundation Town Meeting at
Readercon is an exciting opportunity to catch up with the IAF and its many
supporters, hear about what they're doing to support the interstitial art
community in 2015, offer ideas for future projects, and contribute your voice
to the development of interstitial art.
EM Reading: Chesya
Burke. Chesya Burke. Chesya Burke
reads From my novel, The Strange Crimes of Little Africa.
ENV Reading: Resa
Nelson. Resa Nelson. Resa Nelson
reads The Bears Guard the Door
- 3:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Ellen Datlow, Ken Liu.
- 3:00 PM
E Autographs. Daryl Gregory, Fran Wilde.
EM Reading: Lisa
Bradley. Lisa Bradley. Lisa
Bradley reads Selections from my collection, The Haunted Girl; maybe a work in
ENV Reading: Mikki
Kendall. Mikki Kendall. Mikki
Kendall reads An excerpt from a novella I'm working.
F Nicola Griffith
Interviewed by Kelley Eskridge. Kelley
Eskridge, Nicola Griffith.
F Gary K. Wolfe
Interviewed by Karen Burnham and Peter Straub. Karen Burnham, Peter Straub, Gary K. Wolfe.
F A Most Readerconnish
Miscellany. Emily Wagner. Sioban
Krzywicki and Kythryne Aisling emcee an extravagant evening of music, theater,
and readings to benefit the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Operation
Hammond. Bring cash or credit cards to make donations toward these very worthy
organizations, all while being entertained by exquisite performers.
Sunday July 12
F Wish Fulfillment for
Happy Adults. John Benson, LJ Cohen,
Betsy Mitchell, Sheila Williams, Ann Tonsor Zeddies. Wish fulfillment for
teenagers and wish fulfillment for adults with happy stable lives are
necessarily going to be different. Speculative stories are great for navigating
the trickiness of coming-of-age, but there's precious little for those who are
already of age and have started to prioritize comfort over adventure. Female
readers in particular often turn to romance novels for stories about families
and love and kindness, and to mysteries for stories about grown women with
agency and purpose. Can speculative fiction draw in those readers by fulfilling
different sorts of wishes?
CO How I Wrote The Grace of Kings. Ken Liu. Liu will discuss how he created
his epic fantasy debut, The Grace of
Kings. Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu,
the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet in an uprising
against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series
of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships,
and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they
each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very
different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.
Liu will discuss his writing process as well as his research for the book and
his development of the genre he calls silkpunk.
EM Reading: Samuel
Delany. Samuel Delany. Samuel
Delany reads recent work.
ENV Reading: Rachel
Steiger-Meister. Rachel Steiger-Meister will read unpublished short stories.
- 9:00 AM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. John Clute, Rick Wilber.
ENV Reading: Barbara
Krasnoff. Barbara Krasnoff. Barbara
Krasnoff reads Short story: Sophia's Legacy
F Reading Stance and
Genre. Peter Dubé, Chris Gerwel,
Nicola Griffith, Alex Jablokow, Sarah Pinsker. In 2013, Nicola Griffith's Hild was nominated for the Nebula award,
alongside Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All
Completely Beside Ourselves. Under Best Novella that same year was
"Wakulla Springs" by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages. Going further
back, Peter Straub won a World Fantasy Award for Koko. By most critical definitions none of these are works of
speculative fiction, but, as Gary K. Wolfe said on an episode of the Coode
Street Podcast, "if you approach Hild
with the expectations of a fantasy reader, you’ll still get most of the
asethetic delights you’re looking for." He asked, "What if we
approach genre not from the point of view of theoretical definitions or market
categories or even the author’s intention, but from how we choose to read a
particular work?" This panel will explore the many answers to that
question, from many perspectives.
G A Palantir in Every
Pocket. Ted Chiang, Daryl Gregory,
Jeff Hecht, Ken Liu, Chad Orzel, David Shaw (leader). In Charles Stross's
"Not a Manifesto," he writes that the 21st century is "by turns
a cyberpunk dystopia and a world where everyone has access to certain kinds of
magic. And if you want to explore the human condition under circumstances which
might plausibly come to pass, these days the human condition is constrained by
technologies so predictably inaccessible that they might as well be magic. So
magic makes a great metaphor for probing the human condition. We might not have
starships, but there's a Palantir in every pocket." This suggests that
urban fantasy, which literalizes the "magical" aspects of modern
life, provides valuable tools for examining and reflecting the experience of
living in the simultaneously glorious and terrible present day. But to what
extent does urban fantasy fall prey to uncritically accepting key elements of
the here and now instead of exploring and debating them? If urban fantasy is a
mirror of the present, are we standing too close to that mirror to see
Lovecraft. Mike Allen, Gemma Files,
John Langan, Adam Lipkin, James Morrow. In Max Gladstone's blog post
"Ghostbusting Lovecraft," he writes: "Ghostbusters is obviously taking the piss out of horror in general.
