Mine, that is. (Everyone else's.) Comments welcome.
Friday July 13
7:00 PM F
Guess Who's Coming to Fairyland.
Gwendolyn Clare, C.S.E. Cooney (leader), Victoria Janssen, Kate Nepveu, Joan Slonczewski.
Many fantasy and SF novels struggle with an issue that, at first glance, looks downright old-fashioned: interracial marriage. The races are non-human, and some of their problems are unique; for example, in Cheryl Brooks's Cat Star Chronicles, the near-extinct Zetithians must breed with other species or die out. Others face very familiar concerns such as being rejected by their families or peers. Their risk-taking is often rewarded with the birth of children who display enhanced or unusual abilities--though those children have their own concerns about not fitting in. How do these themes reflect and interact with real-world tensions around race, marriage, and culture?
—I'm thinking of including, in my self-introduction, a warning that if I hear the phrase "hybrid vigor" used unquestioningly I am going to hulk out. Too much?
Saturday July 14
1:00 PM G
Why Am I Telling You This (in the First Person)?.
Richard Bowes, Helen Collins, L. Timmel Duchamp (leader), Caitlín R. Kiernan, Kate Nepveu.
In some narratives it is clear why and how a first-person narrator is telling their story (the tale is a found document, a club story, etc.); in some narratives the reasons for the telling must be deciphered (Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun) or the revelation of the reasons forms a key part of the story itself (N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms). But in some cases it seems counterproductive or otherwise quite unlikely that a narrator would be telling us the secrets they want to keep hidden, their plans for world domination, etc. What do we make of this question of narrator motivation? To what extent should we read the telling as part of the tale, a chosen act of character, versus simply an extra-textual conceit required for the story to exist? Is this different for present vs. past tense? And to the extent that authors consider these questions when choosing a narrative point of view, what are some interesting examples of how they've used the fact of the telling of a story to affect how that story is read?
—Hello, incredibly relevant to my reading interests!
3:00 PM RI
Theories of Reading and Their Potential Insights into Fantastika.
Suzy McKee Charnas, John Crowley, Shira Daemon, Kate Nepveu, John H. Stevens (leader), Gayle Surrette, Rick Wilber.
We talk about reading at Readercon every year, but we rarely talk about our understanding of reading as a mental process of cultural practice. John H. Stevens will summarize some recent theories of reading from neurological, psychological, anthropological, and literary perspectives, followed by a discussion about what these ideas might be able to tell us about how we engage, interpret, and codify fantastic literature. In what ways is fantastika read like any other sort of text, and in what ways might we read (and write?) it differently?
Sunday July 15
12:00 PM F
Why Is Ancient Evil Ancient?. Erik Amundsen, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Matthew Kressel, Sarah Langan, Kate Nepveu, Ruth Sternglantz.
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"Ancient evil" tends to be used as a shorthand for all the things we fear in our hindbrains, and everything lurking in the dark that we can't explain. It calls to mind something primordial that we feel we should have evolved past but still fear on some basic level. When we cite ancient evil in fiction, is its ancientness just a way of disclaiming that the evil isn't our fault, and thereby dodging the need to deal with evils that we could have prevented and could still avert? What if the ancient evil isn't entirely evil, just misunderstood? How do fictional treatments of ancient evil differ in cultures that venerate tradition and age versus those that prioritize innovation and youth?