Readercon 30 Report

GoHs: Stephen Graham Jones, Tananarive Due
GoHs: Stephen Graham Jones, Tananarive Due (by Arley Sorg)

Readercon 30 was held July 11-14, 2019, in Quincy MA. Guests of honor were Tananarive Due and Stephen Graham Jones; Edward Bryant was the memorial guest of honor. Total attendance was 700; highest warm body count an estimated 650 on Saturday. The focus of Readercon is “imaginative literature” – literary science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their intersections. Programming was deliberately organized, with topics ranging from book-club style discussions to academic and critical examinations.

The event was held at the Boston Marriott Quincy for the fourth year. The Marriott offered good mingling spaces, a large outdoor patio, welcoming lobby, and fair restaurant and bar space; otherwise, the nearest dining options were over a mile away.

Rose Fox, Readercon 30’s program chair said, “We added a track of ‘brain break’ activities to the program this year and they were very well received,” as well as the “Make a Friend, Go to Dinner” informal meetup. There were 263 main programming items, including 84 readings, 73 panels, 37 kaffeeklatsches, 33 autograph sessions, 12 talks, interviews with the guests of honor (Due by Kate Maruyama and Jones by Paul Tremblay), a screening of an interview with Bryant, an open-mic reading for anyone inspired by his writing, the Shirley Jackson Awards, the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award for an under-recognized author (won by the late Carol Emshwiller), a memorial for Gene Wolfe, workshops, discussions, and more.

Shirley Jackson Board of Directors and Administrator
Shirley Jackson Board of Directors and Administrator: John Langan, Jack M. Haringa, Sarah Langan, F. Brett Cox, Paul Tremblay, JoAnn F. Cox (by Arley Sorg)

Panels covered genre topics from science fiction and fantasy to YA and horror, writing, gender, disability, publishing, race, science, food, and much more, such as “Latinx Authors Tear Down the Wall” with Lisa Bradley, Carlos Hernandez, José Pablo Iriarte, and Julia Rios; “Translation and Embedded Assumptions” with Anatoly Belilovsky, John Chu, Neil Clarke, Pablo Defendini, and Tamara Vardomskaya; and “Journalism at the End of the World” with Mike Allen, Jeff Hecht, Cadwell Turnbull, and T.X. Watson. There were also panels on the works of the guests of honor, as well as the works of Frank M. Robinson, last year’s Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award recipient. Book clubs included: The Steerswomen Series; essay clubs included: Decolonizing the Imagination. Charles Vess gave a talk on illustrating The Books of Earthsea; Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone discussed the writing of This Is How You Lose the Time War.

Odyssey Workshop Lunch
Odyssey Workshop Lunch (by Arley Sorg)

Evening events included book launches, a screening of Due’s documentary Horror Noire, the Meet the Pros(e) event, an ’80s and ’90s Dance, Karaoke hosted by Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers, the Rainbow Social, and game show “It Was A Dark and Stormy Mic” emceed by Heath Miller; they raised over $700 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 Darcie Little Badger, Phenderson Djèlí Clark, C.S.E. Cooney, Ellen Datlow, Meg Elison, Gemma Files, Theodora Goss, Elizabeth Hand, John Langan, Scott Lynch, Arkady Martine, Malka Older, L. Penelope, Vivian Shaw, Vandana Singh, DongWon Song, Michael Swanwick, Cecilia Tan, Catherynne M. Valente, Howard Waldrop, and more. Attending publishers included Scott Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mike Allen of Mythic Delirium, Bill Campbell of Rosarium, Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, Michael DeLuca of Small Beer, Yanni Kuznia of Subterranean Press, and Sheila Williams of Asimov’s.

Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers
Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers (by Arley Sorg)

Readercon 31 is scheduled for July 9-12, 2020 at the Boston Marriott Quincy Hotel in Quincy MA. Guests of honor will be Jeffrey Ford and Ursula Vernon, and Vonda N. McIntyre as the memorial guest of honor. For more information see: <>.

-Arley Sorg

This reportand more like it in the August 2019 issue of Locus.

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