Readercon 13 program

All items are 50 minutes unless otherwise noted. "(M)" indicates Moderators. Times are noon or later, unless shown with a minus sign ("negative time is morning"). [slightly modified 2001/07/12 07:07]


1.  Fr/03:00  [F]    2000: The Year in Short Fiction.
F. Brett Cox (+M), Kathryn Cramer, David G. Hartwell, Michael Swanwick.
2.  Fr/04:00  [F]    Surfing The Ether.
Michael A. Burstein, James Alan Gardner, Ellen Kushner (+M), Madeleine E. Robins, Michael Swanwick. Many f&sf writers and editors talk about the almost spooky phenomenon of story ideas or themes seeming to be "in the ether," so that (as Gardner Dozois claims once happened) three talking-tree stories might show up in the slush pile on the same day. Michael Swanwick has even urged writers to finish that neat story idea now, before they see it print by someone else. What's behind this -- synchronicity, stealth memes, or just a shared culture and zeitgeist? Should writers let their awareness of the ether modify their approach?
3.  Fr/04:00  [ME]   
Science Fiction and Music. David Garland. Talk / Discussion (60 min.). Sf ideas have inspired a wide range of music, from operas to Easy Listening, pop tunes to Space Rock, filk to film scores. Here's a chance to listen to some examples and get an overview of the history of SF and music, which includes a look at musical references in written SF. Time will be set aside for attendees to speak of material -- either musical or literary -- that hasn't been covered in the presentation. Plus a bit of do-it-yourself: a theremin (an electronic musical instrument invented in the early 20th Century) will be provided to facilitate other-worldly keening (and/or a sing-along of "Good Vibrations") by one and all.
4.  Fr/04:00  [NH]   
Suzy McKee Charnas reads a chapter from a newly published e-book, Strange Seas, which is (depending on how much real-world weirdness you can tolerate) either a fantasy or a piece of reportage about an adventure with a psychic, with insights (?) gained into the lives and cultures of the cetaceans. (60 min.).
5.  Fr/04:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald; Jack McDevitt.
6.  Fr/04:00  [E]   
Autographs. Hal Clement; Robert J. Sawyer.
7.  Fr/05:00  [F]    Who's Minding the Store?: Reviewing Commercial F&SF
Paul Di Filippo, Debra Doyle, David G. Hartwell (+M), Farah Mendlesohn, Steven Sawicki. None of our leading critical voices is reviewing much commercial fantasy and sf (from Glen Cook to Robert Jordan to Lois Bujold to David Drake). By concentrating on writers who (by and large) bend genre, don't they run the risk of ignoring the genre heart? Are we missing out on important insights by confining our in-depth attention to the overtly literary?
8.  Fr/05:00  [ME]   
Jewish Science Fiction. Michael A. Burstein with Paul Levinson, Barry N. Malzberg. Discussion (60 min.). Jewish science fiction seemed to make a major impact on our consciousness with the Wandering Stars books edited by Jack Dann in the 1970s. But since then, there has been little codification of Jewish sf despite many stories with Jewish themes. What is the connection between Judaism and sf? Why, if there so are many Jewish sf writers, are there so few Jewish sf stories? Burstein is the only Orthodox Jewish sf writer currently publishing, and the author of current Hugo-nominated story "Kaddish for the Last Survivor."
9.  Fr/05:00  [NH]   
Robert J. Sawyer reads from Infinite Faculties (forthcoming in Analog January-April 2002 and Tor in June). (60 min.).
10.  Fr/05:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsch. Thomas M. Disch.
11.  Fr/05:00  [E]   
Autographs. Patrick O'Leary.
12.  Fr/06:00  [F]    And I Alone Escaped the Ghetto
F. Brett Cox (+M), Samuel R. Delany, Jonathan Lethem, Kelly Link, Barry N. Malzberg, Gordon Van Gelder. It's been the dream of most of our writers of serious literary ambition, going back to Sturgeon, Bester, Bradbury, Vonnegut, and Dick: you avoid being pigeonholed (and restrained in the marketplace) as a genre writer, and get significant attention from the outside world. With reviews in Newsweek and a National Book Critics Circle Award, Jonathan Lethem has succeeded where others before him have had mixed success at best. How has his experience compared to others? Might his success change the playing field for other genre writers of ambition, present or future?
13.  Fr/06:00  [ME]   
Octogenarians in Science Fiction. Paul Levinson. Talk / Discussion (60 min.). Levinson's novel Borrowed Tides features a ship captained by two men in their late 70s -- a philosopher of science and an expert on Native American mythology. It raises such questions as: Bertrand Russell and George Bernard Shaw both lived and were sharp as whips into their 90s; is there a correlation between philosophic and literary kinds of minds, and longevity? What role might deep space have on longevity and sexuality? What impact would people living and performing longer have on the rest of society? With a limited number of people in deep space, would parenting at all ages make sense? For these and other reasons, might octogenarians be the cutting edge of deep-space exploration?
14.  Fr/06:00  [NH]   
Hal Clement reads from a novel in progress, tentatively called Noise. (30 min.).
