Going to Readercon? So will I!
The Short List of What Daniel’s Up To (quoted from the Readercon program guide, which also has all the cool stuff that I’m not personally doing, and is worth looking over, right?):
9:00 PM G Why Is Realistic Fiction Useful? Daniel Abraham, Nathan Ballingrud, Grant C. Carrington, Liz Gorinsky (leader), Alexander Jablokov. In a 2011 blog post, Harry Connolly wrote, “If I want to understand the horrors of war, the pain of divorce, the disappointment of seeing a business fail, I don’t need to read fiction. There’s non-fiction on that very subject…. So forget about justifying the utility of fantasy. How do people justify the utility of realism?” Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried distinguishes between “story truth” and “happening truth”; O’Brien feels that fictionalizing some aspects of his own experience makes them more universal. On the other hand, reality TV, Photoshop, and CGI have proven how blurry the line between fiction and non-fiction can be. How do we tease out these distinctions, and what is realistic fiction’s place in the literary landscape?
FRIDAY 11:00 AM RI How We Wrote the Expanse Series. Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck. Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who collaborate under the name James S. A. Corey, discuss the writing of their mammoth space opera series.
1:00 PM RI Om Nom Nom de Plume. Daniel Abraham (leader), Francesca Forrest, Ty Franck, David G. Hartwell, Shawna McCarthy. The reasons a writer might take a pen name are well known. Less examined are how the use of a pseudonym affects what they write and how they write it, and how readers read it. Our panelists discuss both readerly and writerly approaches to pseudonymous work when the name behind the ‘nym is public (as with Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, or Daniel Abraham/M.L.N. Hanover/half of James S. A. Corey) or when an author is publicly pseudonymous but no one knows who’s behind the curtain (as with K.J. Parker).
3:00 PM E Autographs. Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, Joe Haldeman.
[DANIEL’S NOTE: Looking at something like that makes me understand that I had the choice, and I totally ate the blue pill. Don’t wake me up, ‘kay?]
10:00 AM VT Reading. Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck. Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham, aka James S.A. Corey, read “Pirates of Mars,” a short story in the Garder Dozois anthology Old Mars.
12:00 PM F Timeline Slippage. Daniel Abraham (leader), Suzy McKee Charnas, Daniel P. Dern, Marty Halpern, Steven Popkes. In a 2011 blog post discussing the reboot of the DC Universe, Daniel Abraham wrote, “History tends to be slower in imagined universes. As writers and readers, we resist changes there because we can, while change in the world defies us…. Like a tectonic fault, the tension from [the difference between the real world and the fictional timeline] builds up over the course of many issues or episodes or books or films. Slowly, it corrodes our suspension of disbelief, and it starts demanding a release.” He offered three options for this release: let heroes age and die in near-realtime, cultivate the reader’s “willful obliviousness” of the sort that lets Archie and Veronica stay in high school forever, or periodically modernize the setting and story. Why is the first almost unheard of, the second common, and the third likely to incur outrage? Are there other alternatives? And how does this connect with our love for retelling Shakespeare, Homer, and myth?
7:00 PM NH Reading. Daniel Abraham. Daniel Abraham reads from his epic fantasy series The Dagger and the Coin.
8:00 PM RI Book Covers Gone Wrong. Daniel Abraham, Liz Gorinsky, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Katherine MacLean, Lee Moyer (leader), Jacob Weisman. We all have book covers we love. But most of us have more than a few covers we really really… well, let’s just say we dislike them. We might even, say, mock them to their papery faces and bemoan the lost opportunities to our friends. Or we might be deeply underwhelmed with the cover choices of e-books and audio books. This is an opportunity to literally bring some of the worst offenders in for our consideration and distasteful delectation. Come alone (or in groups for safety) and bring a book. Moderated by cover artist Lee Moyer, who wants to make sure he’s never one of the bad guys.
10:00 AM F Uncanny Taxonomies. Daniel Abraham (leader), Ellen Datlow, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan, Jeff VanderMeer. When considering the literatures of the uncanny—horror, dark fantasy, supernatural fiction, the weird, etc.—it can be difficult for a more casual reader to distinguish between the marketing-based labels and real differences in concern and approach. Moving away from common genre labels, our focus will be on the specific areas of uncanniness various authors have investigated in their writings. We will attempt to establish key commonalities and differences within and between their writings and other notable past and recent works. Possible topics include knowledge versus the unknowable, and the scope of possible knowledge; certainty and uncertainty, and the value of each; truth as power versus truth as horror; the body and the mind; the possibility or impossibility of metaphor; and the primacy of our world and the drive to transcend it, or to inhabit it more completely.
11:00 AM F Performing Books to Ourselves. Ellen Brody, Andy Duncan, James Patrick Kelly, Rosemary Kirstein, Ellen Kushner (leader). In a 2011 blog post, Daniel Abraham wrote, “Reading a book is a performance by an artist (the writer) for an audience (the reader).” But readers also perform works to themselves, imagining characters and settings and events, and perform works to others when reading aloud. In those cases, is the writer taking more of a directorial role, or is there a more complex synergy afoot, especially when we get into audiobooks, fiction podcasts, and other carefully produced performances? How does awareness of these layers of performance shape the ways that writers write and readers read?