I ran into an old acquaintance a few days ago. When the conversation ended, the other fellow said “Well, I’ll probably see you at Readercon, tho I don’t know why I’m going.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this sentiment. Due to internal politics (I’m sure you could find the details elsewhere) the original committee resigned a few years back, and were replaced by those folks currently running the con. I think I’ve met just about everybody on the new team, and they’re all very nice people. But the convention they’re running is simply not interesting to me, or to a number of others I’ve spoken to.
I have an extra horse in this race, of course. I am (somewhat by accident) one of the instigators and perpetual co-hosts of something called the Kirk Polland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. Initially invented by one of the founders of Readercon (one Eric Van) this was a humorous panel we ran every Saturday night at the con (for maybe 25 years in a row). The panel usually got quite silly, and and acted as a good counterpoint to the sometimes Very Literary Programming that ran during the day. Co-hosting Kirk Polland was one of those things I looked forward to doing every summer, and both panelists and audience had a wonderful time.
The new Readercon regime immediately axed Kirk Polland (maybe three years ago?) And their programming veered ever deeper into the very serious and academic, with all the humor that once informed these panels now long gone.
I was willing to go to Readercon this year, but I took a look at the panels they offered (if you’ve ever done this, you know the system they’ve set up is amazingly time-consuming). I couldn’t find a single panel that interested me. I spoke with another published SF writer a day or two ago, and found he had had the exact same reaction.
It’s a shame, really. For a while there, I thought Readercon was the best SF convention in New England. Now it feels more like some old friend you have lost touch with. You and your friend have different interests now. Once you were so close, and now, somehow, you’ve turned into strangers.
I may stop by the hotel over the weekend to say hello to some old friends, but Readercon and I have gone our separate ways.