(Subtitle: Oh yes…there will be name-dropping)
Last night, I found myself presented with the opportunity to attend a New York Review of Science Fiction reading in New York City at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art. This is a monthly event that features readings from both upcoming and prominent authors in the speculative fiction field. The event is hosted by Jim Freund, who also hosts WBAI’s Hour of the Wolf radio show, a radio show that also makes shows available online for a limited time following the broadcast.
Temperatures in New York hit 100 degrees this week, but that didn’t stop what I thought was a respectable level of attendance; it was standing room only for the last several stragglers. Following a half-hour meet-and-greet, it was time for the reading the begin. First, Saldin Ahmed read his excellent story “Master Hadj’s Sunset Ride“, then recent Nebula-winner Paolo Bacigalupi teased the audience with the first part of his novella “The Alchemist” (a story that shares the same setting as “The Executioness” by Tobias Buckell). Both authors gave superb performances, despite their insistence to the contrary. The audience was receptive and visibly engaged — not hard to do given the source material and the cozy venue of the Soho Gallery for Digital Art, which featured video display slideshows of some amazing work, including those related to the headliners. I liked the artwork for Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl when I first saw it online and even more so when I saw it on the physical book; but the large, backlit display revealed even more detail that I had missed before.
Afterwards, a large portion of the audience (me included) walked over to Milady’s, a well-respected “dive bar” (Jim’s words, quoting someone else). Here the event became more social, allowing fellow lovers of speculative fiction, as well as those working in the field, to rub elbows and talk shop and smack. I cannot express the fanboy giddiness I felt as I looked around the table and saw the people with whom the Gods of Random Seating had surrounded me. Interesting and lively conversations ensued.
Suffice it to say that I had blast. Throughout the evening I finally got to meet people who I knew only through email. Besides Paolo, Saladin and Jim, I finally got to meet Mary Robinette Kowal, Barbara Krasnoff, Rick Bowes, Irene Gallo, Gregory Manchess, Nora K. Jemisin, John Joseph Adams, Matthew Kressel about (who along with Ellen Datlow, hosts their own monthly readings in NYC), Rose Fox, Josh Jasper, and folks from Tor, Daw and First Second Books. I’m sure I’m missing some names here – it was a too-short whirlwind of fun.
If you ever get a chance to attend one of these readings, I highly recommend it.
(Sorry, no pics. Yes, I’m a bad blogger. But I sat across a table from Paolo Bacigalupi, so neener-neener-neener.)