Readercon 30

This year's program

Here are just a few of the exciting program items that will take place at Readercon 30:

  • How I Illustrated the 50th Anniversary Edition of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (talk by Charles Vess)
  • Marvelous and Mundane: The Impossible, Inadequate 40-Minute History of How Fiction Got Its Genres (talk by Austin Grossman)
  • Henry Darger: Inside America's Best-Known "Outsider" Artist (talk by Elizabeth Hand)
  • The Instrumentality of Slankind (talk by Graham Sleight)
  • Snatched from the Sun: Alternative Shakespeares and the Zemblance of Reality (talk by Greer Gilman)
  • Exoplanets II (talk by Kathy Kitts)
  • "You Will Believe a Plant Can Walk!" (talk by Eric Schaller)
  • The Future of Gene Editing: Universal Cures, Perfect Species, or a Global Disaster? (talk by Anna Kashina)
  • Inside the Odyssey Writing Workshop (talk by Jeanne Cavelos)
  • From Page to Stage: Techniques, Tricks, and Improv Games to Help Writers with Public Speaking (workshop by C.S.E. Cooney and Martin Cahill)
  • Latinx Authors Tear Down the Wall (panel led by Lisa M. Bradley)
  • What Does Authenticity Look Like? (panel led by Lisa M. Bradley)
  • Incorporating the Media into Fantasy Worlds (discussion led by L. Penelope)
  • The Fabulousness of Earth's Spices (culinary demo by David Shaw, B. Diane Martin, and Fran Wilde)
  • Dramatic Readings from the Ig Nobel Prizes (performance by Marc Abrahams, C.S.E. Cooney, Rose Fox, Heath Miller, and Sonya Taaffe)
  • Brimstone Rhine in Concert (performance by C.S.E. Cooney, Amal El-Mohtar, Carlos Hernandez, and Faye Ringel)
  • A screening of Horror Noire (presented by Tananarive Due)

New this year is a track of extracurricular activities to give your brain a break, including:

  • Affinity group meetups
  • Fountain pen test drives
  • Study hall (quiet writing and reading time)
  • Fibercraft show and tell
  • Eye of Argon–style round-robin read-alouds
  • Stimming and sensory exploration time
  • "Make a Friend, Go to Lunch": a late-morning meet-and-greet
  • Picture book storytime (all ages welcome)
  • KonMari for book lovers
  • Yoga for writers
  • SF/F-themed guided meditation

In addition, Heath Miller returns to host the dazzling latest iteration of our hilarious Saturday evening entertainment event, A Dark and Stormy Mic!

Check back frequently to see more advance information about this year's program.

What's generally on the program?

Readercon covers the whole of imaginative literature (or "speculative fiction"): science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the unclassifiable. We have a special emphasis on the most literary, ambitious, and cutting-edge work in the field, and embrace works for children, teens, and adults. Our regular program participants include writers, editors, publishers, critics, and other experts from across America and around the world.

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. Readercon is all about the program. It's not just the heart of the convention, but also the lungs, brain, liver, and kidneys.

Readercon's community is diverse in backgrounds and interests. To ensure that nearly anyone can find something interesting to do in a given hour, we have four tracks of panels and talks, two of solo and group readings, two of autograph sessions, two of kaffeeklatsches*, and one of low-key activities running throughout the long weekend. We only pause this schedule for the Guest of Honor interviews on Saturday afternoon; our guests are so eminent and interesting that nothing can compete. Our special events include award ceremonies, a game show that raises funds for a worthy cause, an informal social gathering, and a dance party. At all hours, wonderful conversations take place in the hotel's public spaces. There's always something mind-expanding to do.

* A kaffeeklatsch is a low-key, wide-ranging conversation hosted by a program participant for up to 12 fans. It gives you an opportunity to interact directly with writers, editors, and other estimable personages you admire. Spaces are limited, so sign up at the Info Desk early in the weekend.

How can I participate?

Apply to be a participant, or nominate someone else! We are especially eager to recruit scientists, historians, librarians, 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, and we strongly encourage members of minority and marginalized groups to apply.

Suggest a program item! We welcome anything from 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 (linked from the sidebar) will give you an idea of what we're looking for. Links to interesting blog posts, tweets, etc. are welcome, but please describe the content and what you found inspiring about it, just in case the original vanishes. Suggest as many items as you like.

If you've been invited to be a program participant at the upcoming Readercon, we encourage you to submit a proposal to present a solo talk, performance, discussion, workshop, activity, special-interest panel, or group reading. We'd love to showcase you and your expertise. Multiple proposals are welcome (up to three per person).


To quote Theodore Sturgeon, Readercon likes to ask the next question. Imagine going to a typical convention, attending a panel, and having an interesting spin-off conversation in the hallway outside afterwards: that moment of extrapolation and exploration is what we take as our starting point. Our program items are usually quite focused and we encourage panelists and attendees to grapple with tricky ideas and dig deep into the genre's history. We don't shy away from the political, and the past several years have seen an emphasis on discussing topics relevant to minority and marginalized members of speculative fiction writing and reading communities. There are some items about the craft of writing, but we are readers first and foremost, and much of our program is devoted to looking at how we choose, approach, and interact with the things we read.


The convention begins Thursday at 8:00 PM with programming free and open to the public. Programming runs until 10:00 PM and consists of a relatively intimate, stripped-down version of what's to follow: a track 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. 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, followed by evening special events.

Sunday programming once again begins at 10:00 AM and ends at 3:00 PM.

There are no lunch breaks at Readercon, but we do try to populate the lunchtime hours with some of our more specialized programming, and you can always grab a quick inter-panel snack in the consuite.

Special events

  • The presentation of the annual Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, Friday night.
  • The Meet the Pros(e) Party, Friday night. This icebreaker party lets writers and readers meet and mingle, aided by snippets from the writers' work.
  • A dance party deejayed by our very own con chair, Friday night.
  • Interviews with our Guests of Honor, Saturday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.
  • A Dark and Stormy Mic, Saturday night. Join us for an evening of song, games, and laughter as we celebrate the varied talents of Readercon guests. We will be raising money for a worthy cause, so consider bringing cash or your credit card if you'd like to chip in, but no donation is necessary to enjoy the fantastic show!
  • 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 to the most innovative. The Jackson Awards have been established in her name for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Awards are presented in six categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology. Readercon is honored to have hosted the Jackson Award ceremony from its inception in 2008.


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.