Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Readercon Schedule

So--I'm off to Readercon as of Thursday, and here's my schedule:

Thursday July 14

8:00 PM G We All Produce, We All Consume. Paul Di Filippo, Gemma Files, Robert Killheffer, K.A. Laity (leader), Jamie Todd Rubin. In a 2008 blog post, Leah Bobet connected the dots of increasing media interactivity and increasing independent authorship. Both trends have only escalated in the years since. When every blogger is an author, every commenter is a reviewer, and every work is assumed to be the start of a conversation, how does that change the experience and culture of reading? Was it ever possible to be a passive reader, or are we simply bringing our marginalia and book-flinging out into the light?

Friday July 15

11:00 AM VT Reading. Gemma Files. Files reads from a work not yet selected.
12:00 PM ME The Readercon Classic Fiction Book Club: Howl's Moving Castle. C.S.E. Cooney, Gemma Files, Theodora Goss, Kelly Link (leader), Sonya Taaffe. Diana Wynne Jones's death earlier this year gave rise to a seemingly endless series of blog posts extolling her many books. Howl's Moving Castle, first published in 1986, was one of the most frequently mentioned titles. This powerful story of magic, riddles, and romance is packed with allegory, clever subversions of common fantasy tropes, metafictional humor, and meditations on the nature of change. Such a work is necessarily slippery, but perhaps 25 years of analysis will help us get a grip on it.
2:00 PM Vin. Kaffeeklatsch. Gemma Files, Terry McGarry.
3:00 PM F Whatever Remains, No Matter How Improbable: Horror and the Scientific Method. Gemma Files, Jack M. Haringa, Caitlin R. Kiernan (leader), John Langan, Sarah Langan. What makes The Exorcist (book only) especially terrifying to a science fiction fan is the slow, laborious exhaustion of all rational explanations for the observed phenomenon, leaving demonic possession as the only alternative. The irrationality of horror becomes much more effective when its natural opponent, the scientific worldview and method, is neither dismissed a priori nor treated as a strawman. Beginning with the presumption that science is wrong and that there is inexplicable evil in the world might well provoke these readers' unconscious skepticism; playing by science's rules and reaching that conclusion is thrillingly convincing. What other works have exploited this dynamic? Are there advantages lost when the demonic worldview is not taken for granted but is instead painstakingly established? How do works that do this read to the naturally horror-minded?
7:00 PM F "I'm (No Longer) Shocked, Shocked!". Gemma Files, Jim Freund (leader), Charles Platt, Joan Slonczewski, Paul Tremblay. There are many good reasons for writers to try to shock readers: to make them reconsider ideas, to evoke or heighten strong emotions, to add to the atmosphere of a horror novel or dystopia. The drawback is that the daring and transgressive can almost overnight turn into the boring or bewildering. When writers actively try to shock contemporary readers, are they also putting an expiration date on their work? Or are there shocks that can transcend the trends of the moment?

Saturday July 16

3:00 PM G Matrilineal Heritage. Gemma Files, Eileen Gunn, Victoria Janssen, Ellen Kushner (leader), Chris Moriarty. Diana Wynne Jones and Joanna Russ were two of the women who greatly inspired other women to write speculative fiction. Who are their heirs? And who are their heirs inspiring?

Sunday July 17

10:00 AM E Autographs. Debra Doyle, Gemma Files, James D. Macdonald.
11:00 AM G The Shirley Jackson Awards. F. Brett Cox, Ellen Datlow, Peter Dube, Scott Edelman, Gemma Files, Caitlin R. Kiernan, John Langan, Sarah Langan, Victor LaValle (moderator). In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson's writing, and with permission of the author's estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, "The Lottery." Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. The awards given in her name have been voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors, for the best work published in the calendar year of 2010 in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.
1:00 PM RI How I Wrote the Hexslinger Series. Gemma Files. Gemma Files discusses the researching and writing of her queer western apocalyptic trilogy.
This last will be particularly interesting, given how effing blocked I've been lately on A Tree of Bones. But I'm sure we'll find stuff to talk about!

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