Readercon 30

This year's program

Here are just a few of the exciting talks, workshops, and performances that will take place at Readercon 30:

  • How I Illustrated the 50th Anniversary Edition of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (talk by Charles Vess)
  • How We Wrote "This Is How You Lose the Time War" (talk by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone)
  • Marvelous and Mundane: The Impossible, Inadequate 40-Minute History of How Fiction Got Its Genres (talk by Austin Grossman)
  • Henry Darger: Inside America's Best-Known "Outsider" Artist (talk by Elizabeth Hand)
  • The Instrumentality of Slankind (talk by Graham Sleight)
  • Snatched from the Sun: Alternative Shakespeares and the Zemblance of Reality (talk by Greer Gilman)
  • Exoplanets II (talk by Kathy Kitts)
  • "You Will Believe a Plant Can Walk!" (talk by Eric Schaller)
  • The Future of Gene Editing: Universal Cures, Perfect Species, or a Global Disaster? (talk by Anna Kashina)
  • Inside the Odyssey Writing Workshop (talk by Jeanne Cavelos)
  • From Page to Stage: Techniques, Tricks, and Improv Games to Help Writers with Public Speaking (workshop by C.S.E. Cooney and Martin Cahill)
  • Latinx Authors Tear Down the Wall (panel led by Lisa M. Bradley)
  • What Does Authenticity Look Like? (panel led by Lisa M. Bradley)
  • The Future (if Any) of the Talking Animal Fantasy (panel led by Gregory Feeley and Sherwood Smith)
  • The Implications of SFWA's Rate Increase (panel led by Michael J. DeLuca)
  • Incorporating the Media into Fantasy Worlds (discussion led by L. Penelope)
  • The Fabulousness of Earth's Spices (culinary demo by David Shaw, B. Diane Martin, and Fran Wilde)
  • Dramatic Readings from the Ig Nobel Prizes (performance by Marc Abrahams, C.S.E. Cooney, Rose Fox, Heath Miller, and Sonya Taaffe)
  • Brimstone Rhine in Concert (performance by C.S.E. Cooney, Amal El-Mohtar, Carlos Hernandez, and Faye Ringel)
  • A screening of Horror Noire (presented by Tananarive Due)
  • A screening of a 2010 interview with Edward Bryant, conducted by Mark Barsotti


This year's book club selections are exciting, and the nonfiction ones can be read online for free:


New this year is a track of extracurricular activities to give your brain a break, including:

  • Affinity group meetups
  • Fountain pen test drives
  • Study hall (quiet writing and reading time)
  • Fibercraft show and tell
  • Eye of Argon–style round-robin read-alouds
  • Stimming and sensory exploration time
  • "Make a Friend, Go to Lunch" and "Make a Friend, Go to Dinner" meet-and-greets
  • Picture book storytime (all ages welcome)
  • I Don't Know Why I'm on This Panel
  • The Worst Job You've Ever Had
  • Tropes of the Year


And we've got some outstanding and varied panels on...


      Themes in the works of our guests of honor
    • The Roads and the Woods: The American South in Speculative Fiction
    • The Black Space of the Mountains: The American West in Speculative Fiction
    • Cultural Hauntings and African-American History


      Genres and subgenres
    • The White Space around the Words: The Camaraderie of Poetry and Comedy
    • Heist Stories as Meta-Genre
    • Old Punks Read New -Punks


      Topical tropes
    • Journalism at the End of the World
    • Food at the Corner of Fiction and Community
    • Whence the Antiheroine?


      The past, the present, and the political
    • A Hidden Knife: The Legacy of Fascism Embedded in Science Fiction
    • Marginalized People Destroy History
    • The 21st-Century Makeover of Class Struggle in SF/F


      The business of words
    • Working with a Freelance Editor
    • Rejection-Sensitive Dysphoria and Submitting Stories
    • Accelerated Publication for Greater Relevance


      The influence of identities
    • Portrayals of Disability in 21st-Century Horror Fiction
    • Narratives of Men Coming to Terms with Trauma
    • Reading the Rainbow: Updating Reader Expectations around Queer and Trans Stories


      The deliciously specific (Readercon's specialty)
    • 17776 and All That: The Crumbling of the Jock-Nerd Divide
    • The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of Bicameral Models
    • Lloyd Alexander, Existentialist


In addition, Heath Miller returns to host the dazzling latest iteration of our hilarious Saturday evening entertainment event, A Dark and Stormy Mic!

Check back frequently to see more advance information about this year's program.

What's generally on the program?

Readercon covers the whole of imaginative literature (or "speculative fiction"): science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the unclassifiable. We have a special emphasis on the most literary, ambitious, and cutting-edge work in the field, and embrace works for children, teens, and adults. Our regular program participants include writers, editors, publishers, critics, and other experts from across America and around the world.

