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July 9 - 12
at the Burlington Marriott (Burlington, MA)

Woohoo! Readercon starts tomorrow! If you haven't registered yet, you can do so at the door.
See the program here. See the list of guests/speakers here.

Timewarp Back to the 80s for an Unexpected Dance Party

Bring your dancing shoes. There will be an 80s Dance on Friday night at Readercon 26.  Yay!

After our Meet the Pros(e) party, DJ Sioban will break out a playlist of A-ha, Depeche Mode, Cyndi Lauper, The Go-Gos, Rick Springfield and many more to take us back to a time known for great dance tunes and zany clothing trends. You don’t have to go anywhere; everybody there will simply fall through a timewarp right back to the 1980s.

Why is a dance party on the Readercon program after 25 years of building a convention brand 100% focused on speculative fiction books with a very strong (ahem, mandatory) emphasis on books?

The short answer is that Kelley Eskridge, SF author and wife of Nicola Griffith, one of our R26 Guests of Honor, suggested it.  We thought it sounded like a fun way to balance out the intellectual seriousness of the conversations, panels, and other programming throughout the weekend.  Kind of like chocolate covered pretzels, which combine salty and sweet into something extra delicious. (Note: Even if you don’t like this pretzel analogy, you may still enjoy the 80s Dance.)

A slightly longer answer from Kelley herself about why she suggested it:

Because I love to dance with speculative fiction book-lovers, who are the most seriously rocking people in the universe. I tweeted this wild wish after reading about John Scalzi's 80s dance at Detcon last year, and was delighted when Readercon responded You betcha!, without even knowing that I was (briefly) a go go dancer who specialized in... that's right. I can't promise to be the best dancer in the world, but I am enthusiastic and entertaining and I LOVE THE 80s. Please, please come dance with me!

So come join us on Friday night at 11:30 pm for Readercon’s first ever 80s Dance.  Decade appropriate clothing is encouraged and may even be celebrated with an award or two.

Dig through your closet, your basement, your storage unit, or your local consignment shop for a signature 80s party look that you can rock.

In fact, dressing like a character from an 80s SFnal video like Patty Smyth's "The Warrior" or Rick Springfield's "Human Touch" is HIGHLY WISHED FOR by the Readercon staff, but not required.

See you there!

More Readercon Panels!

July 9 - 12
at the Burlington Marriott (Burlington, MA)

PLEASE NOTE THIS CORRECTION FROM THE EMAIL VERSION OF THIS POST: Online registration is now closed. You can still register at the door. Registration Info  .

Readercon is less than two weeks away! We're so excited about this year's speaker panels. Here are just three samples from the general-interest category:

Modern Gods
Corporations, multinationals, and governments (or seats of office) can be like modern gods: they exist solely because people believe in them and pretend they exist. Many of the non-governmental entities also have political power in many countries, and all can theoretically live forever. They fight with other "gods" and are regularly broken into multiple demi-gods in defeat or simply by choice. They can exist like this, rise again, or simply fade away. Are other trappings of god there too like receiving worship, capriciousness, jealousy, wrath, etc...?

Mystery and Spec Fic Crossovers
Genres don't exist in a vacuum. There are many books that draw from both the speculative fiction and mystery toolboxes, in both macro ways--China Mieville's The City & The City and Peter F. Hamilton's The Great North Road are catalyzed by hard-boiled murder investigations--and micro ways--urban fantasy was initially defined by its relationship to noir, now often more evident in tone than in plot. Where is this crossover most satisfying? How do magic and advanced technology open up new avenues of investigation or methods of befuddling the detectives? How have trends, tropes, and developments in each genre impacted crossover works?

I Put Books in Your Books So You Can Read While You Read
Nested stories consist of at least one outer story and at least one inner story. Usually the characters in the outer story are cast as the audience of the inner story, as in Hamlet or The Orphan's Tales. But inner stories have another audience: the reader. How do we read inner stories? When our attention is brought to its story-ness, are we more conscious of being the audience than when we immerse ourselves in outer stories? Do we see ourselves as separate from the audience characters--thinking of them as the "real" audience even though they're fictional--or do we connect with them through the mutual experience of observation? And when do inner stories take on lives of their own, separate from their frames?

For more panel descriptions, see our previous post "Five Great Reasons to Attend Readercon 26"

Readercon covers the whole of imaginative literature (or "speculative fiction") from hard science fiction to fantasy, horror, and the unclassifiable, but with a special emphasis on the most literary, ambitious, and cutting-edge work in the field. Our regular Program Participants include writers, editors, publishers, and critics from the Northeast, and those from around the world with a special affinity for our emphasis.