But while the busters’ typical enemies are ghosts of the Poltergeist
persuasion, the Big Bad of the movie, a formless alien god from Before Time
summoned by a mad cultist–cum–art deco architect, is basically
Lovecraftian." Unlike typical Lovecraftian protagonists, however, the
Ghostbusters prevail over the eldritch horrors by exploiting the power
structures and emotional connections that exist between people. Is the Ghostbusters story arc an alternative to
the standard horror tropes, one that replaces fear with humor, defiance, and
camaraderie? How else does it subvert our expectations of the conflict between
humans and horrors?
ENL Music Hath Charms.
Barry Longyear. Barry B. Longyear's
writing process includes a mental voyage to the time, place, and location that
serve as a scene's setting. A great part of constructing such an environment is
the music he collects and plays during the writing of the scene. Over the years
he has assembled interesting collections for the Joe Torio mystery series, a
Civil War fantasy, and his current SF work, The
War Whisperer. In this talk he will describe how and why this is done, and
how it affects the writing and the writer's focus during the production of the
manuscript. He will also read from a few scenes and play samples of the music
that helped him to write each scene. This technique can be a valuable tool in
the toolbox of any writer.
EM Reading: Amal
El-Mohtar. Amal El-Mohtar. Amal
El-Mohtar reads Either a whole short story ("The Truth About Owls,"
"Pockets,") or selections from two recent ones
("Madeleine," "W is for Weialalaleia")
ENV Reading: Beth
Bernobich. Beth Bernobich. Beth
Bernobich reads My alternate future novel, Other Than Honorable.
- 10:00 AM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Jack Haringa, Tom Purdom.
- 10:00 AM
E Autographs. Toni Kelner, Nicole Kornher-Stace.
EM Reading: C.S.E.
Cooney. C.S.E. Cooney. C.S.E.
Cooney reads I will be reading excerpts from my book BONE SWANS, which is
debuting this year at Readercon.
F The Shirley Jackson
Awards. Mike Allen, John Chu, Ellen
Datlow, Daryl Gregory, Nicola Griffith, Gary K. Wolfe. In recognition of
the legacy of Shirley Jackson's writing, and with permission of the author's
estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding
achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark
fantastic. Jackson (1916–1965) wrote classic novels such as The Haunting of
Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most
famous short stories in the English language, "The Lottery." Her work
continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the
most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. The
awards given in her name have been voted upon by a jury of professional
writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors,
for the best work published in the calendar year of 2014 in the following
categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and
G Who Owns SF?. Judith Berman, Jim Freund, Kathryn Morrow
(leader), Ian Randal Strock, Diane Weinstein. Writers, fans, and reviewers
can all feel a sense of ownership for the genres they love. But different
feelings of ownership from different perspectives can clash, leading to litmus
tests, competing definitions, and unresolvable arguments about what lies at the
heart of a genre. We'll examine the ways that social power structures influence
the question of who gets to define the genre, and discuss paradigms other than
ownership—such as exploration or collaboration—that might help readers overcome
their differences and learn how to share.
- 11:00 AM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Amal El-Mohtar, David G. Hartwell.
- 11:00 AM
E Autographs. Max Gladstone, John Langan.
F BTAIQ: Writing the
"Lowercase Letters". Kythryne
Aisling, Samuel Delany, Amanda Downum, Sioban Krzywicki (leader), Rachel
Steiger-Meister. A lot of attention is paid to the G and L of QUILTBAG or
LGBT, it's time we gave the rest of the rainbow some time in the spotlight.
We'll discuss good and bad examples of bisexual, transgender and agender,
asexual and aromantic, intersex, queer, and questioning characters in
speculative fiction, as well as getting into the problematic tropes that tend
to be attached to these characters, such as bisexual people being
"greedy" or "confused," or the "tragic trans"
ending. And we'll look at how authors can include these characters in ways that
are supportive, respectful, and welcoming of readers.
