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Curious
c is for cat
catvalente
So, I will be attending Readercon this year after all, and hope to see a bunch of you there, as I missed both other Boston cons this year. I just finished signing up for programming a week or two ago and...

Out of curiosity, what do you all think of Readercon programming this year?

(My opinion held back so as to hear unbiased thoughts in the comments. But that I'm going should tell you a lot.)

After a very cursory glance - I found the "college dropouts and their careers panel" vs. the "PhDs and their careers panel" strange and unsettling.

That was the only one I didn't like, as I fall into neither of those categories. What was your issue with it?

I'm not absolutely certain. It was a gut reaction more than a logical one.

I think it's the language employed to discuss it. Maybe the term "college dropout" has too many negative connotations for me. Or too many personal ones.

I taught college comp for a long time, and I ran into the frequent assumption from my students that they were better than their peers who didn't go to college or who didn't finish. I also saw many of them pressuring themselves (or being pressured by their parents) to endure four years of misery and tremendous debt in order to have what would be, for them, a meaningless degree. And I've known many people, my mother included, who feel inadequate because they never finished college.

It's a fraught topic. And frequently a classist one.

Which isn't to say that those panels will be bad, or shouldn't be done. In fact, maybe that means that they *should* be done.

So, maybe they aren't so strange. But I still find them unsettling.

I think the idea of the dropout panel was to show their path to success without the degree.

Thank you very much for explaining this. I'm a three-time college dropout and the one who suggested the panel. I suppose I've reclaimed the word for myself in defiance of everyone who always told me I had to get a college degree or who just assumed I would. Now I make a point of telling teens I meet to remember that college is an option but not the only route to success in many professions (obviously there are some that genuinely require intensive academic study). So it didn't occur to me that anyone would see it as a sneer at those on the panel! I just thought it would be awesome to see people from a generally disregarded group talk about how they achieved success: being celebrated and honored, not snubbed.

That makes sense to me and I could see that working very well.

I am actually kindof interested to hear how that one goes.


I think it's a decent bunch of panels, though, as usual, maybe a few too many of them.

Man, Readercon always has too many panels I want to see.


Man, Readercon always has too many panels I want to see.

Same here.

Yeah, I was more excited than anything else. Seems like it's got a lot of good ones this year and a pretty broad reach.

Of course you're coming to my reading, though, right? Right?! RIGHT?!?!?! :)

As long as I'm not scheduled against it!

Oh my GOD I want to go.

*sudden inexplicable conlust*

And it completely overlaps with the vacation to LA that I just set up and bought plane tickets for. Waugh.

Alas. For I shall be at ReaderCon as well, and would've like to have met you!!!

Belated and shy: I'd have liked to meet you, too.

Although I'm really happy about going to see my friend again!! But the con sounds thrilling.

Y'all must babble enthusiastically about it in your LJs! LJ is for VICARIOUS EXISTENCE!

I will be very happy to be there, and to see you. I am glad you decided to attend.

There are several panels I find interesting (I didn't read through all of them, but skimmed many) - the children's fantasy worlds, the one about puns, the one about tongues, the one about Kansas. But panels (like Shakespeare) can go well or poorly depending on the actors... I mean, panelists. And most particularly - on the moderator. So we'll see, won't we?

I'm curious to know which panels you'll be speaking on, that's for sure. What caught your fancy, or got your goat, I wonder?

You mean all three other Boston cons (Arisia minus the one evening, Boskone, and Vericon), right? Or did I miss that you'd gotten to one of them (I missed the latter two as well)?

And yeah, I kind of love many of the programming suggestions. Although it'll be easier to judge when the schedule comes out (as panelists and timeslots/conflicts matter a lot).

I forgot Vericon--they didn't invite me this year.

:-( That sucks -- you're local and have publicly praised them in the past.

And they like me and stuff! I think they must have forgotten, or it was clear from the blog how busy I was in January.

There may also have been a hitch because they have moved the con from January to Mid-March (Harvard changed it's acedemic calendar this year).

Most of the cons I go to are local and multi-media, so it was pretty overwhelming. And as I mentioned on my blog, I felt genuinely unprepared/unqualified to participate in most of them--I'm still kicking myself for volunteering for that A.M. Merritt, when most of what I have to offer is: "Wow! The Moon Pool's really amazing!"

Honestly, it's very friendly and fun, not intimidating once you're there.

That program sounds pretty awesome....sort of like the most fun academic conference ever. I think if I were going I'd have a mini-crisis over choices, as all the panels seem interesting!

Glad you'll make it!

(PAAAART-YYYYYEE!!!)

I might drop in for a day to see authors who will be there (and visit friends in Boston over that weekend). Too much con wears me out but I hate missing people I like.

Hrm. Some of the subjects of panels are ones you might see at Wiscon. I think they're trying for more diversity and trying to get more on the cutting edge as they realize they're slipping away.

BUT I get an overall sense from the panel descriptions I read and skimmed that the tone is very much 'we are all very smart people and we're going to talk about this in very smart ways and I hope you've done your homework before you even _think_ of attending this panel'.

Whereas the panel descriptions at other cons go beyond 'interesting' to sounding _fun_. And don't make me feel like an idiot before I've even walked in the door!

Well, I think the idea has always been that Readercon is for people who find this kind of analysis fun--we want to be able to play too!

