Monday, March 03, 2014

Mixed bag

ConDFW was a mixed bag for me this year. The panels topics seemed to be especially well-planned and a good fit for my interests.

On the down side, though, attendance seemed to lag from previous years. From 2003 until maybe 2008 - from the first con I ever attended (which was ConDFW) until the Recession kicked in - attendance seemed to be on the upswing, then it obviously dropped as people lost their jobs and disposable incomes. Conestoga in Tulsa, one of the best cons I attended in that period, went away completely. But in the past couple of years, my impression is that convention attendance was on the upswing again.

ConDFW was the first con I've been to in a few years where the attendance seemed to have dropped from the previous year. My first panel Saturday only has three people in the audience - an equal number as the panelists - until halfway through when three more people walked in.

Another issue I have was the decision to put the authors' signing in the dealers room, at the back. The last time I was in this situation, at an AggieCon in College Station, the same thing happened. Sales stunk.

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"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

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- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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