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Readercon: Science Fiction, Creativity, and Fascinating People


Every July, science fiction and fantasy readers, writers, editors, and reviewers gather in Burlington, Massachusetts (outside Boston) for Readercon, a literary science fiction convention. Readercon is special because it is devoted to speculative fiction in novels, short stories, and other writing–setting aside games, movies, TV shows, and the like.  It’s a great place to go to talk about everything from bug-eyed monsters to feminism, science fictional politics to Sherlock Holmes–not to mention to bump elbows with and listen to discussions between noted authors and poets. (See the full program here.)

Guests this year include Peter Straub, Caitlin Kiernan, Ellen Datlow, Michael Swanwick, Barry Longyear, Nick Mamatas, Neil Clarke, and others–myself included.  (See the full guest list here.)

This year Readercon starts on Thursday, July 12th with free programming and continues for members Friday through Sunday. Memberships are $70 at the door, less for single days.

A panel at a recent Readercon. Photo by Ed Gaillard

My own participation includes discussions on motivation and creativity (including my 1-hour Writing Motivation Toolbox presentation Saturday evening), a panel on transcending the human body, and readings from my book of flash fiction, Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

This will be my second trip to Readercon, and if it’s anything like my first, I plan to have a spectacular time. Hope to see you there.

Luc Reid’s Readercon Schedule

Friday July 13

5:00 PM    G    Why I Stopped Writing. Erik Amundsen, Nathan Ballingrud, Steve Berman (leader), Geary Gravel, Jennifer Pelland, Luc Reid. We’ve all seen writers logging their word counts, charting their progress toward the next novel or short story. And we’ve heard the advice to keep writing and submitting. But is it ever a good idea to just stop? What can we gain from getting off the publishing merry-go-round, at least for a while? Is stopping a sign of failure, or just another stage in a writer’s career? The panelists discuss how and why they stopped writing (and maybe started up again).

Saturday July 14

6:00 PM    RI    Writing Motivation Toolbox. Luc Reid. Leveraging recent psychological and neurological research, Luc Reid offers a brief tour of human motivation mechanisms as well as specific ways to get past writer’s block, inspire enthusiasm, sharpen focus, and get words onto the page. Many of the ideas from this talk about writing can be carried over to other areas of life, such as health, business, organization, and relationships.

7:00 PM    ME    Kurzweil and Chopra, Ghosts in the Same Shell. Athena Andreadis (leader), John Edward Lawson, Anil Menon, Luc Reid, Alison Sinclair.Transhumanism (TH) has been a prominent strain in contemporary SF; cyberpunk is in many ways the fiction arm of the movement. Athena Andreadis and discussants will explore core concepts of TH (longevity, uploading, reproductive alternatives, optimization projects from genome to organism), investigate which are strictly in science fiction versus science territory, and examine the larger outcomes of these tropes within the genre as well as in First Life, aka the real world.

Sunday July 15

10:00 AM    ME    The Seven Deadly Myths of Creativity. Andy Duncan, Joe Haldeman, Steve Kelner (leader), Toni L.P. Kelner, Matthew Kressel, Jennifer Pelland, Luc Reid. What is creativity, really? How does it work? Many people think of it as somehow magical, but in fact there has been considerable neuropsychological research devoted to the process of creativity, and current evidence makes it clear that it is inherent in the human brain: everyone is creative; the question is how to harness it. There are many myths about creativity that not only are unhelpful but have actively blocked or inhibited writers. Fortunately, many of these myths are entirely explicable and avoidable. Stephen Kelner, a research psychologist who is also a professional writer, will give an overview of the myths and the realities, and discussion will further explore individual participants’ questions or challenges.

11:30 AM    NH    Reading. Luc Reid. Luc Reid reads ridiculously varied flash fiction from his collection Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories. Topics include a virulent outbreak of happiness, alien cheesecake focus groups, and Cinderella’s divorce.

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The Dalai Lama to Speak in Middlebury, Vermont in October


The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, will speak at Middlebury College on October 12th and 13th. The event on the 12th is for Middlebury students and staff only, while tickets for the event on the 13th will be available to the public in late September. You can find more information at .

Photo by Luca Galuzzi –

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Talking Writing Motivation with the New Hampshire RWA


This past weekend I had a chance to do a talk at a meeting of the New Hampshire chapter of the Romance Writers of America on writing motivation, driving 150 miles each way to do it. It was more than worth the drive.

The process of giving voice to issues that I’m this passionate about and finding a structure to communicate the essentials of what I’ve learned within a single hour was engaging and fun for me, especially given that I was able to talk about these things with this group of committed writers. This event reminded me how rewarding speaking is and what great advantages there can be to communicating face to face rather than by the written word only. Clearly I’m going to need to do a lot more of this kind of thing.

After the presentation, in the question and answer period, one writer posed a question that will need research and thought to answer fully. I had been emphasizing the close relationship between motivation and happiness, and the question that was put to me was what happiness actually was, in the way that I meant it. My answer touched on some of the key issues, but wasn’t concise enough or useful enough to please me, so I’ll be revisiting the question and reforging the answer for a future post.

While my video equipment was not fully up to the task, I was able to get some footage of the talk and hope to be able to post pieces of it over the next couple of weeks.

Susan Ann Wall, author of two romances and a member of the RWA’s New Hampshire chapter, blogged about the meeting, offering a good summary of some of my key points and expanding on them with telling details from her own experience. You can read her account at

After the meeting, I had a chance to catch up with fellow writers and Codex members Elaine Isaak and John Murphy. Codex members are scattered all over the world, with few close to my relatively remote location in western Vermont, so this was a rare pleasure.

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