King of Shards by Matthew Kressel

King of Shards

by Matthew Kressel

“Surreal and exotic…Scary, exhilarating fun!” 
N.K. Jemisin, Hugo award-winning author of The Fifth Season.

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It’s hard to believe, but this year marks my tenth anniversary of first attending Readercon. I first attended back in 2005 at the insistence of then Altered Fluid member Lauren McLaughlin. Back then, my only experience at cons was a few Star Trek and fan conventions I attended in my teens. I was immediately struck with how many amazing authors were in the same room with me during the Meet the Prose party, the main gathering on the first night. I knew not a soul, but the ever gregarious Ajit George knew some folks from his Clarion West class, introduced me to a ton of people, and soon I was playing Mafia with the likes of Holly Black, Kelly Link, Samuel Delany, Ellen Kushner, Paul Tremblay, and so many other luminaries. Many of those people I met at that first con I’m still friends with today. So, thank you, Lauren and Ajit, for opening up a world to me.

My first Readercon: Me, Paul M. Berger, and Devin Poore

My first Readercon, 2005, Me, Paul M. Berger, and Devin Poore

Right now I’m slogging through that post-con haze of exhaustion, mainly my own fault, for staying up too late drinking while talking with old friends and making new ones. In 2005 I knew no one, had published only two stories, and had just put out the third issue of a little ‘zine called Sybil’s Garage I’d started with folks from the Altered Fluid writers group.

Readercon 2005, Paul Tremblay, Fred Cataldo (standing), Ajit George, Samuel Delany, Tk, Ellen Kushner

Readercon 2005, Paul Tremblay, Fred Cataldo (standing), Ajit George, Samuel Delany, Tk, Ellen Kushner

And now here I am in 2015, where at Readercon I read an excerpt from my forthcoming and first novel, King of Shards, was on two panels in the giant “F” room (one on immersive fiction and the other on making a career in writing and publishing). Sybil’s Garage, though I’m no longer publishing the ‘zine, is still praised in the halls of Readercon as a little treasure. I was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for my editing work on it, and Paper Cities, edited by Ekaterina Sedia, which I’d published, went on to win the World Fantasy Award. I’ve published almost thirty stories, have had my stories translated into Czech, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish, and my stories have been nominated for a Nebula Award twice. I say this not to boast, but because I think it’s important as artists to remind ourselves from time to time of our accomplishments. In this field, as I imagine in other artistic endeavors, it can often seem as if there is always a new goal to strive for, that one success is never enough, that we must always keep moving. I think that’s wonderful, to a degree. Like sharks, artists must move forward or die. And yet we can often forget to look back and remember where we’ve come from.

Readercon 2005, Me & Mercurio D. Rivera, watching a Mafia game

Readercon 2005, Me & Mercurio D. Rivera, watching a Mafia game. My sideburns have since fallen off.

I’ll remember Readercon 2005 as the place where a new life path began for me. So it’s a little sad for me to hear that Readercon will be changing hotels. The Burlington Marriott was never a perfect hotel by far, but some of my warmest memories formed there. The changing of the hotels is bittersweet, like the end of an era. But 2016 marks a new decade of writing for me, and I’m eagerly looking forward to all the adventures that this will bring. New hotel, new memories.

Readercon 2005, Devin Poore & Holly Black

Readercon 2005, Devin Poore & Holly Black during a Mafia game

From the very beginning, Readercon has always been one of the friendliest cons. From veteran to newbie, you will never find an attitude of exclusion or elitism. Warmth arises from all people, all corners. Everyone recognizes that we are all on this adventure together because we simply love what we do, and the people who do it. Many of those who make Readercon possible exist behind the scenes, doing hard work for little reward. So I wish to thank them more than anyone, because without them there would be no con. Right now I’m desperately missing all the people and conversation. It’s almost as if my air supply has been cut off. But I feel better when I think about all the things 2016 and beyond will bring. I hope to see you all there.