Thursday, May 28, 2015

Kansas City chronicles - ConQuest 46

Normally, making such a long drive to attend a convention - my odometer told me it was a 996-mile round trip - would have been near impossible, but I took all day Friday (which is a slow day at work - the office normally closes at noon, anyway) and all day Monday (which was a holiday - the job was closed) to do it. Ultimately, the biggest problem turned out to be the thunderstorms I encountered in Oklahoma on the Indian Nation Turnpike both Friday and Monday afternoon. My first panel wasn't until 10 a.m. Saturday, so I could take my time Friday getting there.

By the time I confirmed I would be able to attend, the hotel's convention rooms were sold out. I instead came up with a plan to save some money, I stayed three nights at a Motel 6 at Prairie View Road and 83rd Street. This is north of the city near the airport. There's a bus line that goes from the airport down to 56th Street and Prairie View, and then hits the highway and goes straight into downtown. That's how I got to the Marriott downtown. My plan worked like a charm, I spent maybe $170 for three nights, and the bus fare was only $1.60 each trip. I avoided having to travel and park downtown in a city I'd never visited before.

The Heinlein "Good Old Stuff" I picked up at the ConQuest auction.
I had five panels Saturday, so I kept busy. I met a few people I haven't seen in a while, such as Robin Wayne Bailey, Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Allison Stein. I was on three panels with Bailey, and we also had a nice chat in the dealers' room about the work of Frank M. Robinson, who Robin said was his "adopted grandfather". Two of my panels were chaired by Schmidt, and we also got caught up somewhat. I last saw Allison in Oklahoma City last year at SoonerCon, and she was on the panel I chaired Sunday about the movie "Metropolis". She was nice enough to take my photo sitting on the mock-up of The Iron Throne in the dealers' room.

Speaking of the Iron Throne, George R.R. Martin was a guest at the convention, and the word in the halls was that his presence seemed to have boosted attendance. It was the wisdom that some people registered for the convention just so they could attend his book signing - whose line ran the length of the second floor of the hotel and back again. I'm sure ConQuest didn't mind any potential extra income.

I also met a few people I'd never met in the flesh before, such as Eric Reynolds, whose Hadley Rille books is publishing the "Ruins Excavations" anthology later this year. It includes my short story "Would Olympus Fall". Eric suffered a stroke last year and is in physical therapy now. He looked good but a bit frail, and I met him as he was slowly walking and taking therapy in a hall. He's a nice fellow and it was good to see him. I also met Rich Horton for the first time; we shared a panel.

One of the unanticipated highlights of the convention came at the  fundraising auction at 2 p.m. Sunday. I happened through the auction items on display just a few hours earlier and saw a neat lot of Robert Heinlein paperbacks, a dozen in all. Some were literally coming apart, but they were "The Good Old Stuff".

The titles are "Revolt in 2100", "The Puppet Masters", "The Green Hills of Earth", "The Man Who Sold the Moon",  "Orphans of the Sky", "Podkayne of Mars", "The Day After Tomorrow", "Farmer in the Sky", "Citizen of the Galaxy", "Starman Jones", "Between Planets" and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". All except the last were from the '50s and '60s.

I probably overpaid, based on the condition of the books, but I shelled out $45 to take them home.

I was a bit surprised at the spontaneous expressions of support I received at the convention from people sympathetic to the Sad Puppies cause. Although the party line narrative is to vilify the dissident movement, it's not quite as unfashionable among the rank-and-file fans, it seems. I went to the convention with a half dozen copies of "Letters from Gardner" - that's all I had on hand - and despite not having a signing, I sold them all. Some of the people claimed they only learned about the book because of the Pupps, and as a result of the discussion were supportive. At one panel I got a clenched first "Go Pupps!" salute.

Attendance at the panels I was on was a bit spotty. Of the seven I had all weekend, four had at least a two dozen people, two had a dozen, and two had a half dozen. Attendance definitely seemed to drop off towards Sunday. My reading was at 3 p.m. Sunday and I wondered whether I should skip it because nobody would be there. But three hardy souls attended. All either already had bought copies of "Letters" or wanted to buy one. I ran out of copies and missed a sale - authors hate when that happens.

I read "On a Spiritual Plain", and I was done with my programming just after 3:30 p.m.

One of the practical things I did while at the convention was upgrade my membership for SasQuan from supporting to attending. They offered a $20 discount if it was done at the con. I also had a nice chat with the people at the table. I told them of my belief, because of the mob mentality being fostered by some people against the Pupps, that they should just announce the winners and forget the dinner. But they are aware of the possibility of unpleasantness and plan to keep a tight rein on things. I wish them luck. I hope I get out of Spokane in one piece.

One person I ran into at the con said he has suggested that, to prevent catcalls, boos and jeering, that the Hugo committee announce in advance which categories will not have an award this year, and the ceremony only deal with the presentations to winners. That sounds like a good idea, also.

1 comment:

  1. The two last paragraphs make I wish for maturity, and yeah, got to agree, the idea on the last paragraph does sound like a good idea.

    (Also, took some notes on saving money, so that is a thanks.)

    ReplyDelete

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