15.  Fr/06:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Jeffrey A. Carver; Suzy McKee Charnas.
16.  Fr/06:30  [NH]   
Terry McGarry reads the prologue to Illumination (forthcoming from Tor in August), an imaginary-realm fantasy in which magecraft is practiced in triads using illuminated manuscripts;. and "Alindra," a fantasy currently appearing online. (30 min.).
17.  Fr/07:00  [F]    Science Fact, SF-Style
Allen Steele (M); Jeff Hecht, Wil McCarthy, Charles Platt, Ian Randal Strock. While the audience for serious sf is in decline, there is a burgeoning market (in Wired and elsewhere) for highly speculative, way-out science fact writing. What does this tell us about public attitudes towards science, and towards what is "real" versus what isn't? Is there any way for sf writers to exploit this interest and open-mindedness to expand the market for fiction?
18.  Fr/07:00  [G]    Luck and Coincidence in Speculative Fiction
John Crowley, Debra Doyle, James Alan Gardner (+M), Aline Boucher Kaplan, Jack McDevitt. By sheer chance, a panel for Readercon13! Writers of fiction usually downplay or avoid luck and coincidence, as a hallmark of weak plotting; occasionally it is instead foregrounded, for irony or as farce; less often, the nature of luck (or fate or synchronicity) is posed as a teleological question. How have writers of f&sf used these approaches? What are the secrets of making luck and coincidence work for you?
19.  Fr/07:00  [ME]   
How I Wrote Stations of the Tide. Michael Swanwick. Talk (30 min.).
20.  Fr/07:00  [NH]   
Delia Sherman reads "La Fée Verte," a historical slipstream novella set in mid-19th-century Paris. (60 min.).
21.  Fr/07:00  [VT]   
Patrick O'Leary reads from The Impossible Bird (forthcoming from Tor next January) and a taste of something altogether different from his collection Other Voices, Other Doors. And one scandalous story about David Hartwell. (60 min.).
22.  Fr/07:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Steven Sawicki; Cecilia Tan.
23.  Fr/07:30  [ME]   
The New England Museum Guide. Leigh Grossman. Chautauqua (30 min.). Grossman has edited and published this guide to 1,500 local museums, from the well-known to the obscure and bizarre (e.g., the natural history museum in Maine that uses roadkill for its exhibits).
24.  Fr/08:00  [F]    Stumbling on Butterflies: The Enduring Appeal of the Time Travel Story
John Crowley, James Patrick Kelly, Ellen Klages, Allen Steele, Michael Swanwick (+M). Continuing in a recent Readercon tradition. A topic we've been passing over as a bit too familiar suddenly is irresistible -- because a GoH excels at it.
25.  Fr/08:00  [G]    Stop Defining SF!?
John Clute, Samuel R. Delany (+M), Moshe Feder, Edward James, Cecilia Tan. According to Samuel R. Delany (SFRA Review #247 and NYRSF, September 2000), what we call definitions of sf are actually "functional descriptions that apply more or less richly to a greater or a lesser amount of science fiction in more or less interesting ways." Furthermore, whenever we adopt a definition of sf, we exclude its parameters from subsequent argument, because we mean them to be axiomatic -- we deny ourselves the chance to use the terms of the definition for "interrogation and exploration." Delany therefore exhorts sf scholars to forgo the "definitional stance" and accept that sf (like all other genres) should be regarded as undefinable.
26.  Fr/08:00  [ME]   
Programmable Matter. Wil McCarthy. Chautauqua (60 min.). Can electrons trapped in quantum wells be manipulated into forming artificial atoms?
27.  Fr/08:00  [RI]    Bookaholics Anonymous Annual Meeting
Lois Powers (M); John R. Douglas, Nancy C. Hanger, Robert I. Katz, Terry McGarry, Andrew I. Porter, Sarah Smith. Discussion (60 min.). The most controversial of all 12-step groups. Despite the appearance of self-approbation, despite the formal public proclamations by members that they find their behavior humiliating and intend to change it, this group, in fact, secretly encourages its members to succumb to their addictions. The shame, in other words, is a sham. Learn about your illness. Explore the worst manifestations of this insidious vice. How bad are you? Take the test; face the truth. This year's meeting may prove to the most dangerous in recent Readercon history. Come find out why!
28.  Fr/08:00  [NH]   
Ellen Kushner reads from her and Delia Sherman's just-completed The Fall of the Kings. (60 min.).
29.  Fr/08:00  [VT]   
Michael Kandel reads "Foosh," a story about a man who through meditation exercises learns to love failure. (30 min.).
30.  Fr/08:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Hal Clement; Scott Edelman.
31.  Fr/08:30  [VT]   
Michael Cisco reads "Dr. Bondi's Methods" from his forthcoming collection, Secret Hours. (30 min.).
32.  Fr/09:00  [ME]    The Curse of the Unavoidable Friday the 13th Horror Panel
Craig Shaw Gardner, Leigh Grossman (+M), John Klima, Steven Sawicki, Darrell Schweitzer. Much horror fiction can be conceptualized as featuring an inimical or malign force, plus a set of circumstances which put ordinary people in its path. Very different flavors can be achieved, depending on whether the characters see the badness coming, or are blindsided. A discussion of the role of bad luck and superstitious dread in horror fiction.
