July 19, 2011
Follow me on Twitter

Readercon Thoughts

Readercon is a very strange event, a three-day gathering of 500 writers (and voracious readers) in a modest suburban-Boston hotel. The program is filled with carefully-planned panels. No one gets tenure points, no one sells much of anything besides books and the occasional manuscript. But the caliber of the talks frequently compares favorably to highly selective and invitational academic conferences.

I missed Friday with car trouble, but otherwise had a delightful time. I bought a bunch of books. C.S.E. Cooney’s fantastic long poem, “The Sea King’s Second Bride,” won an big prize. The audience won the famous Kirk Poland bad writing competition, a game show in which contestants start from a published passage and invent what comes next, competing to be judged the most plausible. Where else can you see fine writers expound on a monster with “a claw the size of a nubile girl?” (This could be a lot less fun, of course, if the passage in question was your howler.)

The program chair was Rose Fox, who did a remarkable job in finding intriguing topics (“SF as Tragedy” with Clute, Delaney, Dozois, Malzberg, and Sleight; “The Speculative Fiction of Mark Twain”) and populated panels with lots of fascinating people. All of this is done with little or no budget: the conference registration fee is $50 and there are no sponsorships.