Readercon in short: a few panels, which went well; bake sale; naps; sitting in the lobby to stitch and talk.
Readercon at greater length:
We arrived Friday about 90 minutes before my 6pm panel and I chose sleep over food, which fortunately was not a disaster, as I feared it might be when I was hastily downing granola bars after waking from my nap. Anyway, that panel was:
Oh, and I asserted that the narrator of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (who is omniscient and a person, specifically a woman, but of the time being written about and therefore not Susanna Clarke) also wrote the footnotes, and now I'm not sure that's the case. I am sure that the footnotes are not academic in the sense of being written by present-day scholars (I went through once and determined that, as far as I could tell, the latest reference is to something in the 1830s (chapter 40, note 3, the dates for the Duke of Wellington's horse)), but I can't put my finger now on why I thought the narrator of the text wrote the notes and not, say, her contemporary publisher. Anyone?
ETA 2011-08-16: the narrator wrote the footnotes, see chapter 5, note 4, which uses the first person ("why I do not know," in describing Mr Tubbs' actions.)
Anyway, I thought this started a little slowly but it seemed to pick up life as we went on—this may just be the waking-up-from-a-nap talking—and there were some good questions from the audience.
(Generally speaking, I'm not sure any of my panels needed to be the full 75 minutes like Arisia or WisCon, but they definitely could have been more than the 50 minutes we had (as we were told to start at 5 after and end at 5 of).)
Then I had a congenial meal at the mall food court with some people I wound up talking to after the panel, came back and put up signs for the bake sale the next day, and then lobby-sat for a while working on stitching and talking to people.
Saturday I got the bake sale set up, put the keys in the capable and generous hands of sparkymonster, and then went to my panel for the day:
Anyway, this also seemed to be well-received, which was nice, but I ran right out to get back to the bake sale because the time between panels is the busiest.
The bake sale wrapped by 12:30 and did very well; at least one person pointed out that Readercon's con suite and green room have traditionally been on the minimalist end of things, which probably accounts for a lot. That actually let me get to a panel on the critical uses of the term "urban fantasy," notes for which are forthcoming.
Then I got as far as sitting down in the lobby with some work I should have been doing when I realized I couldn't keep my eyes open, so napped again before going out to a grown-up dinner with Chad (who, alas, had not had a particularly satisfying experience at the "book inflation" panel that morning). Then I lobby-sat again and for the rest of the night, skipping out on Kirk Poland because I wasn't in the mood, and like the night before, had some lovely conversations before turning in fairly early.
Sunday I was spared the need to go to the Panera down the street for breakfast by the ever-bountiful Viable Paradise brunch, and then went to my last panel:
Borders (if Any) Between Fan Fiction and "Original Fiction"
( Description: )
I'm not cutting anything else because I have links to other people's notes instead of my own recollections! Or, well, in addition to. Anyway: Erin Kissane and kouredios both posted notes; I meant to comment at the first, but never got around to it, and saved all my clarifications and additions for kouredios's post, so you might start there. I do want to apologize here as well as there, though, for laughing when Madeleine Robins asked if there was such a thing as real person fic; it wasn't malicious but it was rude, and I'm sorry.
This was fun and was more in-depth than I thought it might from the description, which suggested a pretty 101-type panel to me (which I didn't mind, because it is Readercon). (Oh, and for those wondering at the sole guy being the mod, the panel was his idea.)
Then I went to rushthatspeaks's reading of reviews from the 365 Books project, which IIRC were:
- The Singing Creek Where The Willows Grow by Opal Whiteley (alas, it wasn't clear to me that the reading had started so I missed the killer first paragraph)
- The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
- 300 by Frank Miller
- Sarashina Nikki + Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
all of which I commend to your reading attention. These were well and fluidly read, and the audience laughed in all the right places, so that was a pleasure.
And then I was basically done.
I had a good time; my panels went well and I had a bunch of good conversations and some naps, all of which was refreshing in its own ways. I do remain unconvinced that it's a good idea for Readercon to start on Thursday night of a non-holiday weekend that follows closely upon a major US holiday weekend, but I suspect that boat has sailed.
Friday July 15, 6:00 PM, Salon F: The Dissonant Power of Alternative Voicing.
Glenn Grant, Paul Levinson, Kate Nepveu, Kenneth Schneyer (leader), Howard Waldrop.
At Readercon 21, there was a panel discussion on the use of documentary text in fiction to lend "authority" to the voice. It can be argued, however, that alternative voicing strategies, particularly the use of documents, framing narratives, etc., are powerful precisely because they are not authoritative. Readers know that they are reading an incomplete version of the document, and consequently are led to imagine what is not being said. What lurks in the interstices between texts? What is this particular document-writer failing to say, or deliberately omitting? This panel will explore the use of dissonance occasioned by indirect voicing to make the reader a fuller, more active participant in the process of creating the fiction.
Get the bake sale set up, and then run to:
Saturday July 16, 10:00 AM, Salon G: Paranormal Romance and Otherness.
Victoria Janssen (leader), Alaya Dawn Johnson, Toni L.P. Kelner, Kate Nepveu, JoSelle Vanderhooft.
In science fiction, aliens are often used to explore aspects of otherness in our own society, such as gender and race. How are the mythical creatures of paranormal romance and urban fantasy being used to explore these same issues? What are the advantages and the pitfalls for writers?
Sunday July 17, 11:00 AM, Salon F: Borders (if Any) Between Fan Fiction and "Original Fiction".
Gwynne Garfinkle, Eileen Gunn, Kate Nepveu, Madeleine Robins, Kenneth Schneyer (leader).
Maguire's Wicked books. Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Chabon's The Final Solution. Kessel's "Pride and Prometheus." Resnick's "The Bride of Frankenstein." Reed's "A Woman's Best Friend." Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast. All of these stories employ characters, settings, and pre-existing plots from other authors, yet these authors (with the possible exception of Chabon) would probably deny that what they have written is "fan fiction." Lee Goldberg has spent thousands of words explaining why his dozens of authorized television tie-in novels are not "fan fiction." Is there an actual, definable difference between fan fiction and original fiction, or this just another instance, like Margaret Atwood's, of authors rejecting a label or genre in order to remain "respectable" or "marketable?"
I am very excited about these, but also a little apprehensive because I am swamped at work and so preparation time is going to be tough. Feel free to comment on any of these, especially if you won't be there (I promise to give you credit)!
This morning, I woke up from a dream about writing a brief and only gradually realized that the sentence I was repeatedly rewriting was about how much floor space was available on the spaceship.
Readercon program descriptions are up. Who's going?