I wanted to do a Readercon post earlier but was wiped from my trip. It was a miracle I didn't fall asleep as soon as I plopped into the car, but I didn't. The convention was a wonderful success and I'm glad to report my health held up nearly the entire time. The new medication seems to be taking to my system. The ability to think through the pain and enjoy so much good company made this feel like another world from the last two months.
If you're in the New England area, I strongly recommend Readercon. It's an excellent small-scale convention with a fiction focus that attracts an impressive number of accomplished and excellent panelists. Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear are regulars though had to miss this year; this year saw the premiere of Max Gladstone. There was at least one rep from Crossed Genres and a significant presence of Strange Horizons folk, as well as Tor's Ellen Datlow. It was easy to bump into Kameron Hurley and Peter Straub in the lobby and simply chat with them. You don't get that kind of access and informality with such guests at most cons.
It also led to many fine panels, my favorite being back-to-back discussions of Magic: "Difference Between Magic and Science" and "When the Magic Returns," which contrasted magic and science, and then explored narratives of magic brought into the modern world. Lev Grossman and Max Gladstone were on both line-ups as their incomparably erudite selves, digging into the differences in how we experience our world and expect the magical. Even the greatest technology can feel clunky and exclusionary, whereas magic, with its precious commodity of being fictional, can meet a spiritual need the real world can't.
Julia Sidorova was the most impressive of anyone here for me, a Russian writer positing that technologies like a cell phone are "a science experiment anyone can perform," unifying us as experimenters, and soon openly disagreeing with the guest of honor about our place in evolution. Can you imagine the intelligence and confidence it takes to argue with a guest of honor about the nature of the universe in front of a crowd in a second language? Her approach to science has me hunting for her debut novel.
But the main draw of Readercon was face-time with friends. I skipped several panels simply to hang out in the bar with authors and Viable Paradise graduates, and when I could get up early enough, spent time in the lobby chatting with con-goers. It was a completely different experience from last year's Readercon where I knew few people; knowing folks enables conversations that rapidly expand into clusters. The sad point of this is when other con-goers linger nearby, looking and listening, but can't jump the social hurdle into joining. I know I'm awful at inserting myself into other people's conversations, and you never want to be intrusive. When I could, I'd reach out to such folks. As con-communities, I'm still looking for ways to systematically open us up to more low-key exchanges. Otakon, with its younger demo and enormous attendance, seems more natural at this.
And seeing friends after the crap of the last two months was worth every penny and midnight muscle spasm attack. Mostly I fraternized with Viable Paradise graduates, the first time I've seen several of them since the workshop itself. David Twiddy even organized a massive dinner for professors and grads on Saturday. What a mensch. Events like those enabled my personal highlights, as there's nothing better than getting smart people you like to double over laughing. Jokes about Christ Chex and dinosaur fellatio... well, clearly some of the old me is still around.
There are some sweet photos of highlights, like catching one of my writing mentors in the middle of a magic trick, but this laptop doesn't have an SD card reader. So perhaps another time. For now, I've got to catch up on sleep.