July 16, 2013
MarkBernstein.org
 

Readercon

Because I was a delegate, I missed a day of Readercon for the MA Democratic Convention. I’m busy and I’m coming down with a cold. It’s hot. I’m grumpy.

But I wasn’t completely happy with Readercon.

It’s still a terrific conference about reading, about thinking about the kinds of books that lots of people don’t consider worth thinking about. John Clute was spectacular. Greer Gilman, a retired forensic librarian, was terrific. (Forensic librarian? Who knew that was even a thing!) Yoon Ha Lee did a nice introduction to StoryNexus and the problems of interactive writing, though we’ve been doing this for twenty years and more now and we still can’t get past the basics and sit down and talk about craft, or talk seriously about what sort of environment we’d like to create rather than the oddities of the systems handed to us.

There were great panels and it’s good to see Readercon people.

But “The Year In Novels” was gone. So was “The Year In Short Fiction.” So was “Bookaholics Anonymous.” In their place, it seems, we have a bunch of panels about “safety at conventions.” It’s a loss.

Several of the panels this year seemed to be in the business of scolding books for lapses and insensitivities, particularly with regard to race and to sexual preference. It’s good to look at these, but at some point we also to treat books with sympathy and understanding.

This year at Readercon, we did not speak so much about certain things. This year at Readercon, we did not speak so much.

I came home and grabbed the new issue of the Believer in order to read Nick Hornby’s list of “What I’m Reading.” I should not be coming home from Readercon looking for ideas of books to read.