Posts Tagged ‘Readercon’

My Readercon 2011 schedule

I’m heading to Readercon this month, which is one of my favorite conventions.  Here’s my schedule.  I’ll have the tiny puppet show and the Shades and Glamour game cards with me.

Thursday July 14

  • 8:00 PM F    Mastering the Puppets. Erik Amundsen, Gwendolyn Clare, John Crowley, Mary Robinette Kowal (leader), Barry N. Malzberg.Catherynne M. Valente uses the phrase “touching the puppets” as critical shorthand for protagonists–and, by extension, stories–interacting with fantastical elements rather than merely coexisting with them. Copious puppet-touching creates an inherently speculative story (e.g. City of Saints and Madmen), but plenty of stories with speculative settings succeed despite leaving the puppets relatively untouched (e.g. Star Wars, in which the droids could be people and the lightsabers could be swords without changing the story at all). What makes those stories work for speculative fiction audiences? What are the advantages and disadvantages to touching the puppets, and what drives an author to go one way or the other?

Friday July 15

  • 11:00 AM Vin.    Kaffeeklatsch. Ellen Klages, Mary Robinette Kowal.
  • 2:00 PM NH    “Until Forgiveness Comes” group reading. K. Tempest Bradford, Jim Freund, Andrea Hairston, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ellen Kushner, Pan Morigan. A live performance of the radio play based on K. Tempest Bradford’s story “Until Forgiveness Comes.”
  • 4:00 PM ME    Vocal Performance for Writers. Jim Freund, Andrea Hairston, Mary Robinette Kowal, Pan Morigan. This two-hour workshop will cover a wide variety of tips and techniques for writers who read aloud, speak on panels, record podcasts, and otherwise use their voices. Full-body warm-ups will help free your voice for vocal exercises. We’ll also share suggestions for choosing a text, coping with different kinds of amplification and recording equipment, and preparing for interviews and Q&As.

Saturday July 16

  • 1:30 PM NH    Reading. Mary Robinette Kowal. Kowal reads from a work not yet selected.
  • 8:00 PM F    The 25th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. Mike Allen, Craig Shaw Gardner (leader), Mary Robinette Kowal, Yves Meynard, Eric M. Van (moderator). Our traditional evening entertainment, named in memory of the pseudonym and alter ego of Jonathan Herovit of Barry N. Malzberg’s Herovit’s World. Here’s how it works: 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 then reads an ending for the passage. One ending is the real one; the others are impostors. None of the players knows who wrote any passage other than their own, except for co-ringleader Eric M. Van, 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 “Twinkies of Terror.” 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; i.e., if it hurts to laugh, you’re in big trouble.

Sunday July 17

  • 12:00 PM F    A Fate Worse than Death: Narrative Treatment of Permanent Physical Harm. John Crowley, Glenn Grant, Mary Robinette Kowal, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Alicia Verlager (leader). Cinderella’s sisters cut off parts of their feet. Rapunzel’s prince loses his eyes to a thorn bush. But in present-day fantasy, it seems less shocking to kill a character than to significantly and permanently damage their physical form; witness the thousands of deaths in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series that don’t get nearly as much airtime as one character losing a hand. What changed–for storytellers, and for audiences? How does this fit in with our culture’s mainstream acceptance of violence alongside an obsession with youth and physical perfection? As medical advances help people survive and thrive after drastic injuries, will there be more stories that explore these topics?

 

Readercon 2010: Saturday

Today was much more low-key. I spent the morning in the lobby trying to get caught up on some writing and business.  As usual, I intended to go to panels and instead wound up spending most of my time in the hall talking to people.

The keen hall conversation moment was when Stephanie Kwandrans gave me a Jane Austen journal. It’s a pretty little thing and totally unexpected.

I headed from there up to participate in the Theodore Sturgeon readings. It’s a pretty cool thing. The Sturgeon estate and Readercon coordinated to have various SF authors reading Sturgeon stories throughout the weekend.  I read The Professor’s Teddy Bear, which is a seriously creepy story.

From there I went to the launch party for Amelia Beamer’s new novel, The Loving Dead. It’s been getting a lot of good buzz and I’m looking forward to reading it.

And then the highlight of my Readercon weekend. I was a challenger in the Kirk Poland Bad Prose contest.  Five passages of published SF, which are truly dreadful, are read stopping mid-sentence and then the contestants finish them. (We get them ahead of time.) Every time you fool the audience, you get a point. Every time the audience guesses which is the correct passage, they get a point.

Yves Meynard is a five-time champion at this and I had no illusions about my ability to unseat him. To my surprise, I was actually in the lead for two rounds. Of course, the master triumphed in the end.

The interesting thing about this contest is that the goal, as a writer, isn’t merely to write badly but to write in someone else’s style. It’s an interesting exercise.

And then, of course, parties.

