Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My schedule at Readercon

At Readercon 23 with college friend Francesca Bewer
Funny how July seemed so far away at one point... These are the panels I'll be on at Readercon (Burlington, Mass.) from July 11 through 14. Now that you know where to find me, stop by and say hello!

Thursday July 11

9:00 PM  Apocalypse Then. Leah Bobet, Maureen F. McHugh, James Morrow, Romie Stott (moderator), Sabrina Vourvoulias. In a 2012 interview published in the Boston Review, Junot Díaz told Paula Moya, "I always say if people [in the Dominican Republic] know about anything they know about the end of the world. We are after all the eschaton that divided the Old World from the New." In this sense many worlds have ended, with a bang or a whimper. What can authors of post-apocalyptic stories learn from past apocalypses like the 1994 Rwandan genocide or the fall of Imperial Rome, and why are there so few works that present real-world events in this light?

Friday July 12

With Daniel José Older at Crossed Genres reading  Readercon 23
Latino Speculative Fiction Writers Collective Group Reading. Daniel José Older, Julia Rios, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Latino speculative fiction writers will read from their work.
11:00 AM 

12:00 PM  Writing Others I: Theory. Michael J. DeLuca, Andrea Hairston, Rose Lemberg, Maureen F. McHugh, Daniel José Older, Joan Slonczewski (leader), Sabrina Vourvoulias. Authors who want to write outside their own experiences of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexuality face a multitude of challenges. How do we present each character's unique perspective while celebrating their distinctive identity and avoiding stereotypes and appropriation? How is the research and writing process affected by differences between the author's and the character's levels of societal privilege? Is it possible to write about future diversity without oppression, or does today's reality require us to write in today's frame? Which authors have handled this well, and what form does "handling this well" take?

3:00 PM  What the Other Sees as Other. Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Maureen F. McHugh, Julia Rios, Vandana Singh, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Maureen F. McHugh gets us so deeply into a character's head that while the character may be "other" to the reader, what really registers as "other" are the people who are "other" to the character. For example, in McHugh's short story "Special Economics," otherness is not about being Chinese, because all the characters are Chinese and in China; it's about being old, having ideas that are no longer current or relevant. We'll discuss this and other (ahem) examples of the depiction of otherness.

7:00 PM Sociolinguistics and SF/F. John Chu, Rose Lemberg (leader), Alex Dally MacFarlane, Anil Menon, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Sociolinguistics studies the ways in which language intersects with society. It looks at issues such as interactions of language with power, prestige, gender, hegemony, and literacy, bilingualism and multilingualism, translation, language birth, and language death to name but a few. We will look specifically at the kinds of tensions that are created in societies where people speak different languages or dialects depending on social and racial/ethnic status. We will also discuss genre books in which those topics have been explored, and consider sociolinguistics tools and concepts that may be useful to writers.

Saturday July 13

12:00 PM Friendship Is Magic. E.C. Ambrose, Rose Lemberg, Kathryn Morrow (leader), JoSelle Vanderhooft, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Heroes have friends and companions, while villains only have minions. Stern protagonists can be softened by romantic attachments that draw them back into the community, but the plot also requires that they be special, isolated by some terrible burden of privilege or unshareable secret. Loner stories are episodic (the gunslinger rides off to the next town, the gumshoe slouches off to the next case) while going from solitude to connection is perhaps the most common character development. This panel will examine how cultural narratives and values around heroism, personal development, sex and gender, class, family, and community affect the ways we write and read about being alone and being connected.

Reading: Sabrina Vourvoulias. Reading from my novel Ink.
6:30 PM

7:00 PM Women's Bodies, Women's Power. Athena Andreadis (leader), Alex Dally MacFarlane, Kate Nepveu, Vandana Singh, Sabrina Vourvoulias. In many times and places, cisgender girls and women have been evaluated by their bodies, including their choice of dress, sexual behavior, virginity, and fertility. Juxtaposed with this are the mystification and taboos surrounding menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. This outlook has migrated wholesale into speculative literature. It's still standard fare in fantasy for women to lose (or be thought to lose) any extranormal powers they possess when they first have penetrative sex, menstruate, or become pregnant, from André Norton's Witchworld adepts to Zamia in Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon. Athena Andreadis will explore the tropes and assumptions around this issue, including variants applied to trans* and non-binary characters.

Sunday July 14

10:00 AM Gender and Power in Literature and Life. E.C. Ambrose, Cathy Butler, Eileen Gunn, Rose Lemberg, Daniel José Older (leader), Sabrina Vourvoulias. This workshop, led by Daniel José Older, is a critical look at different ways that gender and power shape our realities and experiences of the world. With examples from the writing process and fantastical literature in particular, we will deconstruct dynamics of power and privilege on the gender spectrum.

9:00 AM Enclaves and Conclaves: Subsocietal Safe Spaces. Gwendolyn Clare, Shira Daemon, Resa Nelson (leader), John Shirley, Sabrina Vourvoulias. People often form societies of commonality to act as safe spaces: LGBT community centers, religious social groups, Girl Scouts, D&D campaigns, speculative literature conventions. We rarely see this sort of sub-societal safe space in speculative fiction, finding instead more tangible safe spaces of domed cities, post-apocalyptic enclaves, or rails over a dangerous earth; and often, in fiction, the perimeter is breached. What does this say about our perceptions of safety and danger, our establishment and perpetuation of in-groups and out-groups, and our ambivalence toward purported utopias?

Kay Holt and Bart Leib at Readercon 23
There are lots of great panels and readings I look forward to attending — you should check out the full program  and some of the amazing people scheduled to take part. The other thing I learned at my first Readercon last year ... the bookshop is a fantastic (and financially dangerous) place to frequent. If you are there, stop by the Crossed Genres table, where INK and many other books will be available. Plus, Bart Leib and Kay Holt are fun to hang out with.

See you soon in Burlington!

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