We'll be at Readercon this weekend, staying at the hotel in a room under my name. We're getting in on Friday night, time uncertain; we'll be around Saturday day and Sunday day (Saturday night we have family commitments).
Notes on panels below the cut.
Almost-certain panels have red stars.
10:00 ME Shakespearean Voices in the Literature of the Fantastic
Talk (60 min.). Works of fantasy can make unusual narrative demands. Their writers may need to call forth spirits from the vasty deep; or convincingly record a dialogue of dragons; or invent the tongues of angels and of orcs. As a strategy of style, a fantasist may use the language of the past — of Shakespeare's stage — to conjure up a world removed from us, and yet evocative. We know those cadences: they are the language of madness and of vengeance, of courtiers and witches, Puck and Prospero; the language of ghosts. Gilman looks at some uses of Shakespearean language in fantasy, from both a reader's and a writer's perspective.
(I may not be up this early, or capable of listening to Greer Gilman for an hour this early.)
[*] 11:00 F The Beginnings of Stories and the Endings They Promise
Michael A. Burstein (M), John Clute, Debra Doyle, Geary Gravel, China Miéville, Delia Sherman
There are, perhaps, three kinds of beginnings to stories: those that promise no ending, those that promise an ending which is later delivered, and those that promise a different ending than the one provided. Are these, in fact, three fundamentally different types of stories? What are the different types of promises a beginning can make? The first line of Pride and Prejudice ("It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife") or the last line of the first chapter of The Book of the New Sun ("It was in this fashion that I began the long journey by which I have backed into the throne") make promises about the content of the ending, but many beginnings merely promise the form of the ending ("there will be a twist of some sort").
(This sounds right up my alley.)
2:00 RI Editing Crowley and Delany
Talk/Discussion (60 min.). What's it like to edit the old-fashioned way, engaging with an author's work in the most intimate manner, burying it in red ink if/as needed, providing everything from macro- to microscopic feedback? Drummond has had long-term editorial relationships with Delany and Crowley, ones more extensive than commercial publishers are generally willing to pay for.
(The problem is that the only thing I've read of these authors is Little, Big. I know, I'm a cretin.)
3:00 H I Never Metafiction I Didn't Like
John Crowley, Ron Drummond (+M), Scott Edelman, Barry N. Malzberg, Rachel Pollack
There's a lot to say about the nature and enterprise of writing and reading fiction, and a long tradition of saying it within the text of fiction itself. One need look no further than the works of Jorge Luis Borges to find a surprisingly broad range of approaches and techniques for doing so (although there are certainly other role models). Our authors talk about their motivations for writing metafiction and for choosing their specific devices.
(Another panel I'm not sure I have the background for.)
10:00 H The Garden of Forking Borges Translations
Eric M. Van (M), Evelyn C. Leeper, Charles Oberndorf, Jean-Louis Trudel
Is the best translation always the most faithful? Our panelists have a sufficient reading knowledge of Spanish and will compare the different Helen Temple and Ruthven Todd (from Ficciones), Donald A. Yates (from Labyrinths), and Andrew Hurley (from Collected Fictions) translations of the final paragraph of Borges' classic "The Garden of Forking Paths" (attendees can follow along with a handout). Which do they prefer? Which is more literal? Which is more faithful, and is that the same thing? What can we learn about the nature of translation?
(Sounds fascinating, but will I be awake?)
[*] 12:00 ME A Theory of Narrative Aesthetics Informed by Cognitive Science
Eric M. Van (+M) with discussion from R. Scott Bakker, John Clute, John Crowley, Glenn Grant, John Langan, Charles Oberndorf Talk/Discussion (60 min.).
What brain mechanisms (and evolutionary rationales) underlie the fundamental narrative elements of plot, character, and style? Which narrative element seems to be more fundamental than generally recognized, when looked at from this perspective? How can the deep meaning of a narrative work be rigorously conceptualized in terms of information storage in the brain? On how many simultaneous levels do we process a story as we try to fully understand it? Van offers up the beginnings of a theory of narrative aesthetics informed by cognitive science, with feedback at every stage from the audience.
(This could either be really annoying or really interesting. I will report back as to which.)
[*] 2:00 F My Secret (or Not-So-Secret) Story Structure.
Michael A. Burstein (M), John Crowley, Thomas M. Disch, Greer Gilman, Pamela Zoline
There's a small group of novels with overt organizing structures, like Thomas M. Disch's 334, John Brunner's The Squares of the City, John Crowley's AEgypt, and (most famously outside the genre) Ulysses. We suspect that this is the tip of the iceberg and that authors routinely invent covert structures as a natural part of the creative process. (Of course, one reader's covert structure is another's overt, and vice versa, so that all such structures are worth talking about together.) It's time to 'fess up and trade notes.
(Partner to the beginning-and-ending panel. Which also has Burstein moderating, I see.)