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Post Con Report

June 8, 2010

While I have nothing to compare it to, I think ConCarolinas was about the right size and design for my sensibilities.  The writers’ track seemed to be very strong.  Attendance was strong.  And it was fun, right down to the last panel.

I sat in a couple of Jerry Pournelle‘s panels.  He is an opinionated man with a wealth of experience, not all of which he was able to express.  He was honest in a way only older people tend to be, pulling no punches.  For instance, he insisted he couldn’t pass along any advice on how to collaborate, as he has with Niven and others to huge commercial success.  But then he had advice on how to do it.  For instance, you both have to do 90% of the work.  I didn’t get around to getting him to sign anything for me (I only had one obscure book of his), but I valued his advice.

John Ringo, on the other hand, signed a copy of my friend’s book for me.  He assured me it was a collector’s item — a (now signed) hardback Hymn Before Battle, his first novel, I believe.  Sadly, not my book.  But Ringo had plenty of thoughts to share.  I was astonished how much research he could pull off the top of his head.  I missed his presence at the Hard Science Fiction panel (he was hydrating through it), but did hear his opinions on the writing of military sf, probably more his dish. Not an easy guy to converse with, I suspect, but if you can hold his interest, he’s quite brilliant.

Another author I was quite impressed with was Connie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  So impressed, I picked up that book today at Wal-Mart.  I was impressed to find it there, despite being a New York Times top ten YA book — our Wal-Mart doesn’t have much of a book selection.  She was kind enough to step in for a panel that was completely canceled, the one on breaking into the writing business.  It was well attended and she didn’t want to disappoint all us wannabes, so she gave a brief history of her career and fielded questions.  She wasn’t even supposed to be on the panel.  She was very personable for someone on the verge of super success: FHT has been optioned for movie rights and is (as I mentioned) on the NYT best seller list.  In all I think I saw four of her panels (including the impromptu one) and was impressed by her each time.

I met other authors.  The ones from Codex will likely even remember me.  J.F. Lewis kept greeting me by name.  I had a good discussion with IGMS editor Ed Schubert about what he wanted to see for his zine and other less on-the-nose stuff.  Nice guys, both.  Allen Wold impressed me tremendously as both moderator and teacher; tons of wisdom, that man has.  Like Yoda with a long beard.

The costuming was amusing but not my thing.  I was never there late enough to see the NC-17 costumes, but I saw a few revealing ones; they all seemed to lack the effort that went into the more authentic costumes.  The Sesame Street alien was pretty funny.  I think that may have been crossing into the real of furries, so I’ll digress.

Having never been to a con, I wasn’t sure what to expect of my fellow attendees.  There were a few that cranked the nerd scale way over to the socially deficient side, but most were just folks like me, enough that I’ve decided I need wilder Hawaiian shirts if I’m going to stand out as “the Hawaiian shirt guy.”  Oh well.

I did wish there was time for more audience involvement in the panels.  They were mostly a table of Guests having a discussion among themselves for our amusement without quite addressing the questions we wanted to hear.  A few attendees were brazen enough to butt into the dialog, but not many.  I did manage to heckle the first panel I saw, but one of the guys made a (alleged) joke and he told the crowd we were allowed to laugh.  I just suggested he should say something funny first.  It was an auspicious beginning; I reigned it in afterward.  🙂

I hope to return next year, preferably as a guest.  *crosses fingers* Next year’s writing GoH is alternative history guru Harry Turtledove.  It doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me to make it to any other cons this summer, just the WotF workshop.  As if that’s not enough networking.

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