David R (dvtune) wrote,
David R

Readercon recap

Last weekend I went to part of Readercon, which was held at the Marriott hotel in Burlington MA. I was there from about noon to 11 PM on Saturday, and 11 AM to 3:30 PM on Sunday. I enjoyed enough of it that it was worth going.

Readercon is, by design, focused heavily on written science fiction and fantasy. There was no music in the program, nor movie discussions, nor costume contests. However there were a few things, such as two short plays and a radio drama discussion, that bent that focus a bit.

It was not a very social con for me, but I wasn't expecting it to be. I saw only a few people I knew there, and not for long.

Here's what I did:


Saturday noon to 1 PM.
Radio Yesterday: Today
A panel on modern-day "radio" drama, which are often distributed via internet. It included discussions on how the shows are put together, and samples of shows. I liked it.

Saturday 1 PM to 2 PM.
"Are You Writing a Sequel?"
Several authors (and a reviewer) discussed how sequels work and don't work, and the narrow paths authors must tread to make them new and different while still meeting readers' expectations. The panelists were fun, and I generally enjoy discussions about storytelling, so this was a good one for me.

Saturday 2 PM to 4 PM.
Nothing in the program during this time appealed to me. I took a brief walk outside, and found a short path in the trees behind the hotel. It was a hot and humid day, but under the trees it wasn't too bad.

When I went back inside I found a place to sit and started reading Bujold's Brothers in Arms. (As of this writing I'm not done with it yet, but it's good so far.)

Saturday 4 PM to 5 PM
James Patrick Kelly interviewed by John Kessel
Kelly was the guest of honor at the con. I'm not sure if I've read any of his work, but it was moderately interesting to hear him talk about his life and work.

Saturday 5 PM to 8 PM
I decided I was in the mood for Indian food, and remembered there was an adequate Indian fast food place at the Burlington Mall.

I estimated it would take about five minutes to walk there, but my sense of the local geography was a bit off; it took over twenty minutes walking each way. That was okay, but for the last ten minutes of the walk there I began worrying that my estimate might be way off ...

Upon returning to the hotel I wandered a bit, sat and observed people, and read more Bujold (not necessarily in that order).

Saturday 8 PM to 9 PM (approximate)
Two One-Act Plays by James Patrick Kelly
The plays were well performed by small casts on a simple stage. I enjoyed the performances while they were happening, but I didn't really like the stories. I think it's because neither one really resolved what was going on, they both just hinted at what might be happening. Which isn't always bad, but when the main effect of a story is to raise questions, those questions need to be interesting enough to stand on their own.

After the plays there was an approximately half hour interlude, and the next item in that room, originally for 10 PM, was rescheduled to start slightly early at 9:30 PM.

Saturday 9:30 PM (approximate) to 11 PM (when I left)
Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition
The basic idea of this is that badly-written, unintentionally funny excerpts from actual published works are read aloud. Then several possible continuations of that text are also read aloud. However, only one of the continuations is real, and the audience votes for the real one with a show of hands.

Some of it was funny. However I started getting tired, and the jokes got old. I also wasn't into spending so much time making fun of authors' mistakes. A little bit of that can be harmless fun, too much of it seems unkind. So I left around 11 PM. I think there wasn't much more to go anyway.

Saturday after 11 PM
As I was leaving, I walked past a room in which a small crowd was involved in a storytelling game. It sounded like they were having fun, and I bet I should have gone to that instead. (It had been mentioned in the program guide as "Munchausen's Magical Mystery Tour; Or, Narrative Games", but for some reason it had been omitted from the schedule grid. Because of the latter, I had thought it must have been cancelled, but obviously I was wrong.)


Sunday 11 AM to noon
The Fermi Paradox Paradox
Nominally about the "paradox" of the lack of stories about the Fermi Paradox (although the panelists mentioned several that actually do address Fermi's question), but soon got into the more interesting question of whether contact with aliens really would be as profound as some people think it would be.

Views ranged from "it wouldn't matter a bit" to "it would be very significant", and both positions were well argued. I enjoyed it.

Sunday noon to 1 PM
Remembering Arthur C. Clarke et al
About Clarke and others in the SF field who died in the past year. Good discussion.

Sunday 1 PM to 2 PM
The Nature of the Childhood Favorite Story
It was primarily about how children receive stories, but also was about how people in general react to the familiar and the unexpected in stories. There were also tangents on how these ideas apply to music. I like this sort of discussion about stories (and other art).

Sunday 2 PM to 2:30 PM
I went to a 2 PM panel, but quickly got bored. So I left that room and wandered until an interesting looking talk started at 2:30.

Sunday 2:30 PM to 3 PM
Researching the Fantasy Novel
Resa Nelson talked about the research she did for her new novel The Dragonslayer's Sword, which included physically learning blacksmithing and swordfighting. Very interesting.

Sunday after 3 PM
At 3 PM the scheduled programming was done. However as I was leaving, I met a stranger who happened to start a conversation of sorts. It mostly consisted of his talking about his ideas about physics. I was willing to listen for a time, but at 3:30 I decided to get going.

And that was it for Readercon. It was good to give it a try, overall I liked it. Not as fun as the cons where I hang around with filkers, but still worth doing.
Tags: readercon
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