Like all good origin stories, it started long ago and far away. By which I mean last year at Readercon 23. I was innocently sitting in the audience, waiting for a panel to begin, and a stray tweet from Carrie Cuinn to Fran Wilde unleashed an epic battle between the forces of Good and Evil. Caught in the crossfire, I found myself sudden collateral to this struggle, the kind that usually winds up tied to train tracks. But the vagaries of Good and Evil being what they are, everything changed this year. Evil became Good, Good became Evil, and I was upgraded to Evil Minion status and bestowed with my very own mustache to twirl.
And so it came to pass that the forces of Evil boarded a train from Philadelphia, to descend upon Readercon 24 in Burlington, MA, there to clash with the forces of Good. Lo there were epic deeds done, and much thwarting, plots most dastardly hatched and just as swiftly foiled. Or, there would have been were it not for the fact that both the forces of Good and Evil are easily distracted by shiny objects like liquor bottles, breakfast buffets, panels full of smart people saying intelligent things, and a dealers’ room stuffed with piles and and piles of books.
Much of the con was spent running from one shiny thing to the next. I was only involved in one official bit of programming, the Clockwork Phoenix 4 group reading, which went splendidly. It was lovely meeting some of my fellow contributors and hearing them read their work. Beyond that, I spent the majority of my time attending other people’s panels and readings and thoroughly enjoying what they had to say. A few of the highlights were:
The Latino Speculative Fiction Writers Collective Group Reading with Daniel Jose Older, Julia Rios, and Sabrina Vourvoulias
Writing the Other I & II with Michael J. Deluca, Andrea Hairston, Rose Lemberg, Maureen F. McHugh, Daniel Jose Older, Joan Slonczewski, Sabrina Vourvoulais, and Sarah Smith
A New Mythology of the Civil War with Dennis Danvers, Mikki Kendall, Scott Lynch, Romie Stott, and Howard Waldrop
Friendship is Magic with E.C. Ambrose, Rose Lemberg, Kathryn Morrow, JoSelle Vanderhooft, and Sabrina Vourvoulais
The Altered Fluid Group Reading with Paul Berger, Rajan Khanna, Sam J. Miller, E.C. Myers, Devin Poore, and Mercurio D. Rivera
Gender and Power in Literature and Life lead by Daniel Jose Older
There were other panels and other readings I very much enjoyed, but those were the ones that stood out. Between panels there was much running around and brief, flying conversations in the halls, since there wasn’t a common gathering space this year due to hotel renovations. I got the chance to see a lot of people I only see once a year, which was lovely, meet wonderful new people (including several stealth Canadians), and meet folks I’ve only interacted with online. I was especially pleased that to finally meet Barry King in person. We’ve been workshopping and critique swapping off and on since 2009 without ever having met in person. It’s good to finally put a face to the name! It was also great meeting some of the editors who have published my work and who I’ve only interacted with via email, and meeting at least one author whose work we’ll be publishing in the upcoming Journal of Unlikely Architecture. There were other people I was hoping to meet but didn’t get the chance, and of course I don’t feel like I got to spend enough time with the people I did meet, but such is the nature of cons.
And, of course, there was the buying of books, because no con is complete without several trips through the dealers’ room. I managed to be somewhat restrained and not buy everything in sight, but I can’t wait to dive into what I did buy: Fat Girl in a Strange Land edited by Kay T. Holt and Bart R. Leib; Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe and Suffered from the Night: Queering Stoker’s Dracula both Edited by Steve Berman, and Before and Afterlives: Stories by Christopher Barzak all from Lethe Press (in case you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan of their work); and Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. I also picked up contributors’ copies of two Clarkesworld chapbooks, and, of course, Clockwork Phoenix 4. So really only half my suitcase was filled with books on the way home. That’s reasonable, right?
A huge thanks to Rose Fox, the Con Comm, all the volunteers, panelists, and other attendees for making this year’s Readercon such a wonderful one.
Thus concludes this epic tale of villainy and heroism. But wait! All is not told yet! In a grand ceremony involving coffee and bacon on the final day of the con, before everyone went their separate ways home, the fearless leaders of Team Good and Team Evil once again switched allegiances and passed the twirlable mustache of dastardliness and the fluttering cape of justice off to new leaders for the coming year. It seems that in 2014, I will be the Champion of the Forces of Good, a job that comes complete with my very own nemesis, whose plans I must dedicate myself to thwarting. You’ll never get away with this, Pizarro! (Whatever it is you’re up to.) Never, I say!