33.  Fr/09:00  [RI]   
Procuring Favorite Authors By Happenstance, Proximity, and Flavor. Daniel P. Dern. Talk / Discussion (60 min.). Three semi-related observations by a bookaholic launch a discussion of favorite-author-collecting and -consuming strategies. Dern has discovered a number of favorite authors by sheer happenstance (e.g., seeing their book(s) in the library to-be-filed cart or New Books shelves, or in the "free books" shack at the recycling center) or by proximity in the library stack to another author whose books he was already grabbing. Many of these writers (especially non-sf ones) have become favorites because of the strong taste or flavor of their writing (in Dern's case, e.g. Steven Becker, James Lee Burke, Pat Conroy, Ross Thomas.) And the next step after finding a new author is often to find and consume the entire remainder of their catalog (interlibrary loans can prove helpful here.)
34.  Fr/09:00  [NH]   
Michael Swanwick reads either "The Dog Said Bow-Wow" or (if it's finished) "The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Fun." Both are light dramas about two con-men, Darger and Surplus, in the post-utopian future. And, Swanwick adds, "they have happy endings. Really. No, I mean it." (60 min.).
35.  Fr/09:00  [VT]   
Donald Kingsbury reads from Psychohistorical Crisis (forthcoming from Tor in November). (30 min.).
36.  Fr/09:30  [VT]   
Cecilia Tan reads from her just-published s/m science fiction adventure novel, The Velderet. Cyberspace, governmental oppression and taboo sexual desires take the forefront in the story, in which our protagonists start out exploring their erotic fantasies and end up fighting to save their planet from destruction. Can the perverts save their society, even as they subvert it from within? (30 min.).
**  Fr/10:00  [F/G]    Meet-the-Pro(s)e Party
All of the above and then some. Each writer at the party has selected a short, pithy quotation from their own work, and is armed with a sheet of 30 printed labels with that quote replicated on each. As attendees mingle and meet each pro, they obtain one of his or her labels, collecting them on the wax paper provided. Atheists, agnostics, and the lazy can leave them in the order they acquire them, resulting in one of at least Nine Billion Random Prose Poems. Those who believe in the reversal of entropy can rearrange them to make a Statement. Wearing labels as apparel is also popular. The total number of possibilities (linguistic and sartorial) is thought to exceed the number of still-functional synapses in George W. Bush's brain.


37.  Sa/-10:00  [F]    Fantasy And Stage Magic
Jeanne M. Cavelos, James D. Macdonald (+M), Melissa Scott, Sarah Smith, Michael Swanwick. "If we wish to create an illusion, it is not enough to conceal the particular device used; we must conceal the fact that any device exists." --Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurors, Henning Nelms. Writing fiction -- and especially fantasy fiction, with its seamless subcreation of entire worlds -- seems to have some intriguing parallels to performing illusions on stage. "The art of illusion is at least 95 per cent applied psychology ... a play does not take place on the stage but in the minds of the spectators."
38.  Sa/-10:00  [G]    The Career of David G. Hartwell
Kathryn Cramer, Samuel R. Delany, John R. Douglas (+M), Arthur D. Hlavaty, Patrick O'Leary.
39.  Sa/-10:00  [ME]   
The Nature of Memory, the Purpose of Sleep, and the Meaning of Dreams. Eric M. Van. Chautauqua (60 min.). Why do we remember some things and forget others? When does our brain decide which is which? An expansion and integration of existing theories of memory mechanisms and dream function.
40.  Sa/-10:00  [RI]   
Exploring Strange Worlds on Earth -- and Transforming the Experience into Fiction. Jeffrey A. Carver. Talk (30 min.).
41.  Sa/-10:00  [NH]   
Elizabeth Hand reads from her novella "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol," in honor of Joey Ramone. (30 min.).
42.  Sa/-10:00  [VT]   
Rosemary Kirstein reads from either The Lost Steersman (forthcoming from Del Rey), or from the in-progress, untitled fourth book of the same series. (30 min.).
43.  Sa/-10:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. John Clute; Donald Kingsbury.
44.  Sa/-10:00  [E]   
Autographs. Thomas A. Easton; Steven Sawicki.
45.  Sa/-10:30  [RI]   
How I'm Writing Coyote (a Work in Progress). Allen Steele. Talk (30 min.). This long novel is being written as novellas, novelettes, and short stories for Asimov's.
46.  Sa/-10:30  [NH]   
James Patrick Kelly reads two just-completed short-shorts, "You and I" and "The Meaning." (30 min.).
47.  Sa/-10:30  [VT]   
Wen Spencer reads the first chapter of Alien Taste, out just days ago from Roc. (30 min.).
