Books That Deserve to Remain Unspoiled.
Jonathan Crowe, Gavin Grant, Kate Nepveu, Graham Sleight, Gayle Surrette (moderator).

In a 2013 review of Joyce Carol Oates's The Accursed, Stephen King stated, "While I consider the Internet-fueled concern with 'spoilers' rather infantile, the true secrets of well-made fiction deserve to be kept." How does spoiler-acquired knowledge change our reading of fiction? Are some books more "deserving" of going unspoiled than others? If so, what criteria do we apply to determine those works?

I was going to write up this Readercon panel, really I was, but the car accident and the lost passport and SteelyKid's minor dental surgery have eaten so much of my time that I am nearly pulling my hair out in frustration. So here is (a) the super-short version and (b) a video embed.

The super-short version, based on what I can reconstruct out of two very small notepad pages:

I view spoilers as a contextual question about the reading (viewing, etc.) experience, which is why my self-introduction was "I believe in enthusiastic consent for spoilers as well as sex." (Which got the laugh I was, shamelessly, angling for, but nevertheless I do believe it.)

No one was impressed with King's quote.

There was a lot of discussion about surprise and plot and what else can be spoiled (worldbuilding, definitely, see the Steerswoman books), and if spoilers are privileging an emphasis on surprise and plot in narrative. (I brought up how that can play into creator engagement with fans, sometimes to the work's detriment; see the Wheel of Time, arguably A Song of Ice and Fire.) Late in the panel Graham suggested a spoiler model of empathy, of taking a journey along with a character and not wanting to separate from them by knowing things they don't, which I think is very useful though not universally applicable.

Some discussion of whether a work is unspoilable, unfortunately the only example I remember now is Gene Wolfe's Peace which I don't know, so I can't help much there. I think the idea was that it was so weird that even a thorough description didn't convey the experience?

I believe someone in the audience suggested that a spoiler emphasis in advertising was capitalism at work trying to manipulate people into seeing (for instance) The Crying Game for themselves. Fair point, but I think the rise of asynchronous media consumption has more to do with why it's prominent now and that's a concern driven more by individuals than creators.

We were asked what work we would decree could never be spoiled. I remember Graham mentioned "The Lottery," just because that boat has well and truly sailed, alas. I think I said Agyar.

Anyway. This felt a bit slow in places to me and probably could have benefited from opening up to audience questions sooner. But there were some good bits, and here's the video if you want to listen to it in the background (but you'll probably want headphones, because the volume is understandably low). *carefully makes note not to wear that shirt for public sitting-down appearances again*

video embed )

Thanks to Scott Edelman for the video.

So: what are your favorite horror stories about being spoiled? (Let's put the work name in the subject of the comment, and then ROT13 or black out the comments: <span style="color:#000000;background-color:#000000;">TEXT HERE</span> ) If you had the power to enforce no-spoilers on a particular work, which would it be? What works do you think ought to be spoiled? (Someone had a story, I just remembered, about a critic or reviewer who hated some author's use of suspense or suchlike, and thus made it a mission to spoil those works. That is a jerk move, in my opinion, but there are times when I sympathize.) What else about spoilers do you want to talk about?

This was another split Readercon for me. The hotel situation . . . was better than last year, but still not good, because after I called twice to emphasize how important it was that we get a connecting door and how they messed it up last time, the hotel set aside two rooms with a connecting door for us . . . and then gave one of those rooms away. And apparently didn't notice or care until they handed me the keys for rooms 20-odd numbers apart and my face crumpled.

Eventually they found us two adjacent rooms without a connecting door, and I'd bought a baby monitor out of anxiety about the situation, so it was workable, but GAH. The hotel sent me a "give us feedback!" email, and I gave them feedback, you bet; the manager-type who wrote back said that I should contact them next year, but honestly I don't know. The split thing is increasingly unsatisfying, and I think I might leave the family at home next year and do a proper New England vacation with them separately.

Anyway. One panel, notes of which were just posted; one panel of my own, notes on which forthcoming. Bake sale did well. Pleasant lunch with [personal profile] yhlee and spouse; pleasant conversations with people for a bit on Saturday night. And the kids had fun at Boston museums and in the hotel pool—SteelyKid made fast friends with a kid in the pool on Saturday afternoon, who turned out to be Gavin Grant and Kelly Link's daughter, which amused me for some reason. Things went okay strictly-con-wise for me, but I was hardly there, so, you know, that take with a grain of salt.
Panel notes, belatedly but whatever! Tidying while on Readercon conference call, actually.

Description:

When the Other Is You
Being part of an underrepresented group and trying to write our experience into our work can be tricky. We might have internalized some prejudice about ourselves, we might not have the craft to get our meaning across perfectly, and even if we depict our own experience totally accurately (as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie observed in her TED Talk "The Danger of a Single Story"), we do so while struggling against the expectation that our experience is or isn't "representative" or "authentic." How do we navigate the pitfalls and responsibilities of being perceived as spokespeople? What potentially pernicious dynamics allow us that dubious privilege in the first place? Which works make us cringe with their representations of us, and which make us sigh with relief and recognition?
Chesya Burke, Samuel ("Chip") Delany, Peter Dubé, Mikki Kendall, Vandana Singh, Sabrina Vourvoulias (leader).

(My standard note on accuracy and names.)

notes )

Two kinds of chocolate chips cookies for the bake sale (terrible phone photos) are done. I'll be at the bake sale Saturday morning—come say hi, and by all means please bring something if you're able, no need to ask in advance!

I'll also be on one panel:

Books That Deserve to Remain Unspoiled.
Jonathan Crowe, Gavin Grant, Kate Nepveu, Graham Sleight, Gayle Surrette (moderator).

In a 2013 review of Joyce Carol Oates's The Accursed, Stephen King stated, "While I consider the Internet-fueled concern with 'spoilers' rather infantile, the true secrets of well-made fiction deserve to be kept." How does spoiler-acquired knowledge change our reading of fiction? Are some books more "deserving" of going unspoiled than others? If so, what criteria do we apply to determine those works?

Sunday 10:00 AM, Salon G


And I'll also be chasing the kids around the pool at various points, or hanging out in the lobby, or what-have-you.

And now, I must go pack, because in my experience packing expands to fill all the available time.

Hotel renovations are done so there'll be one this year, Saturday morning as usual (place and exact start time to be determined). I should be there for a very large chunk of it—come by, bring something if you can, and support the Tiptree Award and Con or Bust!

May 2017

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