Readercon is nearly here, and Cat Valente is a Guest of Honor at the 2016 con alongside Tim Powers! The convention takes place in Quincy, Massachusetts, and is running from Thursday, July 7th to Sunday, July 10th. If you plan to be in attendance and wish to find Cat for autographs, readings, or panels – well, this is the post for you! Her schedule is handily provided below:
THURSDAY, JULY 7
8:00 PM / 6 / SF in Classical Tradition.
John Crowley, Haris Durrani, Ada Palmer, Catherynne M. Valente, Jo Walton (leader). Whatever your definition of science fiction, there’s no disputing that there were centuries of proto-science fiction published before the modern stuff began appearing. More than 1600 years before Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, Lucian of Samosata wrote The True History, featuring perhaps the first fictional trip to the moon, the first fictional trip into outer space, and the first fictional space opera. Cicero, in 51 B.C.E. published “The Dream of Scipio,” in which the narrator and his grandfather, Scipio Africanus, take an astral journey through the solar system. Greek mythology, plays, and tragedies have science fictional elements in them as well. Our panelists will discuss the fantastical and science fictional in the classical (Greek and Roman) tradition.
FRIDAY, JULY 8
11:00 AM / C / The Politics of Food.
Liz Gorinsky, Geoff Hart, David Shaw (mod), Vinnie Tesla, Catherynne M. Valente.
The recipe for lembas is a closely guarded secret—it’s made by the elves, we’re told, but which of them, and how? Why are restaurants lauded for meticulously recreating the humblest foods of people who now can’t afford it? And what becomes of authenticity when all our food is replicated, from the database of some culinary streaming service? Armies march on their stomachs, and empires are built as often to seek out new appetites as sate them. How does food shape our stories, and what are the stories we can tell about our food?
2:00 PM / 5 / Reading Works from Long Ago.
Phenderson Clark, Michael Dirda, Delia Sherman (mod), Catherynne M. Valente, Jacob Weisman.
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” So L.P. Hartley wrote. But they don’t just do things differently there, they believe and feel things differently as well. Human motivations may remain the same, but how those motivations are expressed and felt vary widely. Is it possible for modern readers to understand the motivations and actions of people of different times and places? How effectively can we understand the inhabitants of 16th century Japan, 1810s England, or pre-historic Europe? What tools can writers use to make that understanding easier for readers?
3:00 PM / CL / Kaffeeklatsch.
Ben Francisco, Catherynne M. Valente.
4:00 PM / 6 / Speculative Retellings.
C.S.E. Cooney, Ben Francisco, Gwynne Garfinkle, Kathleen Howard, Catherynne M. Valente.
Speculative elements in fiction are not limited to robots and ghosts and dragons. For ages, the stories that get told have almost always been by told straight white able rich men, and there may be no way of separating those stories from the culture of writing today. In stories like “Travels With the Snow Queen” by Kelly Link, or “Shift” by Nalo Hopkinson, retelling old stories written by white men becomes an inherent challenge to those narratives, and that challenge itself becomes a speculative element. What other elements can we bring to these stories, and will we ever get to a point where challenging the status quo is not seen as speculative?
5:00 PM / E / Autographs.
Catherynne M. Valente, Fran Wilde.
6:00 PM / A / Reading: Catherynne M. Valente.
Catherynne M. Valente.
Catherynne M. Valente reads From The Refrigerator Monologues, a novella out next year from Simon & Schuster.
SATURDAY, JULY 9
1:00 PM / C / My Character Ate What?.
John Chu, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ada Palmer, Lauren Roy, Catherynne M. Valente, Fran Wilde (leader).
“My Character Ate What?,” based loosely on Hollywood Squares, that uses food in SF as the subject matter for questions. You are signing up to be a contestant in Fran Wilde’s game.
4:00 PM / 5 / Catherynne M. Valente Interviewed by John Clute and Elizabeth Hand.
John Clute, Elizabeth Hand, Catherynne M. Valente.
SUNDAY, JULY 10
11:00 AM / 6 / Shirley Jackson Awards.
John Langan, Tim Powers, Catherynne M. Valente.
In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Jackson (1916–1965) wrote classic novels such as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. The awards given in her name have been voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors, for the best work published in the calendar year of 2014 in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.
12:00 PM / 5 / A Dark and Golden Age.
Sioban Krzywicki (leader), Darrell Schweitzer, J.M. Sidorova, Catherynne M. Valente, Walter Williams.
We frequently refer to the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, or Medieval Period to describe the time between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the Renaissance. However, these terms primarily refer to the conditions in Western Europe. The Eastern Roman Empire didn’t fall until 1453. The Muslim world considered this a golden age with many innovations and scientific advances. China, India, Africa, Eastern Europe, and many other regions have their own eras, empires, “rises,” and “declines” that have nothing to do with this demarcation. How can we better use this history in fantasy and historical fiction? How has our obsession with the tiny, western part of Europe colored our writing to this day?
1:00 PM / C / Keytars in Science Fiction!
John Chu, Yves Meynard, Sarah Pinsker (leader), David Shaw, Catherynne M. Valente. Alien or futuristic music can play a large role in SF, but how is it best conveyed? Music has evolved to encompass a vast array of styles, instrumentation, and sound. How can we make something seem alien or futuristic instead of just “experimental”? Is it unusual instruments, ranges of sound, different scales, some combination of these or something else altogether? On TV and movies new instruments can be shown, like Spock’s lute, but how do we make sure the sound isn’t just ours? How would alien instruments be different? Would we be able to make sense of it? The soundtrack to Forbidden Planet was created with entirely original, electronic instruments to make a seemingly alien sound, but how often can something like this be done before it becomes generic? Are we stuck with making sure the lyrics convey the alienness or futuristicness?
Also, for those interested in all things CMV, there’s a “The Works of Catherynne M. Valente” panel happening on Friday at 12 PM. Here are the details:
FRIDAY, JULY 8
12:00 PM / C / The Works of Catherynne M. Valente.
Jonathan Crowe, Gillian Daniels, Liz Gorinsky (leader), Kathleen Howard.
Catherynne Valente has been a professional fortune teller, telemarketer, private tutor, librarian, waitress, bartender, actress, and statistician, but she is best known as a novelist and poet, having published over two dozen novels and poetry collections. She has been nominated for or won every major award in science fiction and fantasy: the Hugo (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), the Nebula (2013, 2014), Locus (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014), and the World Fantasy Award (2007, 2009, 2011, 2014). In the Night Garden (2006) won the James Tiptree Jr. Award; The Orphan’s Tales (2006-2007) won the Mythopoeic Award; “The Seven Devils of Central California” won the Rhysling Award (2008); Palimpsest won the Lambda Award (2010). In 2010, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making became the first self-published work to win a major literary award, winning the Andre Norton Award. The sequel, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, was listed by Time Magazine and NPR as one of the ten best books of 2012. The New York Times has called her “an incandescent young star.” Join our panelists in a discussion of her work.