Readercon 12
(July 21-23)

l-Ernest Lilley (SFRevu) r-Michael Moorcock(GOH)
Ernest (SFRevu) catches up to 
GOH Michael Moorcock at
Readercon 12

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GOH Suzy Mckee Charnas

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Samuel "Chip" Delany gets ready to pucker up for the Tiptree Auction

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Warren Lapine and Author Melissa Scott...Warren bought another magazine...
SF Chronicle joins the fold.

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Sean McMullen - the man who 
taught Australians how to count. 

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Katya Reimann and her 
latest editions

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Vote Devney in 2000! 
Three Time Hugo Nominee - 
Bob Devney

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Donald Kingsley, Thomas Easton,
Hal (Harry Stubbs) Clement

(go to the photo gallery)

 

By Ernest Lilley  (go to the photo gallery)

Readercon - "the conference on imaginative literature". This year Guests of Honor were former Brit Michael Moorcock (who claims to live in Texas because he's on the run) and New Yorker Suzy Mckee Charnas, who claims not to be a Horror writer despite the preponderance of werewolf and vamipre fiction that come out of her head. But more on them later.

Readercon lived up to its name once again with somewhere around 100 SF and Fantasy authors to 400 readers. It was a perfect weekend (once I'd finished driving to Mass. in the rain, anyway) in July and my only regret was that nobody organizes a Readercon BBQ.

Warren Lapine, publisher of more SF Magazines than I can count, drove up from the deep south, where he moved last year from Yankeeland. Warren is a bit brash at times and refuses to fall into the grand tradition of southern eccentrics. That's ok, Warren likes swimming against the tide. Warren's been steadily buying up SF Zine titles and giving their editors the infrastructure support that was wearing them down, allowing them to concentrate on content. The latest to join the fold is Andrew Porter's SF Chronicle, which has always been a great zine  produced without enough manpower. Hopefully this is a win-win for Andrew, Warren, and SF readers.

As usual, I enjoyed just hanging out talking to folks in the hallways. I did manage to get to a few panels, most of one reading (Kayta Reimann), both author interviews (more on that later) and the Tiptree auction, where I saw Samuel "Chip" Delany and GOH Suzy . I'm sad to say I'll have to leave coverage of the renowned "Kirk Poland" event to others as I snuck off to a secret party held by a well known SF publisher. The "Kirk Poland" event, in case you've never been to a Readercon, pits a group of authors against each other and the audience reading the worst imaginable SF Prose...to see if the audience can actually figure out which is actual published pulp and which is completely bogus. Every SF fan should attend at least one Kirk Poland.

Zoning along through the con, I kept missing the author I wanted to meet most: Australian Sean McMullen. I did and interview with him over the internet when his last book, Souls of the Great Machine, came out and have tremendous regard for this author. It wasn't until Sunday morning that I caught him at a panel on the history of Aussie SF, and found him as interesting in person as his fiction. Besides writing a substantial amount of the best SF from down under, he's been instrumental in getting his countrymen (and soon New Zealanders) to realize that the rest of the world in interested in what they have to say. Australians, it seems, aren't aware that both Yanks and Brits find them colorful and interesting...a creature halfway between our two cultures living on a continent that might as well be another world. (Much of the substance of this interesting talk can be found in a weighty tome Sean was passing around: Strange Constellations by Russell Blackford, Van Ikin, Sean McMullen Hardcover (June 1999) Greenwood Publishing Group; ISBN: 0313251126)

I ran into fellow SF Journalist and THREE TIME Hugo nominee Bob Devney at the interviews. If you haven't subscribed to his almost award winning publication (it's free) The Devniad, then you're missing cogent content and con quotations galore. (email him at bobdevney@aol.com and he'll put you on the list).

I learned a considerable amount about the GOH's at their interviews, For instance:

GOH Michael Moorcock (interview by John Douglas):

Born in 1939, for many years supposed that he imagined remembering the London Blitz during WWII. After all he was only a year old. But as some point his mother told him, "No no, we used to hold you up to the window to watch the planes) ...which was his memory. 

It gave him great faith that the people of london would evacuated the city when they were told...then come on back. The people took over the city. the authorities closed the subways to protect the people, the people open them up for shelters. 

If you've had the direct experience in crisis of people behaving very well in the face of it, it gives you a tremendous faith in people.

Point of interest, No taxation without representation was a slogan of the London mob from the 15th century.

