I am really excited for Readercon next week (next week!) and I am especially excited about my schedule. And I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and wearing my brain down to a tiny little nub.
If you live in the area and are interested in what Readercon is all about, Thursday evening programming is free and open to the public.
Thursday, July 11
8:00 PM ME Have You Seen Me?: The Absent Children of Urban Fantasy. Toni L. P. Kelner, Shira Lipkin (leader), Natalie Luhrs, Veronica Schanoes, Romie Stott. Real cities are full of children; urban fantasy cities (Bordertown and Sesame Street excepted) appear to be populated almost entirely by adults. In a series of blog posts on the nature of urban fantasy, Kip Manley, working off of Farah Mendlesohn’s Rhetorics of Fantasy, posited that urban fantasy tends toward “immersive fantasies [hinging] on a rhetoric of ironic mimesis, taking for granted the wonders that distance its world from ours,” and leading to a cynicism towards magic. Are children absent from urban fantasy because their innate inclination toward wonder and play would detract from that cynicism? What place might there be for children in this genre, and what are the reasons behind their exclusion?
Suggested by Victoria McManus.
Friday, July 12
3:00 PM ME Knit One, Print Two: Handicrafts, Replicators, and the Future of Making. E.C. Ambrose, Natalie Luhrs, Adrienne Martini (leader), Eric Schaller, David G. Shaw. Take your average 21st-century American knitter on board the Enterprise and the first thing they’d do is replicate a heap of yarn and some needles, or roving and a wheel to spin it with. The replicator might obviate the need for real plants and animals as sources for raw materials, but not the desire of people to create beauty out of those raw materials, or just to do something with their hands on long trips. Given this, why do we almost never see handicrafts in SF futures with replicators? What can futurists learn from the recent simultaneous booms of 3D printers (which are arguably proto-replicators) and handicrafts, both under the header of “making” and often employed and enjoyed by the same people?
Suggested by Rose Fox and Anil Menon.
Saturday, July 13
10:00 AM ME Making Love Less Strange: Romance for SF/F Writers. E.C. Ambrose, Paula Guran, Victoria Janssen (leader), Natalie Luhrs, JoSelle Vanderhooft. When authors who aren’t familiar with romance-genre tropes incorporate romantic elements into speculative fiction, the resulting hybrids can look quite peculiar to romance readers. (Bruce Sterling’s Love Is Strange is a particularly striking recent example.) There can also be an aspect of reinventing the wheel; why struggle with the pacing of relationship development when romance authors have it all figured out? Our panel of envoys from Romanceland will explain the central themes and expectations of the romance genre, from “happily ever after” to physical and literary climaxes, to help SF/F authors looking for a wider audience hit all the notes that romance readers expect while avoiding the genre’s pitfalls.
8:00 PM ME The Gender of Reading Shame. Jordan Hamessley, Natalie Luhrs (leader), Julia Rios, Ann Tonsor Zeddies, Trent Zelazny. In a 2012 post on Book Riot, Amanda Nelson wrote about bookstore shoppers who display signs of shame or embarrassment about their reading choices. She concluded that this behavior is highly gendered: “If men read ‘unliterary’ but stereotypically masculine genres it’s fine. If women read ‘unliterary’ but stereotypically feminine genres it’s deserving of a brown paper bag in the form of increased e-reader sales so you can read in public in peace.” Our panelists discuss their own experiences with reading shame or lack thereof, whether the gender hypothesis holds true within the speculative fiction–reading community, and why we read books we’re ashamed of or feel shame about what we read.
Suggested by Ellen Kushner.
Sunday, July 14
1:00 PM F Egalitarian Character Trauma. Amanda Downum, Natalie Luhrs, Daniel José Older, Julia Rios (moderator), Sonya Taaffe. In 2008, Ekaterina Sedia wrote a blog post titled “PSA: Female Trauma!” in which she generated a list of traumatic things that can happen to female characters (spanning a scale from “high heels” to “losing a limb”) that don’t involve sexual violence. In 2012, Seanan McGuire blogged about an anonymous correspondent who asked her “when” her female protagonists were “finally” going to be raped, implying that rape is an inevitable outcome of being a woman. How can we counteract the predominance of sexual(ized) threats to female characters? Is it enough to simply write other things and move the Overton window, or does the status quo need to be directly subverted? Who’s doing it right and what are some examples of doing it wrong?
And just as a general note: I have a difficult time introducing myself to people I don’t know, so if you see me in a public space and want to say hello or if you need help, please approach me. Even if it looks like I’m occupied with knitting or reading.