The drive up to Boston was easy and uneventful save for the sudden realization that I was actually driving through the Bronx. That wasn’t clear from the directions, which essentially said take 95N from NJ to Connecticut, so you can understand why the first time I drove over the George Washington bridge and into the Bronx I was a little surprised. I stopped in Orange, CT, for breakfast at a place called Chip’s Diner, home to some pretty good buttermilk pancakes. That was my halfway point, and the rest of the drive was pretty but boring. I found the hotel with little trouble, got checked into my room, unpacked my suitcase, fell onto the big, fluffy bed, relaxed in the air conditioning, and very nearly fell asleep.
That would have been bad because I was due to pick Don Pizarro up from the airport an hour later. Logan Airport was only 12 miles from the hotel, but I wanted to be early if possible so he didn’t have to wait. Plus, Bart Lieb needed Don to read at the Broken Slate/Crossed Genres reading Friday night, so he insisted that I get up. I shared the elevator back down to the lobby with another woman – we looked at each other, said, “Readercon?” and both nodded. “I’m going to the gym to try to bike off this headache,” she said. “You?” I told her I was off to the airport. “Oh, at this time? I’m sorry,” she said, as the doors opened, and we waved our goodbyes. I wondered at that, got into my car, and for the first few miles I made good time. Switching onto 93 for the other 9 miles of the trip left me in dead-stop traffic. It ultimately took me 50 minutes to travel those 9 miles, by which time, Don’s plane was due to have landed. I finally pulled in, and called – no answer. I got into the terminal, since I had his flight info I knew where I was supposed to be, called again and … no answer. I checked the Starbucks (we’re writers, of course we gravitate toward coffee and wifi) but no luck. Called again and found his plane had arrived late; he was just getting off it now. Perfect! I wasn’t late after all. We found each other easily after that, got back to the hotel faster than I’d made it out to the airport, and after dropping his stuff off, made our way to the hotel bar.
I did mention that we were writers, right?
Dinner in the pub was cold beer and hot chicken – strips for me, buffalo wings for him – and the addition of CD Covington, who’d just gotten in. Since she came in by train, the three of us made up the travel trifecta, proving we will do whatever it takes to get to Readercon. I’d never met Connie before, so we got to know each other while she and Don caught up, and it was a very relaxing end to my evening. Truthfully, it was the end, since dinner was over about 9 and while Don and Connie headed off to panels, I went back to my room and passed out.
Friday morning I was up early and considering my options when I got a text from Claude LaLumière asking if I’d want breakfast. In, oh, 5 minutes. The answer to, “Do you want to hang out with Claude?” is always YES (which I didn’t know then, as this was our first meeting, but I definitely know now) and after some texts to sort out when, where, was Don coming too (YES!), we made it out the door and into Summer/Winter (the fancier of the two restaurants in the hotel) by about 8 am. Bonus points to Don for being the sort of person who can actually be ready to go out to breakfast 5 minutes after I ask him. We stood around for a minute, not entirely sure how to find Claude, when he bounced over to get us. Getting back to the table we were happily surprised to see a fourth person – Camille Alexa. (It’s probably safe to mention that after breakfast Don and I did our fair share of OMG WHAT DID WE JUST DO but we kept it together til after the other two had left.) We’re both fans of both their works, and it turned out that Claude had been tossing around ideas for a story for one of my anthos and Camille was also scheduled to read for Crossed Genres later that night. We talked books, story ideas, travel, and it was delightful. Best start to a convention I’ve ever had.
After breakfast we got our con badges and then started my first official day at Readercon 22. I went to the following panels on Friday:
11:00 AM The Illustrated Novel. Gwendolyn Clare, Ron Drummond, Eric Schaller (leader), JoSelle Vanderhooft, Diane Weinstein. From this I learned about a new illustrated version of John Crowley’s Little, Big, which I’m excited to check out, and that at least one of the panelists thought that ebooks would never be as good as print because “ebooks can’t have pictures”. Um, what?
12:00 PM Writing Within Constraints. Scott Edelman, Elaine Isaak, Michael Aondo-verr Kombol, John Langan, David Malki ! (leader), Madeleine Robins. The first of three different panels on anthologies I would attend, and also the first of many times I would run into Malki ! (who you should know from Wondermark and Machine of Death). Don’s got panel notes here.
1:00 PM Complicating Colonial Encounters. Craig Laurance Gidney, Anil Menon (leader), Robert V.S. Redick, Vandana Singh, JoSelle Vanderhooft. Don’s got panel notes here.
From 2 to 4 I took a break, ate lunch, caught a few minutes of napping, and then headed back for more.
4:00 PM Myth, Midrash, and Misappropriation. K. Tempest Bradford (leader), Marilyn “Mattie” Brahen, Jack M. Haringa, Claude Lalumière, Kaaron Warren. Probbly the worst panel moderator I’ve ever seen. She clearly thought of this as her panel, wanted it to express her message, and controlled it both by announcing the Claude and Jack, as “white males” had no place to speak on her panel (she in fact interrupted them nearly every time they tried to speak) and by only taking questions from people who, it turned out, were her friends. The panelists did their best under the circumstances and I applaud them all for that. (Also, Kaaron Warren gave me a chocolate koala bear filled with caramel at her signing the next day, brought from Australia, so she’s automatically awesome as far as I’m concerned.)
5:00 PM De Gustibus Est Disputandum When Editing Anthologies. John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois (leader), John Kessel, Howard Waldrop. There was a big focus on reprint anthologies in this panel, which you can’t write specifically for and which, as the publisher at Dagan Books, I don’t do, so this became the only panel I actually left. Instead I ended up in …
5:00 PM Feeling Very Post-Slipstream. Leah Bobet, Chris N. Brown (leader), F. Brett Cox, Paul Di Filippo, Elizabeth Hand. Don’s … well, not notes, but thoughts, here.
Then a quick break for dinner and off to the Crossed Genres reading!
Camile read “The Good Old-Fashioned Kind of Water”, and then Don read, and they were both very good. Camille has a casual tone perfect for reading weird fiction, which this story of future eco-apocalytic survival was. It’s not often a girl gets to make friends with a mutant fish and Camille let the drama of the story come through by not reading it too dramatically. Don, on the other hand, read Combat Stress Reaction, and slipped into an expressive, almost sarcastic voice which really brought to main character to light.
After that we headed off to a reading of a different sort …
8:00 PM Lost Myths. Claude Lalumière. “Claude Lalumière performs a version of his Lost Myths show, “the program guide said, but it could just as easily have read, “Come see Claude be a rock star.” This reading was a multimedia adventure, with music, a slideshow of art drawn from the works he was reading, and Claude himself giving a deep and oratory dramatic reading. Definitely see this show if he’s performing it at a con near you.
9:00 PM BroadUniverse group reading. More Camille Alexa, reading from her Machine of Death story, “Flaming Marshmallow”, and CD Covington reading about a haunted train station.
10:30 PM Meet the Pros(e) Party. I got to speak to nearly everyone I’d wanted to, including John Kessel, who was already one of my favorite authors and who would only impress me more as the weekend wore on.
And then … passing out. Next stop: Saturday.