[Note from MK, 7/13/2006: This post has been mistitled. This is really for Readercon 16. But since so many people have linked to it, I have kept the incorrect title. If you want the scoop on the latest Readercon (the real number 17) click here]
So, we’re all exhausted sitting here in the hotel room, fueled only by coffee, goldfish, and wild, ebullient enthusiasm. I’m writing this as Paul M. Berger is giggling in a subdued but mildly hysterical manner, while Evil David (aka Mercurio D. Rivera) looks on with sinister intent. Devin J. Poore sits in the corner on the bed, laughing at the foolish mortals and their silly thoughts. In the last 36 hours (we can’t really do the math anymore) we’ve had a five hour road trip (with a few brief glimpses of rest stop havens and threats of exploding kidneys), have all been accused of murder by Johnathan Lethem, saw Joe Haldeman admit freely he’s an alcoholic while telling wonderful anecdotes over a glass of wine, had a dinner from the hotel buffet that was crunchy in the wrong places, and haven’t slept more than an hour. All in all, it’s been quite fun.
We would be remiss to not mention Ajit George, schmooze king, whose uncannily adept social skills have helped us meet many writers whose work we’ve long admired. We collectively thank him for allowing us to reap the benefits of his gregariousness and general animal magnetism. Fred Cataldo was last seen being coerced to drink more at the wine and cheese reception. We suspect we will join him in the near future.
Seen in the picture at left (taken by Paul Berger) are Fred Cataldo, Devin J. Poore, Mercurio D. Rivera, and Ajit George at the Meet the Pros reception last night. Each pro had a sheet of stickers printed with a quote from his or her body of work. The idea was that we’d go around and collect stickers as an excuse to meet the author. So we ambulated (under the influence of several fermented beverages), talking to such luminaries as Samuel (Chip) Delaney, Ellen Kushner, Jim Freund, James Patrick Kelley, Holly Black, Greer Gilman, & others. Kelly Link gave us a sticker that said, “There aren’t any giant spiders.” But Paul Berger assures me that’s not the case. You can ask him about that story later.
The picture at left (Paul Berger’s wonderful eye yet again) shows Mercurio D. Rivera, James Patrick Kelly, Will McArthy, Fred Cataldo, Holly Black, and the back of Johnathan Lethem’s head. A few of us were invited to play a psychologically abusive game called “Mafia,” which if you haven’t played is a bit like being interrogated by the CIA and an intervention all at once. Ellen Kushner might call it an interstitial game. All of us in the AlteredFluid writers’ group had been friends for a long time, but it’s going to be a long ride back to New York together. Dignity was lost, integrity was questioned, and all of us were falsely accused of being in the mob. Notice the shifty body language as tensions escalate. Jonathan Lethem, for some reason we have yet to identify, had it out for Matthew Kressel. It must have been his guilty looking shirt. This was a valuable opportunity to rub shoulders with and alienate some of our favorite writers.
The picture at right is from one panel dealing with secondary characters. Shown are Teresa Nielsen Hayden, James Patrick Kelly, Delia Sherman, & Ellen Kushner. There were lots of interesting panels and readings. We saw Paul Tremblay, fiction editor of ChiZine, read his story from The Book of Final Flesh. Kris Dikeman, who couldn’t be here today because she is currently attending Clarion West, also has a story in that anthology. Some of the most interesting discussions occurred when the speakers digressed from the panel’s topic with anecdotes about their personal experience. Joe Haldeman’s stories were particularly memorable, especially the ones about his war experiences and the mechanics of his writing routine. We saw a professional writers’ workshop in action and discovered that they focus on many of the same points and issues that we focus on in our own writers’ group, AlteredFluid. That was heartening. Some of the other panel highlights included a discussion of interstitial arts with Ellen Kushner, an overview of the speculative fiction market, and the reading protocols of slipstream. Due to 36 hours of constant stimulation, Mercurio Rivera and Matthew Kressel appeared to outside observers to be unconscious during the panel on “Traumatized Authors.” We are a bit worried about them because we stll have 24 hours to go. We expect to have another night of interpersonal tension and recrimination, schmoozing, boozing, and ultimately losing sleep.
Farewell for now,
Paul M. Berger, Fred Cataldo, Ajit George, Matthew Kressel, Devin J. Poore, & Mercurio D. Rivera