It looks like the usual crazybusy Readercon schedule to me for the most part, which makes me happy since at the end of last year's con, I heard rumors of greatly reduced programming for this year. There may be fewer "How I Wrote..." and other writer-oriented panels (as opposed to reader-oriented ones) than usual, but I'm not sure about that. I noticed you got several shout-outs in panel descriptions! I am planning to go on Saturday this year, so I hope at least some of the panels I'm interested in will happen while I'm there (and not all at once, kthx!).

I am very into several of the panels so far--choosing what to go to and when is going to be the difficult part. Comics, folklore, gender/sexuality, non-western SFF... It's like a geek grab-bag of fun.

(This will be my first trip to Readercon, though I've wanted to go for years. Can't wait.)

Er, sorry, that was me. LJ logged me out when I commented?

My first reaction: omfg, the Readercon panels are engaging with THINGS THAT HAPPENED ON THE INTERNET! Like, RECENTLY! This makes me wicked excited, and makes me feel that the people who've put them together have taken the time to research what are current hot topics in SF that are important to a younger and more diverse generation of readers. I feel the shadow of "This IS Your Father's Readercon" has been dispelled, and I'm really looking forward to panels and presentations.

The line-up sounds pretty good, but one panel that really irks me. The Non-Western panel seems to run away as fast as it can from what, to me, seems like the real question about this new trend: how much of it is merely a reinscription of colonial/ orientalist, culturally chauvinist writing from the nineteenth-early twentieth century? I want to call shenanigans in particular on Ian McDonald, who has directly linked his work to Kipling. I have enjoyed some of these books (The Wind Up Girl most recently) but I can't help thinking about Edward Said, who years ago, made a comment that went something like: after Rushdie and Achebe and Morrison and Garcia-Marquez and etc, how can you (meaning mostly white, Euro-American male writers) keep thinking you can get away with writing this stuff???

It's an interesting mix. The high points strike me as having higher ceilings, as concepts, than pretty much anything I can remember over the past few years. The panel on "History and Memory" sounds amazing, such a great, focused topic fraught with import; "Folklore and Its Discontents" and "Axes of Identity" could be really good; panels on non-Western SF&F, gender, and sexuality have interesting twists of focus that will hopefully be conducive to insights beyond the 101 level; Readercon does good historical panels so I'm happy to see the one on Theodore Sturgeon; etc.

On the other hand, there are fewer panels than usual where the descriptions stroke the analytical story geek in me. There are an awful lot that seem to have as their stated goal mainly to list examples of things, and several that seem to be about letting panelists talk about themselves...but relatively few panels on what and how books mean, few that talk about current genre trends and what's behind them, and relatively few where discussion or debate would seem to play much of a role. There are also more panels than usual this year that make me blink in confusion, where I can't quite figure out what will be discussed. Whitewashing book covers is a problem, but what will a panel on it address--is anybody going to argue that it's a good thing? There's a panel that suggests that stories in which plot and character work together, with neither shoving the other aside, should be called "double-driven" stories...I thought that technique was just called "good storytelling."

So, a mixed bag, maybe: higher highs, conceptually, but also lower lows according to my tastes? In a sense this doesn't much matter, though, as I do think that the panelists and moderator are the real keys--a bad set can bring the best idea down, a good set can uplift a panel of any description. So it's worth mentioning that alongside the panels, I'm very happy with the guest list. Glad to see that you are attending, I have found you an interesting and insightful panelist in the past. Reading through the descriptions, it does seem like a number of people who suggested panels (disclosure: I was one of them, with "The Bonus DVD in Literature") had the same thought: that if they referenced your works in a panel idea, it would be harder for you to stay away! ;)

"Out of curiosity, what do you all think of Readercon programming this year?"

Wow, I just skimmed through it and for the first time something has made me want to go to a con. So that's a positive reaction.

(Unfortunately for me the timing sucks, since I'm likely to be going nuts at work around then.)


Suck. Let me know if you have time for a quickie lunch or something!

Oh, that would be swell, if you're in the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area sometime around then (or any other time for that matter).

I also may be able to steal out there for one day or something.

Cool, will let you know closer to the date, but I'll definitely be in Burlington, with a car, from Friday to Sunday.

Having gone to a few Readercons, and having enjoyed them, for me the panels at this one don't seem too interesting. I like that it's a con that doesn't cover fluffy media stuff, and that people take the literature seriously, but I think it could be a little _less_ serious. Some panels seem to be about the huffs/kerfuffles that occurred over the past year, and honestly---people just need to get over themselves.

Speaking for myself, I really appreciate interviews/talks by writers, and panels that discuss classic/new/great works/writers in the field, as I'm always learning.

The panel that interests me the most, Cat, is the one sparked by your blogging about New England. I recall w/ amusement your rant about Augusta (what!!? no COFFEE???), and having grown up in central Maine, and living now in Brunswick, I've always felt NE to be home for horror--albeit, maybe for different reasons than yours. ;)

Jeff P.

I hope I get to be on that panel! And hey, if you didn't see it, I wrote a story about Augusta inspired by all that: http://io9.com/5543785/read-catherynne-m-valentes-sad-zombie-tale-the-days-of-flaming-motorcycles

Oh, I saw it, and enjoyed it very much, even though my opinion of Augusta is much softer than yours.

Jeff P.