So at last year’s Readercon I brought my camera because when I attended in 2009 I took pictures with my phone and they were awful. So awful. The large meeting rooms are not well-lit and distances confounded my camera. So last July I brought my unipurpose camera. It can take good pictures, but it is several years old and thus is one-step removed from the albumen process in digital terms. Also, the screen is dead, so I can neither see what the camera sees nor know what the settings are, except for scrolling through choices until the edge of an identifiable symbol appears and I then count the number of clicks to get what I think is the proper configuration for the photo I want to take.

With this in mind I took many pictures at Readercon 21, about 225 of them, about 2/3rds of which were at the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition and involved me shifting about the room hoping to get enough light in the shot for it to not be a chaotic fuzz or nine shades of darkness. I went through them a few months ago and tossed over 85% of them, because, indeed, my camera betrayed me and most of them were unusable. Those that survived aren’t fantastic, but they go give you a bit of the flavor of the con, so I offer them to you for a chuckle or, perhaps, a moment of wistful recollection.
—Peter Straub at a panel. He was the jolliest panelist of the convention, but sadly always dwelled in darkness:
—Samuel R. Delany at his reading. Note the casual attire!
—Mr. Delany again, minus his spectacles:
—Barry Longyear at the panel on anarchism and SF. Um, he REALLY does not like anarchism. All of my other photos are of him looking annoyed or leaning his cheek on his hand in exasperation:
—Contestants waiting to get called up for the Kirk Poland Memorial Bed Prose Competition: Mary Robinette Kowal, Yves Menard, Mike Allen, and Craig Shaw Gardner:
—Down to three. I selected this one because Mike Allen looked right at me with that “haven’t you taken like 40 pictures of us standing here already?” smile. And I had.
—The contestants seated and ready to regale us with bad prose:
—The opening of the competition. The disk was really funny for some reason:
—Craig Shaw Gardner reading. I tried to think of a Jimmy Doohan look-alike joke that would not get me punched in the nose at the next con, but failed:
—Mary Robinette Kowal reading. She was the smilingest contestant I’ve ever seen:
—Yves Menard reading. Note the Halo of Inevitable Victory that surrounds him:
—Mike Allen is pleased with his hat:
—Eric Van, emcee and SF bon vivant. I’ve never seen someone so happy about tallying scores and doing math:
—Finally, a few photos of Rob Shearman at his reading. Incredible reader, animated and enthusiastic:
—No, REALLY:
I wish that more of them had come out. I apologize for the lack of photos of women; I took a bunch of panel pictures that just did not come out, and my camera batteries croaked at the start of Liz Hand’s fabulous reading from Available Dark. But I hope to get a better camera before July so that I can get better pics this year.
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