Readercon 25 report: Wish I were still there

Back from Readercon, both physically and emotionally. It went extremely well this year — for myself and, from what I can tell from the few blogs/tweets I’ve seen, for others as well. I said hello to some old friends, made a few new ones, and had a generally good time.

This is a brief rundown of my activities there; sorry if I don’t go into the details, but I’ve got a full schedule catching up after my days off. And apologies to all those whom I didn’t mention and should have!

I was part of several excellent (if I do say so myself) panels: Being an Editor Who Writes (where it was generally concluded that being both can actually be a good thing), Dealing with Discouragement (or how not to scream “This is it! I give up!” every time you get a rejection, something I still have to occasionally remember) and Educated Guesses: Tech Pros Writing SF, in which I was absolutely bowled over by the tech knowledge of the other participants in the panel — as a tech journalist who majored in English Lit & Creative Writing, I felt distinctly outclassed!

My workshop in How to Write for a Living When You Can’t Live Off Your Fiction went very well. I find it is always different, depending both on the other panelists (in this case, Leah Bobet, Adam Lipkin, and last-minute addition Sally Weiner Grotta were all incredibly helpful) and the folks who attend (who were likewise, contributing good info and asking great questions). The time went quickly, and several attendees said (and I agree with them) that having a full track at Readercon on practical issues like freelancing and contracts and agents and the like (such as the panel on Copyright Law and Your Writing, which I meant to attend but unfortunately missed) are an excellent idea.

I took part in two readings: One with my writers group Tabula Rasa (and got to hear wonderful stories from Sabrina Vourvoulias and Justin Key, two very talented writers), and one on Sunday morning, where I read a somewhat truncated version of my yet-unsold story “Sabbath Wine.” Thanks to all those who attended, despite the early hour (I know how hard it is to attend anything before 11 am on a Sunday morning at Readercon!).

I didn’t attend anywhere near the number of panels and readings I had planned (it’s hard to do that, what with stopping and talking to folks in the hallways and taking a half hour here and there to sit outside and check out one of the books I bought). I started the con, though, with a great one on Thursday evening: East, West and Everything Between: A Roundtable on Latin@ Speculative Fiction, which was really interesting and enlightening as well, especially (for me) the discussion of the issues of language; it gave me a few things to think hard about. (Here’s Scott Edelman’s YouTube video.)

When The Other Is You, a fascinating discussion at Readercon featuring Chesya Burke, Samuel Delany, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, and Vandana Singh.
When The Other Is You, a fascinating discussion at Readercon featuring Chesya Burke, Samuel Delany, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, and Vandana Singh.

I also attended readings by the always-wonderful Elizabeth Hand and the equally fine Sabrina Vourvoulias and Danielle Friedman (and A.C. Wise, who shared Danielle’s time). However, I missed the James Morrow reading — dammit! — and several others whom I had wanted to catch. I also caught the panels on The Science of Space Colony Living and Speculative Fiction and World War I, both of which I enjoyed greatly; and the panel on When the Other Is You, which I’ve seen described in several other blogs; my congratulations to the panelists for a fascinating and lively discussion. (Scott YouTubed this one as well.}

The highlight, though, was wandering accidentally into a conference room on Friday night where there was a circle of singers harmonizing on sea chanteys and British & Appalachian folk songs — it was just wonderful to hear, and the kind of just-by-chance event that I really treasure. Singers included (and I’ve snagged some of these names from Carlos Hernandez’s Facebook entry on it) Ellen Kushner, Liz Duffy Adams, Caitlyn Paxson, Amal El-Mohtar, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney and Patty Templeton. Thank you all.

Other things? On the plus side, I enjoyed wandering from party to party on Saturday night in the function rooms (and apologize to all those on the sixth floors whose parties I never actually got to). The bookstore is always wonderful; I never spend as much time as I’d like in there.

On the negative side, I wish the hotel had seen fit in its redesign to allow for more just-sitting-around space in the lobby, and more sound-deadening material in its bar — it got pretty loud in there and hard to hold a conversation, and that was before the DJ showed up. I also spoke to a lot of folks who had to twist themselves in a variety of knots to try to get to the hotel in the most budget-friendly way possible, and who as a result spent several hours on busses to Boston and then from Boston to the hotel.

On the whole, though, congratulations to everyone who had a part in creating Readercon 25.

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