Saturday morning was breakfast at Panera, then panels:
11 AM Book Design and Typography in the Digital Era Neil Clarke, Erin Kissane, Ken Liu, David G. Shaw (leader), Alicia Verlager. From this I found out that Ken knows quite a bit about the history of the book and its evolution from scroll to codex to ebook, making him officially one of my favorite people ever. This was one of the most informed panels I attended, and I felt that all of the panelists had useful things to add to the discussion. I only wished it were longer.
12:00 PM Daughters of the Female Man Matthew Cheney, Gwendolyn Clare, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Barbara Krasnoff, Chris Moriarty. I tend to avoid panels on women’s issues in fiction, honestly. I’m of the school that we should promote damn fine writers who happen to be women as opposed to promoting women writers and hoping they’re good. I come from an academic background and am particularly informed by the discussion about women’s place in art history, and the (absurd) question which always gets asked, “Why are there no good women artists?” However this panel was excellent both for it’s suggestions for further reader and for the way it didn’t focus on anything other than good writing by women. Notable for this panel was the absurd statement from the audience about how the panel should have done “a little more work” and created an annotated bibliography to hand out (you know, so we wouldn’t have to read anything on our own).
1:00 PM Mind the Gap Graham Sleight. I wasn’t sure about this panel, since I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Sleight beforehand, but I’m a sucker for anyone who proposes to work Doctor Who into a literary conversation about leaving your story open to the reader’s imagination. It was great fun and worth reading over again. Sleight says he plans to post the transcript in the future – once he does I’ll post a link to it.
2 – 4 PM Meetup with Ken Liu and Don Pizarro in the pub. Well, you already know how that turned out.
Then a late lunch at Panera (again) with Don and CD Covington, then back to the hotel for:
7:00 PM Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza: Special Readercon Edition. Matthew Cheney, Scott Edelman, Theodora Goss, John Kessel, Eric Rosenfield (moderator), Delia Sherman. And, let’s not forget, a live band led by Brian Francis Slattery! This was made of awesomeness. It can barely be described, so thankfully Eric Rosenfield posted video of it. Go, see (and understand a little more why I pretty much worship John Kessel).
I wish I had an appropriate antho to publish Cheney’s turtles and toaster ovens story in.
8:00 PM I’ve Fallen (Behind) and I Can’t Get (Caught) Up. Don D’Ammassa, Michael Dirda, Craig Laurance Gidney (leader), Jennifer Pelland, Rick Wilber. The bottom line is that you will never be able to read everything good book that ever was, so you need a system. Mine is a rapidly growing shelf of books which is added too more than subtracted from. I take a day or two off from whatever else I’m doing when the stack reaches falling-over height. It’s for the safety of pets and small children, you understand.
9:00 PM There’s No Homelike Place. Debra Doyle, Theodora Goss, Victoria Janssen (leader), Tom Purdom, Kaaron Warren. This was a great discussion of what “home” means and what it does to a story when home is not the end of the journey but something you find along the way.
10:00 PM Howard Waldrop Reads. Howard Waldrop. Two things, he read, and Don was right – no one reads like Howard Waldrop.
After this I went back to the room to pass out, while Don went off to be the +1 at a party that … no, no, I can’t say. I’ve … said too much already.
Don woke me up for breakfast with Calista Taylor and I am not complaining! We ate at Summer/Winter again, and while they had the Eggs Benedict I splurged on a beautiful Lobster/Asparagus omelet. I haven’t felt that decadent in a long time.
Calista, who Don knew in real life and I knew from Twitter, turns out to be delightful in person, and is working on a picture book of Everyday Steampunk Fashion. Which, yeah, I’ll be buying when it comes out (you should too).
Then the one, last, panel of Readercon (for us):
11:00 AM Reconsidering Anthologies. Mike Allen, Leah Bobet, David Boop, Robert Killheffer, David Malki ! (leader). I couldn’t resist another look at anthologies, and it was great. I’m a little disappointed in one of the panelists, whose sole contribution to the panel seems to be knowing other people who have done stuff. There was another panelist whose qualifications also piggybacked off another person, but at least he could say he actually worked with his more-famous counterpart, as opposed to, “The bookstore I worked at 3 years ago said …” There were some animated discussions about the good things anthologies could be, and Malki ! got to be the unintentionally awesome guy in the room by accidentally explaining that his first try at an anthology sold more than some people’s entire companies will ever sell. Oops. But he’s a good guy, and there was a lot of other editors taking genuine pleasure in his success, which was nice to see. I also got to mention Dagan Books and a couple of people asked me for my card afterward. Don left me to schmooze and walked out past a cluster of folks in the doorway…
I found him in the hall and said, “You saw Neil Gaiman, right?” He stared. I led him back into the hall and pointed. “Neil Gaiman,” I said. Giddiness ensued, thought (as I pointed out to my mom later) we didn’t mug him for an autograph or photo because we’re not fans, we’re writers. Professional courtesy an all.
At least this year. Next year my mom’s made me promise to talk to him.
After the panel we met up with Eric again, and dropped him at the train station so he could make his way back to Brooklyn. We missed our chance to meet up with Connie to say goodbye, which was sad, but we had some time to kill before Don’s plane left, so we investigated the local Barnes & Noble. And by “investigated” I mean we stole their wifi and air conditioning for two hours while talking about tentacle porn near small children.
Too soon, I had to drop him at the terminal and start the long drive back to NJ. I was glad to get home to my son but I won’t forget Readercon for a long time. It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in … well, I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve been happier. I was surrounded by people who understood the things I want to accomplish in my life and didn’t, even a little, think that being a writer was a strange occupation for a woman, or a mother, or a person who also wanted to pay her bills on time. It was good to feel like I could be myself, and that my self was a good thing, and that I didn’t have to sacrifice friends and happiness to do it.
I’ll be back again next year.