Be seeing you soon!


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How Nicola Griffith Creates Characters

IMPORTANT: Readercon 26 Burlington Marriott Hotel Reservation Deadline is JUNE 19
If you’re planning to stay at the Burlington Marriott for Readercon, book your room by June 19! We’ve contracted a block of rooms at the special price of $139/night. To reserve your room, call the hotel at 781-229-6565 and request the special Readercon rate. LEARN MORE ABOUT HOTEL

Hello again from Readercon 26!

We are delighted that Nicola Griffith, author of Hild, The Aud Books, Slow River and many more, will be one of our two guests of honor. In this pre-Readercon chat, we ask her how she creates such compelling characters.

The SF/F marketplace has changed dramatically since you published your first work, “Mirrors and Burnstone” in 1988. Have those changes affected your work in terms of the characters you create? If so, how?

My characters have always been women: women who love women, at that. I wrote one short story from a male perspective—but he fell in love with a woman who loved women. So, hmmn, that seems to be a fixed point in my fictional reality.

You live in the Pacific Northwest. Does Seattle culture find its way into your characters? If so, how? Examples?

I don't know if the culture finds its way into my characters, but the city does. A lot of my stories are set here, and one of my novels, the third Aud book, Always. If I planned to write a fourth, Aud would live here. As my characters are heavily influenced by their environment...

Do your characters come to life slowly as you write, or do they spring forth, fully formed? Can you describe how they come to you?

Their essence—temperament, if you like—is just there, fully armed, ready to go. But that's true of any newborn. What makes a person wholly themselves is an accretion of experience, the consequences of decisions taken or avoided. Part of a novelist's job, I think, is to accelerate that process mentally, to greenhouse the character so that the adult is ready to go on page one; that way the reader is immersed immediately in her experience. Then, in the course of the novel, she grows and changes as a result of what happens while we follow her.

But, yes, I also learn about my character as I write, because I'm forced to really think about every single thing she does, says, thinks. What she chooses to eat or wear, how she earns her money, the vocabulary and imagery she uses—with herself, with others—tells me a huge amount about her. Most of that I just know, it all came to me subconsciously while I was thinking, say, about the environment she moves through. Some of it I try and discard until it feels right. It's like a test flight: the plane is what it is, but flying it gives me a better idea of its capabilities, clues as to how to improve it. Or, y'know, it just crashes and burns.

Aud came to me in a dream: a woman asleep, sprawled naked, confident as a lion in an empty apartment in a brand-new apartment complex. She wakes with a man pointing a gun to her head. Without blinking, without any pause for thought or transition from sleep to waking nightmare, she surges off the floor and, whap!, kills him.

I woke up thinking, Wow, who was that? What kind of person can just...kill someone? Later that day, I was in the local library and I checked out two books: one, a history of Norway, including a woman called Aud the Deepminded, and the other about Norwegian architecture. The pieces snicked together: she was Aud, part Norwegian, part American. She had skills.

Hild, I wrestled with for a long time. I couldn't see her at all. And then one day I just began, and there she was, under a tree, three years old...

Which of your side characters is your favorite and why?

Ooof. There are so many. From Ammonite: Danner and Aoife, because they do their best in a hard situation. From Slow River: Spanner, because she breaks my heart. From the Aud novels: Dornan, because he's so damn cheerful, Kick, because she's like me in many ways, and Aud's mother because, well, just because. And then there's Hild. My favourite characters are legion. Breguswith is so Machiavellian it makes me grin; Edwin's cunning and self interest thrill me; Begu makes me inordinately fond; Onnen feels like the one who gave Hild a mother's love; the brothers Berht make me laugh; Gwladus fills me with admiration—and on and on. I love them all. Mostly.

Do you have complete control over your characters, or do they sometimes behave in ways that surprise you?

When I was at BEA a few months before Hild was published, I did a reading with some literary novelists—the kind of people who win the National Book Award etc. A member of the audience asked us if we knew the endings of our books or if we just let the characters or events of the novel have their way with us. (That's not exactly how he put it—he wouldn't have dared; it was one of those evenings—but that's pretty much what he meant: Were we so besotted we were easily swayed?) All the Famous and Critically acclaimed writers said, essentially, that the prose was in charge. I snorted. The prose is not in charge. That's like a painter saying the pigment is in charge. I’m a fucking writer not a channel to the spirit world; I am god of my work. I said as much, and told them that I knew the very last line of the very last Hild novel and I'm heading there relentlessly.

