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Inspired by Jim C. Hines's suggestion of a Best Pie Hugo Award, Readercon's Book Clubs will be Bake Clubs this year.

Readercon Classic Bake Club: share your family recipes!
Readercon Recent Bake Club: molecular gastronomy and other innovations!
Readercon Pie Bake Club: bring your Hugo-worthy contenders!
Readercon Gluten-free Soy-free Nut-free Raw Vegan Bake Club: open to everyone!

The Bake Clubs will be one-hour program items taking place consecutively on Friday afternoon, during which time a nearby room will be designated as a unisex vomitorium for those who want to participate in all four.

...just kidding! Here are the actual Readercon Book Club selections:

Readercon Classic Fiction Book Club: Tam Lin
Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, which reimagines the Scottish ballad as an account of young, bright Janet Carter's tumultuous time at college in the 1970s, was lauded upon its publication in 1991 and has endured as a classic since. We'll explore its resonance and relevance to present-day readers and writers in the context of real-world events that recall Janet's experiences—lengthy wars, challenges to reproductive rights, activism and tensions on college campuses—as well as the increasing popularity of folk tale retellings.

Readercon Recent Fiction Book Club: American Elsewhere
Robert Jackson Bennett's American Elsewhere is a complex work that only gradually reveals its speculative nature, blending magic and technology with horror and humor and something like a murder mystery. Along the way it addresses and critiques concepts of normalcy, nostalgia, family (especially interactions between parents and children), home, and the American Dream. We'll examine it in the context of recent works that touch on similar topics—Catherynne M. Valente's "Fade to White," Daryl Gregory's The Devil's Alphabet—and Bennett's other novels of darkness and strangeness in the American heartland.

Readercon Nonfiction Book Club: The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction
Lauded by Paul Kincaid as "one of the best and most significant works of science fiction criticism to have appeared so far this century," Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.'s 2009 opus, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, is an expansive depiction of the genre as "a constellation of diverse intellectual and emotional interests and responses." We'll discuss and argue with the seven beauties themselves as well as the various notions and methods of analysis that they inspire.

Readercon Blog Club: "The Uses and Value of Realism in Speculative Fiction"
In response to the Readercon 23 panel "Why is Realistic Fiction Useful?", Chris Gerwel wrote a blog post exploring the aesthetic uses of realism in spec fic and other literature. He says, "To be effective, fiction must communicate or reveal something true.... That truth is not necessarily factual (such-and-such happened), but is rather more nebulous and insightful (such-and-such could have happened)." Gerwel goes on to argue that "realistic" descriptions of fantastic things can be a way to help the audience to deal with these concepts, giving them better access to the underlying metaphors of a dragon or a spaceship. He closes by saying, "I believe that quotidian speculative fiction has its place in the genre. And that is precisely because it speaks to different truths than most speculative fiction: it speaks to the little heroisms of daily life, and to the practical challenges that arise from our human and social natures"--an idea that echoes discussions of early science fiction stories written by women, and offers an alternative to the conflation of "realistic" and "gritty." We'll discuss the place of the quotidian in speculative fiction and other aspects of Gerwel's complex and intriguing essay, which resides at http://elflands2ndcousin.com/2012/07/17/the-uses-and-value-of-realism-in-speculative-fiction/ .

I'm also delighted to announce that this year's "How I Wrote" talks will be given by Margo Lanagan on The Brides of Rollrock Island, Alaya Dawn Johnson on The Summer Prince, and Daniel José Older on Salsa Nocturna.

We are, as always, "the con that assigns homework". Please join us in reading all these works and discussing them at Readercon.

See you in July!
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