This past weekend was consumed with a convention called ReaderCon, which was hosted down in Burlington, MA. As a member of the 501st, I’ve attended several different types of conventions before, but out of all of them, I think that this convention was one of the best ones that I’ve ever gone to, and already am looking around for comparable ones to attend. Far from the costuming and media cons that I’ve visited in the past, ReaderCon lives up to its namesake: it’s all about speculative fiction literature.
Never was this more apparent when I arrived on Friday morning and picked up my badge. Patrons in the lobby were engrossed in books, reading away, waiting for the first day’s events to start. There was quite a few panels and discussions throughout the weekend, and I was particularly interested in a select number of these, for the content of the panel, but also because of some of the people that were attending: Blake Charlton, Paolo Bacigalupi, Allen M. Steele, Samuel Delany, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Hand, Brett Cox (My Gothic Lit professor) and Nora Jeminsin, just to name a couple. The entire participants list numbered over two hundred people, but those names were ones that I had particular interest in meeting, as I’ve read all of their books.
Over the course of the weekend, I attended a number of panels: New England: At Home to the Unheimlich, about the propensity of horror writers to be influenced by the region, Influence as Contagion, about films and expectations, Citizens of the World, Citizens of the Universe, Global Warming and Science Fiction, about new directions for the genre to take, New And Improved Future of Magazines, Folklore and its Discontents, Science for Tomorrow’s Fiction, How I Wrote The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and How to Write for a Living, to speak nothing of the hours that I spent in the bookstore looking over what was for sale, and carting away my own, large, expensive pile of books.
The highlight though, was getting to meet a couple of authors whom I’ve befriended or talked to as I’ve worked for SF Signal and io9 over the past year or so, Blake Charlton, Paolo Bacigalupi and Nora Jeminsin. These three authors were ones who have just delivered their first novels, recieving quite a bit of acclaim (Bacigalupi has already received the Nebula award, the Compton Crook and Locus awards for Best First Novel, and apparently, is on the short list for the John Campbell Award for his book The Windup Girl) Meeting these guys was just amazing, because not only did they sign my books, I got to talk to them extensively about their books and science fiction, and generally have a good time. Along the way, I also met SF/F author David Forbes, whose book I picked up at the conference, as well as geek musician John Anealio, whom I’ve talked to online (I was on his podcast at one point) and who’s music I really like.
This convention seemed to be much in line with what the science fiction scene seemed to be back in the 1970s when there wasn’t much beyond the literature scene for science fiction and fantasy materials. That’s largely changed with the introduction of blockbusters, with major Comic Cons springing up all over the place, which get a little tiring beyond the autographs and vendor tables. ReaderCon offered a stimulating experience for me, with a number of panels and opportunities that really got me thinking and interacting with a lot of other fans of the genre.