As ever, I’ll be at Readercon – my favorite speculative fiction conference – in Boston this year. Next weekend, in fact! (It’s come round quickly.) Thanks to plaintive pleas to the program committee, my schedule won’t be quite as crazy as it was last year. I’ll be doing the following program items:
Thursday 12 July
8:00 PM RI No Longer Lonely in the Cloud: Digital Collaboration for Readers. Kathryn Cramer, Jim Freund, Erin Kissane (leader), John Edward Lawson, Graham Sleight. MORE Magazine has created a multi-city book club via group video call. Writers who used to hang out in cafes are now using Google+ hangouts as virtual coworking space. In2Books matches up kids with distant adult pen pals specifically for the purpose of discussing books. Kindles and Readmill let you share your marginalia with your friends. How are new concepts of socializing and togetherness affecting the ways we read, write, and talk about literature?
Friday 13 July
12:00 PM F Muzzling the Horse’s Mouth. Michael Dirda, David G. Hartwell, Veronica Schanoes (leader), Graham Sleight, Ruth Sternglantz.Conventions, zines, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook provide many venues for writers to shape the dialogue around their works. When it’s hard to avoid information about what a writer intended, how does that affect the critical reading experience? As readers and as critics, can we feel confident that we would have seen on our own what the writer has revealed to us? How do we differentiate and prioritize between our own insights and those shared by the author? Does the writer’s emphasis on some aspects of a work make it harder to see other aspects? And what happens when the critic’s desire to convey information about a work—such as an author’s stated intentions—comes into conflict with the critic’s desire to demonstrate a viable personal reading of the text?
5:00 PM RI Story Terminable and Interminable. Graham Sleight. How much do we want our stories to be about change, and how much do we want them to give us the same kind of experience each time? How much of an ending do we want our stories to have? Graham Sleight attempts to answer these questions in, um, under 50 minutes. He also intends to mention Star Trek, brands, churches, Gene Wolfe, Tony Kushner, James Tiptree Jr., the principles of stage magic, and the author he stole the title of the talk from.
Saturday 14 July
12:00 PM ME How We Edited the Third Edition of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. John Clute, Graham Sleight. John Clute and Graham Sleight discuss the development of the SFE’s latest incarnation.
Sunday 15 July
2:00 PM F When All You Have Is a Hammer, Get a Sonic Screwdriver. Debra Doyle, Lila Garrott, Glenn Grant, Graham Sleight (leader), Jo Walton. In an SF Signal podcast episode discussing Readercon 22, Jeff Patterson suggested that our traditional critical vocabulary may be ill-suited or inadequate for discussing space opera or hard SF. Is this true of hard SF in specific, or is there a broader problem of adapting mainstream critical vocabulary, largely evolved to discuss realistic fiction, to the particular problems of SF or fantasy? What are the specific aspects of the fantastic that seem to require special critical tools? Are certain critical terms borrowed from the fan or writer’s workshop communities, like “worldbuilding,” useful ways of extending our critical vocabularies?
The full program is here.