On why he lives in Texas...I'm on the run. Lots of nice people in Texas are on the run. Arms dealers for instance are very nice people...generally they tell people they're airplane salesmen, and salesman are generally at least polite. He feels very safe in Texas...since every one carries a gun. 

Does he own one? Sure. "I have four blackpowder 45s, which if attacked would take me an hour to load." For his 60th birthday, he asked for a Roy Rogers revolver...a real one...a prop gun, not a new one. By the way, we are informed that any British schoolboy knows all the gun spinning tricks from Western Movies...it's just Americans who don't know how to do them.

But why Texas? it's not overly civilized and he's a fan Lyndon Johnson. Texas isn't a democratic state, it's a feudal state, which is a good place for an anarchist. Anarchism works well in rural areas...but you cant run a ewer system in Kiev that way. Besides, he can get five channels of BBC on his computer.

Michael remarks that the difference between American and British public life is that the British are much more direct with each other on the radio. As an example, he notes that the current Minister of Sport, when asked if he'd smoked marijuana he said, yes but I didn't exhale...which brought down the house.

GOH Suzy McKee Charnas (interview by :Eleanor Arnason)

Q: Why did you write a vampire story? A: I set out to show the vampires as the parasitic creature...but ti turned out to be a love story anyway. She then listed the considerable string of stories she's written about horror themes...thought she's never though of herself as a horror writer. 

Once she sent her character to a therapist in chapter three and took notes to learn about him. She needed a system of therapy that people could get with out a lot of explanation, and called a psychiatrist friend for a recommendation. I think the result was Fritz Perls' Gestalt technique.

On Beauty and the Opera, She was always terrified by Lon Chaney because of his nose. After seeing Phantom and reading the book, she said, "What's wrong with Dracula is it's too romantic and what's wrong with the woman in opera is she's a wimp. What would happen if Christine was a real person, so it's not a horror story,  it's a love story."

Q: How do you do research when the product is something that may not be possible? A: I write as fast as I can first then go back and see where I need to know stuff. Then I call experts and ask them how to make it real. For vampires, for instance, she called a vet friend, who told her that if you change the muscle insertion angle into the bones, more like a jaguar or chimpanzee it would account for the strength vampires show.

Making your fantasy book real requires infusing this thing with all the reality you can and people believe it,  for the story anyway. So,  I figure out what I need to know what I need to finish the story and go out and get it. You have to be careful about the internet because a lot of the stuff there is made, up...but what they hell, I'm making it up too.

On career planning and resilience: You can't plan and you have to be resilient.

On cultural appropriation: Where do you get stuff that feels exotic to your readership? I think the only place to go is cultures that feel exotic to us. I've heard other writers say you don't have to make up aliens there are cultures you can use right on Earth, and I've heard Native Americans talk about cultural appropriation by whites. But we need them, because if you write about real aliens they're totally incomprehensible. So we have to think about it while were doing it but you cant because you're to busy doing it. So it's hard.

There a great deal of disagreement on how much white people should be allowed to borrow from native cultures. Tony Hillerman's detective stories are generally welcomed because they are the only thing, that Native Americans can get their kids to read.

Readercon 12 - Photo Gallery
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Warren Lapine and Melissa Scott
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Katya Reimann and her 
latest editions
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Donald Kingsley, Thomas Easton,
Hal (Harry Stubbs) Clement
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l- Chocolate Chip Cookie
r-Samuel "Chip" Delany
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Madeline Robins (Tor) and 
Teresa Nielsen-Hayden (Tor)
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John Clute (l) Barry Malzberg (r)
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GOH Michael Moorcock
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Vote Devney in 2000! 
Three Time Hugo Nominee - 
Bob Devney
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Suzy McKee Charnas

not intentionally a horror writer
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Before the Kirk Poland event, 
there has to be a Titpree Awards 
auction. 
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Behold the foot
 of Tiptree Auctioneer 
Ellen Klages, running on
 a mutant diversity platform...
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where you could buy a brain...
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...or have Chip Delany kiss your...
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...Book (Antiques Roadshow 
was unavailable for comment
, so we don't know 
if lip prints add to a book's value).
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Suzy McKee Charnas returns 
the favor as she prepares 
to pay lip service to a 
copy of Delany's  Babel-17.
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SFRevu Editor Ernest Lilley (l) 
GOH Michael Moorcock (r)
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Robert Sawyer (l),  still Canada's 
most decorated SF author.
Daniel Kimmel (r) film critic
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Sean McMullen - the man who 
taught Australians how to count.