Readercon 2016: Thursday and Friday

I’m well into my work week, catapulted right into it from FULL CON MODE, and this coming weekend, Hernandez and Sita and I are attending a ¡Cuban Party! at our buddy Chris’s house in New Jersey.

(Hernandez is cooking. Very exciting. Droolage. You should see the menu. Shall I post it? I’ll post it.)

– Seafood Paella
– Beans & Rice
– Yucca
– Roast Pork
– Boliche ??
– Cuban Bread

– Plantains??
– Avocados (garlic & lime)

– Flan
– Guava Paste with mild white semi-firm cheese, honey & mint

There! Good morning!

Readercon, for me, was a solid working con–but not so workaday that I didn’t have time to see panels and readings just for fun!

On Thursday night, I attended the BEES! panel:

Max Gladstone, Natalie Luhrs, Julia Rios (moderator), T.X. Watson. From the serious scientific question of colony collapse disorder, through the also-serious metaphoric House of Evil Bees of Captain Awkward, to Chuck Wendig’s ridiculous #facebees, bees seem to proliferate among the interests of our genre community. Why? Are we in it for the honey or the sting, or is it the combination that attracts us?

At this panel, I first heard the myth about “telling it to the bees,” which I thought was just delicious. It also occurred to me that the royalty-rich language in which we have steeped bee behavior might have obscured that behavior. How useful to have an ancient tradition of metaphor, and how beautiful–but does it bias our perception of an insect that has no notion of monarchy? Also, how bees are almost universally benign in literature (save, perhaps, the Winnie the Pooh incident, but he was being a bit of a sneak thief, posing as a little black rain cloud), whilst wasps and hornets are almost universally malignant.

Anyway. Sweet honey for thought!

Friday, I had one panel–which I last-minute moderated. Panels generally make me anxious, and moderating trebly so. But this one went pretty well.

I had a rehearsal at noon for the Miscellany, with Faye Ringel and Carlos Hernandez. I felt very musicianly, practicing up in our room, uke and synth and all. Faye is a goddess, and Hernandez is an agent of mischievous kindliness, and Chris Kreuter and my mother are just ZE BEST CHEERLEADERS. More on that later.

Unfortunately for me, rehearsals collided with Nicole Kornher-Stace’s reading. I was SERIOUSLY MOPED to miss it. Have I missed a single one of her readings since we’ve started attending the same cons? If so, it was only because I was scheduled against her. She read from her NEW SEQUEL to Archivist Wasp!

Hernandez read at 12:30, from The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, a story called “The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory,” one of his Gabi Réal stories–and one that will be reprinted soon in Lightspeed Magazine! Someone came up to him hours after the reading and told him that the story had been haunting him all day. It’s such a good one. Swoon.

I signed autographs at 3, and unlike the last time I had such a slot, PEOPLE ACTUALLY CAME. Not only that, but Gemma Files, Kathleen Jennings, and Hernandez and I just got to hang out for an hour and talk about books. Mainly about Lymond. Well, and The Heaven Tree. No, actually, I have a whole list. Want my list?

Skull and Hyssop
A Song for Summer
Medensky Square
The Secret Countess (sometimes The Countess Belowstairs)
My Family and Other Animals (BBC)
Strong Poison
Have His Carcass
Gaudy Night
Bus Man’s Honeymoon
The Decoy Bride (movie)
Sunshine on Leith (musical)

At 4, I moderated my panel:

Speculative Retellings. C.S.E. Cooney, Ben Francisco, Gwynne Garfinkle, Kathleen Howard, Catherynne M. Valente. Speculative elements in fiction are not limited to robots and ghosts and dragons. For ages, the stories that get told have almost always been by told straight white able rich men, and there may be no way of separating those stories from the culture of writing today. In stories like Travels With the Snow Queen by Kelly Link, or Shift by Nalo Hopkinson, retelling old stories written by white men becomes an inherent challenge to those narratives, and that challenge itself becomes a speculative element. What other elements can we bring to these stories, and will we ever get to a point where challenging the status quo is not seen as speculative?

This was lovely, and the panelists did most of my work for me. I’m glad I did my research and had questions prepared though. I like to throw the panel open to the audience a little earlier than some, because there are often more questions than we have time to answer, and I like a wider conversation. OR IS IT LAZINESS?

At 5, we had our Clockwork Phoenix 5 Reading:

Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Carlos Hernandez, Keffy Kehrli, Barbara Krasnoff, Cameron Roberson, Sonya Taaffe, A.C. Wise. Contributors to the bestselling fifth installment in the critically-acclaimed, boundary-expanding Clockwork Phoenix anthology series read excerpts from their stories.

And then, I dunno . . . Dinner?

More later. Gosh. I don’t know how I thought I’d get 4 days plus THE EXCITING NEWS in one post. I mean, this is me we’re talking about here.

I write long.

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