Thursday, November 30, 2017

ChessieCon 2017

With my husband and youngest son, as usual, I spent the weekend after Thanksgiving at ChessieCon (formerly Darkover). Guest of Honor was Ada Palmer, author of the Terra Ignota series. Art Guest of Honor was Megan Willis, a storyboard artist on the MY LITTLE PONY series. She gave a talk with Q & A on the animation process and her own career. The principal musical guest was T. J. Burnside Clapp. I loved her songs and was disappointed to find she doesn't have an album currently available. (The two tapes from her former group, Technical Difficulties, didn't make it onto CD because of an accidental misfortune in the transition process.) However, you can hear her beautiful "Lullaby for a Weary World" on YouTube.

I participated in two panels, on Steven Universe and the appeal of horror, and took part in the Broad Universe rapid-fire reading. My husband was on panels about animals in fantasy fiction and the burning question, "Is it harder to teach science to English majors or English to science majors?" Two of the most thoughtful sessions I attended discussed Feminist SF and Feminist Manga. Neither conversation actually managed to define feminism. The manga session brought up the important point that while a work that grapples with gender issues may be feminist, it doesn't have to be. The two overlap but aren't identical. A high note (so to speak) of the weekend for me was the "Totally Not the Clams" performance, music by members of the disbanded folk group Clam Chowder, whose Saturday evening concert was formerly a major event at this con.

Unfortunately, staffing problems didn't allow a full-scale art show as in previous years; a display of the guest artist's work was all they had. Instead of a mass signing event for all the attending authors, the con decided to offer small-group "meet and greet" sessions of about five authors each. Les (my husband) and I had the 9:15 p.m. time slot. Since it occurred in the hotel atrium, plenty of people casually passed by even at that hour. We didn't sell any books, but we had some nice chats. Saturday night ended, as usual, with a show tune sing-along and the traditional singing of the Hallelujah Chorus at midnight. I made sure of getting a room overlooking the atrium so I could listen to those. I still wish the con would reinstate its Friday night costume contest, which faded away from lack of participation several years ago. It's fun to observe hall costumes but not quite the same. One very welcome improvement that has come about in the past year or two: The hotel now has lunch and dinner buffets in addition to the breakfast buffet, plus a concession stand in the lobby for several hours around lunchtime. No more wait, wait, wait to get served, missing convention activities just to eat.

This is a friendly, relaxing con with a strongly book-focused and writer-oriented program, as well as plenty of musical performances and a thriving dealer's room. Highly recommended for any fan who lives near enough to get there conveniently on Thanksgiving weekend.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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