Readercon 29 Report

Alex Shvartsman, GoH Ken Liu, Ian Randal Strock, Sally Wiener Grotta, LJ Cohen, John Murphy, Randee Dawn. Photo by Randee Dawn

Readercon 29 was held July 12-15, 2018, in Quincy MA. Guests of honor were Ken Liu and Nisi Shawl; E. Nesbit was the memorial guest of honor. There were an estimated 740 attendees over the entire weekend. The focus of Readercon is “imaginative literature” – literary science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their intersections. Programming was, as always, carefully organized and curated, with topics ranging from casual book-club style discussions to deep academic and critical examinations.

The event was held at the Boston Marriott Quincy for the third year. The Marriott remains a comfortable space for the convention, located just outside town with a welcoming lobby, a bar, and decent restaurant space, though there remains a dearth of good outside dining options in the immediate vicinity.

There were 95 main programming items, including panels, talks workshops, and discussions, plus 78 readings, two interviews with the guests of honor (Liu by John P. Murphy and Shawl by Bill Campbell), numerous kaffeeklatsches and autograph signings, the Shirley Jackson Awards, the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award for an under-recognized author (won by the late Frank M. Robinson), and memorials for Gardner Dozois and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Panels covered genre topics from science fiction and fantasy to YA and horror, writing, gender, disability, publishing, race, estate planning, and much more, such as “Consent Culture in Fiction” with KT Bryski, Teri Clarke, Maria Dahvana Headley, Hillary Monahan, and Victoria Sandbrook; “La Sagrada Chingonez: The Sacred Badassery of Latinx Speculative Fiction” with Pablo Defendini, José Pablo Iriarte, Malka Older, Julia Rios, and Sabrina Vourvoulias; and “Afrofuturism… and Beyond!” with Rob Cameron, Phenderson Djèlí Clark, Nisi Shawl, Romie Stott, and Terence Taylor. There were also panels on the works of the guests of honor, as well as the works of Seabury Quinn, the recipient of last year’s Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. Book clubs included: Recent Fiction on Mark Danielewski’s The Familiar and Recent Non-Fiction on Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase. Catherynne M. Valente gave a talk on writing Space Opera, and Mark Oshiro discussed writing Anger Is a Gift.

Aaliyah Mari Hudson, June Cotton, Sally Wiener Grotta, GoH Nisi Shawl. Photo by Sally Wiener Grotta

Evening events included the traditional Meet the Pros(e) event, an ’80s and ’90s Dance, and the Miscellany, which featured authors taking part in the game show “It Was a Dark and Stormy Mic” emceed by Heath Miller; they raised $1,267.45 for RAICES (The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services). The Tiptree Bakesale raised $600 to support the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. The bookshop featured 22 dealers, including booksellers, publishers, and related organizations.

As always, there were a large number of notable professionals in attendance, including Judith Berman, John Chu, Michael Cisco, John Clute, C.S.E. Cooney, F. Brett Cox, Ellen Datlow, Samuel R. Delany, Michael Dirda, Scott Edelman, Gregory Feeley, Gemma Files, Max Gladstone, Liz Gorinsky, Elizabeth Hand, Alexander Jablokov, James Patrick Kelly, Nicole Kornher-Stace, John Langan, Yoon Ha Lee, Marissa Lingen, Ben Loory, Shawna McCarthy, Mimi Mondal, James Morrow, Julia Rios, Veronica Schanoes, Nikhil Singh, Chandler Klang Smith, Michael Swanwick, Sonya Taaffe, Henry Wessells, Fran Wilde, and many more. Attending publishers included Mike Allen of Mythic Delirium; Yanni Kuznia of Subterranean Press; Sheila Williams of Asimov’s; Gordon Van Gelder of F&SF; Michael DeLuca of Small Beer; and Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld. Locus was represented by Gary K. Wolfe.

Sioban Krzywicki was conchair for the first time, taking over from Rachel Borman. Readercon 30 is scheduled for July 11-14, 2019 at the Boston Marriott Quincy Hotel in Quincy MA. Guests of honor will be Tananarive Due and Stephen Graham Jones. For more information about past years and next year’s programming events, see the Readercon website.

This report and more like it in the August 2018 issue of Locus.

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