G Happy Goldfish Bowl:
Concepts of Privacy in Speculative Fiction. John Benson, Meriah Crawford, Jim Freund (moderator), Tom Purdom, Ian
Randal Strock. Speculative stories and novels have explored and challenged
the concept of privacy by positing technology, magic, laws, and societal
changes that bring shadowed parts of a person's life or thoughts into the
spotlight—or help them stay hidden. Some portray universal openness as the goal
(Spider Robinson's Telempath) while
others dread it (Isaac Asimov's "The Dead Past"). How have depictions
of privacy changed over the decades, and how have those depictions influenced
the development of privacy-challenging speculative elements such as telepathy
and the omnipresent AI?
CO Language and
Linguistics in SF: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. John O'Neil. When speculating about science, it helps to know where
the science ends and the speculating begins. When that science is linguistics,
though, that can be a problem, because (to paraphrase someone or other) a lot
of what writers think they know ain't necessarily so. In this talk, we'll
examine SF books and stories that handled linguistic issues well, and others
that didn't do quite as well. Also, we'll look at five things some languages do
that will shock you, and make some suggestions for when you're asked by
Hollywood to construct a language for next summer's blockbuster.
ENL Fandom and
Rebellion. Gemma Files, Catt
Kingsgrave, Kate Nepveu (leader), A. J. Odasso, Ann Tonsor Zeddies. ifeelbetterer
on Tumblr writes, "No one is more critical of art than fandom. No one is
more capable of investigating the nuances of expression than fandom—because
it's a vast multitude pooling resources and ideas. Fandom is about correcting
the flaws and vices of the original. It's about protest and rebellion,
essentially.... Fandom is not worshipping at the alter of canon. Fandom is
re-building it because they can do better." Our panel of creators and fans
will dig into the notion of when, why, how, and whether fan works and remixes
are "better" than the original, especially when they come from a
place of protest and challenge.
EM Reading: Mike
Allen. Mike Allen. Mike Allen
reads Selections from my Shirley Jackson Award-nominated story collection
ENV Reading: Shariann
Lewitt. Shariann Lewitt. Shariann
Lewitt reads Symmetry, a short story to appear shortly in an anthology DECO
PUNK, edited by Tom Easton and Judith Dial.
- 12:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Mikki Kendall, Bart Leib.
- 12:00 PM
E Autographs. Eileen Gunn.
EM Reading: Sarah
Pinsker. Sarah Pinsker. Sarah
Pinsker reads If there is an Outer Alliance reading, which Nicola was talking
about arranging, I would rather be part of that. Otherwise, with 30 minutes I
would read a longer short story or a short story and a piece of flash.
ENV Reading: John
Langan. John Langan. John Langan
reads I'll be reading an excerpt from "Sefira," the original novella
in my forthcoming collection Sefira and Other Betrayals.
G Transformative Works
and the Law and You. Max Gladstone,
Toni Kelner, Adam Lipkin, Sarah Smith. Let's discuss the state of
transformative works today. Copyright law and case law in this area is changing
rapidly, as is the way big publishing treats transformative works. Remix
culture is the cutting edge of 21st-century creativity, and we are all
postmodernists. Is the law finally catching up with that, or lagging far
behind? Will the fate of copyright and transformative works ultimately be
decided by the whims of corporations and powerful literary estates?
CO A Visit from the
Context Fairy. Kythryne Aisling,
Stacey Friedberg, Gwynne Garfinkle, Kate Nepveu, Sonya Taaffe. In a blog
post at Book View Café, Sherwood Smith writes about the opposite of visits from
the "Suck Fairy": going back to a book you disliked and finding that
the "Win Fairy" (to coin a term) improved it when you weren't
looking. Are the Suck Fairy and the Win Fairy really two faces of a unified
Context Fairy? If context is so crucial to loving or hating a work, how does
acknowledging that affect the way a reader approaches reading, or a writer
approaches writing? How does one's hope for or dread of the Context Fairy
influence decisions to reread, rewrite, revise or otherwise revisit a written
ENL The OtherLife of Solitaire. Kelley
Eskridge. Kelley Eskridge will discuss the production of the film OtherLife, based on her novel Solitaire. Eskridge has been involved in
the film at every stage, and will discuss the ways the translation from book to
film has changed the work and her story.
EM Reading: Patty
Templeton. Patty Templeton. Patty
Templeton reads I would be reading an excerpt from my novel There Is No Lovely
End. It is an 1880s ghost story. Or. From a lesbian Indiana Jones pastiche set
in 1950s Chicago.
- 1:00 PM
CL Kaffeeklatsch. Leah Bobet, Diane Weinstein.