greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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Readercon 21 (a half-assed attempt at a "con report")

Home again. It's going to be a very hot day here in Providence. Not as hot as the triple digits of last week, but hot. Dr. Muñoz has been wheeled into my office, in hopes I can manage to work through the broil and sizzle.

As for Readercon 21, it went very well. In some ways, it was my favorite Readercon thus far (it was my third), though in some ways it was also the hardest and most trying. I suppose I could attempt to do this in a day-by-day format. But I think that would be tiresome, both for me to write and for you to read. Maybe I could make a list of notable moments. Maybe that's a better idea. And, afterwards, there are a few unremarkable photos. Spooky had the camera, but few photos were taken (however, the ones that were, prove I have begun a transformation into a Muppet).

* It was heavenly, having an air-conditioned room for three straight nights, sleep without sweat, and so forth. We also had television, which we've pretty much been without for more than two years. That part was very strange, and left me missing television not in the least.

* During the convention, I managed to miss almost all of the programming that I wanted to see, including, on Thursday night, Greer's (nineweaving) and Michael Cisco's readings. Truthfully, in my defence, I had no idea that there was any programming on Thursday night, which might teach me to start actually reading the schedule. I did make Greer's "How I Wrote Cloud and Ashes" presentation on Saturday, and Peter's "How I Wrote Skylark/A Dark Matter," two very bright spots during the weekend. The only other two panels I attended where I wasn't a panelist were "The New and Improved Future of Magazines, Pt. 1" and "Comparing Translations Redux: E.T.A. Hoffman's "The Golden Pot" (1814)."

* As for panels in which I was a participant, the best of the lot was certainly "New England: At Home to the Unheimlich," thanks, in large part, to Elizabeth Hand's skillful moderation. Mostly, I don't like doing panels. My last bit of programming was my last panel of the con, "It Is, It Is, It Really Is Fiction: Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary F&SF," which would have been utterly insufferable, except for the presence of Cat Valente (catvalente) as a co-discussant. I'm not going to go into any great detail about the idiot who accused us of being "selfish" for not taking into account the sensibilities of potential readers before we wrote about "taboo subjects." Or the people who whined about needing to know exactly the sort of sexuality they were in for before buying a book, lest they be faced with something they find distasteful. You know, books as consumer goods, not books as art. All that needs saying is that I did not come charging down from the stage and bitch slap anybody. I only barked loudly. I think the panel was saved when Cat and I detoured into a debate concerning the relationship of Captain Jack and Ianto Jones. Otherwise, it was mostly a washout.

* I did not see nearly enough of Elizabeth Bear (matociquala).

* Probably the most wonderful bit of the whole con took place very late on Saturday night and very early on Sunday morning. An impromptu group convened, consisting of myself, Greer, Sonya Taaffe (sovay), Geoffrey Goodwin (readingthedar), Gemma Files (handfulof_dust), Spooky (humglum), Erik Amundsen (cucumberseed), and Micheal Cisco. It began as two or three unrelated conversations, but eventually turned into something like a full-fledged workshop addressing the problems I've had writing the Next New Novel, the one I have been calling The Wolf Who Cried Girl. Many persuasive arguments were made. I listened, and offered counterarguments. I listened to the counter-counterarguments, which grew increasingly convincing. By two ayem, I'd come to see the novel as an entirely different beast than I'd thought it was, and hopefully one I can write over the next few months. My great, great thanks to everyone. You may have saved my life.

* It was great to finally meet Paul T. Riddell (txtriffidranch), he of Texas Triffid Ranch. He gifted me and Spooky with a twenty-year-old horse-crippler cactus (Echinocactus texensis), and showed me his magnificent Anomalocaris tattoo. Paleo-related tattoos almost seemed like a theme during the con. I also met Nevenah Smith, who has a lovely Platecarpus skeleton tattooed on her left leg, and a tattoo of Coelurosauravus tattooed on her right forearm.

* I did my best to buy no books. And, in fact, I only paid for a copy of Elizabeth Hand's Generation Loss, which I got for $3, and a copy of Cat's Yume No Uon: The Book of Dreams, which I got for $10. But then Geoffrey and I got our hands on an ARC of Kathe Koja's forthcoming Under the Poppy. And then, Spooky and I ran into the amazing Kelly Link at the Small Beer Press table, just as the dealer's room was getting ready to close, and she gifted us with a small mountain of books, including her own Pretty Monsters, Joan Aiken's The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories, and Holly Black's (blackholly) The Poison Eaters and Other Stories.

* The reading for Ellen Datlow's (ellen_dalow) Haunted Legends anthology went well. I read the first two sections of "As Red as Red." My own reading on Sunday didn't go so well, I don't think. Great crowd, but I was exhausted and, I discovered, "The Sea Troll's Daughter" is a hard story to read aloud, especially when it must be read quickly, in order to squeeze it into a single hour.

* The Red Tree did not win The Shirley Jackson Award for best novel of 2009, but— and I'm serious —I'm so proud of the nomination and the little stone I got denoting the nomination, that I can't imagine I'd have been a whole lot happier if it had won. To have my novel chosen by such a distinguished group of jurors and advisors, as one of the six novels from last year worthy of the award, that was recognition enough.

* Friday's reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream went very well. Indeed, there's talk of doing The Tempest next year.

And on that note— though I'm surely leaving out lots and lots —I'm going to leave you with a few photos. There is work I have to get done today, the platypus reminds me. But later, my favorite quotes from the weekend...

Just before the reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream began, me conversating with Jim Freund.

The Haunted Legends panel.

Also the Haunted Legends panel.

Cat reads from "15 Panels Depicting the Sadness of the Baku & the Jotai."

I read "The Sea Troll's Daughter."

All photographs Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn A. Pollnac.

Tags: books, cons, reading, summer, writing

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