48.  Sa/-11:00  [F]    Your Own Asterisks: The Erotic, the Explicit and the Personal
Samuel R. Delany (+M), Scott Edelman, Elizabeth Hand, Barry B. Longyear, Delia Sherman, Cecilia Tan. In a review (NYRSF, October 2000) of Cecilia Tan's collection Black Feathers, Candas Jane Dorsey admits a preference for the line of asterisks that, in conventional fiction, stands in for the explicit scenes in erotica. To her, erotica is most effective when it invokes the reader's imagination and own sexual vocabulary. Others find that well-written explicit erotica can arouse, by the sheer force of the author's passion -- even when they can take or leave the author's kinks. For what psychological or social reasons is the erotic personal for some of us, and more universal for others, so that two readers of the same text can react so differently?
49.  Sa/-11:00  [G]    An Editor and His Novelists
Suzy McKee Charnas, David G. Hartwell, Donald Kingsbury, Paul Levinson, Robert J. Sawyer (+M). Our editor Guest of Honor in conversation with several novelists he has worked with. We'll begin with each writer sharing a telling anecdote from their working relationship, and see if that leads us towards a better understanding of the editing process, and how the editor-writer relationship can vary.
50.  Sa/-11:00  [ME]   
Sound and Spirit, the Novelist's Public Radio Show. Ellen Kushner. Talk (60 min.). Since 1996 Kushner has been writer and host of a unique public radio show that is now on 120 stations nationwide; Bill Moyers has called it "the best show on public radio, bar none!" Kushner's being a writer of fiction has given the show a unique slant, and she's used the "tricks" of fiction to create effects on radio.
51.  Sa/-11:00  [RI]   
Stealth SF: SF-Like Themes in Non-SF Books. John Morressy. Talk / Discussion (60 min.). The qualities that sf readers look for can sometimes be found outside the genre. Novels like Conrad Richter's The Light In The Forest and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart deal with contact between unfamiliar human cultures, and are thus alien contact stories of a sort. Histories like Garrett Mattingly's The Armada and Stephen E. Ambrose's Nothing Like It In The World (about the transcontinental railroad) deal with human situations that have never before occurred, analogous to our era's leap into space.
52.  Sa/-11:00  [NH]   
John Crowley reads, for the first time anywhere, from The Translator (forthcoming March, 2002.) (60 min.).
53.  Sa/-11:00  [VT]   
Darrell Schweitzer reads "Envy, The Gardens of Ynath, and the Sin of Cain." Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a tentacled eldritch horror from Beyond? Schweitzer waited almost 30 years before seriously essaying a "Cthulhu Mythos" story. The result is anything but pastiche, incorporating some of Lovecraft's mythology in sneaky ways into an impressionistic, decidedly post-New Wave sort of story that doesn't mention the Necronomicon even once. Set in Vermont, Yuggoth, and a black hole at the end of the universe. (60 min.).
54.  Sa/-11:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Toni Anzetti, Geary Gravel, and Rosemary Kirstein; Wil McCarthy.
55.  Sa/-11:00  [E]   
Autographs. Kelly Link; Wen Spencer.
56.  Sa/12:00  [F]    Your Own Private Schenectady
Hal Clement, Barry B. Longyear, John Morressy, Melissa Scott, Michael Swanwick (+M). Notebooks, index cards, simple or elaborate filing systems, perfect recall -- writers have many different ways of organizing their ideas and works in progress. We wonder whether different systems of organization produce different flavors in the fiction -- perhaps without the writer's awareness.
57.  Sa/12:00  [G]    HAL 9000, AI Prophets 0
Jeanne M. Cavelos, Daniel P. Dern (+M), Daniel Hatch, Charles Platt, Stephen Popkes. It's 2001: Where's HAL? (Or Shalmaneser, for that matter.) The actual pace of progress in AI has been downright glacial compared to that predicted by scientists and sf visionaries alike. What went wrong? What does the future hold, realistically?
58.  Sa/12:00  [ME]   
Flight Snack Wrappers from the No-Fly Zone. John R. MacLeod. Talk / Discussion (60 min.). Impressions from a January 13 trip to Iraq with Conscience International, and some notes on international politics viewed through the prism of sf (Disch, Banks, et al). Images, sound clips, and the experience of being monitored by security spooks from both sides. Photos of Baghdad and Basra street scenes, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Ishtar Gate, and the ziggurat at Aqar Quf. Schools, families, agriculture and development. What we brought back from our trip. A limited number of 250 dinar notes, with Arabic numerals on one side and standard decimal on the other, will be distributed.
59.  Sa/12:00  [RI]    The Readercon Book Club
John Clute, Kevin J. Maroney, James Minz, Patrick O'Leary, Paul Witcover. Gene Wolfe's The Book of the Long Sun and its sequel, The Book of the Short Sun (which John Clute calls "a white hole which drinks you and gives you forth transformed"). Two consecutive 50-minute sessions.
60.  Sa/12:00  [NH]   
Paul Di Filippo reads "Neutrino Drag," a just-finished story. (60 min.).
61.  Sa/12:00  [VT]   
Kelly Link reads. (30 min.).
62.  Sa/12:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Andrew I. Porter; Delia Sherman.
63.  Sa/12:00  [E]   
Autographs. Michael Cisco; John Crowley.
64.  Sa/12:30  [VT]   
Madeleine E. Robins reads from Petty Treason, the in-progress sequel to Point of Honour (30 min.).
