Readercon, Day 3

Waking up was hard. I had planned on going to the ten o’clock panel, but by the time we checked out and put our luggage in the car it was 10:30. We wound up catching up with some folks and chatting until the eleven o’clock panels started.

I went to the Interstitial Arts discussion, which was talking fiction that falls between the cracks of genre. I have to say, that I felt as if I were hearing conversations about the role of puppetry in the larger theater context. Puppetry tried to coin the term “figure theater,” which some people still use, to suggest puppetry for adults. I think that coming up with a term is not about creating the art or fiction, but about trying to expand audience. The most effective things that puppetry has been doing to expand its audience is to work to become incorporated into mainstream fiction. Take Lion King, it’s a great big puppet show, but no one thinks of it that way. They think of it as theater which incorporates puppetry and mask. Even so, it opened up Broadway to Avenue Q. So to me, it makes the most sense for someone whose fiction falls between the cracks to say, “I write fiction which incorporates elements of fantasy, science fiction and…” or “I write literary fiction through the lens of classical mythology.” I mean, why make up a new term knowing the definition will shift? Why not just make the definition shift of the existing words?

Anyway. After that, I went to a panel called, “Social Class and Speculative Fiction.” The program description said, “Any completely satisfactory imaginary world will include some sort of class structure (not necessarily rigid or hierarchical), or an explanation for its absence. Are all novels without social class utopian by definition?” I thought this sounded very interesting, but the moderator shifted the focus to the mythology of social mobility in America. While this is an interesting topic, it is not what I came to hear. It was frustrating. China Mieville did touch briefly on some things about the myth of the single protagonist that causes great societal change. Which made me want to ask a question I’ve long wondered about, but I couldn’t get it in so I’ll ask it here. Why there are so few small-scale fantasy novels? I mean, it’s all “the pig boy who became king,” why aren’t there more novels which are “the pig boy who fell in love with the miller’s daughter?” The same for science fiction. Everything seems to be about “the fate of the universe,” but clearly it is possible to support novels with smaller personal stories, or the vast majority of literary fiction wouldn’t exist. What is it about the speculative genres which encourages these sweeping plots?

I had lunch outside with Joy. It’s so nice to eat outside. Ah, warmth.

During the lull after I ate, I took advantage of the hotel shuttle to run to the mall and pick up shoes for the wardrobe department. It was interesting watching the sales clerks try to figure out why I was asking about a shoe size which I clearly did not wear.

David Louis Edelman
David Louis Edelman
Once I had the shopping finished, I went back to the hotel to say goodbye to everyone. David Louis Edelman offered to share the cab that he and John Scalzi were taking to the airport. This was the best offer I got all weekend. David is funny, charming and a real gentleman.
John Scalzi
John Scalzi
Scalzi was ridiculous, fun and if you can make him blush, the tips of his ears turn red. The conversation ranged from astronomy to Civil War to book tours to the World Cup. And then they had to catch a plane.

I spent the time waiting for my plane catching up on email and instant messaging. I was so tired it hurt. I got lucky on the plane. I had asked for a window seat, so I could lean against the wall and sleep. Instead, I got a seat in the middle aisle but no one else was in my row. As soon as we reached cruising altitude, I stretched out across all three seats and slept.

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2 Responses

  1. -e-

    are we to understand that you are now back in Iceland? You must be, as the plane ride clearly in the past. How does it feel?

  2. Mary Robinette Kowal

    It feels completely normal. I noticed the sulfur smell in the shower when I first turned the hot water on yesterday and then aclimated to it very quickly. I didn’t notice at all this morning.