If I do this with enough speed, I will be done detailing the 2012 Readercon before it is 2013. One must have ambitions, after all.
Friday I had to work, then zip to Burlington to moderate a panel on "Evaluating Political Fiction", a potentially fraught topic. We were essentially supposed to be helping readers make judgments on the appearance of politics in fiction, when you should just accept it as an amusing quirk on the part of the writer, and when that is impossible, and how writers try to put one over on you.
We had a range of political opinions on the panel, but that played little role, since everyone really did stick to the topic at hand. Of course, I worked to make sure that was true. I may be fairly liberal politically, but as a panel moderator I am that most science-fictional of entities, the benevolent autocrat.
Or, at least, manager. I've managed staff, and know that most capable employees like their managers to provide resources, a view of the bigger picture, and protection against those who would do them ill. On a panel, I am the same way. A bit later in the convention, I went a few minutes late to a panel with a topic I was interested in, and the moderator had already opened the floor to questions from the audience. That meant that he was lazy and had given up fifteen minutes into the panel. So, no matter how interesting or thoughtful the individual panelists might have been--and there were interesting, even fascinating things being said--the whole was a disaster, DOA. Audience questions and comments are an important part of the deal, but only after the panelists have been permitted to rev the panel energy up enough to keep things moving, and to give the audience something relatively clear to respond to. I left that particular panel as soon as I saw how things had gone. Too bad. A good moderator is essential. I worked for quite a while to make sure I was one.
The panelists on the Evaluating Political Fiction were L. Timmel Duchamp, Rob Killheffer, Vince McCaffery, Anil Menon, and Ruth Sternglantz (this particular panel had many people without web sites, so you'll have to search them out on your own).
Then I had to zip over to a client meeting nearby, and back. I took in a panel by Ellen Kushner on how she put together her half narrated half acted audio books--Ellen is a radio personality as well as a writer, and adept at the technical issues.
Of course, one of the reasons I went was so that I would have something maybe to say on my next panel, Podcasting for the Speculative Fiction AUthor; Or, Will the Revolution Be Recorded? Sadly I know almost nothing about this topic, and should have noticed that I was assigned this when I was asked to carefully review my schedule. I thought I had. Really. I do have an audiobook out there, Nimbus, and like listenting to podcasts. I still sounded a bit uninformed. Fortunately the panelists, Mike Allen, Claire Cooney, Jim Freund, Alison Sinclair, and Gregory Wilson more than made up for my deficiencies.
I did get to go out to dinner with Judith Berman (her web site lapsed and was hijacked while she was in Dubai for a couple of years) and her charming son, Sam. I had the panel to get to, so we couldn't go anywhere particularly interesting, but that's not really what matters at these events.
That night was a big social event, Meet the Prose...but I'll have to stretch this out a bit, since that's worth a bit of comment on its own.