Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Readercon 2008

I'm back home now. Rather tired and a day late. Yep, I had the pleasure of missing a connection and spending the night in Tempe, AZ. Fun. But, anyway, such things happen...

So Readercon was a good time. When I get back from these things I almost feel too full of thoughts and memories to know where to start. In major briefetude, I'll mention that I enjoyed the subdued, intellectual, book-focused feel of this con. It really is quite different, and I was mostly pleased by that. Granted, I wouldn't have minded a bit more free booze, but I know that's hardly a noble thing...

Highlights, of course, include the fact that James Patrick Kelly and Jonathan Lethem were the guests of honor. I hung out with Jim a lot. It's always great to see him, but it's an added pleasure for me since he knew me before I stepped into SF&F. He's introduced me to lots of folks. He's... sort of a mentor, you know. (Many people would say that, by the way. Part of his legacy.)

And Jonathan I've followed since my first editor at Doubleday, Debbie Cowell, gave me a copy of Motherless Brooklyn. I'm a fan, and it's been interesting to travel backwards to discover his roots in SF. That genre switch was something that came up a lot over the conference. Frankly, I'm not that sure why his mainstream movement with his work is a problem. I've heard people say that he has completely disavowed his genre roots. If that happened I missed the moment. It's a bit hard to believe that somebody who has just penned a super hero graphic novel called Omega the Unknown and who agreed to be a guest of honor at a SF convention (with panels like The Career of Jonathan Lethem, as documented by the SF writers that have known and loved him for years) is actually, umm... hiding from his sordid past... but I don't know. I'm tainted myself, in some eyes, so maybe I lack the properly limited perspective to understand the issues here.

There was a large Stonecoast contingent. You may know that I taught in their Low Residency MFA Program for a couple of years. I took some time off, but I've actually reconnected with them and I'll be having a couple of mentees through the fall. The folks at Readercon are all good company, and it made for an amusing time because some of them knew me (like Jim) before I'd written spec-fiction. Actually, Sandra McDonald was on a panel about my moving into the genre, and she admitted that when she heard I was going to write a fantasy she thought it was a bad (career-ruining) idea. I think she admits things have turned out pretty good, though. Michaela Roessner was on that panel, too, which again felt organically circular. When I first worked with her - as her teacher - she already had a career as a writer in her past and was re-gearing to go forward. It's rather nice to have had her advice as I entered her territory, while at the same time seeming to have had a positive effect on her work and aspirations. All good stuff.

And there were lots of new connections made and expanded upon. Too many to name, really. Was great to meet Robert Redick (The Red Wolf Conspiracy) and Paolo Bacigalupi (Pump Six and Other Stories) and... wait. I shouldn't try to list everybody. There are too many, and I'll end up amending this list for weeks as I remember others. Instead of trying, I'll mention that hanging out with one other person, Mary Robinette Kowal, was a particular highlight. We'd met briefly at WisCon, but this time around we talked and talked. Good stuff. I've also read some of her stories now, and I've heard all about the novels her agent is shopping... Makes me think the Campbell voters were on to something when they nominated her for the award. If you ever bump into her, ask to see her steampunk laptop and keyboard thingy. Very cool.

Anyway, I'm not the only one that's putting up these day after posts. For example....

Mary Robinette Kowal

Ezekiel's Daughter


Scott Edelman

The Mumpsimus

Sandra McDonald

Monstrous Musings

Pushing a Snake Up a Hill

Elephant House

Erin Underwood

One More Draft

The Trouble With Teri

Thoughts on 1386

They'll be more coming, too, since lots of folks have just posted saying they're exhausted and will soon post...

(That post wasn't actually that brief, was it?)

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Blogger Teri said...

It was really nice getting a chance to meet you at Readercon (this is Allison's friend, Teri, from the Kaffeeklatsch and numerous random hallway sightings.) Allison has always spoken so highly of you and your work. It's always nice to put a person and their name together. Your advice was extremely helpful as I work with my own fiction, and I am really enjoying Acacia. Looking forward to finishing Book One and getting Book Two (once it's out and about.) Thanks again and take care!

2:47 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Hi Teri,

Hey, it was great fun meeting you, and seeing you in the hallway, again, and again and... again. We must have been caught in a strange vortex.

Anyway, best of luck with your writing and with things familial!

3:21 PM  
Blogger Mary Robinette Kowal said...

Oh, David. You say the nicest things. I'm looking forward to seeing you at WorldCon.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great rundown of Readercon (and for the links to the other rundowns). I've always thought it would be interesting to check out some Cons, but I'm not so interested in the whole dress up in the space costume thing. Readercon sounds like it's a little more focused than a lot of the others, and I think I'd like that. One of these years...

My best, as always,
Bryan Russell

11:07 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Yes, yes, but it's all true, of course. You've got a nice schedule set up for Denver, by the way. If I don't get my own I could always just follow you around...


I'm okay with the space costume thing. It's not for me, but I don't mind taking in the sights... Readercon, though, is definitely more focused on the books and the readers.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Robert V.S. Redick said...

Hi There David,

A great con, and meeting you was a high point. Wish I could have spent more than one day there. Thanks for the kind words, and sound reflections on the trauma of deadlines! Good luck with the sequel to Acacia; you know how eagerly we're waiting for it.

Yours from soggy Western Mass,


11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, thanks for the link, and for your honest comments during the 'Waking Up Sober...' panel. I'm largely a wallflower and didn't meet you, but your description of working on the historical novels (including the supportive push from your wife to actually write Gabriel's Story, which my own wife laughed out loud at, before, amazingly, not saying "I told you so") helped reinvigorate me. Thanks for sharing so openly.

And, no lie, I just got a call from my local bookstore that my copy of Gabriel's Story just arrived!

11:28 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


I’ll be watching your books and following the pace at which they… um… appear. May it all work out to your satisfaction…


I don’t really know how to speak on panels other then “openly”. I guess I’m pretty happy with the good decisions we’ve made and fairly at peace with the foibles along the way. So I kinda like to tell it like was, or is, or may be…

As for my wife… well, that wasn’t the only time she’s been right about things.

Best of luck with your future projects,


ps – thanks for picking up Gabriel’s Story. It gets a bit dark as it goes, but I remain quite proud of it.

4:52 PM  

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