Oh! Oh! I also got an ARC of the book the Rose Fox put together The Wonderful Future That Never Was: Flying Cars, Mail Delivery by Parachute, and Other Predictions from the Past (Popular Mechanics Magazine). It is so full of win that I can’t wait to have time to sit down with it.

Let’s see… I haven’t mentioned talking to, among others, Nancy Brauer, Nightwing Whitehead, Mishell Baker, Nalo Hopkinson, Sandra Kasturi, Cheysa Burke, Brett Savory, Bernard Goodman, Ted Chiang, Jeremy Lassen, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ben Rosenbaum, Jon Armstrong, James Cambias or Diane Kelly.  Diane, by the way, is working on truly fascinating research involving ducks.


Readercon 2010: Friday

As always, Readercon is PACKED with people that I adore.  I started out the day by hanging out with Paolo Bacigalupi and Ben Rosenbaum as I added the “dance cards” to the promo fans. We had a serious and fun conversation about shareable economies based on the fact that Paolo, Ben, and I all have stories at Shareable.net.

From there it was off to hear David Anthony Durham read a section from his new novel in the Acacia trilogy.  So good! I can’t wait till book three comes out.

I was on the  “Alternatives to the Pay per Copy system” panel which was actually a really interesting panel. Charlie Stross has this proposed system for how to revamp copyright law and shift the way authors are paid for digital content that was astounding to hear because it would work.  And of course will never, ever be adopted.

There was a reading of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and I was scheduled to be Lysander but got moved to Titania to John Crowley’s Oberon and Mike Allen’s Bottom.  Both gentlemen turned in fine performances.  It was a fun, fun reading.  I elected to read Titania as a sort of Blanche DuBois.

I went straight from there to the Influence as Contagion panel. As soon as I walked in, I thought that it was an intimidating line-up of all-stars. Jack Haringa, James Morrow, Howard Waldrop, Allen Steele and Resa Nelson.  Allen and I were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum during the conversation. I tend to fall into the camp of welcoming influences. My general and greatly simplified feeling is that if I’m reading a writer that is better than me, why wouldn’t I want the good bits to stick?

Then I had an actual break!

I had signed up for autographing, even though I only have short fiction out, and settled in to chat with Alan DeNiro and John Kessell. Much to my surprise, the whole sandalwood fan thing turned out to be quite the draw.  I can now heartily recommend having a giveaway when you are sitting a the autograph table with a book pending.  Folks stopped by to get the freebie and then we chatted about Shades of Milk and Honey.  Handy.

After that I went on to be the moderator for a panel called “Drop Out, Write On” in which all the panelists were college dropouts. Nalo Hopkinson, Samuel R. Delany, Barry Longyear, and Elaine Issak, with me moderating.  To varying degrees we all left because college wasn’t working for us but the way it wasn’t worried varied wildly.

Now is the point where I should try to remember everyone that I hung out with yesterday, partly so I can remember that I hung out with them and or met them.  This is also where my brain will let me down, so if we met yesterday feel free to remind me in comments.

The list would include: Nevenah Smith, David Lubkin, Blake Charlton, Gemma Files, Stephen J. Barringer, Liz Gorinsky, Konrad Walewski, Ken Schneyer, Liz Argall, Yves Meynard, er… I know there are more of you than that.

Mary’s Thursday Readercon schedule

I’m heading up on the train to Readercon today. If you are looking for me, I’ll be attending Barry Longyear’s talk at 8:00 tonight.

Imagine or Die
8:00 PM, Salon G
Talk / Discussion (90 min.)

A writer without a working imagination is stymied. We’ll take about the care and feeding of imagination, how to unleash it and let it run.
Barry B. Longyear with discussion by Lauren P. Burka, Gemma Files, Elaine Isaak, Mary Robinette Kowal, K. A. Laity, Resa Nelson.

My 2010 Readercon Schedule

This year at Readercon looks like it will be loads of fun.  In particular because for the first time, I get to participate in the Kirk Poland Memorial Prose Competition. I am SO looking forward to that. Also feel free to catch me if you want to ask SFWA questions at any point over the course of the weekend.

Thursday

Imagine or Die
8:00 PM, Salon G
Talk / Discussion (90 min.)

A writer without a working imagination is stymied. We’ll take about the care and feeding of imagination, how to unleash it and let it run.
Barry B. Longyear with discussion by Lauren P. Burka, Gemma Files, Elaine Isaak, Mary Robinette Kowal, K. A. Laity, Resa Nelson.

Friday

Alternatives to the Pay-Per-Copy System of Author Compensation
12:00 Noon, ME/ CT
Panel

Paying writers or publishers for each copy of the work sold is a system that developed in response to the invention of the printing press. Now that physical copies are no longer necessary, and may no longer be the most convenient or popular means of consuming literature, what method of compensation or revenue generation should be attempted? A donation system? A system of teasers, where the reader pays to see the remainder of the work? A “membership” system, in which paid members get special access to drafts or extra materials? A “service” system?
Mary Robinette Kowal, Barbara Krasnoff, Eugene Mirabelli, Ken Schneyer (L), Charles Stross.

