This one time at Writer's Camp…
Mysticon 2011 AAR
We arrived around 4:30 on Friday afternoon, a little early because I didn’t want to be late for opening ceremonies. Got checked in fairly quickly, though volunteers kept jumping in front of us to ask questions while we were talking to the guest liaison about Mel’s badge. Eventually got everything sorted out, walked off to scout the art room and the dealer’s room and basically see if I know anybody there yet.
I didn’t recognize anybody right off the bat, but I did meet a really cool vendor named Curt who was selling some of the classic SF books at his table. I looked around, admitted my lack of knowledge about the “masters” of SF, and suddenly I find myself offering the guy $20 for what he thinks are really good books for me to cut my teeth with. Then he offers to sell my books along with his (I had a few copies of Corruptor I’d specifically saved for this con) for basically one personalized autographed copy. I know a deal when I hear one, so I agree and this morning I am the proud owner of a ton of new/old books. It also helped that Curt was an amazing salesman and knew what buttons to hit with me.
Eventually made it to opening ceremonies and quickly realized that the room was filled with… mostly guests. The attendees hadn’t really started arriving yet (I felt that 5 p.m. was a little early to start a con opening ceremonies, but I’m just one voice) so we cut it short and made our way to do other things.
Skipped out for dinner because the last con we attended was poorly stocked in the con suite for food. We ate at Texas Roadhouse and were generally disappointed with the wait staff. I don’t know what it is about male waiters, but if they’re under the age of 23 they seem to be bad and not very motivated. The food was okay though, so it was a wash.
Made it back to the hotel to see that the attendee numbers had swelled. I are pleased. The last thing I wanted was to be on a panel that had more speakers than guests.
One of these days I’m going to realize that most guests aren’t here to see me.
First panel that night was a bit slow, primarily because I just didn’t prepare like I had been planning to. From SF to Us – Making it real would have been easier for me to hang with the others had I been prepared. But still, it was neat meeting Gray Rinehart (Baen Books) finally, as well as being on a panel with James Maxey (more on him later) and John Monahan. Interesting discussion where I only put my foot in my mouth once (was thinking sociological crux and couldn’t spit the words out… damn I hate when that happens), but the audience was fairly patient with me.
After that, Mel wanted to go to the drum circle so she went and I wandered around the con, exploring the con suite where I discovered, much to my chagrin, a lot of pizza still up there. Something to the magnitude of 25 large pizzas had been ordered and barely 1/3 had been eaten. I could have saved some money, but oh well.
While up in the con suite, I also saw the Captain Kirk command chair cake made for the GoH, David Gerrold, who wrote the classic Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles“. It also had a motion sensor alarm in the chair that went off whenever someone got too close to Kirk’s chair and played snippets from the episode, which was too cool. The maker of the cake was also a wee bit intoxicated at this point, but was kind of funny and a nice woman. She couldn’t wait to show it to the GoH, who… wasn’t there yet because they diverted his flight to Dulles due to the wind conditions in Ronaoke. That, btw, is a crappy drive to make on a Friday night when you’re flying in from California.
Went home because I was about to crash. It had been a long day and frankly, I was beat. Got home, went straight to bed and prepared myself for the biggest day of panels for me.
Saturday started off badly. Went to breakfast at Denny’s and they put onions in the frickin’ hash browns. I mean really, who does that? Got that settled (though I didn’t eat much because of it) and Mel and I made our way back to the con, where the crowds had swelled from the night before. This was a good sign, and I went to my first panel of the day armed and ready for the people to come. Which Properties Will Stand the Test of Time was the next panel, and probably the one with the best dialogue between the attendees and the guests. I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Fox and Stephen Zimmer, both of whom are authors and both very good ones to boot. Also on the panel was Mark Davis, who is a very talented artist who informed us early on that he didn’t think he would be able to contribute much. As it turned out, Mark was the one who offered a very good view on the future direction of writing (ensemble vs lone hero) and I learned a lot from it. I also bought a Zimmer book and Fox’s book, and picked up one of the steampunk rings for Mel that Mark’s wife had made.
It was soon after this panel (thanks for making it awesome, guys!) that Mel and I received an invitation for “tea” with The Steampunk Family up in their room. We were quite flattered at the invite, and made our way up there and met some really amazing people (meanwhile downstairs, Mark Davis had snuck over and bought a copy of Corruptor… and I was thinking of giving him a copy. Sheesh! :-)). I watched Mel drink five glasses of champagne (five graduated cylinders, close enough) and proceeded to have my first taste of absinthe. It tastes nasty, by the way, no matter how you cut it. So I had two glasses worth.
Yeah, I don’t learn easily.
Wandered downstairs for my next panel, Where Has the Line Between SF and Fantasy Gone, and… I don’t remember it. Nothing. I do know that James Maxey was on it, and someone named A.R. Moller, but all in all I don’t know what happened. That absinthe really kicked my butt without me knowing it. I found out later that the panel went smoothly, I didn’t make an ass of myself and had some good points.
Somehow went to dinner (I did NOT drink and drive, btw…) and met up with Crystal, Clay, Leon and Katie, Julie Cochrane and Mike Manning at a Chinese restaurant. Dinner eaten, we managed back to the hotel and decided to just get a room for the night, since neither of us was in any shape to make the long drive home.
Next panel was Making Mythology Fresh, which I knew very little about. Oh sure, I knew the Greek mythos and some of the Egyptian ones (thank you, Flint and Freer), but as a whole? Not really. Thankfully that one was cancelled because M.B. Weston didn’t show up and neither did any of the attendees. So I went back upstairs and fell asleep.
Sunday morning was my final panel. Character Death, Or Obi Wan, I hardly Knew You was a lot of fun, with me finally meeting the GoH, David Gerrold. It was another panel with Stephen Zimmer, and I was reintroduced to Allen Wold, who I had met years before at various cons (and always seem to forget who he is). Gerrold had a cold, however, so Allen moderated while I sat in the middle of the panel. It was a lot of fun doing this panel, and it was the best one in which I got to pimp Corruptor, Lawyers in Hell, and the entire Christian Cole saga. Most people (including Gerrold, I think) really are interested in the Lawyers in Hell book, and quite a few cracks were made about how the book might be dull because all the lawyers are in Hell already.
After that it was bad to the dealer’s room, where Mel purchased a dirk for only $20 and I was ready to plop down $600 for a Damascus steel (black steel with waterfall patterns in it) katana. Thankfully I wised up (and realized I didn’t have $600 on me) and didn’t buy it. But man was I about to.
Mysticon was fun. If they’ll have me next year, I’ll definitely go. It’s a great con for those in the Shenandoah Valley who don’t want to deal with the insanity of SheVaCon, can’t afford Dragon*con and don’t want to be in the middle of the south in July with LibertyCon.