I was lucky enough to spend this past weekend hanging out with a bunch of nerdy, smart, brilliant speculative fiction writers at Readercon 24, an annual SFF convention in the Boston area. It’s a unique SFF con in that there’s no costuming, no gaming, very little reference to films or TV: It’s just about the books and the authors and the people who love them. It is quite literally three straight days of people talking about books.
I’m still trying to process everything. I and two friends from my critique group split a hotel room for the weekend, so except for two excursions outside for meals I spent the three days entirely enclosed in a relatively small event space crammed full of authors, editors, bloggers, and so forth. Only minutes after I arrived on Friday I managed to nearly walk into one of my favorite authors, and later I bought a book in the dealers room only moments before the author of said book walked up to the same table. It was both weird and exhilarating to be surrounded by so many people whose names and faces and writing I recognized and knew.
I had very little sleep and somehow kept myself to spending only $30 in the dealers room, divided evenly between ChiZine Publications and Small Beer Press. There were hundreds more dollars worth of books I wanted to buy, itched to buy, if only my wallet had been a little bigger. One of the first things I did when I got home (after eating and unpacking and lying on the sofa for a bit) was add books to my to-read list on Goodreads: Salsa Nocturna by Daniel Jose Older, Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston, In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss, Hammered by Elizabeth Bear…. There are more, many more, including at least one book that’s not even published yet. And as awesome as it is to meet these writers in person, the fact that I now get to “meet” new writers in the pages of their books is in some ways even more exciting.
I went to as many panels and readings as I could handle, and took a few breaks when I couldn’t take any more. Half these breaks ended up being more discussion of books in smaller groups and quieter places. I met a lot of new people, at least of half of whose names I’ve already forgotten (and they me, I’m sure). I lurked a little, listening far more than speaking, but drinking up the positive energy exuding from nearly everyone in every room. Readercon — like all large gatherings of like-minded, passionate individuals — was equally exhausting and energizing, and I think at the end of the day that’s the primary benefit of attending in the first place. You go, you get excited, you meet new people and find new authors to read, and you come home feeling tired but charged, ready to write the next great novel — once you’ve had a few solid hours of sleep.