Friday, July 29, 2016

LibertyCon 29 AAR

So, yeah. I went to LibertyCon. How was it?

It was okay.

To be honest, I got an attack of shingles during my trip to Chattanooga, so I missed the third day of the convention. But, to be honest, I was expecting to do more at the convention. On Friday, my only two things to do was to have a signing at 6, and a reading at 9.

I knew that I was going to have an hour. So, originally planned to do a reading for 45 minutes -- an intro, maybe some questions.

Then I learned that each hour was 50 minutes. Well, I planned for 45 minutes of reading, so I was good.

Then I learned that I had to read with someone else. Oh well. I had to make it up as I went along. You can see the video of my reading from a few days ago to see how well that went.

I arrived on Thursday, the day before the convention, and ended up in a party with Sarah Hoyt, and many of the people who I've known from Facebook. It was fun. And strange. I'm generally not a social person. But these were basically "my people." I think I talk more to more people face to face at conventions than I do every other month of the year. I met Lin Wicklund, and Dorothy Grant, and other people whose names haven't appeared on the blog. I was at least in the room with Gunny Mormon, but he was busy.

The first panel I saw on Friday was "Weaponized Artificial Intelligence" ... which went off the rails so much, someone from the audience screamed at the panel "TO GET BACK ON TOPIC ALREADY."  So that was fun.

Next was Eastern Weaponry, with Larry Correia and Baen editor Toni Weisskopf. Apparently, Toni's late husband collected swords. There was a nice collection of sharp pointy things.

The next panel I was at was Monster Hunter International, with John Ringo, Sarah Hoyt, Larry Correia, and it was high-jacked by Toni. The discussion turned to "writing about monsters." Toni had to leave, and the conversation went back to Larry's MHI universe. Ringo has done a trilogy going back to the 80s. Hoyt is doing a Julie Shackleford novel. And Larry is going back to Owen and the main series.

There were the opening ceremonies, where I managed to stand, wave, and sat down. I then tottered off to sign books and stuff.

Upon entering the dealer's room, I was stopped by Michael Z. Williamson. Mad Mike opened my blazer, checked my shirt, smiled, and said "Ah, that one," and wandered off.

The orange t-shirt I'm wearing in the picture above reads "Sometimes, I have to remind myself that it's not worth the jail time."

I do subtle so very well.

At 8 pm was "Georgette Heyer and her Influence on Science Fiction." Mostly, it was about how Heyer managed to do world building for historically-set novels, even down to getting slang right. Which of course, is also what you want to do when you're writing science fiction.

Not to mention that she did a lot of great character building, and did her best to write against standard cliche, in both character design and plot.

After my reading, I rushed to John Ringo's reading at 10 pm. I rushed there faster than Ringo himself did. So did everyone else, as we were jammed into a very nice, almost roomy, walk-in closet. He did readings from Monster Hunter: Grunge, which will be a laugh riot. It was standing room only, and I stood in the back, next to the door. At one point, someone in a bright green shirt came in; I think I noted him at first because he was the only other person as brightly dressed as I was. Then he sort of looked familiar. I looked down, and saw the tag "Tom Kratman."

Huh. Okay then. I went back to listening to the reading, and Col. Kratman wandered in and out of the room. I would have said hello (with an emphasis on "Thank you for the Sad Puppies Bite Back support"), but (if I gathered correctly) Kratman had been waiting for Ringo, and I wasn't going to be run over by John when he was running in "Convention mode."

Saturday morning. I was going to see Global Pandemics and Biosecurity, as well as "Bringing Modern Technology into Urban Fantasy," but my entourage wasn't moving quickly that morning, and we missed both of these panels. I also missed the first half of Principles of War.

However, I did run into Lou Antonelli, one of the nominees from Sad Puppies 3. He's a pleasant, genial fellow, who will even talk to a guy like me, and picked me out of a lineup. Who knew? Since I had no idea what to do for the next hour or so, I followed him to his panel "Retro-Futurist Alternate History." Basically, a high-tech alternate timeline ... sort of like the Fallout franchise, or Watchman, only fun, and with technology, instead of superheroes.

I went to Perspectives on Military SF ... which had very comfy seats. I must admit, I fell asleep. Which would have been interesting, because I fell asleep around the time that Peter Grant, military veteran, started arguing that you could only write military fiction if you're a veteran ... and he was arguing against another vet that insisted that, no, you didn't need to be a vet to write military fiction.

Afterwards, there was the very long winded title panel: Do Utopian cities or Dystopian cities make the better backdrop for Urban Fantasy? Starring Gail Z. Martin, MB Weston, Terry Maggert, and ... me.

I think I had only one good line. The question was "Can you have a plot in a true utopia? A utopia that has no dark underbelly?"

Me: "Remember, the first Utopia was written by Sir Thomas More. Utopia sounds like eu, as in good, like euphoric. So it's a good place ... only it's spelled with a U, which is a negative. It's a good place that doesn't exist. And at the end of the day, the book Utopia had no plot. It was just a travelogue. So the answer is probably not."

Martin: Unless someone is attacking or threatening the utopia from the outside.

Me: "Point."

I caught the second half of the Baen Slideshow, which is basically everything that's coming out in the next few months.

Panel Noir, With Kacey Ezell, Larry Correia, et al, was mostly a matter of dueling quotes by Hammett and Chandler. One of them did the best Sydney Greenstreet I've heard in a while.

Then I wound up doing the "Invasion of the Podcasters" panel. I think my best line in terms of giving advice was "be prepared for a crappy guest." I used the example of a man who had been at Inside the Actor's Studio with James Lipton, and the guest was Ed Norton. Apparently, Norton is such an empty suit, Lipton stopped the cameras, and bitched him out, telling him to straighten up, or else.

Immediately afterwards was the It's in the Blood panel from the video yesterday.

And Sunday, I ended up in the nearest ER, getting some nifty anti-virals. Yay. I'll spare you the pictures.

Anyway, if you haven't already, you might want to pick up Honor at Stake
Preferably before the sequel comes out.

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