The weekend of July 12-15 brought me back to Quincy, MA for Readercon 29. With Boskone, Readercon is one of the conventions I try my darnedest not to miss, and it was great fun to re-connect with friends from Readercons past, as well as to meet new ones. Probably the weirdest thing about the convention for me was the absence of several of my usual co-conspirators: Laird Barron, Jack Haringa, and Paul Tremblay in particular. But this was made up for by the chance to meet and spend time with a number of newer writers, from Nadia Bulkin to Teri Clarke to Mike Griffin to Gwendolyn Kiste to Farah Rose Smith to Justin Steele to Marcus Tsong to Brookelynne Warra. Not to mention, more time with the terrific Alexa Antopol, Matt Bartlett, Brett Cox, JoAnn Cox, Ellen Datlow, Gemma Files, Karen Heuler, Nick Kaufmann, Veronica Schanoes, and Chandler Klang Smith and Eric, her pet halibut. Oh, and who could forget Michael Cisco literally stepping out of an angle, cup of coffee in hand? (Not me, no matter how hard I might try.)
Highlights of the convention included my Thursday night reading, which was smack-dab in the middle of a sequence beginning with Karen Heuler, continuing to me, then moving on to Brett Cox and finishing with Scott Edelman.
(photo courtesy of Michael Griffin)
Despite the opening-night-scheduling, there was a substantial audience in attendance, as there was for my coffee-klatch the next day. I had the great good fortune there to sit at a table with a number of up-and-comers, from Teri Clarke to Stephen Mazur to Marcus Tsong, and to engage in conversation that I found fascinating and rewarding. Also on Friday, I participated in two scheduled panels, one each on Seabury Quinn and E.S. Nesbit. (On Sunday, I also took part in a panel to which I was added later-than-last-minute, on endings in horror fiction, and managed to try the collective patience of my fellow-panelists by complaining at length about the idea that horror narratives are supposed to impart some kind of lesson or moral to their audience. Oy: sorry about that, folks.) Saturday took me to Tony’s Clam Shop, there to be interviewed by Scott Edelman for his Eating the Fantastic podcast. (Which, I have to admit, was a bucket-list item of mine.) The only other scheduled event I took part in was Sunday’s Shirley Jackson awards, where my introductory duties included the sad task of briefly memorializing both Kit Reed and Jack Ketchum, friends to the award and fine writers both. Possibly the highlight of the award ceremony was Michael Kelly’s emotional win in the anthology category.
A good part of the weekend consisted of meals and conversations with various groups of people, a couple of them held at the Royal Hot Pot restaurant, which I highly recommend. Chandler Klang Smith is frighteningly smart, and we had a brief but appreciative discussion of Dan Chaon’s Ill Will. I also had the opportunity to listen to Nadia Bulkin discussing Michael Cisco’s theory of weird fiction with him, while I nodded sagely and acted as if I was keeping up with them. Phil Gelatt and Vicki Dalpe attended their first Readercon, and solidified my judgement that Vicki is one of the funniest people, ever; but I also got to listen to Vicki discussing Experimental Film with Gemma Files, particularly its treatment of motherhood, and to hear Gemma talk about what she’s working on for her follow-up novel.
(photo courtesy of Nick Kaufmann)
Once the con was done, I drove Michael Cisco and Farah Rose Smith to the train station in Beacon, enjoying the usual blend of intelligence and sheer ridiculousness I’ve come to expect from him on these yearly jaunts. Cisco also came up with a story that I am not at liberty to speak about, but that I expect will be appearing soon. Indeed, I would bet my ass on it.