For Lobster & Canary, the highlight of Readercon 20 was co-Guest of Honor Greer Gilman reading from her long-awaited Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter's Tales, and listening to her being interviewed by Lila Garrott. Gilman is a singular constellation, a unique voice in American letters whose attention to language rivals that of Joyce and Nabokov. I urge readers to delve into Gilman's world, savor the wine she has patiently produced for us (a rich, multi-layered Burgundy or Cahors).
Other high points included:
* David Anthony Durham reading from The Other Lands, the sequel to Acacia: The War with the Mein.
* Ellen Klages's wickedly acerbic wit on an excellent panel with Paolo Bacigalupi, Leah Bobet, Tui Sutherland, and Gayle Surrette on the prevalence of dark and downbeat endings in YA fiction.
* Mary Robinette Kowal demonstrating with verve how puppetry can serve as a model for speculative fiction (or, as Mary suggested, why use the euphemism "spec fic"? Call it science fiction or fantasy, and be proud to do so!).
* Samuel Delany and David Hartwell on an insightful panel about academic criticism ("the good, the bad, and the ugly") of fantasy/science fiction sketching the history of the genre.
* The Sybil's Garage reading organized by publisher Matt Kressel (full disclosure: I was a participant, but I enjoyed it primarily for the wonderful pieces read by the dozen fellow contributors present and the warm reception by the audience).
* The dealer's room, a.k.a. The Cave of Wonders, populated with the independent presses and specialty booksellers that are the field's backbone. The newest chapbook, the most obscure collector's item, and everything in between, all served up by and for the cognoscenti.
* As always, a fascinating souvenir book, including especially good contributions by Michael Swanwick and Michael Dirda about Hope Mirrlees, a recovery of the genius of Stanley Weinbaum, and articles on Gilman and her co-Guest of Honor Elizabeth Hand.
* Finally, but above all, the hallway conversations with so many of the authors Lobster & Canary treasures, from the veterans such as Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner to the newer voices such as Leah Bobet, Veronica Schanoes, JoSelle Vanderhooft, and K. Tempest Bradford.