What is Readercon, you ask? This 22 year old convention for Science Fiction and Fantasy readers is an essential event held annually at the Burlington Marriot in Burlington, Massachusetts. As I write this the four day event is in high gear, parties in some of the suites, authors talking to fans, tons of books for sale in a huge dealer’s room set up smack dab in the middle of the festival.
It’s fascinating. the hardcore devotees of the stuff that millions of people are running out to the movie theaters this week to experience…all congregating just a hop, skip and a jump from the new Harry Potter movie, Deathly Hallows Part 2, down the road at the AMC in Burlington as well as both the Showcase Cinemas in Woburn and Imax in Reading. One would imagine some of these loyalists of the genre probably found time to get to the cinema, but the action is happening at this conference …connections being made, authors giving lectures or reading from their books and more.
Although Readercon is modeled on “science fiction conventions,” there is no art show, no costumes, no gaming, and almost no media. Instead, Readercon features a near-total focus on the written word.
In many years the list of Readercon guests rivals or surpasses that of the Worldcon in quality. Readercon is the only small convention regularly attended by such giants of imaginative literature as Gene Wolfe, Samuel R. Delany, John Crowley, Barry N. Malzberg, Kit Reed, and Jonathan Lethem.
The program consists of two tracks each of panel discussions, author readings, and solo talks or discussion groups, plus kaffeeklatsches (intimate gatherings with an author) and autograph signings. The program also currently features the presentation of three major genre awards: The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award for a neglected author, the Rhysling Awards for sf poetry, and the Shirley Jackson Awards for dark fantasy and psychological suspense.
There is a large Bookshop full of new, used, and rare and collectible books and magazines (and yet more great conversation; if a Readercon attendee is not at a program item, they’re probably here).
There’s more. We publish a Souvenir Book whose pages of content rival a Worldcon’s in number, and a separate, comprehensive Program Guide. There is a hospitality suite well-stocked with munchies; and, yes, there are parties. And Readercon is proud to host a number of charitable efforts.
Visual Radio interviewed Rick Wilbur, editor of the book Future Media along with the fellow who wrote the foreword, Paul Levinson, talking about his new book New New Media (not to be confused with Future Media, of course). We also interview Canadian Jennifer Wylie, author of Sweet Light, her editor, Sean Hayden – who is author of Origins, Vol 1 – a new vampire series, and Marc Vun Kannon who discussed his new book, St. Martin’s Moon, about werewolves on a lunar body! Fascinating stuff and eloquent speakers all. Readercon 22 continues the tradition of the Noreascon and the Boskone, legendary conventions that provide for fun and enlightenment…and a way to directly connect with the people who create the magic.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.