A Dramatic Reading of _A Midsummer Night’s Dream_, Act III
1:00 PM, RI
Event (60 min.)
Mike Allen, Inanna Arthen, John Crowley, Ron Drummond, Lila Garrott, Greer Gilman, Adam Golaski, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Langan, Shira Lipkin, Benjamin Rosenbaum.

Don’t Sneeze on Me, Ridley Scott!: Influence as Contagion
3:00 PM, Salon F: Panel

William Gibson famously walked out after the first twenty minutes of Blade Runner out of concern that it would influence his unfinished Neuromancer manuscript — an “anxiety of influence” seemingly opposed to the “ecstasy of influence” we’ve talked about in the past. How common is this reaction? What might make it a good idea? Is avoiding transient contemporaneous influence tantamount to ignoring the zeitgeist? If so, how do writers strike the proper balance?
Jack M. Haringa (L), Mary Robinette Kowal, James Morrow, Resa Nelson, Allen Steele, Howard Waldrop.

Autographing
5:00 PM

Drop Out, Write On
7:00 PM, Salon F: Panel

Our panelists, all college drop-outs, discuss the ways that their unconventional career tracks have influenced their fiction writing.
Samuel R. Delany, Nalo Hopkinson, Elaine Isaak, Mary Robinette Kowal (L), Barry B. Longyear

Saturday

Theodore Sturgeon Short Story Reading: “The Professor’s Teddy Bear” (1948) Vol. 4
2:00 PM, Suite 730

I read the classic Sturgeon story about a boy with an attachment to a peculiar stuffed animal has a strange relationship to a professor in the future.

The 24th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition
8:00 PM, Salons F & G
: Event (115 min.)

Our traditional evening entertainment, named in memory of the pseudonym and alter ego of Jonathan Herovit of Barry N. Malzberg’s Herovit’s World. Here’s how it works: 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, five-time champion Yves Meynard, and new challengers Mike Allen and Mary Robinette Kowal–then reads an ending for the passage. One ending is the real one; the others are imposters. 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 “Twinkies of Terror.” 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; i.e., if it hurts to laugh, you’re in big trouble. Note: this year’s competition will feature an as-yet undetermined mixture of new passages and “best of” highlights.

Sunday

Kaffeeklatsch
12:00 Noon, Vinyard

Reading
2:00 PM, NH/MA
I’ll be reading from my debut novel, Shades of Milk and Honey.

Home from Readercon 09

I’m home from Readercon, which was fantastic as always.  I managed to get my daily wordcount in somehow and wrapped up Chapter 4 on the train.

At the moment, I’m heading to bed and husband. Talk to you all tomorrow.

What Would a Steampunk Gibson Chair Look Like?

The Steampunk Gibson Chairio9 covered our panel on steampunk design.

One of the most interesting panels at this year’s Readercon was an exploration of the steampunk design movement, as it emerged into the mainstream with May’s New York Times Style article. Writer/puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal, YA fantasy novelist Holly Black, Tor editor Liz Gorinsky, and speculative fiction writer Sarah Micklem gathered to show off their steampunk creations, discuss steampunk’s literary origins, share their favorite steampunk websites … and, of course, to design a Gibson chair for the fannish masses.

I told someone that I had been tempted to take an easel and pad and draw the chair as we designed it, using a Morris Chair ((The title of the panel relates to Gibson Girls, William Gibson and the Morris Chair)) as the base. Ha! Like I’d have been able to do that and participate in the discussion at the same time.

But… I did do it this morning over breakfast, after a commenter in the thread at io9 suggested that such a thing might be made if only there were a design.

Back in NYC from Readercon 8

I spent the train trip alternating between writing a new short story and reading Ekaterina Sedia’s Alchemy of Stone. I say “alternated” by which I mean that I took a break from writing the story, read half of Alchemy and then we were in NYC.

The apartment is empty without Rob, again, but he left me a note ((No. That’s private)) and dinner in the fridge.  I caught up on SFWA stuff over cold sesame noodles and now I’m headed off to bed.

Readercon 08: Day Two and Three

Saturday I went to fewer panels and spent more time hanging out with friends.

The morning started with the Codex breakfast, which featured a completely different group of Codexians than we had at the retreat. It was good to see Elaine Isaak, Doug Cohen, Joy Marchand, ((Did not get enough time with Joy)) Cat Rambo, David Walton, Erin Underwood and Will McIntosh, who brought his lovely wife. We also had the special guests Kris Dikeman and Justine Graykin ((who was in Shimmer’s Pirate issue)) joining us. It’s fun to catch up with writers who I know online but only get to see at cons.

