TusCon 39 has come and gone, and I’ve now attended my second science fiction convention as an author. It was a good experience, even though other circumstances kept me from focusing my attention on the event as completely as I intended. I sat on three interesting panel discussions, the first of which – on the topic of apocalyptic fiction – had me working with authors Yvonne Navarro and S.M. Stirling (GOH). Not a bad way to start a convention, sitting next to the guest of honor. I’m no expert on the end of the world, and I’m actually at a loss for why I would have been selected for it, but it worked very well in the end.
Saturday was the busy day, starting with an early breakfast with friends from out-of-town, and including my first ever face-to-face meeting with one of my beta readers. Curious thing, this virtual world, where you can know a person for six or seven years without ever really meeting them. I’m very glad to have had the opportunity, in this case. (And that goes for the others in attendance, as well.) Panel discussion number two was early that afternoon, exploring the question of privacy in the digital world, and whether or not paranoia has taken over our thinking on the matter. Somehow we kept it from turning political, or overtly paranoid. Lots of audience participation on that one, and given the touchy nature of the topic, it remained remarkably civil in tone. Midafternoon I sat in on the group autograph session. I came prepared. Being so new on the scene, I knew that even having The Luck of Han’anga for sale in the dealer’s room was no guarantee I’d be signing books. To give myself a chance to interact with potential readers, I had bookmarks and a stack of CDs containing my short story “Long Time Passing.” I offered the disk to all who passed by and ended up giving away most of those I brought with me. An inexpensive marketing ploy that was well-received by those who stopped by. Oh, and I signed three copies of The Luck of Han’anga, as well.
As was true of CopperCon over the Labor Day weekend, only the reading proved disappointing, even though the size of the audience increased by 100%. Of course, I had NO audience at CopperCon, and just one person Saturday night. He was willing to listen, though, so I read, and my listener seemed favorably impressed. We’ll call it a dress rehearsal.
Sunday was the last panel, this one based on the premise that married couples as protagonists were rare in fiction, an assumption that ended up not holding up. There’s no shortage of husband and wife heroes available, to judge by the examples provided by the audience. Curiously, many were relatively recent additions to the literary scene, something that was seen as a reflection of changing cultural attitudes. And so the panel discussion became one on how changing attitudes in society, specifically those related to relationships, found their way into fiction.
I also attended a scattering of panels as an audience member, on topics ranging from the privatization of space exploration, the technology of the Steam Punk realm, to the definition of a “professional” in our modern world.
Part of Sunday was spent in a lively discussion with fellow indie author Saul Garnell (Freedom Club), most of it as we had lunch. I met Saul at CopperCon last summer and we hit it off immediately. To say we covered a lot of ground in that conversation would be an understatement. It’s the way of such gatherings. You renew acquaintances, touch base with friends, and meet a few new ones. That alone makes these events worthwhile, whether or not you have a book to sell.