This coming weekend, I’ll be making my pretty-much-annual pilgrimage to Burlington, MA, to attend Readercon. It’s a fine convention dedicated to the fantastic end of the cultural spectrum, with a particular emphasis, as its name suggests, on written works. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by and check it out. If you’re planning to be there, come up and say hi. Here’s my schedule:
8:00 PM G All Literature is Regional. Susan Bigelow, Leah Bobet, Brett Cox, John Langan, Yves Meynard, Resa Nelson. Canadian author Alistair MacLeod once said, “All literature is regional.” How does regionality influence the worlds that speculative authors create, and the ways that readers approach those creations?
8:00 PM EM The Monstrous . Gemma Files, John Langan, Peter Straub, AC Wise. The Monstrous Group Reading
3:00 PM F Shifting the Realism Conversation. Leah Bobet, Michael Cisco, John Crowley, John Langan, Yves Meynard. In a 2014 interview, James Patterson, not generally thought of as a fabulist, declared, “I don’t do realism. Sometimes people will mention that something I’ve written doesn’t seem realistic and I always picture them looking at a Chagall and thinking the same thing.” Meanwhile, the SF/F world is engaged in ongoing discussions about the value and meaning of realism in epic fantasy, particularly the variety that uses claims of realism to justify portrayals of violence, bigotry, and misery in cod-medieval settings. What shifts in these discussions if we adopt Patterson’s framing, setting modernism and abstraction in opposition to realism? What would abstract, modernist, Chagall-like epic fantasy look like? And would it work, or is some adherence to the real necessary in stories that explore the unreal?
10:00 AM CO Ghostbusting Lovecraft. Mike Allen, Gemma Files, John Langan, Adam Lipkin, James Morrow. In Max Gladstone’s blog post “Ghostbusting Lovecraft,” he writes: “Ghostbusters is obviously taking the piss out of horror in general. But while the busters’ typical enemies are ghosts of the Poltergeist persuasion, the Big Bad of the movie, a formless alien god from Before Time summoned by a mad cultist–cum–art deco architect, is basically Lovecraftian.” Unlike typical Lovecraftian protagonists, however, the Ghostbusters prevail over the eldritch horrors by exploiting the power structures and emotional connections that exist between people. Is the Ghostbusters story arc an alternative to the standard horror tropes, one that replaces fear with humor, defiance, and camaraderie? How else does it subvert our expectations of the conflict between humans and horrors?
12:30 PM ENV Reading: John Langan. John Langan. John Langan reads an excerpt from “Sefira,” the original novella in his forthcoming collection, Sefira and Other Betrayals.