Description:

Michael A. Burstein (M), John Clute, Debra Doyle, Geary Gravel, China Miéville, Delia Sherman

There are, perhaps, three kinds of beginnings to stories: those that promise no ending, those that promise an ending which is later delivered, and those that promise a different ending than the one provided. Are these, in fact, three fundamentally different types of stories? What are the different types of promises a beginning can make? The first line of Pride and Prejudice ("It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife") or the last line of the first chapter of The Book of the New Sun ("It was in this fashion that I began the long journey by which I have backed into the throne") make promises about the content of the ending, but many beginnings merely promise the form of the ending ("there will be a twist of some sort").

My first panel of the con, so my hands were fresh and fast, and I had time shortly after to review my notes against my memory.

What was said at 'The Beginnings of Stories and the Endings They Promise' )

Why my post-panel reaction was 'This is why I will never read a China Mieville book' )

[Edit: compare [livejournal.com profile] yhlee's panel notes.]

At the request of [livejournal.com profile] yhlee in comments to the Readercon structure panel report, some quick thoughts about the structure of the Sarantine Mosaic (Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors).

This discusses the ending of the duology and contains enormous, book-destroying SPOILERS.

Sarantine Mosaic structure, SPOILERS )

Description:

Michael A. Burstein (M), John Crowley, Thomas M. Disch, Greer Gilman, Pamela Zoline

There's a small group of novels with overt organizing structures, like Thomas M. Disch's 334, John Brunner's The Squares of the City, John Crowley's Ægypt, and (most famously outside the genre) Ulysses. We suspect that this is the tip of the iceberg and that authors routinely invent covert structures as a natural part of the creative process. (Of course, one reader's covert structure is another's overt, and vice versa, so that all such structures are worth talking about together.) It's time to 'fess up and trade notes.

This was the third and chronologically-last panel for which I took notes. I'm posting it out of order because I need to think more about the first panel.

Nb.: spoilers for a novel-in-progress by Greer Gilman and the books cited in the panel description.

Notes on 'My Secret (or Not-So-Secret) Story Structure' )

Description:

Eric M. Van (+M) with discussion from R. Scott Bakker, John Clute, John Crowley, Glenn Grant, John Langan, Charles Oberndorf

Talk/Discussion (60 min.). What brain mechanisms (and evolutionary rationales) underlie the fundamental narrative elements of plot, character, and style? Which narrative element seems to be more fundamental than generally recognized, when looked at from this perspective? How can the deep meaning of a narrative work be rigorously conceptualized in terms of information storage in the brain? On how many simultaneous levels do we process a story as we try to fully understand it? Van offers up the beginnings of a theory of narrative aesthetics informed by cognitive science, with feedback at every stage from the audience.

This was the middle panel that I took notes on, but it's the one I'm least sure I understood, so it seemed best to post it first before my notes got any more incomprehensible. (I went over my notes on the first panel shortly thereafter and so am a lot more confident in them.)

I should also say that I'm trying to do less work on the notes—I used to try and turn everything into nice coherent paragraphs, and the end result was re-writing the whole damn thing from scratch (yes, even with notes on the Palm), which took forever. I'm still trying to indicate connections and make the notes grammatical, but in many places this is much more dialogue-like than prior reports.

Notes on 'A Theory of Narrative Aesthetics Informed by Cognitive Science' )

Behind the cut is my weekend at Readercon, minus detailed panel descriptions where noted. Those writeups are coming in separate posts, because they are very long and because I want to invite discussion on them.

Readercon in brief )

ETA: My detailed panel reports:

ETA: other people's reports (will continue to be updated—please point me to more):

We'll be at Readercon this weekend, staying at the hotel in a room under my name. We're getting in on Friday night, time uncertain; we'll be around Saturday day and Sunday day (Saturday night we have family commitments).

Notes on panels below the cut.

Readercon possible panels )

May 2017

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