65.  Sa/01:00  [F]    Award Criteria.
Suzy McKee Charnas, Moshe Feder, David G. Hartwell (+M), Edward James, Charles C. Ryan. What are the qualities that voters for various f&sf awards (Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, etc.) look for? How do they compare to the qualities the broader contemporary readership looks for, and to those that actually make a book a classic to readers years later? If we are rewarding a somewhat different set of qualities, how does this affect individual writers, and the field as a whole?
66.  Sa/01:00  [G]    Explanatory Power in Science, Society and Fiction
James L. Cambias, Jeff Hecht, David Alexander Smith (+M), Sarah Smith, Jean-Louis Trudel. The best scientific theories are those which explain and unite a wide variety of phenomena in terms of a single overriding principle. This, of course, is also the M.O. of conspiracy theorists, and a favorite sf story structure. Hmm ... don't you see a pattern here? A discussion of this story structure both as it relates to others (e.g., conceptual breakthrough) and its real-world counterparts.
67.  Sa/01:00  [ME]   
The Odyssey Writing Workshop. Jeanne M. Cavelos. Talk (60 min.). An explanation of the workings of this intense six-week workshop for writers of sf, fantasy, and horror, held each summer at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH. Previous guest lecturers have included Dan Simmons, Harlan Ellison, Ben Bova, Jane Yolen, and Melissa Scott. Workshop director Cavelos will also discuss the pros and cons of writing workshops, and in what ways they can help -- or hurt -- developing writers.
59bis.  Sa/01:00  [RI]    The Readercon Book Club (continued)
John Clute, Kevin J. Maroney, James Minz, Patrick O'Leary, Paul Witcover.
68.  Sa/01:00  [NH]   
Lisa A. Barnett and Melissa Scott read the last section cut (with great reluctance and fondness by all involved) from Point of Dreams -- a description of a performance of "The Drowned Island," a play that is much mentioned in the book. (60 min.).
69.  Sa/01:00  [VT]   
Jeffrey A. Carver reads from Eternity's End. (30 min.).
70.  Sa/01:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Elizabeth Hand; Barry N. Malzberg.
71.  Sa/01:00  [E]   
Autographs. Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald.
72.  Sa/01:30  [VT]   
Daniel P. Dern reads either a finished-but-not-yet-submitted story story, from one of at least two longer works-in-progress, or a children's story. (30 min.).
73.  Sa/02:00  [F]    Reading Cinematically
Craig E. Engler, Jim Freund (+M), Greer Gilman, Connie Hirsch, John Morressy, Joey Zone. Most or all of us experience some kind of "movie in our head" when we read. How is it alike or different from a real movie? Has it been affected by watching them? Some of us, while reading, occasionally think of the actual movie that might be made from the book. After all, we are never going to actually see Gandalf and the Balrog fight on the Bridge of Khazad-Dum, and yet this December ... So there is a sense in which the film of the scene is imaginable in a way that the scene itself is not. Part of this tendency, too, may derive from the understanding that film has become far more popular than our own besieged and benighted medium; imagining the text as film may be a way of universalizing its message, by imagining its appeal to people we know will never read it. Does this add to the reading experience, or is it to be avoided?
74.  Sa/02:00  [G]    The Fiction of Michael Swanwick
Kathryn Cramer, Robert I. Katz, James Patrick Kelly, Jack McDevitt (+M), Gordon Van Gelder.
75.  Sa/02:00  [ME]   
How I Wrote The Jazz. Melissa Scott. Talk (30 min.).
76.  Sa/02:00  [RI]   
Working in the Small Press Wilderness. Kelly Link. Talk / Discussion (60 min.). Why go with the small presses?
77.  Sa/02:00  [NH]   
Ellen Brody reads "The Sitters" by Clifford D. Simak. (60 min.).
78.  Sa/02:00  [VT]   
Debra Doyle reads from a work in progress, most likely either A Working of Stars or The Apocalypse Door. (30 min.).
79.  Sa/02:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Paul Levinson; Yves Meynard.
80.  Sa/02:00  [E]   
Autographs. Elizabeth Hand; Cecilia Tan.
81.  Sa/02:30  [ME]   
On Writing (and Almost Finishing) A Very Long Book: Marcel, J.R.R., and I. John Crowley. Talk (30 min.). In Crowley's case, it's the three volumes (so far, of an eventual four) of Ægypt.
82.  Sa/02:30  [VT]   
Daniel Hatch reads. (30 min.).
83.  Sa/03:00  [F]    Egocentricism and Creativity
John Crowley, James Patrick Kelly (+M), Ellen Kushner, Barry N. Malzberg, Michael Swanwick, Cecilia Tan. "I'm Michael Swanwick, and with the possible exception of Gene Wolfe, I'm the best writer present today." This introduction at Readercon 1 (at the Wolfe appreciation panel!) drew big laughs for its nerve (and apparent self-delusion), but in retrospect it seems to be merely precognitive (Nabokov observes that "there is no more pure love in the world than the love a young writer has for the old writer he will someday become"). Swanwick now maintains that "modesty and a reasonable awareness of [one's] limitations have no place in a writing career."
