This is not a con report. This is a merely a sort of annotated checklist of notable moments and suchlike from Readercon 23. Some of it's wonderful. Some of it's so so. Some of it's shit. Oh, and there are photographs afterwards. When the show's over, be sure to stay for the truck-stop coffee and the bran cupcakes.
- There were good and bad panels. And panels not worth mentioning. Mostly, panels not worth mentioning. But here are the highlights. Oh, there are no panels here I did not actually attend. Left to my own devices, I do not attend panels, and, besides, this year I literally didn't have time, so heavily was I scheduled. Well, unless I was scheduled for that panel. The best were "Wet Dreams and Nightmares" (the weird erotica panel) and "Book Covers Gone Wrong" (led by the fabulous Lee Moyer). Also, "The Visual Generation" wasn't so bad, despite the misleading titles (there were two generations on the panel, and film has surely influenced at least five generations of authors). The WORST panel, hands down, was "Why Am I Telling You This (In First Person)." This could have been a great panel. It wasn't. It was pukeworthy. It was tedious. It was angrifying. Partly, this was the fault of the audience. But mostly it was one of the panelist; I shall not here reveal her name (her credentials were, "I'm a reader."), but I shall quote her: "Actually, I find the 'Mary Sue' concept to be a useful tool in literary critique." Yep. It was that bad. Still, I was a good beast and didn't tear out her throat. Or punch her in the ear. I merely retaliated with blustering, stupefied indignation. I might even have laughed. I do that, you know. The concom needs to know this was the worst panel I have ever endured at Readercon, and one of the three worst I have ever participated in at any convention on any continent.
- Meeting and getting to know Sarah Hyman DeWitt, or Sadie Damascus, or just Sadie, daughter of Shirley Jackson. Sadie is one of the most wonderful people I've ever met. I wish we'd had more time together. On Saturday night, she hosted a "party" where she read some of her mother's letters and displayed a bit of Shirley Jackson memorabilia. Afterwards, Sadie gave me a tiny shard of bone from her mother's cremated body. I was hugging Sadie, and I said, "If I don't get out of here, I'm going to cry." She said, "I will if you will." I made it out of the room and reached the end of the hallway before I was in tears. I pretty much never cry anymore, but fuck. Words are inadequate, hopelessly inadequate, to what I felt in that moment. I love you, Sadie. You shine. I am making a reliquary to hold your incredibly precious gift. "I shall hold you to the light. That's what forever means."
- Also, Saturday night, my thanks to everyone who congregated in that secret, commandeered room: Jeff VanderMeer, Spooky, Molly Tanzer (who rocks), Nick Mamatas, Michael Cisco, Greer Gilman, Sonya Taaffe, Geoffrey Goodwin, and Andrew Fuller. Much alcohol was consumed (including black spiced Kraken Rum), and there was much good conversation. Oh, and Greer brought fresh strawberries! I had no alcohol, having already imbibed of another mind-altering substance.
- Thank you, Peter and Susan Straub. You two just make me happy. Also, the gift of absinthe-flavoured candies arrived on Monday. Merci.
- Apologies to Elizabeth Hand, Jeff VanderMeer, Michael Cisco and others whose readings I missed. I was simply scheduled too heavily to attend any programming I wasn't on (excepting Peter's reading, which I actually made it to, somehow).
- Thank you for being there, Jada.
- The Art Police took no shots at me, unless you count little Miss Proponent of Mary Sue.
- The signing on Saturday afternoon was a bit overwhelming. I've never had such a long line (an hour's worth). Plus, I was paired with the marvelous Chip Delany! (Chip was one of my fellow panelists on the Very Good Erotica Panel, and was responsible for the panel's best quote: "Get your boogie on."
- On Friday night, kylecassidy and I hosted "The Multimedia of The Drowning Girl." We told the saga of the shooting of the stills and the trailer for the novel, and overcame terrifying technical difficulties. Finally, we were able to show (ON THE BIG SCREEN!) the trailer, the teaser, and a very amusing and never-before-seen "behind the scenes" short created for the event by briansiano. Sadly, Sara Murphy (Eva) wasn't able to join us. But I finally met the vivacious Trillian Stars.
- Friday night, Aunt Beast appeared in earnest, horns and all. There are photos to prove it. Later, we'll post a close-up of the eyes. The eyes are amazing. I don't know why I don't let my truer self out to play more frequently. Also! Barefoot at a con! How brave is that?
- I spent the first half of Saturday (I had a ten o'clock panel [!!!]) dreamsick. Spooky awoke me from something I can only describe as my own retelling of Prometheus. Beautiful and terrible. There was a Siamese ship's cat. Moments before I was awakened, I was on the bridge, as the starship opened some sort of hyperspace/wormhole portal. Instruments in front of me were counting down the seconds to entrance. The expedition had been a failure, though I can't recall why. Someone who was remarkably like David 8 turned to me and said, "So why did you come so far?" And I replied, "To touch the face of..." I stopped myself, knowing I didn't believe in god. Then, I was awake. The jolt was so violent, I truly thought I was going to vomit.
- My thanks to the concom for their wonderful gift first thing Thursday night, a framed print of Omar Rayyan's exquisite Contessa with Squid painting. Booya! It will adorn mine parluor walls. Omar Rayyan, you are amongst the most bow tie of the bow tie.
Okay. I think that's about the best I can manage, and the heat in here is shriveling my tongue and eyeballs to long-pig jerky. Here are photos. There will be more tomorrow:
Friday, reading the introduction to Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (from the ARC). I also read "Fish Bride (1970)."
The weird erotica panel triumphant! (left to right: Chip Delany, Paula Guran, Aunt Beast, Gemma Files, and Sonya Taaffe)
Never look a horn'd beast directly in the face. Mirrors are advised.
Unless you're the intrepid Ellen Datlow!
Aunt Beast in Gary Wolfe's hotel room with Peter (obviously, both out of frame), for the podcast with Jonathan Strahan (who was in Perth, Australia, and so is also out of frame).
Signing a begillion books! I didn't even know I'd written a begillion books.
You actually have to open those things to sign them, you know. I should get hazard pay.
Oh, look. Me signing another damn book.
On Saturday, Elizabeth Hand (the Great and Powerful and Looking Ever More Like Laurie Anderson) interviewing me.
Co-MCing the Shirley Jackson Awards. Moments after this photo was taken, I killed the microphone. Killed it dead. It is now in Microphone Heaven.
Sadie and the microphone I didn't kill. That's Paul Trembley in background.
All photographs Copyright © 2012 by Caitlín R. Kiernan, Kathryn A. Pollnac, and Ellen Datlow.
Sweaty as an Aardvark (a Sweaty Aardvark),