Readercon 2013 Report

Belatedly, here’s my rambling report on the 2013 Readercon! I did three panels this year, leading one of them, and a kaffeeklatsch. All of my programming happened on Saturday, so unusually for me, I had Friday completely free. Most of the time when I am attending a con, I don’t have enough mental energy to attend panels I’m not on, but this time I went through the Friday schedule and made a list of everything that seemed interesting. Which of course meant that for some time slots there were two or even three items I wished I could attend simultaneously.

I arrived Thursday night with friends E! and Amy Goldschlager, after an epic journey that began in Philadelphia and wound through Manhattan and the wilds of Connecticut, including a ride across a river on a ferry, an adorable tot, and delicious, delicious ice cream in a freshly-made waffle cone. Thursday night was all socializing and attempting to find my roommates, one of whom I’d never met before. (My usual roommate was unable to attend.) I figured it would be best to introduce myself before we shared a bed. After some wackiness with shutting elevator doors, eventually the introduction was accomplished, and I don’t think either of us kicked or snored. I did fall out of the bed Sunday morning…but I digress.

I started off Friday with a quiet breakfast alone and one more perusal of the schedule, then found friends and chatted until Yoon Ha Lee’s reading at 11:00 am. That lasted half an hour, so I attempted to choose a panel for the last half of the hour…and ended up splitting it between two different ones, unable to make a choice. That set the standard for the rest of the day. I was too full of adrenaline, and too distracted by saying hello to friends, to really concentrate on any one panel. So I bounced among a number of different ones, had lunch with Twitter pal Ruth Sternglantz (and met a new person in the process, Val), and otherwise all-around schmoozed, all day. I got to meet Brian Attebery! We’ve been on a mailing list together for years, but had never met.

More name-dropping, which will be incomplete, so I apologize if I missed you: over the course of the con, I got to chat with Gwynne Garfinkle, Connie Hirsch, Rosemary Kirstein, Sarah Smith, Brett Cox, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Jim Kelly, Rose Fox, Tempest Bradford, Debra Doyle and Jim Macdonald, Ian Strock, Peter Dube, Julia Starkey, Sheila Williams, Greer Gilman, Faye Ringel, Kat Creighton, Glenn Grant, Lila Garrott, and of course Philly-area locals Tom Purdom, Michael Swanwick, Shveta Thakrar, Fran Wilde, E.C. Myers, Brad Hafford, Diane and Lee Weinstein, and roomies Vashti Bandy, Susannah Mandel, and Danielle Friedman. I also met Lisa Bradley through Gwynne and, briefly, Genevieve Valentine through Tempest – she provided me with much-appreciated spoilers for “Pacific Rim,” so I could see it with an easy mind! Most of these conversations took place in hallways…that happens a lot to me at Readercon. I was briefly introduced to Wesley Chu and Emily Wagner and Tilly whose last name I do not remember and…maybe a couple of other people?

Once the dealers’ room opened, I had my usual initial wander-through, during which I am not allowed to buy anything I hadn’t already planned to buy. On that and subsequent wanders, I stopped to chat with Steve Berman and Gavin Grant at their respective tables, and had two separate conversations about classic Dr. Who with JoSelle Vanderhooft and Rob Shearman. For a literary convention, I talked about Dr. Who quite a lot.

In the evening, I attended (in full!) a panel on fairy tales that included my dear friend Ann Tonsor Zeddies. Friday night was “Meet the Prose,” a shoutfest as usual because it is so very crowded. But I at least saw quite a few people, and handed out most of my stickers to people I didn’t know. The sentence on my stickers was from “8:00 P.M.: Appointment TeeVee.”

Saturday, I had planned on another quiet breakfast before my 9:00 am panel on the work of Patricia McKillip, but saw Kate Nepveu and her family and was invited to join them. I was glad I did, as I barely saw them for the rest of the con. My McKillip panel went well, then I had to rush to the romance panel, which I was leading.
I did not take notes on the writing romance in specfic panel, because there is no way I can both participate and make notes; I hope someone did! From my own notes, I can say that I listed Pamela Regis’ elements of a romance to start off, and had the panel talk about specfic that they felt had done romance well. We also discussed ways we think romance plots in specfic could be done better, and made a few recommendations. Even though I was keeping track of the time, I was astonished throughout by how fast it was going. If I ever lead a similar panel, I have a couple of spots I think I could tighten up my questions so we get through the basics more efficiently.

I had a short break before my last panel, “The Unexamined Privilege of Safety.” By this point, I was beginning to feel talked out, but the rest of the panelists were awesome and had great things to say. I then had a short break for lunch and book-buying before my kaffeeklatsch. I love having a kaffeeklatsch because that is a place where friends (and fans, if I happen to have any) will be able to easily find me; also, free coffee! I was scheduled with Cecilia Tan, so if no one showed up, we would at least be able to chat with each other. However, we each got a group of our own; I had lured a few extra friends with the promise of chairs, since there was such a lack of them in the renovating hotel’s non-lobby. Stephen R. Wilk attended, so we got to reconnect – we had shared a reading at Arisia several years ago, and eventually figured out which story he had read (he mostly writes nonfiction). The group also discussed the Muppets at great length.

I finished off Saturday eating Korean barbecue with friends from my former writing workshop, Ann Tonsor Zeddies, Steve Berman, and John Schoffstall; we also had friends JoSelle Vanderhooft and Alex Jablokov. Alas, we were too full to eat ice cream afterwards. I then attended a panel about reader shame, led by my friend Natalie Luhrs and also including Ann. After that panel, to my good fortune, I met Tat Wood! He’s one of the authors of a nonfiction series about Dr. Who, About Time, which I love beyond the telling.

I made the Long Walk back to the elevators with many stops for hugs and goodbyes, always the most painful part of any convention. Back in my room, I packed and attempted to get some sleep before my early morning breakfast with Graham Sleight (we didn’t talk about Dr. Who quite as much as normal) and departure.

I’ve already submitted some panel ideas for next year!

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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