84.  Sa/03:00  [G]    The Clothes Make the Man-Plus
Ellen Asher, Lisa A. Barnett, Thomas M. Disch, David G. Hartwell, James D. Macdonald, Delia Sherman (+M). Fashion and clothes play an important role in real-world social interactions and have changed in fascinating ways over time. How have writers of imaginative literature (ad)dressed this issue?
85.  Sa/03:00  [ME]   
Why Everyone Should Be Reading Science Fiction. Jack McDevitt. Discussion (60 min.). "I don't read the stuff myself." It's a comment sf writers hear quite often. McDevitt feels sorry for these people. Aside from the sheer joy, and its contributions toward developing scientists and engineers, and its use as a tool for English teachers working with reluctant students, what other benefits does sf bequeath on its readers? Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all could read it?
86.  Sa/03:00  [RI]   
Hypertext Tools for Writers.. Mark Bernstein with Sarah Smith. Talk (60 min.). One possible private Schenectady. Eastgate Systems publishes not only literary hypertext, but software tools which are ideal for writers who need to organize information.
87.  Sa/03:00  [NH]   
Barry B. Longyear reads "Bifrost Crossing," to appear in an upcoming Future War anthology. (60 min.).
88.  Sa/03:00  [VT]   
James Alan Gardner reads from Ascending (forthcoming from HarperCollins/Eos in November). (30 min.).
89.  Sa/03:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Jeanne M. Cavelos; Robert J. Sawyer.
90.  Sa/03:00  [E]   
Autographs. Jeffrey A. Carver; Paul Levinson.
91.  Sa/03:30  [VT]   
Steven Sawicki reads his novella "Invisible Friends (from Absolute Magnitude, Spring 2001), or from "Invisible Friends Too," its in-progress sequel. (30 min.).
92.  Sa/04:00  [F]    Michael Swanwick Interviewed by Darrell Schweitzer.
93.  Sa/05:00  [F]    David G. Hartwell Interviewed by Samuel R. Delany.
94.  Sa/08:00  [F/G]    The 16th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition.
Craig Shaw Gardner (+M), Glenn Grant, Geary Gravel, Shariann Lewitt, Eric M. Van (+M). (75 min.) Our traditional evening entertainment, named in memory of the pseudonym and alter ego of Jonathan Herovit of Barry Malzberg's Herovit's World. Ringleader Craig Shaw Gardner reads a passage of unidentified but genuine, published, bad sf, fantasy, or horror prose, which has been truncated in mid-sentence. Each of our panelists -- Craig and his co-moderator Eric M. Van, new champion Shariann Lewitt, former thirteen-time champion Geary Gravel, and new challenger Glenn Grant -- then reads an ending for the passage. One ending is the real one; the others are imposters concocted by our contestants (including Craig) ahead of time. None of the players knows who wrote any passage other than their own, except for Eric, who gets to play God as a reward for the truly onerous duty of unearthing these gems. Craig then asks for the audience vote on the authenticity of each passage (recapping each in turn by quoting a pithy phrase or three from them), and the Ace Readercon Joint Census Team counts up each show of hands faster than you can say "Bambi pranced." Eric then reveals the truth. Each contestant receives a point for each audience member they fooled, while the audience collectively scores a point for everyone who spots the real answer. As a rule, the audience finishes third or fourth. Warning: the Sturgeon General has determined that this trash is hazardous to your health, should you be recovering from fractured ribs, pulled stomach muscles, or the like (i.e., if it hurts to laugh, you're in big trouble).
95.  Sa/09:30  [F/G]    The James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award Benefit Auction.
Ellen Klages.


**  Su/-08:30  [Nan]    Closed Writers' Workshop.
96.  Su/-10:00  [F]    Lather, Rinse, Repeat: Personal and Cultural Rediscovery.
Ellen Asher, Thomas M. Disch, Fred Lerner (+M), Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Andrew I. Porter, Darrell Schweitzer. We've talked about how our tastes change as we mature, so that a book we loved as a child and scorned as a young adult may eventually find renewed favor. And we've talked about how writers' reputations (e.g., James Branch Cabell's) ebb and flow as decades pass. It just occurred to us that the two are cognate phenomena which might be fruitfully compared. Is their a natural embrace --> reject --> reassess cycle, and, if so, where does it come from?
97.  Su/-10:00  [G]    SF Mysteries: Balancing the Tropes.
Don D'Ammassa, Alexander Jablokov (+M), Paul Levinson, Wil McCarthy, Wen Spencer. There are actually two diametrically opposite types of sf / mystery hybrid: you can have an sf crime and conventional detective techniques, or a conventional crime and sf detection. How do the flavors of (and possibly, audiences for) the two types of hybrid differ? Do you risk losing (at least) the mystery reader if you make both the crime and detection sfnal?
98.  Su/-10:00  [ME]    Hope Mirrlees.
John Clute, Greer Gilman, Elizabeth Hand, Michael Swanwick (+M). Michael Swanwick has been researching the fascinating life of the author of the fantasy classic Lud-in-the-Mist.
99.  Su/-10:00  [RI]   
Telesentience: How to Review Science Fiction, and Why.. David G. Hartwell. Talk (30 min.).
