Readercon 32 : a brief report

Very happy to have attended this year’s Readercon, held 13-16 July in Quincy, Mass. I arrived on the Thursday evening after a research visit to the American Antiquarian Society, and during the course of the weekend saw many old friends and acquaintances (including a couple of unexpected surprises), met a couple of people whom I had only known from correspondence, and made a few new friends.  I am
one who found the convention masking policy (generally observed inside the con areas) and ventilation precautions most reassuring. I ate my meals out of doors (or went down into Quincy to eat al fresco). The hotel patio was a good place to sit down and see who showed up, and the weather was warm but clement until a deluge began on Sunday morning.
I was much encouraged by the decision to include the  panel on Arthur Machen in the twenty-first century, Machen’s Legacy in Modern Horror & Fantasy, which I had proposed on a dark winter evening. It was very well attended and with such a knowledgeable group of panelists the conversation was so lively we ran out of time before there was any space for questions.
Arthur Machen panel at Readercon 32. Photo by Paul Witcover. From left : Michael Dirda, The Joey Zone, Michael Cisco, Elizabeth Hand, Henry Wessells (moderator)
Chris Brown’s Field Notes from the End of the World was an illustrated talk on nature writing in dystopian fiction, a good glimpse of some of my friend’s predilections and wild thinking, firmly grounded in the concerns of his Field Notes newsletter. Who else but Chris would consider Neuromancer from this perspective?  I attended the interviews with the guests of honor: Jeff Vandermeer in conversation with his wife Ann, and Justina Ireland interviewed by Arley Sorg,  lots of intelligent fun. I had not known of Justina Ireland before coming to Readercon, and found the panel on the author’s works to be exemplary in its mix of fact, interpretation, and enthusiasm. The panel in memory of Maureen Kincaid Spiller, a conversation between Graham Sleight and Romie Stott of Strange Horizons, was also very good. Of course there were time conflicts on panels & readings that I had to miss, testimony to rich multistream programming.

The book room felt a bit of a ghost town, with few antiquarian or older books, but I bought six new books (a few of them shown above) including one by Ireland (Rust in the Root) on the basis of the panel, and one by a member of a panel I moderated.
I have reached the age of insouciance, knowing that I am much older than many of the attendees and that our interests often diverge, but I had fun and will plan to attend next year. [HWW]