What I didn't say is that there are myriad ways to get there.

Every day when I sit down at my keyboard, I have a notion of what I have to achieve that day—where Hild is, who she's with, some notion of what has to happen—but the actual events and the dialogue often take me by surprise. And, to be frank, the surprises often delight me. Some of the best moments of the book were unplanned. The framework is planned but not the moments, or the people who appear with a bang and flash and a bag of writerly jewels. Begu came from nowhere, and Gwladus and Oeric and Morud. All the gesiths and half the thegns. Some of the pithy metaphors and delicious imagery. I just sit down and know stuff will happen. And so it does.

See Nicola Griffith, and our other guest of honor, Gary K. Wolfe at Readercon 26, July 9 - 12 at the Burlington Marriott, Burlington, MA.




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Are you planning to attend Readercon 26?
Here are important details and deadlines you need to know.


JULY 9-12
at the Burlington Marriott
Burlington, MA

Readercon is an annual conference or convention devoted to "imaginative literature" — literary science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the unclassifiable works often called "slipstream."

A typical Readercon features over 150 writers, editors, publishers, and critics, attracting prominent figures from across the U.S., and from Canada, the U.K., and occasionally even Australia and Japan. They are joined by some 600 of their most passionate and articulate readers for a long weekend of intense conversation.

This year’s guests of honor are Nicola Griffith and Gary K. Wolfe.


Conference Pre-registration Deadline is JUNE 15
Pre-register and attend the full weekend of Readercon for just $65.
After June 15th, registration is $75 at the door. LEARN MORE/REGISTER

Hotel Reservation Deadline is JUNE 19
If you’re planning to stay at the hotel, book your room by June 19! We have contracted a block of rooms at the special price of $139/night. To reserve your room, call the hotel at 781-229-6565 and be sure to request the special Readercon rate. LEARN MORE

"The reason I love Readercon is that it's all about the words. The people who read them mix effortlessly with the people who write them… The panels are lively and unusual, the panelists ardent and articulate.” — Hugo-winning author James Patrick Kelly, in Asimov's, naming Readercon as one of three recommended conventions (the others being the World Science Fiction and World Fantasy Conventions)

We look forward to seeing you at Readercon 26!

Five Great Reasons to Attend Readercon 26

Getting excited for Readercon 26? Still wondering whether you should attend? (Hint: Yes, you should!) Here are just five of the many exciting panels you’ll enjoy at the con.

From the French Revolution to Future History: Science Fiction and Historical Thinking.
General-interest panel. “It’s no accident H.G. Wells wrote both [The] Time Machine and The Outline of History (one of the most popular history books ever), [and] it’s no accident that science fiction writers are also often historical novelists: Kim Stanley Robinson, Nicola Griffith, etc.” writes arts journalist Jeet Heer. For Heer, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction and horror can all be grouped under the meta-genre of Fantastika, and emerged from the “epistemological rupture” of the French Revolution, which “forced us to think of history in new way, with new emphasis on ruptures and uncontrollable social forces.” Is Heer right to see these commonalities? Is it useful to think of historical fiction in fantastika terms? Does science fiction in particular borrow more from historical thinking than alternate and future histories?

How Readers Use Spoilers. General-interest panel. Some readers seek out spoilers so they know what to brace for. Trigger warnings are spoilers that serve a protective purpose. Reading a book constitutes spoiling oneself for the reread, but a book can't become a comfort read until it's well-worn and familiar. Fanfic tags indicating the central relationship of a story can be seen as spoilers, but their purpose is to draw in readers looking for that relationship more than to warn readers away. We'll discuss these and other ways that readers use spoilers as tools to shape the reading experience.

Fandom and Rebellion. General-interest panel. "No one is more critical of art than fandom. No one is more capable of investigating the nuances of expression than fandom—because it’s a vast multitude pooling resources and ideas. Fandom is about correcting the flaws and vices of the original. It’s about protest and rebellion, essentially.... Fandom is not worshipping at the alter of canon. Fandom is re-building it because they can do better." (http://ifeelbetterer.tumblr.com/post/ 54202921785/a-word-about-fandom) It's clear that authors ignore fandom at their own risk, but what is it about fandom that makes their remixes/fanfic "better" (if we accept that)?

