Of firsts and SF books

It has to be their reputation that makes me hesitate to say publicly that I registered for my first sci-fi convention this past week. It’s Readercon 18, held each July near Boston.

Now I haven’t gone off the deep end. I am told this isn’t one of those conventions where people show up dressed as their favorite Star Wars or Star Trek character. It’s named Readercon for good reason. What the site says about the convention is backed up by the research I’ve done on it: “Readercon is, depending on your point of view, either an annual literary conference (except it’s infinitely more fun than that) or an annual science fiction convention (except we’ve stripped away virtually everything except talking about and buying books).”

I figure something that has an “Bookaholics Anonymous” on Friday night each year speaks to me. I actually got hotel reservations a few months ago but only registered this week before an early registration discount expired. The junket won’t be final until I commit to airline tickets and I’m going to hold off on those for a bit.

My wife is a tad bit concerned about that “buying books” phrase at the end of the Readercon description. In addition to panels and the like, the con features a “Bookshop” of 25-30 book dealers. I have assured her that airline luggage weight restrictions will provide some restraint.

Speaking of SF books, The SF Site has its 2006 top 10 list selected by its editors. While there’s actually 12 on the list due to a three-way tie for the 10th position, its top selection is actually a nonfiction work. I’ve only read two of its selections, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End, which were two of the books that tied for 10th. Votes by SF Site readers also produce a best of list. Neither McCarthy’s nor Vinge’s book made the list although the editors’ top pick finished No. 2 on the readers list. The only item on the readers list I read was Glasshouse by Charles Stross, which, surprisingly, didn’t make either the editors’ top 10 list or their honorable mention list.

Finally, SF Signal uses the Locus magazine annual issue to take a look at the number of SF books over the last decade. It looks like the genre produces right around 2,500 books a year. Interestingly, less than two-thirds of them are new books.

Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?

Kelvin R. Throop

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