Readercon Says, “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!”

posted in: cons 13

I worried I was getting old when I turned 50 and started getting mail from AARP. And then, when I wasn’t looking, I suddenly became eligible for senior discounts. (No, that can’t be right. My parents were seniors, not me!) And now…

Readercon, once one of my favorite conventions, has decided that—well, let’s let them tell it in their own words: “You won’t be receiving an invitation to participate in programming for Readercon 29. We’re deeply grateful to you for your years of participation at Readercon… but…” But so long, and thanks for all the fish!

They go on to say that they’re making room for fresh, young writers—which, if I thought that were the real reason, would at least be understandable. The truth, of course, is that Readercon has always been welcoming to new writers. I was one myself once, and Readercon always gave me a place at the table, as they did others. In fact, one of the things I liked about it was the yeasty mix of writers of all kinds, all ages, genders, creeds, etc. It made for great conversations. I guess the newer team of organizers are aiming for a new shape for their demographics. Either that, or they think they’re comping too many memberships to program participants.

I’m not the only one to receive this letter, of course. A number of older, white male writers (including my friend Craig Shaw Gardner) have received the same email. I don’t know if any female writers have received it or not. I’d be interested in knowing. (Update: I’ve received a secondhand report that a woman-writer friend of mine, also in my age group, got a similar boot to the backside.)

Perhaps the icing on the cake was the offer to register ahead of time (for $5 off!) by using the coupon code PASTPRO. Ouch. Does that say what they really think? Or did they just not think what that said?

—This report brought to you by Captain Dunsel.

I seem to recall that, in end, Kirk and Spock overcame the odds and prevailed, as they always do.

13 Responses

  1. Fran Giuffre
    | Reply

    Jeff, You will always outsmart the machine. Your engrams are superior! Readercon is stupid. Everyone on Planet X agrees with me! Fran

  2. coyoty
    | Reply

    Maybe they’re preparing to rename themselves Tweetercon.

  3. Shariann Lewitt
    | Reply

    I got the same email too, so yes, women got it as well. I don’t think it’s just age either. Some of the people who have been canned (which is how I feel about it) have done a lot for the con. Craig, for instance, at all the Kirk Poland competitions!

  4. […] A few days ago Jeffrey A. Carver added his name to the list of writers who have been sent the letter: “Readercon Says, ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!’” […]

  5. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    You, too, Shariann? Sigh. Ann Zeddies reported on the Facebook version of this that she also got the email. As I just noted on that platform, I have no intention of becoming involved in Readercon’s internal affairs. Life’s too short. But I wanted to report my experience, so others would know. I suspect Readercon has evolved (mutated?) in a direction that does not reflect my interests or values, so I’m probably done there.

    And yes, what you said about Craig and others, esp. those who have contributed to the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition, long a highlight of the con. (But now discontinued, at least at Readercon.)

  6. Jon Del Arroz
    | Reply

    Read about this tonight. Sorry to hear this Jeffrey and you have my support. Age discrimination is one of the worst and most not-talked about things in our society. Let me know if I can help.

  7. Vonda
    | Reply

    Holy crap. The ham-handed award for 2018 (and it’s only February). –V.

  8. […] A. Carver, author of a popular Battlestar Galactica tie-in novel and disinvited guest, said this on his blog, “A number of older, white male writers… have received the same […]

  9. Kathy
    | Reply

    Hello and wow! I registered for ReaderCon for the very first time this year, and I was (am?) looking forward to it, but this development has definitely cast a questionable shadow over it all. So sorry to hear of these ill-conceived shenanigans. I was truly looking forward to meeting you. 🙁

  10. […] The more I look at it, the more that it seems like they went so far overboard in apologizing that the justifications kept piling up, and the fact that the disinvitation was not permanent was never mentioned.  It really did look like “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” […]

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