For more than seven decades, Batman has remained an iconic character in the DC comic book universe, encompassing comic books, video games, toys, films and television shows. When The Dark Knight was released in 2008, it became one of the most popular films ever recorded, and popularity of the character has never been higher. Yet, the character that we know today as Batman has undergone major changes throughout his life in print, with periods of wild popularity and steep challenges since his first appearance in 1939.
This small panel featured author N.K. Jemisin, recent author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, upcoming November release The Broken Kingdoms, and the recently completed third novel in the trilogy, The Kingdom of the Gods.
At a convention that featured so many writers, and aspiring writers, panels that helped to illustrate the workings of a book were invaluable help to all interested, but also to those who really enjoyed the books in question. Jemisin’s talk about The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms felt like a behind-the-scenes look at what I thought of as a very good book.
This was the one panel that I thought had a lot of potential, but turned out to be a major disappointment for me. Chaired by Jeff Hect and including Paolo Bacigalupi, Charles Stross, John Crowley, Joan Slonczewski and Michael Stanwick, this looked to be an interesting talk on how science fiction would be influenced in the future by upcoming trends in science. There was some of that, but not in the way that I hoped.
“Folklore and its Discontents” was a Saturday panel featuring Nicole Kornher-Stace, Faye Ringel, Darrell Scheitzer, Michael Stanwick and Judith Berman, who moderated the discussion. The focus of this panel was on the evolution and creation of folklore over time, and how it relates to how people perceive the stories as authentic elements of any given culture from which it arises.
The first panel on Saturday that I attended was titled “The New and Improved Future of Magazines 2”, the second panel on the subject (the first, hosted on Friday afternoon, was one that I wasn’t able to attend). This one looked at the changing role of magazines in the internet and digital age.
As physical magazines have noted dropped subscription rates, there has been much attention paid towards online pro and semi-pro magazines available in a variety of formats. The panel, hosted by Robert Killheffer, and featured Sean Wallace, Leah Bobet, John Benson and John Joseph Adams, all with a fairly rich and varied background in the short fiction market.
The “Global Warming and Science Fiction” panel, hosted Gayle Surrette, with Paolo Bacigalupi, Paul Di Filippo, Alexander Jablokov and Steve Popkes, was one of the Friday ReaderCon panels that I was really looking forward to. When it comes to territory that seems ripe for the science fiction genre, global warming is an element that really seems to be in its infancy, with only a couple of really notable works published to date. Although this is something that is likely to change.
This presentation, “Citizens of the World, Citizens of the Universe”, was from scientist and author Athena Andreadis. It covered some of the responsibilities of authors who wish to write good science fiction that is both realistic and interesting but also something that allows the reader to suspend their disbelief over the course of the story. Simply put, “We cannot write memorable stories without dipping into deep roots.”
The second panel at ReaderCon on Friday featured several authors from New England: Brett Cox, Elizabeth Hand, Caitlin Kiernan, Faye Ringel, Paul Tremblay and Catherynne Valente. A blog post that Valente wrote on the subject sums up the idea of the panel: “New England…is the natural home of horror. All these creaking old houses, these snaking trees, these hermetically sealed universities…to my child’s mind, in Seattle, and then in California where, oh, there is so much light, so much light nothing dark could ever hide, New England was where they kept the secrets.”
A lifelong New England resident, I can attest that there is something that certainly adds to the feeling of horror and gothic wonder that seems to have been a major influence for some of the seminal works in the genre, and ever since taking a class offered by Brett Cox, I have felt very differently about my state of Vermont, with a sense of wonder for the mountains, small towns, rivers, and the weather here.
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