Yay, Readercon is this coming weekend!
Without further ado, my schedule:
Thursday, July 10, 9 pm
What Don’t We Read—and Why? Scott Edelman, Stacey Friedberg, Natalie Luhrs, Sarah Smith (leader), Patty Templeton. If all of the signals—the reviews, the blurbs, the cover, the author, the publisher—suggest you’d hate a particular book, is that sufficient reason to pass on it? Have you ever tried to read something you thought you’d despise and realized that you loved it? Do you give every book a certain number of pages to win you over, or feel obligated to finish any book you start? If a certain critic praises something, does that make you want to run the other way? We’ll discuss these and many other ways not to read a book.
Friday, July 11, 7 pm
Modern Gods. Amal El-Mohtar (leader), Natalie Luhrs, Romie Stott, Ian Randal Strock. Corporations, multinationals, and governments (or seats of office) can be like modern gods: they exist solely because people believe in them and build up rituals to affirm and perpetuate that belief. Non-governmental entities often have political power, and they can theoretically live forever if they can find ways to remain relevant. They fight with other “gods” and may be broken into multiple demi-gods, a place from which they rise again or simply fade away. How do portrayals of gods reflect our interactions with the godlike legal and corporate entities of the modern world? When works such as Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings, Max Gladstone’s Craft sequence, and Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and the Coin series explicitly address corporations, systems of government, and economic systems in fantastical settings, how do those stories resemble or diverge from folklore and fantasy about more literal gods?
Saturday, July 12, 2 pm
Imagining the Author. John Crowley, Natalie Luhrs, Kate Marayuma, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Diane Weinstein. Is it possible to read a piece of fiction without keeping in mind that the author has a gender, an age, a profession, an ethnic identification, a height, a weight, or a race? And if it is possible to truly do away with assumptions, without inserting one’s own characteristics as a supposed neutral state, is it a good idea? How does assuming that the author is like or unlike the reader influence the reader’s experience of a piece, or a critic’s analysis of it? Is imagining the author a necessary starting point for any deep read or critique, or is this all ultimately a distraction from addressing the work itself?
And, as always: if I’m in a public area of the convention, I am happy for people to come and talk to me if they would like. I like meeting new people and am not always good at introducing myself because people are hard sometimes (often).