Readercon 26 was a wonder and a delight. I recommend it highly. There was only one thing about the trip I didn’t like: I bricked my phone. But, hey, I finally had a reason to upgrade, so even the worst part of the trip had a silver lining…

There were many lovely moments at the convention. Here are my favourite bits:

The people
Smart, generous, interesting, slightly geeky. In other words, my people. Some of whom were good friends—long-time friends and more recent—and some who will become friends. There is nothing better than to feel at home among several hundred people from a multitude of places (metaphorically and literally).

The programming
Smart, generous, interesting, slightly geeky. Sometimes moving. Often funny. Always well-run. The best bits for me were:

  • Outer Alliance group reading: The room was packed, standing-room only. It wasn’t a big room—so five dozen people, max—but this was 7 pm on a Saturday evening so I was delighted. The reading itself went like a creamy clockwork dance. I think there were 8 readers, yet we came in under the wire because everyone played nicely—and it was run, by Julia Rios, with an iron fist in a velvet glove. The readings themselves were beautiful. The feeling in the room was truly moving. Seriously so at a couple of points: Kelley’s reading made me weep and I don’t think I was the only one.
  • Staged interview with Kelley: again, a packed room, but this time the room was big. I don’t know what the capacity was (300?) but it was full. And the audience seemed to like what they heard. Kelley did not share the questions with me beforehand so they were as surprising to me as to the audience. It worked well, I think. I ended up comfortable and candid. People laughed; I think one or two cried. And, hey, there was wine! With any luck there’ll be audio and/or video at some point. When that happens I’ll link.1

I was counter-programmed during a couple of events I would like to have attended, and wiped out and in need of a break for a couple of others. But I went to/participated in about 20 things, and they were all worthwhile.

The systems
Hard to differentiate these from the people, really, because they were designed and run by people, volunteers all. They did a fabulous job. I was impressed by the organisation and the thoughtfulness, especially regarding physical access.

Here’s what every convention should mirror: ramp to the stage, taped off places for wheelchairs/scooters in every room, and a public and clearly-stated policy regarding behaviour around those who have mobility challenges. In a perfect world the bathrooms would have had automatic buttons for those in chairs but this is very, very rare and (I’m guessing) almost impossible to ensure for a convention, so it remains a hope for the future and not a complaint. I can’t speak to other disability issues but the concom did a good job with mobility.

Similarly, the concom handled safety very well. The code of conduct, specifically harassment policy, was excellent. More importantly, it was prominent: displayed on a huge board on the main thoroughfare, with security phone numbers printed on membership badges.

As guests, Kelley and I were very, very well taken care of. If anyone reading this is ever invited as Guest of Honour, you really should say yes! Thank you to the Readercon community for an amazing experience.

1 I’ll link to other stuff as I get it. Up in the next day or two here: the text of my speech at the Shirley Jackson Awards.