A Palantir in Every Pocket: Magical Tech in Speculative Fiction. General-interest panel. In his “Not A Manifesto” (http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/10/not-a-manifesto.html), Charles Stross writes: “we are living in a 21st century that resembles a mutant Shadowrun—by turns a cyberpunk dystopia and a world where everyone has access to certain kinds of magic. And if you want to explore the human condition under circumstances which might plausibly come to pass, these days the human condition is constrained by technologies so predictably inaccessible that they might as well be magic. So magic makes a great metaphor for probing the human condition. We might not have starships, but there's a Palantir in every pocket.” Is urban fantasy more suitable for describing our world than space opera or fantasy? How will writers approach a future that is growing increasingly urban and magical?

Writing in the Anthropocene: SF and the Challenge of Climate Change. General-interest panel. Science fiction and fantasy have often dealt with fictional apocalyptic scenarios, but what about the real-world scenario unfolding right now? Climate change, or climate disruption, is the most challenging problem faced by humankind, and some have called it a problem of the imagination, as much as economics and environment. In the wake of the latest scientific reports on what is happening and what might be in store for us, it is important to examine how imaginative fiction might convey the reality, the immediacy, and the alternative scenarios of the climate problem. Where do we go from here?




• Tell your friends, your SF readers, and your social media followers about Readercon and why they should come.

• Join and post often on our Facebook Group.

• Tweet up a Readercon storm! Follow @Readercon. Use hashtag #readercon.

• Don't miss a single update! If you haven’t already done so, join our mail list and get Readercon news sent right to your inbox. SIGN UP HERE.
Whether you’re a writer looking to improve your craft or a reader looking for a deeper understanding of your favorite stories, you’ll be sure to love the “How I Wrote” author talks at Readercon.

These talks are a fascinating look inside the minds of writers. You’ll learn how they arrive at a premise, plan out their plot, whether their characters are the result of meticulous planning or spring out fully formed on the page.

This year we have two How I Wrote talks for you.

First up, Ken Liu will discuss his recent epic fantasy The Grace of Kings in which wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice. Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty. Liu will discuss his writing process as well as his research for the book.

The other talk will be a discussion between Kelly Link and Nicole Kornher-Stace discussing how they handled their recent works Get in Trouble and Archivist Wasp, respectively. Link's recent book of stories for adults continues her explorations of myth and human relationships, while Kornher-Stace's new YA novel (published by Link's Big Mouth House) explores what happens when the underpinnings of myths are discovered in a society where those myths still matter very, very much. The two will discuss their work and their strategies for writing.

You don’t have to read the books ahead of time, but we encourage it so you can get the most out of these talks at Readercon 26.

Please come and enjoy getting a behind-the-scenes look into what may become your new favorites!



  • Tell your friends, your SF readers, and your social media followers about Readercon and why they should come.

  • Join and post often on our Facebook Group

  • Tweet up a Readercon storm! Follow @Readercon. Use hashtag #readercon.

  • Don't miss a single update! Join our mail list and get Readercon news sent right to your inbox. SIGN UP HERE.

Readercon 26 Book Clubs!

Readercon Book Club

We are the con that assigns homework! We hope you’ll join in the funby reading some or all of these wonderful selections and share your thoughts in the discussion events for them at Readercon 26.

Recent Fiction: Persona, by Genevieve Valentine

In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young country in this near-future political thriller. Restraint is a mode of composition with Valentine, both in the beautifully understated sparsity of her prose and in her protagonists' taut, tense stillness. In Persona especially, where the degree to which one has or has not smiled reveals or conceals a wealth of information, restraint is crucial to a Face's survival. Persona brings up questions of identity and celebrity, managing to be a tense, carefully wrought thriller while still nodding and winking at the camera. You'll never look at a red carpet the same way again.

Classic Fiction: Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A prominent turn-of-the-century social critic and lecturer, Charlotte Perkins Gilman is perhaps best known for her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," a chilling study of a woman's descent into insanity, and Women and Economics, a classic of feminist theory that analyzes the destructive effects of women's economic reliance on men.

In Herland, a vision of a feminist utopia, Gilman employs humor to engaging effect in a story about three male explorers who stumble upon an all-female society isolated somewhere in South America. Noting the advanced state of the civilization they've encountered, the visitors set out to find some males, assuming that since the country is so civilized, "there must be men." A delightful fantasy, the story enables Gilman to articulate her then-unconventional views of male-female roles and capabilities, motherhood, individuality, privacy, the sense of community, sexuality, and many other topics.

