What I’ll Be Doing at Readercon
Posted on July 4, 2006 Posted by John Scalzi 20 Comments
I’m doing well enough with my book writing that I’ll drop in here a day early from my self-imposed exile to give all y’all my Readercon schedule for this weekend. It’s a relatively light schedule, just three things, but they’re all fairly interesting:
SF and Continuing Human Evolution
Charles Oberndorf , Jeff Hecht, Ernest Lilley, Beth Meacham, John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder
Most of the sf that deals with potential changes to human nature is about genetic engineering, but there is much scientific evidence that Darwinian selection pressures have been operating over the last few thousand years. The rise in Asperger’s diagnoses among the children of geeks in Silicon Valley even suggests that such pressures may be growing as the environment changes rapidly, rather than rendered moot by the ease of survival. Whether we’re still evolving (and if so, how) has to be one of the biggest questions we can ask about human nature. How is it being addressed by contemporary sf?
Notes: A good group of people on the panel (I’ve paneled with Karl before and can attest to his being fascinating) and an interesting subject, so this could be a lot of fun.
Saturday 10:30 AM
Reading (30 min)
John Scalzi reads “How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story,” a just-sold story. Note: some profanity and adult content.
Notes: “Wife” is my own version of a big honkin’ SF cliche story, in this case (obviously) sex with aliens. It’s not in the actual Subterranean magazine cliche issue, however; it’s a bonus chapbook for the people who buy the special signed, hardcover limited version of the magazine (only $80!). So, at this point, the only way you’re ever going to know about this short story is to buy the limited edition of the magazine, or show up at Readercon to hear me read an edited-for-a-half-hour-reading-slot version of it.
Personally, I think it’s a fun little story, with lines like “I lubricated my undercarapace just in case,” and “The worst part is that for the next two days, I smelled like gravy.” Now, come on. You know you want context for those lines. So swing by, it’ll be fun.
Sunday 12:00 Noon
Talk (30 min.)
How I Wrote The Ghost Brigades
Notes: I wrote it with a computer. There, I’m done. Somehow I’ve got to make that stretch over a half hour.
Actually, I’m very much looking forward to this talk, because there are quite a few things that were interesting in the process of writing TGB, both in the philosophical approach behind writing the book in the way I wrote it, in the actual writing process itself, and in working establishing the personalities of the book’s main characters. I expect this to be a very wide-ranging talk, and I do think it’ll be a glimpse into what the hell goes on in my head when I sit down to write. One caveat: This discussion is going to be super-mega-ultra-spoilery about events in TGB, so be prepared for that coming in.
Aside from that my plans are the usual: Hang about in the bar and lobby and harangue people as they wander by. Please do feel free to swing by and say hello.
I do have one question, for those of you with Readercon experience: Is there no hotel shuttle from the airport? The travel directions on the Readercon site seem to imply that the way you get to the hotel from the airport is to throw yourself at the mercy of the Boston public transportation system, and possibly sacrifice a waterfowl to Chango for good luck. Is there no better way, save for a $60 taxi ride? I’m not opposed to either burning cash on a taxi ride like a swell, or using the bus like a common troll, but both seem inconvenient in their way. I’m open to suggestions.
What hotel? I can get you there, no prob…
Glad to see that I wasn’t the only Cliche Artist to go with the “Sex With Aliens” motif.
I wrote it with a computer. There, I’m done. Somehow I’ve got to make that stretch over a half hour.
Good grid, just start a discussion about whether it’s better to write on Mac vs. PC and you’re good for days.
If you land during the day….
Take the water shuttle ($5, tops, maybe $1.25… and no, you won’t get seasick) to Long Wharf (where the New England Aquarium is). Hang out at the Aquarium… trust me, you’ll love it.
Then… hoof it about 5 blocks to South Station. Take the red line (subway) to the Alewife station. Catch the bus to the mall, which dominates the region your hotel is in.
You should be snug in your hotel bed for less than $10.
If that intimidates you (or if you’re coming in at 3 AM), let me know… I can have one of my students pick you up… as long as you don’t frighten easily.
I’d give you a ride myself, except that the surgery I just had sort of prevents me from turning my neck to either side…. a bad way to be in Boston traffic.
No kidding. Boston traffic is what’s keeping me from renting a car.
I know about the Alewife stop and the #350 bus, which I think is a possibility, although the hotel also recommended a shuttle service, which I’ll call later today.
Thanks for the offer of the students, though.
Like I’ve said before… I keep a hunting knife under my seat when I drive in Boston, and I’m a soccer mom.
While I like you myself, I can guarantee some big Son of Erin would pull you out of the car and beat you as soon as you hesitated too long before making a left turn.
My students could offset this to some degree, but that would also bring in the exponential problems that would come with catching a ride from my students… they might show up high or something.
My students would either get you there, or get you somewhere else while scaring you so badly that you wouldn’t care where they let you off. “Yes… Nashua is fine.”
They’ve never robbed anyone I had them pick up at the airport for me… I have a lot of family from out of state, and I pay well…. thugs know better than to bite the gift horse, or whatever that expression is.
