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Preparing for my first con

A month for now I will be attending my first science fiction convention. As a result, I’m getting prepared. No, it’s not getting some goofy costume or whatever ready. I’m doing what attracted me to the convention — reading.

ReaderCon 18 is the first weekend in July. It is a convention that focuses on the literature of SF. For example, one of its hallmarks is series of 30-minute author talks called “How I Wrote Novel Title.” Attendees are urged to read as many of the titles as possible, a mix of books just out in hardcover or reprinted in paperback. In fact, one of the con’s past slogans was, “The con that assigns homework!”

As a result, I’m on sort of a SF binge. I’ve read one of the novels by one of the guests of honor, Lucius Shepard, and plan to read another shortly before or on my way to the con. I also recently completed the latest (and Hugo-nominated) novel by Peter Watts, one of 110 authors confirmed to attend the convention. There will undoubtedly be several more added once the books for the talks are announced this month.

The programming also looks intriguing. Here’s just a couple of the panels that have attracted my attention so far:

Brilliant But Flawed— A panel on potentially excellent works that suffer from flaws that can cause them to fail, flaws that may well be unique to each reader’s perspective.

Can I Superstring That Story for You? — A discussion of the use and abuse of quantum mechanics as a basis for many of today’s hard SF works.

Political Beliefs and Fiction — Both the hidden and overt appearance and influence of political beliefs on SF.

F&SF Reviewing in the Blogosphere — Relatively self-explanatory.

Beyond Spacetime and DNA: The Other Sciences in Hard SF — The use of scientific fields other than physics and biology in hard sf.

Rebel, Rebel: Ex-Rocker Writers — SF writers with “a significant rock ‘n’ roll past” discuss the theme of rebellion in their lives and fiction.

SF in Other Tongues: What Are We Missing? — A discussion of SF originally written in languages other than English.

The Challenge of Near-Future Political Scenarios in SF — The benefits and risks of basing near future SF on potential political events.

Undoubtedly, this all sounds pretty geeky to those who are aren’t fans of speculative fiction. And who knows? Maybe it will be full of geeks? But for some reason spending a weekend with a bunch of strangers brought together solely by a love of reading a genre I’ve enjoyed for decades sounds like a great way to spend a July weekend.


The Revelation: Ninety percent of everything is crud.
Corollary 1:The existence of immense quantities of trash in science fiction is admitted and it is regrettable; but it is no more unnatural than the existence of trash anywhere.
Corollary 2: The best science fiction is as good as the best fiction in any field.

Stugeon’s Revelation, Theodore Sturgeon, Venture Science Fiction (March 1958)

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