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Letters from Proxima Thule

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Readercon was great, if exhausting this year.

Unfortunately, they handed out flyers for next year. Tagline? This IS Your Father's Readercon.

Single-track programming. Likely no readings, definitely no kaffeklastches. Nothing but panels, in a single room, with 400 other people. No Guests of Honor. Memorial GoHs? The cutting-edge, controversial, underappreciated Philip K. Dick and Theodore Sturgeon. (That'll certainly speak to a new generation of geeks who will push fandom into the, well, at least the 20th century.)

Now, I love Readercon. I've gone since I first knew about it. They actually have awesome panels and a great vibe. But this? Sounds about as much fun as a tax audit. With no chance to read and no kaffeklatsches, and Readercon's longstanding dislike of room parties, this is just a series of lectures by the biggest name attendees (because there will be far fewer programming slots, they basically have to go with the biggest draws) leaving the rest of us to sit still and knit for four days.

Not to mention, to someone invested in the next generation of fandom, who feels it is a burning issue to make SFF relevant to young people and pull amazing new minds into our world, not mire in old traditions and hierarchies, I just don't really want to go hang out at my father's con. Thanks. You can't bill something as a throwback and expect it to excite people. I suspect Readercon will find its membership dropping precipitously.

I, with sadness, will not be going. I'll be right back in 2011, bushy-tailed.

The thought among a group of us at Readercon this year was to try something different: IslandCon 2010. Here's the plan:

Y'all come up to my island. There's two hotels, my house, and my huge yard for tents if people want to camp. We'll use the three pubs, cafe, and ice cream shop for informal discussion rooms (somewhere between a barcon and a panel). We'll drink blueberry martinis and eat lobsters and barbecue and have a bonfire. If people can't agree on the academic difference between fantasy and science fiction, we'll give them boxing gloves and haul them down to the soft, sandy beach (as opposed to the sharp, pointy beach). If authors come, they can have fireside readings. Kaffeeklatsch-style tea and cookies in my dining room. Parties on my porch and in what could be an awesome mini Black Rock City tent-town out back. Movie screenings could be arranged.

Yes, this will likely be the same weekend as Readercon. Why? Not to get all up in Readercon's face about it. As I said, I love them. But because I keep that weekend free and the rest of the summer booked, and I want to have my second weekend in July SFF blowout. I just want it to be fun and relevant to my life, and not my father's con. (Not that my father went to cons. I don't want it to be your father's con, either, though.) If it's ten people, I'm thrilled. This is not a big production--it's like NASFIC. When the regular con is for one reason or another untenable, we get together for a different one.

Who's in?


Dang it! Readercon is one I'd like to add to my schedule (I went once and enjoyed it muchly), but apparently next year is not the time to do it.

I really wonder what train of thought led to them deciding that was a good path to follow, even if it's only for one year.

I;m in, tentatively. Not sure what my situation will be in a year from now, but this sounds very exciting.

As always, you fucking rock. :-)

I hope that flyer was a joke. If it's true, good luck with IslandCon. I wish we had the means to go.

I haven't been to ReaderCon, but honestly, this looks like a budget cut to me. I see less being advertised as a feature, like someone is trying to put a good face on things.

Reportedly, the issue is that Eric Van is completely burnt out on programming and no one has stepped up to help take the load off of him.

I'm a little skeptical on the latter count, as Readercon is generally very bad at taking people up on their offers of volunteering, but the former I certainly believe.

(Deleted comment)
"You can't bill something as a throwback and expect it to excite people."

Well it would excite the people who miss what it used to be - a VERY SMALL con with a good list of pros and a relaxing, very queit weekend of time to sit and talk to folk in the lobby and well .. relax.

Not all cons have to be bigger than 300 people.

But this one already is. So why slash it?

My understanding was that there would be a reading track, parallel to the discussion track.

