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Readercon 21: Friday

Today was the first full day of Readercon, and I did my best to get in a full day.  One of the things they are doing this year is a series of Theodore Sturgeon readings.  The first one today was at 11 am and Sturgeon’s story “It’s Nothing Really” was read by Scott Edelman.  I got to meet Sturgeon’s daughter, Noel Sturgeon, who was delightful and Scott did a great reading of a story that I’d never read before.  Here is Scott reading from the story:

Scott Edelman reads Sturgeon's "It's Nothing Really"

The first panel I attended was on the “Scientific Mystery” at noon.  Panelists included Allen Steele,Jack McDevitt, Don D’Ammassa, and David Swanger and they talked about the challenges (and examples) of stories that are scientific mysteries. Good discussion.

The Scientific Mystery panel

At 1pm (in the same room) I attended a panel on “Order–and Chapters–of Magnitude”.  Included on the panel was Robert Killheffer, David Swanger, Ellen Asher, Paul Di Filippo, and Charles Stross.  Just before the panel started, Paul graciously signed my premier copy of Science Fiction Age in which his great alternate history, “Anne” appears.  This panel talked about fiction in which large magnitudes of time (sometimes trillions of year) pass and how a human perspective can be brought to such stories. Lots of stories were mentioned but I was surprised no one brought up Asimov’s “The Last Question” until David Swanger finally did just before the end of the panel.

Orders--and chapters--of magnitude panel

From 2-3 pm I had a break before heading into the 3 pm panel on “Influence as Contagion” with Allen Steele, Howard Waldrip, Jack M. Haringa, James Morrow, Resa Nelson, and Mary Robinette Kowal.  This was a particularly fascinating discussion on how writers are influence by other writers, movies, whatever.

Influence as Contagion panel

When the panel wrapped up, I jumped at a change to have Resa Nelson sign my premier issues of Science Fiction Age.  Her story, “The Dragonslayer’s Sword” appeared in that issue and while I am not usually a big fan of fantasy, I really liked that story.

Next was perhaps the highlight of my day.  I headed to the hotel bar with Allen Steele and we sat there for an hour talking shop. Allen is an absolutely terrific guy who gave me excellent practical advice on writing and the field.  He was also encouraging, telling me that I was going about things the right way.  It was just the kind of encouragement a novice writer like myself needs from time-to-time and Allen was very gracious for spending time with me.

I spent some time wandering about the huckster room, browsing longingly at books.  Mary Robinette Kowal was signing books and I asked her to sign my copy of DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS in which my story, “Hindsight, In Neon” appears and her story, “Scenting the Dark” appears.  I thought it would be cool to have a copy of the book signed by all of the other authors.  After that, I realized it was well after 6 pm.  I had signed up for a Kaffeeklatsch with Jack McDevitt and figured I should grab some food before that.

I went to the hotel bar/restaurant and while sitting there, ran into K. A. Laity.  I’d never met her before but she is a writer, panelist at Readercon, and also a friend and colleague of my good friend Ryane.  It was Ryane who told me to look out for her. She sat down with me and we chatted briefly while I rushed through my dinner.  I had to run pretty quickly but it was very nice to get to meet here.

The Kaffeeklatsch with Jack McDevitt was a lot of fun.  For those who don’t know what these are, about 6 or 7 people sign up in advance to sit around with a favorite author and shoot the shit.  Jack and I first met at RavenCon and we had chatted earlier in the day in the huckster room.  But now was a chance to sit with him and talk about his books, his writing, the education system (he used to be a teacher) and it was a lot of fun.

The last panel I attended was one entitled, “Why aren’t I repeating myself, again?” with Patrick O’Leary, Scott Edelman, Jennifer Pelland, David Anthony Durham, Michael Swanwick, and Paul Park.  Swanwick amused the audience during the introductions by saying who he was and then saying, “And I guess since Gene Wolfe isnt’ here, I guess that makes me the best writer at Readercon.”  The panel focused on writers who’s styles vary from one project to the next and the challenges that imposes on them.  When the panel wrapped up, I asked Jennifer Pelland to sign my copy of DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS.

Why aren't I repeating myself, again panel

The evening concluded with the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  Barry Malzberg presented the award in an amusing speech.  The recipient of the award this year was Mark Clifton, who collaborated on the first Hugo-winning novel, They’d Rather Be Right.

At this point, I was absolutely exhausted and didn’t stick around for the party that followed.  But I had an absolutely wonderful time on the first full day of Readercon and am looking forward to another fun-filled day today.

Readercon 21: Thursday

I arrived at the Readercon hotel in Burlington, MA around 3 pm, after flying into Boston from Baltimore.  Hertz gave me a Chrystler Sebring convertible but–of course–it was too hot to take the top down.

The first person I ran into at the hotel was Mary Robinette Kowal, the new Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).  Mary was previously the Secretary of SFWA and I had worked with her online in my capacity as a volunteer for the organization, but I’d never met her in person.  That situation has now been remedied.

Next, I ran into Barry N. Malzberg.  Now for those who don’t know, Barry is my absolute favorite living writer.  His writing is to science fiction what Shakespeare was to the dramatic form.  I got to meet Barry for the first time at Readercon 19 and have kept in touch with him since then.  He goes for occasional walks around the hotel grounds to stretch his legs and was on his way to do just that when I ran into him.  So off we went together, talking about the history of the science fiction genre, about writing, and as usual, I was in awe and just trying to soak it all up.  Barry offered some excellent advice, and I was so captivated by what he had to say that I didn’t even notice it was well into the 90s out.

I ran into Mike Allen at the hotel desk, whose face I recognized in my capacity at the maintainer of the “Featured Author” section of the SFWA website.  And I saw Scott Edelman in the lobby as well.

Thursday evening at Readercon is open to the public.  There are only a couple of panels and I attended a fascinating one entitled “I Know These People Personally”.  The panel included John Langan, John Kessel, Kit Reed, Barry Malzberg.  Elizabeth Hand moderated.  The discussion centered around the morals of writing characters based on actual people, famous or otherwise.  Just before the panel Scott introduced me to Paul Di Filippo, who’d I’d met two years ago, and who I referred to as the “crazy envelope guy.”  (He also had a memorable story in the premier issue of Science Fiction Age, “Anne”.)

"I Know These People Personally" panel at Readercon 21. From left to right: John Langan, John Kessel, Elizabeth Hand, Kit Reed, Barry N. Malzberg

In between these happenings, I managed to grab some dinner and hit the gym.  I turned in early in anticipation of the very full day that I have today (Friday).

Readercon 21

I will be attending Readercon 21 this year!  I booked my hotel and registered for the event.  There is some good airfare between BWI and Boston right now and I’ll be getting that today or tomorrow.   The best part is that I should be there for all of Readercon this time (2 years ago, I was only able to attend a day and a half).  I’ll arrive in Boston early Thursday afternoon and stay through the end of the convention on Sunday.

I’m really looking forward to it, especially since I missed it last year.

ETA: Got my plane tickets.  I’m all set!

Originally published at Jamie’s Blog. Please leave any comments there.