Readercon, Day the Second

Sorry for the interruption of blog posts. I had my second geek weekend in a row, this time out in the woods where internet access was even more prohibitive than the Burlington Marriott’s $12.95/day WiFi rate. It did give me a little more distance from the squee-worthy events of my second day at Readercon.

This was a long day, so smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Thinking back to Day 2, I remember…

…thinking that as long as I was eating the entire cost of a hotel room instead of splitting it like other more sensible, extroverted people, I might as well get some early-morning editing in for my Rigor Amortis submission. I managed some the next morning, too.

…the early morning coffee/internet run to Panera with Eric and Jaym. In case we were wondering if the inappropriate jokes from the previous evening at the IHOP were a fluke, we were wrong. Not feeling evil enough, I thought that Jaym and I should make our friend Mercedes (who we really, really wished could’ve been there) extremely jealous.

The first panel I went to that day was, “Interstitial Then, Genre Now” with Theodora Goss, John Clute, Peter Dube, & Michael Dirda. This was another panel where I had to fight the fanboy desire to just sit and gape at the people sitting at the center of an artistic movement that’s intrigued me for years.

I took a second between this panel and the next one I wanted to attend to meet Calista Taylor again, for the first time. We’ve tweeted and emailed for ages and I felt bad that I wasn’t able to meet her as soon as she arrived at the con. So I had to say hi, at least for a second, and as much as it sucked, she was going to sit at one panel while I went to…

“History and Memory in Speculative Fiction” with my idol Howard Waldrop and a bunch of other folks, Andrea Hairston, David Anthony Durham, and Alan DeNiro.

This was the first panel where I was able to get my fanboy head out of my fanboy ass, and pay attention to one fascinating discussion about how history and memory merge in writing to try to generate this thing called “truth” which isn’t always “fact.”

I not only got to finally hang out with Calista at the “Voice Workshop for Poets and Writers” with Andrea Hairston, but I got to hang with Nancy again. There she is getting loosened up by Andrea Hairston…

I haven’t given any readings yet, but some of the tips I picked up will be very helpful in the future. Basically, they amount to relaxation, mindfullness, and preparedness. Doing yoga actually put me half-a-step ahead in this regard.

The next stop was at the “Non-Western Cultures in Fantasy” panel with one of the con’s Guests of Honor, Nalo Hopkinson, along with Shariann Lewitt, Theodora Goss, Cathrynne M. Valente, and Darrell Schweitzer.

Aside from the object lesson in taking responsibility for one’s own cultural sensitivity (those who were at the panel will remember what I’m talking about), the biggest takeaway for me came from Hopkinson herself. Because you’d think that being a minority myself would make me comfortable writing about “the other.” It doesn’t… well, depending on who you define as “the other.” But Hopkinson’s words about needing to feel the safety to “mess up,” especially since you’re always going to “mess up” in some reader’s eyes, were very helpful.

I was running out of steam by the time I got to the “Influence as Contagion” panel with Allen Steele, my idol Howard Waldrop and some other folks, James Morrow, Jack M. Haringa, Resa Nelson, and Mary Robinette Kowal.

The discussion was pretty esoteric as the panelists dissected the age-old question of the lengths writers should–or shouldn’t–go to to avoid others’ work for fear of “contaminating” their own.

I was more crispy-fried and hungry than I’d realized by that point. Luckily, Cali got me out of the hotel and took me a hop, skip, and a jump away to the local H Mart for lunch. I have to say, this was a very impressive Asian grocery store–with a food court. Now, I’m normally a purist about Asian food stores, having spent a lot of the Saturday mornings of my youth shopping in them with my folks–it’s not a true Asian market if it doesn’t reek of fresh (or freshly killed) aquatic life. But it had all the stuff and none of the, uh, atmosphere. And the food was to die for!

Plus, I was able to get some supplies to help me get thru the rest of the weekend. Thanks, Cali!

We made it back in time for N.K. Jemisin’s panel on “Brainstorming Inclusive Immersive Worlds.”

I couldn’t possibly explain the excellent content of this panel as well as Jemisin herself does.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get through it all, through no fault of hers.  There were just too many people in the audience.

The next few hours after that were a blur, except for a nap and a caffeine run with Jaym that involved the blind leading the blind to a gas station where we got the caffeine we needed, but not necessarily the caffeine we wanted.  The best part of that particular run was “The Fraud Conversation,” which put words to fears about attending Readercon that I had trouble describing to people. This is something I really need to blog about soon–don’t let me forget!

I had to get over those fears if I was going to survive the Meet the Pros(e) party which was after the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  Here’s a clip from it.

I did, in fact, survive the Meet the Pros(e), thanks to Eric.  And I have the markings to prove it:

Apparently, the tradition of this party is for each pro to carry around a sheet of labels upon which a line from their work is printed.  And the idea for the rest of us is to meet as many pros as possible and get their lines in order to form a pithy prose poem.  (Remind me to blog that too, one of these days.)

Of course, there was no way I was going to remember exactly which quote was whose except for Elizabeth Bear (who popped my sticker cherry), Howard Waldrop (‘cos he’s Howard Waldrop), and Elizabeth Hand (who, being the iconoclast, put her sticker on my upper right shoulder away from everyone else’s).  Later on, I did pick out Benjamin Rosenbaum’s line, which came from a story I love, “The Orange.”

Anyway, I met about 98% of the author’s I’d intended to meet, even though it was only for 5-6 seconds on the average.  Even Mary Robinette Kowal, who I reminded had told me via Twitter that I should come and say hi!

The red figure in the picture behind me reminds me that this was the first time I got to hang out with Marlin May a bit, not to mention Nancy and her B, and MCM.


I was already blissed out by that point.  I could’ve ended the con right there and have been happy.  But then, before going to bed, I realized that it was only Friday, and there were two more days left!!!