If you rent a car, you may as well take me up on the old cottage offer. You could have a partly renovated 1BR cottage right on Buzzards Bay for the weekend, although the ride to the readercon(?) from Cape Cod would be a nightmare.
“Alewife” is either a tavern-keeping woman, or a kind of fish. Thought you might like to know that.
When do you get in? The time of day has drastic impact upon what typ of transportation you should choose.
I’ll be in about noon.
Which means “he’ll be off the plane at 4.”
Personally, for a minimum of fuss in getting from the airport to places on the Red line (my apartment’s near the Porter stop… if you need a good place for an early dinner on your way out of town Sun, I can recommend a few in the area), I prefer taking the Silver line buses to South Station (SL1 bus stops outside each terminal, generally over on the right hand side as you go through terminal exits) and transferring there to the Red line. It’d be one $1.25 fare for the whole Logan->Alewife trip (plus $0.90 for the bus to Burlington or $whatever for cab fare or $free if there’s a hotel shuttle), involves minimal walking with luggage, and is generally uncomplicated to find. Not nearly as scenic as Smurf’s plan, though…
Waterfowl probably wouldn’t work well for Chango; he’s a rooster kinda guy. He’s also not the dude to go to for transportation issues. That’d be Legba. Legba’ll be OK with some rum and a pigeon.
Y’know, if you were wondering.
Which you probably weren’t.
I’ll get me coat.
Yeah, but see, Boston traffic heading up to Readercon on a Friday isn’t all that scary. The real problem is that it doesn’t *move* at all. Just one big nice parking lot, and you move a little bit forward at a time. (This is why I’m only dropping by Readercon for Saturday this year.)
Honestly? If I were going as an out-of-towner, I think I’d rent the car. Not because of the transpo issues getting to the hotel, but because the Marriott only has one restaurant, and there’s really only so much onion soup I can eat.
Assuming your flight actually gets in on time (big assumption), you’d probably have your car by 1 pm, 2 at the latest. Traffic doesn’t really start building until 2:30 on a Friday, and it’s a straight shot from Logan out to 93 N (tolls at the airport don’t get bad until 3ish) and then over one exit or so west on 128. And weekend traffic is pretty minimal — well, by our standards, at least. (At least you won’t have to deal with all the tourists we’ve had downtown this week. Honestly, people who think it’s ok to go 5 mph on Mem Drive deserve what they get.)
Jules is right. The Burlington Marriott is sufficiently far out of town as to not be convenient to anything except the mall. You are, on the other hand, right next to 128, and about ten minutes south on that road will bring you to Waltham, town of ten dozen good restaurants. (Exit 26, straight in until you reach the town square, right on Moody Street. Find parking via the signs (one block off Moody, several municipal lots) and then figure out what ethnicity or flavors you want.)
Renting a car for a con seems a little silly, but it’s likely to be only a few dollars more expensive than a taxi back-and-forth to the airport, and the Marriott’s parking is free.
My inclination would be to take the Logan Express bus to Woburn, then take a local bus from there to the hotel, or get someone to pick me up (from the Woburn stop to the hotel is just a few miles).
However, if the added mobility is useful to you, renting a car is a perfectly reasonable idea. Traffic will be fine – since major construction on the Big Dig was completed, it’s never taken me more than 25 minutes to get to or from Logan except during rush hours, and I live in the direction of the hotel but further out.
On a completely useless note, this thread reminded me of the SNL bit wherein Adam Sandler and Glenn Close competed in a game show for giving the best road directions in Massachusetts (e.g., “Go past where the old service station used to be and turn left at the retahted kid sellin’ watahmelons.”)
Snort. Ahem. Sorry. It’s not like we don’t need good directions, even in the middle of Ohio. I’m a month living in Columbus and still get the fantods trying to navigate the pretzel of interstates, innerbelts and by-passes that loop through downtown.
My real purpose is a request: John — Mr. Scalzi — for those who can’t get to Boston this weekend, would you consider snagging a recording device and sometime throwing us a podcast of your Sunday talk? Thanks and I’ll take my answer off the air.
It turns out there isn’t any convenient local bus which stops at the Anderston Regional Transport Center. So never mind. :)
Nothing beats that little section of 670E, I think it is, where if you catch it just right it looks like oncoming traffic is going to slam right into you. Real heart-stopper, that one!
I wish someone had blogged about or told me about readercon three weeks ago aso I could have planned to attend. Now I’m only an hour or so away with no time to come down to the city.
And it figures Madonna would schedule her concerts right after so I couldn’t possibly combine the two. That woman! What does she have against you, Jon???
I owe her money.
There’s a dirty joke I could insert here somewhere but I am missing the mark. Oh well.
I guess I’ll have to stalk you another time you’re on the Least Coast.
Getting out of Boston on a Friday afternoon in the summer can be tricky. That 7 PM gig may be in jeopardy if the plane gets delayed… which it will.
The sad part… when you’re stuck in traffic… know that Burlington is a distance you could drive in 4 minutes if you were in rural Ohio.