Okay, so I'm back in town with weekend junk heaped up all around me and even further behind in life than I was last week. But I always have time to pass on my experiences, so here's the Readercon story I promised you Saturday:
So, I was attending this panel discussion during which the panelists were all going to discuss this book on different types of fantasy. The moderator immediately announces that the book is just wonderful. "You must have this book," he told us and said it would be offered for sale later and we mustn't leave Readercon without it. Then he asks the panelists to introduce themselves. It sounds as if most of them know the author of the book because they all refer to her by her first name.
The last panelist to speak concludes with, "I must say, this is the most poorly edited book I've read in years. It reads as if it had been edited with spellcheck. Be forewarned" and other things of that nature.
Then the moderator acts as if nothing had happened and goes on. He was well prepared and commented on various aspects of the book after which he asked the panelists to respond. Every single time, this same panelist would say something like, "I wish _____ had covered such-and-such a thing" or "I wish_________ hadn't been so judgmental" or "I wish__________ had covered humor."
She wasn't getting a lot of support from the other panelists, but no one was arguing with her, either. Though I have to admit that there was this one guy who I think was some kind of critic, as in Critic, and I couldn't understand eighty percent of what he was saying. He seemed extremely nice, though, so he might have been arguing with Ms. Negativity, and I just couldn't understand him.
I'm finding this all rather odd and uncomfortable making. I start looking around at other members of the audience to see if others are squirming in their seats. I was sitting in the fourth row from the front, so I couldn't see everybody by any means. Still, no one seemed to be laughing nervously or looking shocked.
Finally, the panelist from Hell starts in about how she wished_________ had covered something or other. A voice comes out from the audience, "It was in the section on ___________, Marie!" And the panelist backed right down.
Marie is not her real name by the way.
Anyway, as you may have guessed, the audience member who finally stood up to her was none other than the author, herself. I know this because I turned to look (figuring that since I didn't know anybody there, it didn't matter if every single one of them thought I was rude, which, yes, was just awful of me), caught a glimpse of her, and saw her and her name tag a couple of hours later out in the hallway.
I found this whole episode rather disturbing. First off, I've never seen a public pounding like this at any of the kidlit events I've attended. Or any of the other literary events I've dropped in on. I know I don't get out much, but still. The second thing that freaks me out about this is that no one else seemed to think anything at all unusual was going on. When I have told this story to acquaintances, they are quite taken aback. Well, except for the people this past weekend who were bored. I've googled this subject and checked other blogs. Lots of references to Readercon, one from a person who attended the same panel, but no one even mentioned this particular situation.
So I wonder if this kind of thing goes on all the time at some types of conferences, and the more experienced Readercon attendees thought nothing of it. Or, perhaps this is the kind of thing that a gentlewoman should pretend she didn't notice, and here I am spilling the unsavory story for the whole world to see.