100.  Su/-10:00  [NH]   
Scott Edelman reads "My Life is Good," an alternate history Randy Newman story, forthcoming in early 2002 in Andy Duncan's and F. Brett Cox's anthology Crossroads: Southern Stories of the Fantastic. (60 min.).
101.  Su/-10:00  [VT]   
Daniel Pearlman reads "Spellchecked," from his new collection The Best-Known Man in the World & Other Misfits. (30 min.).
102.  Su/-10:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Patrick O'Leary; Ian Randal Strock.
103.  Su/-10:00  [E]   
Autographs. Barry B. Longyear; Jack McDevitt.
104.  Su/-10:30  [VT]   
Robert I. Katz reads from Edward Maret: A Novel of the Future, a story of a young man who is rich, carefree and engaged to be married, but who has enemies; leading to betrayal, revenge and long-sought redemption. (30 min.).
105.  Su/-11:00  [F]    The Fiction of Clifford D. Simak.
Gregory Feeley, David G. Hartwell (+M), Ken Houghton, Lissanne Lake, Jonathan Lethem, Barry N. Malzberg.
106.  Su/-11:00  [G]    The Single-Author Collection.
Paul Di Filippo (M); Scott Edelman, Marty Halpern, Kelly Link, Allen Steele, Gordon Van Gelder. Always a specialty of the small press, they are now rare from major publishers. How do you choose the stories to make a collection more than the sum of its parts? What's it like for a writer to review and reflect on such a large body of their work? We agree on the importance of such collections as a career signpost or landmark -- why did they lose favor with the average book-buyer, and are there ways to restore it?
107.  Su/-11:00  [ME]    The Vingean Singularity.
Glenn Grant, Donald Kingsbury, Charles Platt (+M), Jean-Louis Trudel. Vernor Vinge has proposed that the inevitable creation of super-human machine intelligences, sometime this century, will create change so profound that what lies beyond may literally be unimaginable.
108.  Su/-11:00  [RI]   
The Interstitial Arts Movement. Heinz Insu Fenkl with Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman. Talk / Discussion (60 min.). Interstitial Arts ( are literary, visual, and performance arts that blur or abolish the boundaries drawn between genres and art disciplines. This presentation will include the announcement of the creation of ISIS -- The Interstitial Studies Institute -- at SUNY New Paltz, which will begin next summer with a 2-week intensive writers' workshop geared toward those whose works fall between current genre categories. Audience members are invited to contribute ideas about the meaning and function of such an institute.
109.  Su/-11:00  [NH]   
Greer Gilman reads from three linked stories: "Jack Daw's Pack," "A Crowd of Bone," and/or "Unleaving." (60 min.).
110.  Su/-11:00  [VT]   
Paul Witcover reads a chapter from work-in-progress Tumbling After. (30 min.).
111.  Su/-11:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Michael A. Burstein; John Crowley.
112.  Su/-11:00  [E]   
Autographs. Michael Swanwick; Samuel R. Delany.
113.  Su/-11:30  [VT]   
Toni Anzetti reads from the just-completed Steel Helix, set in the same universe as Typhon's Children and Riders of Leviathan, but in a different place and time. (30 min.).
114.  Su/12:00  [F]    Forget This Blurb: Amnesia Fiction.
John Clute, Shira Daemon, Thomas M. Disch, Glenn Grant, Jonathan Lethem (+M), Kelly Link. "Fiction that, more than just presenting a character who has suffered memory loss, enters into an amnesiac state at some level of the narrative itself -- and invites the reader to do the same. Fiction that makes something of the white spaces that are fiction's native habitat." --Jonathan Lethem, in the introduction to his terrific new anthology The Vintage Book of Amnesia (whose table of contents and introduction will give a much better idea of what this panel is about than any blurb we could write).
115.  Su/12:00  [G]    Thank God I'm a Country 'Droid: Pastoral SF.
Toni Anzetti, Jeffrey A. Carver, Thomas A. Easton, Gregory Feeley (+M), Geary Gravel. There's an unspoken rough pair of equations which goes sf = future = technical / urban; fantasy = past = pastoral (in the broad sense of positively portraying the rural). But much interesting sf (starting with much of Simak) has broken this pattern, either by imagining virginal other planets, or unexpected futures here on Earth. As real life countryside becomes rarer and therefore more psychologically potent, might we see more such tales?
116.  Su/12:00  [ME]   
Medievalist Millionaires and their Dream Castles.. Faye Ringel. Chautauqua (30 min.). From the 1890s through the 1930s, America's industrialist nouveau-riche created their own fantastic vision of the European Middle Ages on American soil. By doing so, they inspired succeeding generations of medievalists and fantasy readers to dream about knights, castles, and tournaments. But the industrialists -- it's no coincidence that we refer to them "Robber Barons" -- didn't just build castles: within their private worlds, they succeeded in living out their fantasies of feudalism. J.P. Morgan, the Vanderbilts, John D. Rockefeller and others saw themselves as the new American aristocracy. Ringel will explain this aspect of America's Gothic vision, focusing on two castles within a short drive of Readercon: the John Woodman Higgins Armory in Worcester, and the John Hays Hammond Castle in Gloucester.