Decades ahead of her time in evolving a humanistic, feminist perspective, Gilman has been rediscovered and warmly embraced by contemporary feminists. An articulate voice for both women and men oppressed by the social order of the day, she adeptly made her points with a wittiness often missing from polemical writings.

In Memorium YA Fiction: Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett

The second book in the Tiffany Aching series sees Pratchett's young heroine ready to begin her magical apprenticeship, which goes nothing like she expects and leads to trouble, especially with other young witches-in-training. What she doesn't know is something insidious is coming after her, and none of the other witches can help. We wanted to do something to mark the passing of genre giant Pratchett, and while any of his books would be worth talking about, the Tiffany Aching series is some of his most thoughtful work. The adventures of a young girl learning what it means to be a witch, demystifying some aspects and finding deeper mysteries of life and magic in others, all while learning to be clever, kind, and brave, speak deeply to us. We hope you'll consider sharing this book with your children and bringing them to the discussion as well.

Recent Non-Fiction: Dataclysm: Who we are (When we think no one's looking), by Christian Rudder
Our personal data has been used to spy on us, hire and fire us, and sell us stuff we don’t need. In Dataclysm, Christian Rudder uses it to show us who we truly are. For centuries, we’ve relied on polling or small-scale lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly, in vast numbers, and without filters. Data scientists have become the new demographers. Rudder grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a world where these explorations are possible.

Coming soon: How I Wrote Talks!



  • Tell your friends, your SF readers, and your social media followers about Readercon and why they should come.

  • Join and post often on our Facebook Group

  • Tweet up a Readercon storm! Follow @Readercon. Use hashtag #readercon

Happy Monday Readercon friends! Earlier I was here talking about a fundraiser for sound equipment, and today is the day that the fundraiser begins! Please take a look at our Indigogo page for all of the super cool stuff people have given us to entice you! We actually have so much we couldn't even fit it all on the page at once, so the overflow prizes are listed here.

What's that, you want a sampling of what we're offering you? Ok check this out: Allen Steele gave us a gorgeous map of his Coyote world. There are only three of these in existence, and he signed this one and gave it to us to give to you. Wow. Another incredible one-of-a-kind thing? Barry Longyear gave us a giant monster. I'm not kidding. He calls it his first-born son. You should probably just go look, I'm not going to be able to do this thing justice. It's science fiction history though, and it's wild.

There's original art, signed books, critique sessions from editors and even one from John Clute. Yeah, THAT John Clute, it's going to be awesome. We have t-shirts, mugs, hats, I'm even offering some hand-knit robot mittens, and some fingerless mitts that will be perfect for Salon F on Saturday during Readercon!

So yeah, we have awesome cool prizes from our awesome cool community and everyone should GO LOOK at it all and SHARE THE LINK EVERYWHERE thank you thank you thank you.

And finally, I promise not to post about this here so often it becomes tedious, but there will be a few more posts as the campaign continues. Definitely no more than one a day. Thank you.

Help Readercon Sound Better! (Part One)

Hello Readercon friends! We're looking to buy new sound equipment for Readercon this year and we'd love your help. We'll be running an Indigogo campaign in a few weeks and we're looking for donations of prizes. We're getting some really intensely cool stuff from the guests that come to Readercon, and wanted to extend this to our whole community. If you have books, ARCs, neat things that you think would be of interest to someone else in the Readercon community and want to donate it to us for the campaign, we'd love the help. If you have something to donate please email stefan@readercon.org and tell us:
1. What it is
2. A description of the item, or pictures
3. Quantity if more than one and
4. Approximate value.

If you don't want to give us something for the campaign but want to help, get ready to send us money and signal boost this thing once it goes live. We'll post here, twitter, and Facebook and every retweet and share gets us closer to our goal. When the campaign is live we'll also explain what we're going to be doing with the new sound equipment, but one hint I'll drop now is: clip on mics. "What?" I hear you asking. "Why?" Well if you've ever been towards the back of Salon F while a panelist up front speaks everywhere *except* their mic, you'll understand why. It's going to be awesome, and the Readercon community of authors and editors is already showing us some super cool stuff that you're going to get excited about.

Thanks for reading!

Regarding a complaint

We are aware of a Readercon-related harassment complaint posted to Facebook, and have reached out to the complainant in hopes of learning more about her concerns. We have already asked the person mentioned in the complaint to refrain from contacting the complainant, including through intermediaries.