After that, I headed for a panel, walked into the room which was FREEZING and decided to go get a sweater and, um, took a nap instead of returning.

Had lunch with Amy Tibbets, John Joseph Adams, Chris Cevasco, Doug Cohen and then two people whose names I should remember in full because I really liked both of them. Amy Eastment, the mask making engineer, and John the horror writer. ((I should start taking notes, because I am such crap with names.))

I listened to Ekaterina Sedia talk about how she wrote Alchemy of Stone. The book sounded fascinating so I picked up a copy and the first chapter is great. I’m looking forward to continuing the book on the train trip home. The main character is a mechanical girl! Sweet.

I also got to spend a lot of time hanging out with David Anthony Durham, ((Campbell nominee and author of Acacia)) who is one of my new favorite people. On Friday he hosted an interesting discussion about crossing over into SF. The gist of which is that there’s not that much difference between writing a historic novel and a fantasy novel, in that you are still having to let the reader know about customs and lands with which they are unfamiliar. Still have to create compelling characters and dynamic plots. The difference comes in how it’s marketed.

Let’s see… Sunday I went out for coffee with Mary Hobbson and Genevieve Valentine then headed off to the panel on the Aesthetics of Online Magazines. They spent way too much time talking about the market forces of online magazines. Granted, that informs the aesthetic, but I wanted to hear more about the aesthetics of content and form.

My panel on podcasting was similar, I think. We covered some interesting topics, but mostly it devolved into a “please use your microphone responsibly” ((I am guilty of causing one of those tangents)) with some brief flourishes of “this is where podcasting can go.” Liz Gorinsky had some good things to say about how other fields handle podcasting, but we kept tangenting away from those points so I’ll have to find her later and see what she had to say that we skipped.

On the whole it was a grand time. Highlights include: sushi with David Anthony Durham, drinks with Jenn Jackson and Michael Curry, ((not the award-winning puppeteer)) the Codex breakfast, reading with my Tabula Rasa group — who had rocking stories that I’d never heard, and Friday’s steampunk panel.

Tomorrow, I leave all this behind and build that springer spaniel.

Readercon Day One

Well the kaffeeklatsch went well. I was with Scott Edelman, who was delightful. We had a nice group of people visiting with us. Whose names I remembered earlier, but my brain is a sieve now.

The Tabula Rasa reading also went well. I only stumbled once, ironically not in one of the place where I rewrote as I was reading.

… I just realized that I’m only going to say that things were good because I’m too sleepy to offer critical commentary.

I somehow wound up on the nursery train on the way up. There were fifteen children, though I didn’t realize this until enduring most of the trip with occasional outbursts. I suspect that on the whole each child was well-behaved and only cried once but the cumulative effect was of a constant stream of cries. They seemed to know when I was about to drop off into slumber and target their cry then.

This is the third time I’ve come to Readercon sleep-deprived and I’m coming to think that it must just be the way the con is supposed to be for me.

Off to Readercon 08

I’m heading out to catch the train.

On today’s schedule:
Friday 12:00 Noon
Vinyard: Kaffeeklatsch

Friday 1:00 PM
VT: Tabula Rasa Group Reading

Friday 5:00 PM
ME/ CT: Steampunk and Beyond: What Would a “Gibson Chair” Look Like?

See you all shortly.

Rob is home!

We spent the last two hours or so catching up and hearing the stories of the film shoot. He’s taking a nap now and I’m going to finish the last of my packing. Heading up bright and early to Readercon tomorrow to be there for my kaffeeklatsch at noon.

It’s 2:30 a.m.

I’m still up and, thinking about how often and easily I stay up this late, I’ve decided to take the 3:15 a.m. train to Readercon on Friday.  I miss Rob (just in case you couldn’t tell from the schmaltzy posts this week) and would rather be tired during the con than miss seeing him by an hour.

This plan may change if he calls me in the morning and says that they are extending the shoot.  Which, given the French Farce of our travel plans, seems likely.

Pining for Rob

I talked to Rob very briefly tonight.  The area he’s in gets spotty cellphone coverage, at best, so I’ve had one text message from him, but otherwise it’s been radio silence.  He found a place tonight where, if he didn’t turn his head, I could hear him.  le sigh. I miss him.

Which is absurd, when you think about it. I mean, I worked in Iceland for six months without him.  For the first three years of our marriage we spent about half of it apart due to our varying schedules. Being separated is not a new thing.

But, it’s the first time I’ve been alone in the apartment without him and all the near misses of our schedule for the next month are comic.

We just had the realization that even if I take the last train from NYC to Boston, it will still depart before he arrives back from the film shoot.  So now I’m trying to decide if I want to take an early train on Friday or just give in and go up Thursday without seeing Rob.  I say again, le sigh.