117.  Su/12:00  [RI]   
Writing About Technology for the Technophobic.. Nancy C. Hanger. Discussion (30 min.).
118.  Su/12:00  [NH]   
John Morressy reads a brand new story, as yet untitled. (60 min.).
119.  Su/12:00  [VT]   
Michael A. Burstein and Shane Tourtellotte read their just-published novella, "Bug Out!" (Analog, July/August 2001). (60 min.).
120.  Su/12:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Daniel P. Dern; Barry B. Longyear.
121.  Su/12:00  [E]   
Autographs. David G. Hartwell; Kathryn Cramer.
122.  Su/12:30  [ME]   
The Hospital of the Future.. Robert I. Katz. Chautauqua (30 min.).
123.  Su/12:30  [RI] Paul Witcover. Talk (30 min.). A presentation on Time Warner's eBook publishing company and online writing community, by its sf editor.
124.  Su/01:00  [F]    The Fantasy Archipelago Revisited.
John Clute, Paul Di Filippo (+M), Ellen Kushner, Yves Meynard, Michael Swanwick. In his 1994 essay "In the Tradition ...", Michael Swanwick argued that works which are (at least initially) sui generis hold a central and key place within fantasy. Tolkien, Howard, Eddison, and Peake begin the list of classic examples; contemporary ones begin with John Crowley's Little, Big and include Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint and Greer Gilman's Moonwise. Was Swanwick right? How practical and useful is his distinction between works which are fundamentally original, and those which gravitate towards an established genre or otherwise plainly show their influences? What works can we add to his list?
125.  Su/01:00  [G]    Print-on-Demand: The Backlist Revolution.
Nancy C. Hanger, John Klima, Barry B. Longyear (+M), Charles Platt, Paul Witcover. For years we've complained about the unavailability of classic genre works that have gone out of print. But if (even so obscure a title as) Next Door to the Sun by Stanton A. Coblentz is now available through print-on-demand, can there soon be many titles left unavailable? The new technology of POD is starting to change things -- in what could be a dramatic way.
126.  Su/01:00  [ME]   
How I Wrote Rebel Sutra.. Shariann Lewitt. Talk (30 min.).
127.  Su/01:00  [RI]   
French SF and SF in French. Jean-Louis Trudel. Talk (30 min.). Yes, it's back! The yearly review of what's up and who's down in French-language sf over the past year, by one of the leading francophone sf authors.
128.  Su/01:00  [NH]   
Paul Levinson reads the first chapter of his just-completed The Consciousness Plague, featuring NYPD forensic detective Dr. Phil D'Amato. Memory loss -- in slivers of time deducted from growing numbers of individual lives -- subtly undermines and plays havoc with everything from candlelight dinners to the investigation of serial stranglings. (30 min.).
129.  Su/01:00  [VT]   
James L. Cambias reads either "A Diagram of Rapture," "The Alien Abduction" or the forthcoming "See My King All Dressed In Red" (audience's choice). (30 min.).
130.  Su/01:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsches. Samuel R. Delany; James Alan Gardner.
131.  Su/01:30  [ME]   
How I Wrote Deepsix. Jack McDevitt.
132.  Su/01:30  [NH]   
Ellen Klages reads. (30 min.).
133.  Su/01:30  [VT]   
Aline Boucher Kaplan reads from The Fires of Change, the in-progress second volume of The Demons of Godsworld. Having crossed the line from lands settled by fundamentalist believers into a demon-haunted wilderness, Channik and Dorrevin must confront a reality in which accepted truth is a lie, not every demon has fangs, and they must change everything they've ever known. (30 min.).
134.  Su/02:00  [F]    Hard SF as a Fight Against Entropy.
David G. Hartwell (M); Jeffrey A. Carver, Hal Clement, Shariann Lewitt, Wil McCarthy, Peter Watts. "The universe ... falls inevitably into a vortex of entropy, but within this irreversible process there may be areas of order ... A work of literature is one of those minimal portions" --Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium. This seems to us especially true of sf, and quintessentially so of hard sf. In both form and content, much hard sf seems to be about waging the war against entropy, where the production of order in a universe often hell-bent on chaos provides an island of catharsis and relief for both the characters and the reader. But we just read the stuff -- what do the folks who write it think?
135.  Su/02:00  [G]    If You Liked Harry Potter ...
Toni Anzetti, James L. Cambias, Michael Cisco, Farah Mendlesohn, Faye Ringel (+M). We promised a certain twelve-year-old we'd do this recommended reading panel. Digressions onto the art of matching the kid (or adult) to the book are welcome.
136.  Su/02:00  [NH]   
Jack McDevitt reads "Nothing Ever Happens in Rock City," a short-short about the liquor store owner in a town where the E.T. signal is finally heard, and from Deepsix. (60 min.).
137.  Su/02:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsch. Michael Swanwick.
138.  Su/03:00  [630]   
Kaffeeklatsch. David G. Hartwell.
***  Su/03:00  [F]    Readercon13 Debriefing / Critique.
Members of the Readercon13 Committee.