walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Readercon Friday

Both the kids had regular (summer session) school days, R. was still on his sabbatical and we had after-school care lined up for both of them as well. Honestly, if I hadn't left the house to go do something all day, that would have constituted proof that I wasn't a homebody because I was needed there at certain intervals, but because I had agoraphobia or something similar.

Which I really do not.

Anyway. I dropped A. off, stopped briefly at the bank and then headed over to the Burlington Marriott. I had hoped to go the night before, as the kids had been jetlagged enough to be out cold around 8 p.m. (thus allowing me a shot at the 9 pm sessions and possibly the last half of the 8 p.m. sessions). Alas, T. recovered and didn't want to go to sleep until 9. I missed the Readercon book group for _American Elsewhere_, and yet I read the book, easily the worst possible combination.

Anyway. I got to the hotel well in advance of registration opening at 10 a.m., so I got a cup of coffee and then tried to connect to hotel internet, which I did not have a passcode for, and for whatever reason my iPad wasn't able to access cellular data well within the hotel. So back into the backpack with that. The phone's data was working fine (this makes no sense; they share a plan), which was helpful for note taking and googling. I got in line, a different line than pre-registration; it took about the same amount of time to get through each (I had a friend, H. in pre-reg). I didn't pre-register, because at the time I was by no means certain I'd have everything lined up to really attend even one day.

After a nice chat with H. on a bench on a side corridor, we headed off to our first panel, which turned out to be inspired by a Guardian article from a couple years back.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/oct/17/science-fiction-china-mieville

It was not apparent to H. or I from the panel description that that was the case, so we were at a bit of a loss as to what they were talking about. It _was_ entertaining to finally see James Morrow and John Clute were like in person, since I've been dimly aware of them (I don't read Morrow, and of course Clute is sort of unavoidable in his editor/essayist incarnation). It's so hard to predict which people are going to be radically different in person than in writing that it's always risky to predict, but they matched my imagination very, very well.

Our second panel was Gods and Goddesses, partly because H. had an online acquaintanceship with at least one of the panel members. Pretty awesome to see Patricia McKillip. I've never been a fan, but she's been in the background of my reading life, and so many of my friends have loved her work forever and ever it was a real pleasure to be in a room with her. The panel as a whole was a bit meh for me. The themes are certainly familiar ones, and I've read books that covered a lot of what they were talking about -- but my favorites weren't ever mentioned even in passing (Tamora Pierce, obvs, but also Crusie's _Dogs and Goddesses_, Michele Sagara's Elantra series, etc.), which is very okay, of course, but at several points generalizations were made that those books do such a nice job of violating that, well, meh. Nice shout out to PC Hodgell's _Godstalk_ and sequels, which J. would surely have appreciated.

I probably would have gone to the 1 p.m. Predicting the Future and been incredibly annoyed by it, but H. and I had the presence of mind to instead go down to the hotel restaurant and eat. I also had an Ommegang Hennepin, which my Dutch instructor recommended. It was indeed tasty.

At 2 p.m. we went to the Disability panel, which was really interesting. Aging and adult-onset disability (subsequent to military service) were touched upon, along with disability from birth/a young age. The interaction of disability and reproduction was not ever mentioned, a bit of a bummer, but you know, 50 minutes is pretty short when you get right down to it. Nice people, well moderated. Very enjoyable.

At 3 p.m., Characters who break the binary only barely mentioned polyamory, but did get into transitioning in spec-fic (_Cycler_? Got highly mixed commentary, as in, more negative than positive. I haven't read it). Steve Berman was really a ton of fun to listen to, and it's probably safe to say I now have a massive crush on Alaya Dawn Johnson. A lot of the discussion was devoted to how to do research and one of the panelists (possible JoSelle Vanderhooft?) talked about different perspectives based on birth cohort, and how that would likely change the kinds of stories available to publish in the future.

At 4 p.m., my last panel (because I could tell my brain would explode if I tried to stick it out much longer) was Race as a Social Construct. The best for last! And I'm so excited that Andrea Hairston will be a Guest of Honor next year! The discussion moved quickly. No one stepped on each other through interruptions or picky argumentation. They built on each other's ideas and descriptions. They used a combination of their own work and the work of others to illustrate their points. It was so polished and compact and informative, complete with specific things to do and not to do when writing -- Daniel Jose Older's advice to work out the power relationships in the world you are building, _explicitly_ think them through, rather than allow them to seep in from elsewhere, is _so_ good.

I had a great time. The venue was welcoming and functional (that is, enough bathrooms and they were kept clean, there were a couple of options for food -- cheap/quick and sit down and eat, coffee was readily available, water was _always_ available). The rooms were big enough for the people in attendance, at least on Friday. The start 5 after the hour, end 5 before the hour and don't take audience input until the last 10-15 minutes was consistently adhered to. Audio systems worked well. The people running the con were clearly trying throughout to learn from anything that wasn't working perfectly well and there were double-checks built in everywhere (like making sure the guy had the sign for the 5 minute and stop warnings and was seated where the panelists would see him).

If you used to go to cons mostly for the programming, and quit because cosplay and so forth kinda got you down, Readercon is like a Dream Come True. Well, other than the difficult decisions associated with which panel to attend in any given hour long block. I'll be there next year, for at least one day and hopefully more.
Tags: other reviews, sf, stuff i like
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