June 26th, 2012
I’m going to be at Readercon in Burlington, MA, on July 12-15 — probably my favourite convention all year long! — and the program schedule is live today. If you’re attending, here’s where I’m going to be:
Friday, July 13
11:00 AM NH Group Reading: Mythic Poetry. Mary Agner, Mike Allen, Erik Amundsen, Leah Bobet, C.S.E. Cooney, Gemma Files, Gwynne Garfinkle, April Grant, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Shira Lipkin, Adrienne J. Odasso, Julia Rios, Darrell Schweitzer, Sonya Taaffe. Over the past decade, speculative poetry has increasingly turned toward the mythic in subject matter, with venues such as Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Stone Telling, Cabinet des Fées, Jabberwocky, and the now-defunct Journal of the Mythic Arts showcasing a new generation of poets who’ve redefined what this type of writing can do. Come to the reading and hear new and classic works from speculative poetry’s trend-setters.
1:00 PM G Through a Glass, Dystopianly. Leah Bobet, Gwendolyn Clare, Jack Haringa (leader), Alaya Dawn Johnson, Shira Lipkin. Millions of words have been written on the current dystopian trend in young adult literature; the consensus seems to be that dystopias are a reflection of the state of being a modern teenager, feeling trapped and uncertain of who you are. Fair enough. But given that the teen years are often when people first become engaged with wider world concerns—and given that these books are written by adults aware of those concerns—perhaps there are also particular anxieties about the current state of society and the world feeding the popularity of books like Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games or Ali Condie’s Matched. The Hunger Games, for example, can be read as commentary on the issues surrounding the Occupy protests, with those in power controlling resources as a way of maintaining order at the cost of tremendous collateral damage to the innocent. Is this a useful way of reading these stories? Are there similar issues we can discern in other recent young adult fictions? And what issues might we expect to see reflected in future YA works?
3:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Leah Bobet, James Morrow.
6:00 PM F Speech Patterns. Judith Berman, Leah Bobet, Greer Gilman, Sarah Smith (leader), Vinnie Tesla. Writers can adopt the convention that people in the future (or past) speak just as they do now. Or they can take contemporary speech patterns and tweak them to suggest the different time or place. Or they can go for verisimilitude (historical or imagined). Why do we see more tweaking of speech patterns in stories set in the past than the future? Is altering speech patterns to give a flavor of the future an underused technique, or does it present more difficulties (see Riddley Walker, A Clockwork Orange, or Ambient)? Some writers the altered speech pattern for the aliens reserve, as a way of underscoring their different psychology. What other techniques are available?
8:00 PM F Reimagining Protagonist Agency. Nathan Ballingrud, Leah Bobet (leader), John Clute, Scott Lynch, Jo Walton. Historically, the bulk of SF&F has dealt with protagonists taking direct physical (or cognitive) action to solve problems. They were brilliantly competent men and women, or destined healers of a wounded land: their agency in their story was obvious and indisputable. Recently, a number of authors have been depicting protagonists with more subtle types of agency. Many readers and critics have reacted by labeling such protagonists, negatively, as passive. Our panelists discuss why and how they’ve tried to expand the limits of what is popularly considered to be agency, and lessons they’ve learned for effectively communicating these ideas to readers.
Saturday, July 14
12:00 PM E Autographs. Leah Bobet, Jo Walton.
2:00 PM G The City and the Strange. Leah Bobet, Amanda Downum, Lila Garrott (leader), Stacy Hill, Ellen Kushner, Howard Waldrop. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs writes, “By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.” N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy demonstrates that epic-feeling fantasy can still take place entirely within the confines of a single city. Fictional metropolises such as Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris, China Miéville’s New Crobuzon, and Catherynne M. Valente’s Palimpsest are entire worlds in themselves, and the fantasy cities of Lankmar and Ankh-Morkpork shine as centers of intrigue and adventure. In what other works, and other ways, can cities be stand-ins for the lengthy traveling quest of Tolkienesque fantasy?
3:00 PM NH Group Reading: Ideomancer Speculative Fiction. Mike Allen, Leah Bobet, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda Downum, George Galuschak, Claire Humphrey, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Kenneth Schneyer, Sonya Taaffe. Authors and poets read work from Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, one of the longest-running speculative fiction webzines still publishing.
Sunday, July 15
10:30 AM NH Reading. Leah Bobet. Leah Bobet reads from an upcoming novel.
1:00 PM F When Non-Fantastic Genres Interrogate Themselves. Leah Bobet, Lila Garrott (leader), Liz Gorinsky, Ed Meskys, Delia Sherman. When other genres interrogate themselves, the results are often fantastika. Works such as China Miéville’s The City & The City, Jedediah Berry’s The Manual of Detection, and Kelly Link’s “The Girl Detective,” for example, are in some ways interrogations of the building blocks of crime fiction: criminals, crimes, detectives. To what extent is it useful to read paranormal romance as a result of traditional romance interrogating itself; or alternate history—or steampunk—as a result of historical fiction interrogating itself? Is this something modern fantasy is especially good at? Is it even part of what modern fantasy is, a space that permits such interrogations? And if so, what happens when fantasy interrogates itself?
It’s a full schedule, and I’m really excited. So, do I see you there?