Readercon 31 – a con to talk about books and writing

I firstly heard about Readercon years ago. It was even before the times when I joined the international fandom. Yet since then I had some picture of the con in my mind. I wanted to visit it yet I didn’t expect for it to happen. Yet sometimes we have surprises. This year I had the opportunity to attend the virtual Readercon 31.

The Mood

I must admit that when the convention time came I was in a rather bad mood. This impacted my con experience negatively but had nothing to do with the Readercon itself. In fact thanks to the con my mood was slowly improving – so big thank you to everyone for that.

The main negative effect of my mood is the fact that I concentrated on panels and did not have too much social interactions. In fact apart from staffing the Glasgow in 2024 table I almost did not participate in the Discord social live. Now I regret it but well it was how it was.

What struck me quite early during the con was how close the community is. It was visible during panels. It is hard for me to explain it. Throughout the con I had feeling that both the convention and its community is very important for most of the members. It was absolutely amazing to observe that. It is also one of the things that makes me want to go back in person. I want to be a member of this community.

Programming

The convention started too late on Friday for me to be able to join on that day. Yet I was able to listen to programme items on Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t manage to attend all items I wanted to. Fortunately many of them are still available. I plan to catch-up on at least one of them – Interview with Ursula Vernon. It was starting at midnight my time and I was way to sleepy to be able to listen to it. Speaking of Ursula Vernon – I also missed a kaffeklatsch with her. When I realized how I can sign-in for it it was already full.

Some of the panels I listened to were directed more at people who write/want to write fiction. Others were more general. Yet even despite the fact that I don’t plan to become a writer I found those “craft of writing” panels interesting. Should I chose the panel I liked the most it would be Old Woman’s War. Panellists covered the topic of dearth of older female characters in SF. I recall Michael Swanwick mentioning that old women are too wise to go into strange adventures and most SF is about such adventures. I may partially agree with that. Yet at the same time I would love to read more SF where older women are living through adventures. It is also worth mentioning that SF that is not about adventurers is also very valuable. I loved The Year of The Fruit Cake which is a great example of such approach. Going back to the panel I enjoyed how the panellists covered the topic as a whole.

When it comes to other subjects – there were two consecutive panels on Sunday morning. The first was The Emotions of Dystopia and second The Unevenly Distributed Future Is Here, and It Sucks. Realizing how close we are to a dystopia is a bit terrifying. In fact we already live in one even if not everyone on Earth is affected yet. From a more optimistic panels I can mention Everything I Need to Know, I Learned Reading SF/F. It was a nice talk – maybe not the best but pleasant to listen to.

Overall Experience

Readercon members received nice virtual swag bag. It included some books and surprisingly large number of sample issues from magazines. I did not yet have the time to read through any of them but am quite happy about having them available. On top of that there was a Souvenir Book to download. I cannot describe how much I love the cover. It featured superb work by Ursula Vernon.

Book cover in reddish/violet palette. On top there is a big inscription 'Readercon 31' and below it smaller 'August 13-15, 2021'. Later there is a picture of platypus with flying garlic. At the bottom text reads 'Guests of Honor Jeffrey Ford and ursula Vernon and Memorial Guest of Honor Vonda N. McIntyre'.
Cover features a platypus witha flying garlic. How awesome is that? You can find the art on Urusla Vernon’s DeviantArt page.

On the technical side Readercon went with a mix of youtube and Discord. They used a special bot to post links to the programme items a few minutes before the start. It worked quite well. I was not very happy with how access to kaffeklatsches went. One had to ask for access and then was provided with a code to use with a bot to receive a proper role. It worked well but should I know earlier maybe I would manage to register for the kaffeklatsch with Ursula Vernon.

Overall I had a good time at Readercon 31. Despite not being in a good mood when the con started it managed to make me happy in the end. I know I want to come back and wnjoy the great atmopshere properly.

My next post will be published within two weeks.

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