2017-07-05

sovay: (Rotwang)
Readercon! I promised people my schedule, so here it is before anything else.

Friday July 14

12:00 PM
Reading: Sonya Taaffe.
Sonya Taaffe.

Sonya Taaffe reads new poetry and a recently completed story.

3:00 PM
Classic YA Book Club: The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.
Victoria Janssen (leader), Sandra Kasturi, Miriam Newman, Sonya Taaffe, Tamara Vardomskaya.

Will Stanton discovers on his 11th birthday that he is no mere boy. He is the Sign-Seeker, last of the immortal Old Ones, destined to battle the powers of evil that trouble the land. His task is monumental: he must find and guard the six great Signs of the Light, which, when joined, will create a force strong enough to match and perhaps overcome that of the Dark. Embarking on this endeavor is dangerous as well as deeply rewarding, Will must work within a continuum of time and space much broader than he ever imagined. Susan Cooper creates a world where the conflict between good and evil reaches epic proportions. She ranks with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien in her ability to deliver a moral vision in the context of breathtaking adventure. We are especially interested in discussing this book in conjunction with the recent YA book club selection, The Raven Boys.

4:00 PM
I Am Become Death . . . No, I Mean Literally.
David Bowles, Danielle Friedman, Max Gladstone, Miriam Newman, Sonya Taaffe.

Death is the ultimate unknowable, the universal mystery that we all share. From the Greek god Thanatos to Terry Pratchett's Death, humankind has a long tradition of personifying death to try to make it more relatable and less inscrutable, or even to turn it into a punchline. A number of recent works, including Colin Gigl's The Ferryman Institute, Amber Benson's Calliope Reaper-Jones books, and Gina Damico's Croak series, have put their own spins on the anthropomorphic personification of death. Our panelists will discuss why this particular topic is currently resurgent, and look at some interesting examples of the trend.

6:00 PM
Terrible . . . but Great.
Lila Garrott (leader), Bart Leib, Natalie Luhrs, Sonya Taaffe, Vinnie Tesla.

Our panelists muse on books that are really bad but in an amazing way! Genevieve Valentine's term "shitmazing" may be appropriate here. What makes something both terrible and great? Are these works worth analyzing and perhaps even emulating, or do they exist simply to be enjoyed (if that's the word) on their own merits (if that's the word)?

7:00 PM
The Works of Tanith Lee.
Lila Garrott, Sonya Taaffe, Emily Wagner.

Tanith Lee (1947–2015) was a supremely talented writer who worked in numerous genres and forms. She wrote children’s novels (The Dragon Hoard (1971)), Vancian fantasy (the five-novel Tales from the Flat Earth series), historical romance (The Gods Are Thirsty (1996)), fantasy/horror (The Book of the Damned (1988)), science fiction (the four-novel Birthgrave series), thriller/horror (the three-novel Blood Opera series), far-future science fiction (the Drinking Sapphire Wine duology), and more, including erotica, Gothic romance, and straightforward horror. Lee was clever, manipulating genre tropes and clichés in skillful and unusual ways. Lee was poetic, writing of everything from sex to childhood in lyrical fashion. And she was prolific, writing over one hundred novels and collections. She was twice nominated for the Nebula Award, ten times for the World Fantasy (winning twice), and six times for the British Fantasy Award (winning once), and was given the Grand Master Award from at the World Horror Convention in 2009 and the Life Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013. As critic John Clute wrote, "Lee encompassed every genre of the fantastic . . . with supple attentiveness and an ongoing exuberance of invention which transcends . . . genre constraints." Join us to celebrate her work.

Saturday July 15

12:00 PM
Life, Love, and Robots.
Jeffrey A. Carver (leader), Glenn Grant, Kate Nepveu, Sonya Taaffe, Sheila Williams.

Robots, golems, and other living machines appear human but can never become human, which makes them perfect vehicles for exploring concepts of sentience, emotion, and human nature. Many robots long to be human; it's much more rare to see one that loves being what it is. Far more fictional robots have gender identities than national or ethnic identities. They are often programmed to feel sexual desire but rarely designed to eat a meal or sniff a flower. How do our depictions of robots reflect our changing understandings of what it means to be alive?

Sunday July 16

12:00 PM
Disturbed by Her Song: Gender, Queerness, and Sexuality in the Works of Tanith Lee.
Steve Berman (moderator), Lila Garrott, Sonya Taaffe.

Memorial Guest of Honor Tanith Lee thoroughly explored gender, queerness, and sexuality in her fiction, creating cultural pansexuality in the Flat Earth series and queering history in the Lambda Award–winning Disturbed by Her Song. Lee wrote lush, sensitive, poetic prose about people unrestricted by gender roles or cultural norms, and she did it for forty years. Were there any missteps along that span? Does her "channeled" writing as spectral lesbian author Esther Garber (and Esther's pansexual half-brother, Judas Garbah) stand out from the greater body of her sexually charged work? How did she handle her portrayals of trans people and their sexuality? Our panelists will discuss queer themes, sexual exploration, and sexual fluidity in Lee's work.

I also have a schedule for NecronomiCon Providence, at which it seems I will be doing such daunting things as moderating a panel on weird erotica and discussing noir fiction in terms of cosmic horror, but I'll detail that closer to the actual con, which falls on the third weekend in August.

Who am I likely to see at Readercon?
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