There are three things you can do while at Readercon during the day: talk to friends, browse and patronize the Bookshop, or attend the program. Readercon is all about the program. It's not just the heart of the convention, but also the lungs, brain, liver, and kidneys.

Readercon's community is diverse in backgrounds and interests. To ensure that nearly anyone can find something interesting to do in a given hour, we have four tracks of panels and talks, two of solo and group readings, two of autograph sessions, two of kaffeeklatsches*, and one of low-key activities running throughout the long weekend. We only pause this schedule for the Guest of Honor interviews on Saturday afternoon; our guests are so eminent and interesting that nothing can compete. Our special events include award ceremonies, a game show that raises funds for a worthy cause, an informal social gathering, and a dance party. At all hours, wonderful conversations take place in the hotel's public spaces. There's always something mind-expanding to do.

* A kaffeeklatsch is a low-key, wide-ranging conversation hosted by a program participant for up to 12 fans. It gives you an opportunity to interact directly with writers, editors, and other estimable personages you admire. Spaces are limited, so sign up at the Info Desk early in the weekend.

How can I participate?

Apply to be a participant, or nominate someone else! We are especially eager to recruit scientists, historians, librarians, artists and musicians, and others who work in fields of interest to genre fiction writers and readers. Readercon is committed to diversity in its program, and we strongly encourage members of minority and marginalized groups to apply.

Suggest a program item! We welcome anything from vague concepts to full-fledged proposals complete with suggested panelists. Be adventuresome and creative; remember that Readercon's program starts where other conventions leave off. The programs for our past conventions (linked from the sidebar) will give you an idea of what we're looking for. Links to interesting blog posts, tweets, etc. are welcome, but please describe the content and what you found inspiring about it, just in case the original vanishes. Suggest as many items as you like.

If you've been invited to be a program participant at the upcoming Readercon, we encourage you to submit a proposal to present a solo talk, performance, discussion, workshop, activity, special-interest panel, or group reading. We'd love to showcase you and your expertise. Multiple proposals are welcome (up to three per person).


To quote Theodore Sturgeon, Readercon likes to ask the next question. Imagine going to a typical convention, attending a panel, and having an interesting spin-off conversation in the hallway outside afterwards: that moment of extrapolation and exploration is what we take as our starting point. Our program items are usually quite focused and we encourage panelists and attendees to grapple with tricky ideas and dig deep into the genre's history. We don't shy away from the political, and the past several years have seen an emphasis on discussing topics relevant to minority and marginalized members of speculative fiction writing and reading communities. There are some items about the craft of writing, but we are readers first and foremost, and much of our program is devoted to looking at how we choose, approach, and interact with the things we read.


The convention begins Thursday at 8:00 PM with programming free and open to the public. Programming runs until 10:00 PM and consists of a relatively intimate, stripped-down version of what's to follow: a track of panels, a track of solo talks/discussions, and two tracks of readings.

Friday we begin at 11:00 AM with a full slate of our multi-track programming. Special events start at 10:00 PM.

Saturday's full schedule runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. After 4:00 PM, there are yet more special events sandwiched around a dinner break, followed by evening special events.

Sunday programming once again begins at 10:00 AM and ends at 3:00 PM.

There are no lunch breaks at Readercon, but we do try to populate the lunchtime hours with some of our more specialized programming, and you can always grab a quick inter-panel snack in the consuite.

Special events

  • The presentation of the annual Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, Friday night.
  • The Meet the Pros(e) Party, Friday night. This icebreaker party lets writers and readers meet and mingle, aided by snippets from the writers' work.
  • A dance party deejayed by our very own con chair, Friday night.
  • Interviews with our Guests of Honor, Saturday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.
  • A Dark and Stormy Mic, Saturday night. Join us for an evening of song, games, and laughter as we celebrate the varied talents of Readercon guests. We will be raising money for a worthy cause, so consider bringing cash or your credit card if you'd like to chip in, but no donation is necessary to enjoy the fantastic show!
  • The Shirley Jackson Awards, Sunday morning. Jackson (1916–1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, "The Lottery." Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional to the most innovative. The Jackson Awards have been established in her name for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Awards are presented in six categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology. Readercon is honored to have hosted the Jackson Award ceremony from its inception in 2008.


Readercon records audio and video of many program items, and is in the process of making those recordings accessible to the public as part of our educational mandate. Anyone who would like to individually record a program item and make that recording public is welcome to do so with the prior consent of the program participants. Attendees should be aware that audience contributions are often captured on these recordings.

For recordings of past Readercon program items, see our media page and our YouTube channel.