27 June 2011

Readercon Schedule

I just got my schedule for Readercon events, so for folks attending, here's a preview of some of the fun (updated July 6):

Friday July 15 
11:00 AM   The Readercon Classic Nonfiction Book Club: The Jewel-Hinged Jaw.
Matthew Cheney, Elizabeth Hand (leader), David G. Hartwell, Barry N. Malzberg, Chris Moriarty.
Matthew Cheney's introduction to the most recent edition of Samuel R. Delany's The Jewel-Hinged Jaw (Wesleyan University Press, 2009) makes the case for the importance of this critical work: "Since 1977, when The Jewel-Hinged Jaw appeared, it has been impossible for anyone writing seriously about the nature and purpose of science fiction to ignore the ideas of Samuel Delany. Disagree with them, yes. Take a different approach, certainly. But the ideas first expressed in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw and then refined and reiterated and revised in numerous other books [including his novels] are ideas that have so powerfully affected how science fiction has been discussed since 1977 that any analysis that does not at least acknowledge their premises is destined to be both inaccurate and irrelevant."

6.00 PM Reading. Matthew Cheney.
Cheney reads from a new short story.

Saturday July 16 
12:00 PM    Daughters of the Female Man.
Matthew Cheney, Gwendolyn Clare, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Barbara Krasnoff, Chris Moriarty.
After the 2008 Tiptree Award was given to The Carhullan Army/Daughters of the North, Cheryl Morgan said, "We've been here before," and noted that she thought many of the books on the honor list expressed "a 1970s view of gender." In the U.S., at least, third wave feminism is generally said to have begun in the 1990s. Now there's talk of a fourth wave, womanism, and numerous other variations and expansions on the theme. How has speculative fiction kept up with the progress and diversity of feminisms in the world? (Let alone the degree to which related fields like queer theory have grown.) Did the classic texts of the 1970s push the boundaries as far as we've yet been able to take them, or have the last 30 years contributed new and varied approaches to feminist speculative fiction?

3:30 PM Reading. Matthew Cheney.
Cheney reads from a new short story. [moved to Friday]

7:00 PM Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza: Special Readercon Edition. Matthew Cheney, Scott Edelman, Theodora Goss, John Kessel, Eric Rosenfield (moderator), Delia Sherman. Eric Rosenfield and Brian Francis Slattery of the Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza Series will be orchestrating an INCREDIBLY FANCY SONIC ART EXPERIMENT consisting of ESTEEMED LITERARY PERSONAGES reading prose, poetry, criticism, and other TEXTUAL OBJECTS in short bursts one after another accompanied by LIVE, IMPROVISED MUSIC. The intent is to create a kind of unbroken MOSAIC of what Readercon FEELS LIKE. Come witness our spectacular SUCCESS and/or FAILURE.

Honestly, I'm nervous about all three four items, but it's a happy-nervous. I'm on the programming committee for the convention now, and the Daughters of the Female Man panel was built from an idea of mine, though as with all of the panels, the description of it was a collaboration (I would note that "womanism" is a term that goes back at least to Alice Walker's use of it in the early '80s, so the "now" of the sentence "Now there's talk..." is a long now ). The joy of being on the progcom was getting to propose panels I was curious to see, and that's what sparked the idea for Daughters of the Female Man, as I'm always curious to know what folks think about gender representations, and Cheryl's response to the 2008 Tiptree Award is one I've thought about a lot, and have not at all resolved my thoughts on. I hesitated about signing up for the panel, though, because all I really have are questions about the topic. But I'm looking forward to the panel tremendously, because it's a good group of panelists and will, I expect, be a great conversation.

I also hesitated to sign up for the Jewel-Hinged Jaw panel, one I had nothing to do with proposing or designing (I abstained from voting on the Nonfiction Classic choice, since one of the nominees was a book for which I wrote the intro). I was worried that because I wrote the intro, panelists would somehow conceive of me as a special sort of expert and would be too deferential and not critical enough. But the writers of the panel description built it by quoting me, which is very flattering, and so I thought it would be weird for me to just sit in the audience. And now I see Barry Malzberg's on the panel, and so I have nothing to worry about, because not only is he a lot of fun as a panelist, he's not going to defer to me (or anybody else!) for anything. And David Hartwell published the first edition of the book, so he can keep me in my place, too.

I've never done a reading at Readercon before, but since so much of the fiction I write is very much the fiction of a playwright at heart, it really benefits from being read aloud, and so that's what I'm going to do.

And I'm thrilled to be able to say during this Readercon that Liz Hand is my leader! (And Chris Moriarty is on both panels with us, too!) We should make t-shirts...