Why I’m Not Abandoning Readercon Just Yet

There’s been dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people who, after reading about or hearing about the recent sexual harassment incident at Readercon, are pledging to never go back. Many more are saying that they won’t be back for a few years, not until the con can prove it’s changed.

I’m not one of them.

I completely agree that the incident shouldn’t have happened, that the person responsible is wrong and should be banned for life, and that the Board was wrong for ignoring its own policy and not banning him. That’s pretty much a fact at this point – it’s the truth, and people can generally agree on it.

However, Readercon is my home convention. I mean that in the sense that it is the only major recurring con within driving distance of me each year and at a time of year that I can schedule my attendance. It’s also my home con because it’s one of the few book-cons in the country – the programming and events are based on a shared love of books, not fannish activities. I am, simply, not a fan. I don’t dress up, I don’t get all squee-y over major authors, I don’t attend cons for autographs. I go to work, to meet others in my field, and to learn more about literature. Readercon is that for me.

Yes, it has flaws. Major ones, it seems. But I simply don’t have the luxury of walking away. I can’t decide to fly to some other con instead, to make some other con in some other part of the country (or world) my home convention. I’m not begrudging those who have the privilege of choosing some other event, but my choices at this point in my life/career are limited. I can skip out on conventions entirely, or I can do what feels right me:

I can show up and say this will not stand. I can show up and be a woman who will not be silent if she witnesses events like what happened at this year’s con. I can show up and volunteer to help make the programming and the convention in general a better place. I can show up and document what is happening for those who can’t attend to see the good, the bad, and the “oh no they didn’t moments”. I can say that what happened was wrong and I won’t allow it to happen again, because I’ll be there to help make sure it doesn’t.

I’ve emailed Rose Fox to volunteer and show my support. I know that my position may be unpopular, and I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying anyone else is wrong for not going. I don’t want anyone to be somewhere they don’t feel safe. Everyone should do what they think will make the world a better place, and for some saying “I won’t attend” may cause a lot of change. I’m not important enough, right now, to be able to make that kind of stand.

I’m going to make this other stand instead.

Getting Ready for Readercon 2012

One of the best parts of pre-Readercon planning is when the program schedule finally comes online and I get to pick out the panels I hope to attend. Last year I didn’t make to everything I thought I wanted to go to, because either I got a chance to meet someone I’d only known online before, or I got drug along to a different panel with friends, or because I stole an hour to retreat to my room and take a nap. But still, I like plans, and making plans, and having plans, and being prepared …

Let me say right now that there is one place you will absolutely be able to find me this year:

Friday, 7:00 PM (VT room) Reading. Michael J. DeLuca. Michael J. DeLuca reads “Other Palimpsests,” forthcoming in the anthology Bibliotheca Fantastica from Dagan Books, edited by Claude Lalumière and Don Pizarro.

A reading from a book my company is publishing this year? Don’s first title as an editor? A chance to meet one of our authors? Hell. Yes.

But, you know, other stuff is happening too. Here’s a list of more panels I think I’ll be at:

Thursday July 12

8:00 PM G Genrecare. Elizabeth Bear (leader), Kathleen Ann Goonan, Kelly Link, Shira Lipkin, Barry N. Malzberg. In a 2011 review of Harmony by Project Itoh, Adam Roberts suggests that “the concept of ‘healthcare’ in its broadest sense is one of the keys to the modern psyche.” Yet Roberts notes “how poorly genre has tuned in to that particular aspect of contemporary life.” Similarly, in the essay “No Cure for the Future,” Kirk Hampton and Carol MacKay write that “SF is a world almost never concerned with the issues of physical frailty and malfunction.” As writers such as Nalo Hopkinson, Tricia Sullivan, and Kim Stanley Robinson explore the future of the body, how is SF dealing with the concepts of health, medicine, and what it means to be well?

Friday July 13

11:00 AM F Post-Colonial Independence and the Fantastic. Christopher Brown, Bernard Dukas (leader), Walter Hunt, Vandana Singh. Indigenous peoples in post-colonial nations often use speculative and fantastical works to explore concerns raised by colonization, wars for independence, and the colonizers’ departure. Are there commonalities to speculative stories written in immediately post-colonial nations—say, within the first 50 years of independence—around the world, such as Egypt in the early 20th century, India and the Philippines in the late 20th century, and Croatia today? What about 19th-century Haiti and 16th-century Persia? What do these works reveal about the nature of colonization and the ways that narratives are shaped by the authors’ direct personal experiences of the struggle for independence?

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Dear (Jackass) Convention Attendee, or, Things Not To Do In Public

Dear Jackass,

As you’re aware, I recently attended Readercon 22, and had a fantabulous time. There were readings and meals with friends and books bought and conversations had and panels attended and it was all lovely. Well, nearly all, because of course, there was you. What could you have done, you wonder? At a convention for the literate and the literati, what could any attendee have done which was so terrible as to end up in this open letter to asshats everywhere? Perhaps you think it was nothing, but these moments spring to mind:

  • In a panel about print vs ebooks, you, sitting in the audience, told the panel that you’d written a novel (as had many in attendance) but that you’d also illustrated it yourself, and tried to sell it to publishers with the insistence that your illustrations be used. All right, that’s a bit short-sighted, but I could have ignored that. Your foolishness isn’t anyone’s problem but your own. However, when a panelist suggested you look into indie presses, your response was, “Which one, specifically, will publish my book?” No one can tell you that, dear. You need to query like the rest of us.
  • You left your cellphone on during panels. Loudly. With a cute custom ringtone so we were well aware that you let your phone ring more than once. Continue reading

Readercon 2011 Recap: Saturday / Sunday (and we’re done)

I’ve previously talked about the books I brought home from Readercon, some Readercon advice on writing an author blurb, and recapped Thursday/Friday.

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).

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Readercon 2011 Recap: Thursday / Friday

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.

My room was near the Con Suite, which was not, as directions would suggest, out the 6th floor window.

I did mention that we were writers, right?

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