John's Readercon 14 Report
July 12-14, 2002 - Burlington, MA

I could go on for ages describing the minutiae of my visit to Readercon 14 and, considering I only purchased a Saturday membership, that says a lot for the con overall. Instead, I'll try to keep this under control and spare you every single glimmering detail.

First of all, I should admit, I didn't attend any of the panels except for Ellen Kushner's recording of "Sound and Spirit" with her guest, Michael Swanwick. I think after the grueling drive up, I didn't feel much like sitting still and while there was certainly an excellent lineup of interesting programs, there was nothing that truly reached out and grabbed me. I took my fun in meeting folks and perusing the dealers room.

One thing I learned from my last (and first) con (MilPhil) was that one of the best places to meet strangers and find good conversation was in the hotel lobby. Readercon proved the same. While waiting for registration and the dealers room to open, I spent a fair amount of time occupying random chairs in the lobby and chatting it up with my neighbors. Met some folks on the concom as well as some random pros, local fen and one or two first-timers like myself.

I had a blast in the dealers room which was crammed with books, books, books! Very few videos or other media around. Just lots and lots of books. Fanpubs, new releases, small presses, magazines, used paperbacks. It's enough to give an ole bibliophile like me palpitations. As it was, I controlled myself for a solid five minutes before giving in to temptation. Picked up the Dave Langford and Barry Malzberg collections at the NESFA table (paid my dues as well), an old library copy of "Seekers of Tomorrow" by Sam Moskowitz, and Volume I to "The John W. Campbell Letters". Thanks to Marianne Plumridge who called ahead of me, I was surprised with a stack of Allen Steele books at Judi Klein-Dial's table along with Allen Steele himself to autograph them. I've recently "discovered" his writings and have been enjoying them much lately. Got some books autographed by Barry Malzberg and Chip Delany and snapped a good number of photos. (See three pages of photos starting at

Lots of action in the dealers room.

One of those random encounters I'm so fond of resulted in my meeting Jim Freund, host of WBAI's "Hour of the Wolf" radio show ( How I've missed catching his show, I don't know, but starting with the Saturday morning broadcast, I'm a regular listener. (Yes, you can listen to it over the Internet.) Jim has met many pros over the years and understandably enough has amassed quite a collection of stories. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll squeeze a few out of him in a fanzine article.

I made a few trips to the con suite to avail myself of some coffee and strengthening snacks. Someone had left a bunch of back issues of Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle for folks to peruse. I dropped a stack of Sleight of Hands for folks to take. I was a little disappointed not to see more fanzines around, but then again I had the impression that this wasn't a huge fanzine-fan's con. Plenty of pros tho. I'd say about half, if not more, of the attendees were professionally published writers of one sort or another.

There were kaffeeklatsches running throughout the day and, to my surprise, there didn't seem to be any great rush toward them. I was very surprised to find plenty of spots available on Rob Sawyer's kaffeeklatsch. I had never tried one of these at MilPhil so wasn't sure what to expect. I had met Rob briefly once before and found him very amiable, and knew him from his mailing list. (We're also sharing a table of contents in an upcoming anthology.) Conversation about the table was entertaining and interesting. Sheree Thomas joined us and we got a description of her Clarion experiences (there seemed to have been a running theme of Clarion-reunion running in the background of the con).

If you've never attended a Readercon, I highly recommend it. It's a lot more intimate than worldcon -- much smaller, but has a very high number of pros in attendance and a world-class dealers room. Looking back, I wish I had taken some time to try out more of the panel programming. Maybe one day we'll perfect a temporary cloning procedure in which one can attend cons on several tracks at once. I also think I would have gotten much more out of Readercon had I attended for the whole weekend. As I had a long drive home, I left before the sun went down and missed the various room parties. There were a few events on Sunday I wouldn't have minded checking out, but alas. There will be next year and I'm glad I took the time to at least get in a day trip this year.

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last updated 7/22/02 - copyright  2002 by John Teehan.