I will be very sad to be forced to choose between Readercon, which I do very much want to go to next year--I think it sounds really intense and wonderful, personally--and the awesome-sounding party at your house. You really have things booked for every single other weekend of summer 2010? Also, what happens if IslandCon is a smashing success and everyone says "Let's do that again!" and you want to go to Readercon in 2011? It seems a bit nearsighted to set them up as alternatives rather than making room for both.

Edited at 2009-07-13 06:58 pm (UTC)

I asked him, he said probably no readings as it was "too much work."

I like your idea of a party. and Maine in July sounds wonderful!

I have a lot of time for Theodore Sturgeon, but that does sound like your parents' Con. Sheesh.

I am in an extremely let's-wait-and-see mood as to the next Readercon, because it seems mostly backsolved from con organizer burnout rather than a genuine desire to Be Retro Dammit. And con organizer politics are scary and unpredictable. But I definitely don't want to go to my father's Readercon!

IslandCon is a lovely idea ^_^

(Deleted comment)
Also, this:

this is just a series of lectures by the biggest name attendees (because there will be far fewer programming slots, they basically have to go with the biggest draws)

is likely untrue, as the point of the single track is that participants come up with panel ideas and staff those panels themselves. So if I wanted to do a panel about spoilers, warnings, twist endings, and the management of surprise in fanfiction, and I lined up a bunch of young pro-fanfic authors to be on it, onto the program it goes. The whole point is that the usual programming people will be very hands-off, because they're burnt out.

I guess a big part of this for me is just that I don't understand how it works. I like the idea of the participants coming up with the panels and everything, but I need more information on how that doesn't just become a weird clusterfuck to feel ok about it, you know? Is there something online you could point me to about how this works?

And I agree with Cat on the advertising for it. The way they worded the flyer just makes me feel like this isn't something I'll want to deal with, so maybe I'll feel better about it once I understand more about it, but for right now I just kept looking at the flyer and being confused.

I think I'd have lots of fun at both, and would be sad to miss either one.

Ooh! That sounds most awesome, and a fine alternative to Readercon, which I usually love. But I could only go one day this year due to sucky finances, so I missed that flyer entirely. If that's true, well, that's so not a Readercon I want to attend.

I'd definitely consider going to an IslandCon next summer, it sounds like a lot of fun

Also, if you need logistical support and organizational help, I'm your huckleberry. I was born with a spreadsheet welded to my fingertips, baby!

Squee! I'm totally in for that.

Too bad about Readercon, my friends had only just convinced me to go next year, and now they go and change the format.

I have a feeling I'll probably be there by default if nothing else.

If not? I'm STILL so in. :-D

I would seriously consider some IslandCon, but I have no idea where I'll be or what my financial situation will be like in a year, so I can't commit. I would basically spend the whole time sitting in a corner, knitting and quietly enjoying the hell out of everything. X3

You know, I was about ready to suggest the same thing. A lot of that is because I'd sooner catheterize myself with a cavalry saber than go to another Readercon (and will keep that attitude until Eric Van dies or is deposed), but also because what you're describing is what I'd prefer to see at conventions anyway.

(Truth be told, I suspect the single-track programming is because of the number of individuals who were butthurt that nobody showed up to their panels. Yeah, that happens, so get over it. If they can't handle the fact that they aren't surrounded by hordes of slavering fans whenever they make an appearance, they might want to get into another artistic endeavour. To write is to be alone, in the final analysis, and anybody writing because they want roar of crowds and television cameras showing every last nose hair is in the wrong business.)

Edited at 2009-07-13 07:34 pm (UTC)

islandcon sounds like a fantastic plan - I'd probably be even more tempted than readercon, which I've always wanted to go to, but am certainly less than tempted by 2010's description.

That sounds kind of ridiculously awesome.

Me! (providing, of course, that I am employed and won't get fired for taking time off. And that my boyfriend has a job, too. Minus those exceptions, yes, I will so be there.)


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