Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More


I went to my first Readercon this past weekend and had a blast. Lisa and the kids decided to make this a mini vacation and joined me on the trip up. It was a 6 hour trek through heavy downpours and punctuated with stop and go traffic. The only word that described the trip up was miserable. It all changed when we reached the hotel.

I kissed Lisa and the boys goodbye and went off on my adventure. We were late, so I had missed a few panels I had hoped to sit in on, but I noticed a familiar name on the schedule for the Kaffeeklatsches at that hour. I met irongall a few times over 10-12 years ago through a common friend, so I had to stop by and say hi. We had a short and pleasant conversation. Rewind a bit here, in my past I developed a piece of BBS software (pre-internet modem-based bulletin board software). Turns out my software makes a cameo in a story she will have published in a few months. Words can’t define how cool this is to me. Can’t wait to read it.

I wandered over the the Hal’s Worlds panel next and heard a bunch of good stories about Hal Clement. It’s definitely a book I’ll be reading when I get our shipment. They had some copies on hand, but they were all sold by the end of the convention.

After attending the “If They Were Alive & Writing” panel, I attended the “Meet the Pros(e) Party” and ran into pgtremblay. This was also my first encounter with an attendee who was either deliberately trying to confuse and alienate the Pros or came from another planet. Paul can attest to this. So can three of four other people I saw her pull the same nonsense questions routine. Very odd. Anyhow, talking to Paul made me realize that I have to start reading Chizine. Maybe you should to. On that matter, buy Paul’s book Compositions for the Young and Old. That link is to the first edition. They had a new edition with a different cover at the con.

As the evening progressed I met Gavin Grant (Small Beer Press) and oldcharliebrown. Sean and I ended up speaking for quite some time about books, publishing, promotion, and related items. Seems we share similar opinions on a lot of this stuff. Darrell Schweitzer eventually dropped into the conversation (as did some other people, but their names escape me at this moment… sorry) and there were a few odd twists and turns.

The first evening came to a close and I returned to my room, where Lisa and the kids were fast asleep. Lisa was in bed with Eammon (age 2) and I drew the lucky straw to get Aidan (age 5). I spent the night being kicked and rolled over.

The convention started again at 10:00 the next morning. Let me stop to say here how much I love the way this convention was planned. Nothing early in the morning, just a few different panels at a time, and a complete focus on the written form. No TV, no movies, and so unlike the cons I went to in my past. Wonderful. (Yes, I’ll be back next year.)

The dealer’s room was closed when I arrived on Friday, so Saturday was my chance to look around. Lots of excellent books and many booksellers. There were many things I would have loved to have bought, but I was there to learn. I wanted to see how people were setting up their tables and what kind of stuff was selling. I kept coming back to talk to some of the sellers, perhaps about half of them by the time the con was over.

The panels, again, were quite good. One of them, “Online Learning”, overlapped with my other job and I ended up talking to the speaker for a while afterwards. He’s teaching an online SF class this summer at UConn. It’s a very intense schedule for a Summer course, but it looks really good. If you don’t know, my other job is in instructional design at a local university. In other words, I help faculty with the issues of using technology in a course and a lot of what we do is helping with teaching online courses. Yes, I am still looking for a new day job or optimally do the bookstore full time when it can pay all our bills.

Saturday evening was the Rhysling Award Poetry Slan and The Best of the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. I’ll admit it, I’m a recent reader of genre poetry. I haven’t read poetry since college and what I read there put me off it for a long time. The slan was quite enjoyable. I particularly enjoying hearing sovay and Mike Allen read their poetry. It’s one thing to be able to write, but these two, in their own ways, enhanced their work in the telling.

I had no idea what I was in for with the Kirk Poland Competition. Basically, the premise here is that an actual published story will be read aloud. They are painfully awful and break at a key point. The 5 competitors on stage will read pre-written continuations of that story and the audience has to pick which one they think is written by the original author. I can’t possibly do it justice here. Let me just say that it was VERY amusing.

Sunday was the day to wrap things up. We had to check out of the hotel by noon and I had a list of things I still wanted to do. There was no way that I would allow myself to miss Paul Di Filippo’s reading. I’ve been a fan of his work for a very long time and he had an unpublished RiboFunk story to tell. I’m glad I didn’t miss it, even if he did have to skip a few pages to get it done in the allotted time. Had I been thinking, I would have brought his new book, The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories to be signed. Next time.

The last stop for me was the Dealer’s Room. I picked up two boxes of books from Small Beer Press and Wildside/Prime. I should have those on the site by the end of the day. Stuff like Robert E. Howards Weird Works 3, Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners limited edition, the latest Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, some of the new Prime chapbooks, and Catherynne M. Valente’s Book of Dreams. I’ll post again with the full details.

Four hours later, after a traffic-free drive, we went home, and off to bed early.


Clarkesworld Bestsellers: Week Ending July 10th, 2005


Clarkesworld Bestsellers: Week Ending July 17th, 2005


  1. Neil — thanks for the con report! Sounds like I’ll need to get to a Readercon someday. I like the emphasis ONLY on the written word.

    I also work in the weird world of Instructional Design, though doing more editing and course development. I’d love to get into Flash someday, and create courses that way.

    • Next year, I’ll probably get a table at Readercon. I’m torn though, since I think I’ll miss a lot while stuck in that room all day. Would be good for business though.

      Instructional Design can be fun if you have a good boss, some leeway, and open-minded faculty. I won’t say which of those I have or don’t have since you never know who is reading these things. I used to be in charge of a department that did this work, so I am suffering from a little culture shock. Nothing getting a new job won’t fix. 🙂

      I’ve been using Flash for about 6-7 years. I like it for small projects, but wouldn’t want to develop an entire course in it. I don’t like leaving the faculty/instructor unable to little updates on their own.


    • For what it’s worth, from someone who has attempted numerous times to learn Flash and generally failed, I’d say that you might want to pick something more easily managed for the faculty to learn and use. It’s a good product, but not for the average user, which faculty tend to be at best. However, if your school tends to do the work for the faculty rather than encouraging them to learn and do it themselves, it could probably work out ok.

      p.s. I’m not intending to say that Flash is a bad product – it’s certainly not. It can do some exceptionally cool things. I just found it difficult to use.

  2. Thanks for the report. Sounds like a fun con!

    Will you be at Necon this weekend?

    • No, being on a budget, I had to make a judgement call on which to attend. This one seemed like it would be more up my alley. Maybe next year.


  3. I really wish you had mentioned that were going to Readercon on the forums or something, Clarkesworld…..I was there and certainly would have given you some money. 🙂

    • Re: …

      Didn’t have a table this time around but I did make an offer on the store mailing list to deliver orders to the con. I only decided to go a week or two beforehand, so I didn’t think to mention it anywhere else other than here. Next time I’ll be better organized. 🙂


  4. ….

    ahhh…. nevermind. I se you didn’t have a table.

    Well as a local, I assure you I’ll come searching out your table next year!

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